Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 14- Arches National Park

I woke up to the sound of the family next to me, I knew I had to get moving at a decent time since I had around a 5 hour drive to get to Arches National Park. I got up, packed up my tent, and said my farewells to the family next to me. They wished me the best of luck on my journey and I wished them a great day at the park. A woman around my age, from a campsite two over came over and asked if I wanted a Gatorade or Pepsi since she was flying out of Las Vegas and couldn't take them with her. I told her I didn't drink soda, but I would love a Gatorade. I followed her over to her site and she handed me a frost Gatorade, as I thanked her, she asked if I was also traveling alone. I explained how I was on a month long road trip and she exclaimed the envy she had for the amount of time I had to travel. She was only out for a 6 day trip she explained since she turns 30 years old on Sunday, I reminded her, you take what you can get! After thanking her again I went back to my site as she drove off for the airport. Shortly thereafter I drove off to my next destination. There is something magical about sleeping in a different location every night, or every other night. Typically, I am a procrastinator and sometimes I don't even know where I am staying that night until I get there, though with national parks it is nice to get a reservation beforehand. Since it was the weekend, most places near Arches National Park were full, I found online a KOA and gave them a call. The answering machine picked up and I left a message that I was interested in a tent site for the night. After driving for awhile and not hearing back, I decided to give them a call. A woman picked up and explained that they didn't have any open sites, so I said thank you and hung up the phone. I continued my search online and came across OK RV Park, so I gave them a call; the woman that answered said "I am sure we can find a spot to put you." Whatever that meant, I made the reservation for only $20. I searched online and saw that they did a sunset tour of the park and decided to call to see if they had any availability for this evening. Turns out they did, so I reserved a spot on the bus for 4:30-8:30 tonight. The drive was not very exciting, a lot of the same desert view, and a lot of loss in cellular service. My tank dropped to a quarter tank and I had not seen a gas station in quite some time since that, then it dropped to two bars (the gauge on the dash is electronic bars.) I timed that when a bar dropped it was about 25 minutes until the start of the next one, I was on my last bar and finally spotted a Shell station! Driving in the desert really is nerve-racking especially when the service is spotty as well. I slid my card and there was an error telling me to call the number on the back of the card, great. I swiped another card and then started the process of figuring out what was going on with the previous card. Seems Shell suspended the card since it was being used in so many different locations across the country, took them long enough! Once explaining I was traveling cross country they re-activated the card within 5 minutes. After getting off the highway, there were many cops along the road leading to Moab. This was the first time in the duration of my trip, that I have seen cops. The East coast must be full of cops since I have rarely seen them since being out West. The La Sal Mountain range was in view and gorgeous than ever, with snow capped peaks. As I passed the park entrance, then downtown Moab, I had about a 10 minute drive to the campground. The mountain range grew closer and closer, until I realized the campground was across the street from the view I was currently mesmerized by. I pulled in, stepped into the office, and checked in. Seems it was family owned, and very nice people. I got my site T3, also known as Mavrick Drive; and set up my tent and camp chair. The site was like my own piece of land on the corner of the lot. After setting up; I made some food, and started uploading photos to the blog. I noticed a ladybug crawling on my chair behind me and liked to think of it as a sign of good luck. I hung out for awhile before heading downtown to check out some of the stores on the strip. It seemed like a very cool area with a bunch of stores and restaurants. Driving through town I noticed an abundance of really nice old cars, and off-road dune cars. Once I parked, I looked up if there was a car show going on in Moab, coincidently there was which explained all of the nice cars. I walked around going to 4 or 5 stores to kill time while waiting for my tour at 4:30. I bought some presents, and a really cute set of measuring spoons for myself. I headed over to the Adventure Center 10 minutes early to ensure getting a parking spot and figuring everything out. I grabbed my backpack with some snacks, a water, and my camera. Inside, I signed a release and waited outside for everyone to arrive. We all piled into the van, and I took co-pilot which was pretty cool since I was traveling solo. The tour guide and I talked a lot throughout the duration of the drive, he asked about my trip, and my camera since he hobbied in photography as well. We stopped at a few spots to get out and take photos while he told us about the park and the formations. I was the youngest of the group by far, and most of the individuals were in their 50's and 60's. I tended to explore on my own to ensure I had enough time to photograph what I wanted to get shots of. We stopped at our first arch and the guide told me that if I wanted to go see one of the arches that was off the trail we were currently on I could probably make it there and back in 15 minutes. I decided to venture off and go see the bigger arch, though the walk seemed like it was 15 minutes just to get there one way. I even jogged a little to try and get there faster. I was happy that I did go and see it though, after all; it is Arches National Park. I took photos as quickly as possible and started my jog back, running through the desert is not fun or easy. I was in crocs and my feet would sink into the sand making it even harder to jog, not to mention my knees still not in the best shape after the trail, or the fact that it was the desert and it was hot. I got back probably after about a half hour and everyone was drinking water and eating their snacks in the van waiting for me. Red faced and out of breath I apologized and the guide handed me a water and a bag of trail mix. We drove to the lower lookout of the Delicate Arch (the most famous of the arches, also displayed on the Utah license plate.) I was kind of disappointed by this point because I realized the paid tour, was all drivable by your own vehicle. There was no special access, or trip up to the Delicate Arch; I could have hiked up to see the Delicate Arch earlier and driven all of our stops myself. You live and you learn, first tourist trap-check! I have to give credit to our guide though, he probably spent the most time with me, and took me to some cool places that I probably wouldn't have known about had I driven myself. The view of the Delicate Arch was pretty cool, we were far away; but didn't seem like 2 miles worth. I guess the parking lot to hike there fills up by 8am so you have to get there pretty early to ensure a parking spot. My tentative plan was to hike up there in the morning before leaving, though the weather was supposed to rain and be cloudy so I am not sure how good of a plan that may be. After the Delicate Arch viewing, we stopped at a few more stops before settling at Balanced Rock for sunset. At one of the prior stops, the guide traveled with me on one side of an arch that you could look through and see the next one, that was pretty cool. Plus, I had someone to take a photo of me! We headed to Balanced Rock just in time for sunset, we walked around mainly as a group taking photos, and then the guide, a younger couple maybe in their 40's, and I hiked up to the actual balanced structure. While they talked, I asked if I could go right up to it, he said we are not supposed to but as you can see many people have and he doesn't care. So, I went up there and began taking photos; meanwhile between looking in the viewfinder I hear, "HEY! HEY!" Finally I look below and noticed a photographer with a tripod angrily screaming at me to get down. I walked down to the couple, and guide and told them what was going on, they heard the yelling but couldn't believe it was to me for being up there. I was pretty annoyed by the arrogant photographer, but quickly forgot about it while the woman and I talked about traveling alone as a woman and she told me all about her travels to Egypt. We talked until we reached the sidewalk and I realized our guide was no longer with us, and then I heard in a very loud tone, "I don't care, I do this for a living and have specifically set up here for a certain shot." Um, excuse me; but if you were a professional you would know how to use Photoshop and how easy it is to remove tourists from photos. To prove how easy it is, check out my photos below of the arches where the guide brought me to see one arch through another. All tourists were removed from the photographs except for the one that is vertical and shows the guide on the left side of the frame, and tiny tourists below. It took me all of a minute to remove those tiny people, and it is pretty inevitable that there will be people always occupying a shot you would like to take at a national park. You can't yell at them for being in the way of your shot, plus how does he not know I wasn't with National Geographic or something? Again, arrogant asshole just trying to puff his peacock chest. After the tour guide was done with his disagreement for me, we headed back to the Adventure Center. On the car ride back he told us that we were here on the second busiest weekend in Moab, the first being the Christmas Parade. He advise we check out the old cars driving down Main Street, families and spectators lined the streets to watch all of the cars drive by. He said it used to get out of hand in years passed, kids would line the street with bleach and they would roast their tires off until the cops got ahold of them. I thanked him, and then headed to get my tripod from the car parked nearby. I set up right on the curb of the street and clicked away as the cars drove by, it was kind of disappointing that the beautiful old cars were mixed in with ordinary cars driving by but the experience was still a fun event. I stayed for probably a little over an hour before deciding to head back to the campground so I could eat something, and head to bed. Once I got to the campground it was around 10:00pm, I grabbed a beef stew Mountain House meal from the car and began making it. Between one of the trips to the car, I managed to catch my hiking shorts on a nearby branch and totally ripped a hole down the thigh of the leg. I was so disappointed in this tear since I really liked these hiking shorts, I got them when I was on the trail. I took them off, threw them in the back, and put on my Smartwool pants to sleep in. I sat and ate the beef stew, not one of my more favorable of the choices but it would do. Right after finishing, I got into my tent and laid down for the night; tomorrow I head to Colorado!

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