(You might notice that the subject line for this sequence of blogs has finally gotten corrected in the last posting of the series! It’s the least I could do.)
It happened when we were in Kanab, UT. It had been a while since we had gone to a Chinese Restaurant. Luo’s Cafe was close enough to the hotel for us to walk to. The food, and especially the hot soup, was welcome on a cold evening after the active day in Zion National Park. We got fortune cookies at the end of dinner. The one I opened up said “In the near future, you will discover how fortunate you are.” I have thought of myself as very fortunate for many years of my life. So this message about making a “discovery” was incorrect in a way, but considering the nature of the trip that we were making, it was still interesting, and perhaps timely, anyway. The other fortune cookie had the message “It is better to have beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.” Please contact me if you can figure that one one out!
Here are some stats from the trip.
According to the odometer in the car, we covered 2579 miles during this trip. This might be equivalent to driving across the country.
The places we stayed in were Denver, Estes Park, and Parachute, in Colorado; Moab and Monticello in Utah; then Monument Valley and Page in Arizona; back to Kanab, Cannonville and Torrey in Utah; and finally Red Cliff and Denver in Colorado.
The National Parks we visited were Rocky Mountain, Arches, Canyonland (two different sections), Mesa Verde, Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef. Places visited also included Monument Valley, Pike’s Peak, Four Corners, and a few state parks. We passed through numerous interesting little towns, including places like Escalante in Utah, and Parachute, Red Cliff, and Leadville in Colorado. We did drive through a town called “No Name”, and drove past a restaurant called the “Bla, Bla, Blah Cafe” towards the end of the trip.
Most of the travel was on the Colorado Plateau. We started off at an elevation of slightly over 5400 feet, in Denver, and probably stayed at an altitude above that most of the time, finally hitting over 14,100 feet at Pikes Peak.
The weather cooperated for the most part. Even when it rained in the night or in the morning, it would clear out in time so that we could do something outside. We had some really cold mornings, even around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it usually warmed up enough for us to get going. We always dressed in layers, and the outerwear would go into the backpack as we warmed up during a walk. The snow that we experienced was not significant enough to cause problems, but it did bring an additional element of beauty to our travels.
One of the surprises for me was the fact there are still cowboys in the west, and that cattle still roam the open range in Utah. There is definitely still a western culture. Another delightful surprise was the discovery of the town of Red Cliff in Colorado. I could have spent more time in that area, including a drive through Shrine Pass. I could probably have also spent some more time at places like Cortez, Escalante and Leadville. But we had other places to get to.
People we encountered were generally nice and helpful. Conversations were not very deep. Politics never came up and that helped us stay out of trouble. The servers at the restaurants were mostly genuine and hardworking, and we ended up talking to some of them, and even tipping more than usual.
There were many tourists from Europe. I noticed very few black families in the parks. This is unfortunate. On the other hand, the number of oriental tourists we encountered was staggering. For a reason I cannot fathom, tourists from India are found in large numbers in Page, AZ.
It took me a significant amount of organizing effort to make sure that we had a place to stay every night of the trip, and that these places would be suitably located relative to things that I thought were good to experience. There was no issue with any of the hotel reservations, and some of the facilities had their own character and were interesting in themselves. There might be one or two changes that I would make if I had to do this again, mainly related to location, but things worked out nicely for the most part. I had also created a list of things that sounded interesting to see and do for every place that we stayed at.
I did all the driving, but Teresa worked out all the details of packing and unpacking and managing the stuff that we carried during our hikes. My outerwear to handle cold weather stayed in the back seat of the car for the most part when I was not wearing it. I spent significant amount of time every evening, and the next morning, working on the blog for the day. I used to wake up very early in the morning and slept less than usual overall. It must have been the difference in time zones that I never adjusted to. But I have also noticed that something like this happens to me every time I make a trip like this.
We jointly decided what we would try to see and do on a particular day, and it mostly worked out. We were flexible in planning and adjusting when things did not go exactly as planned, especially when it rained. Sometimes the advance planning was minimal. We did not see everything we would have liked to. There was not enough time. We did most things together – there were a couple of occasions when I did a little extra on the trails. We managed to not get on each other’s nerves too much. It was good teamwork. Teresa actually started proof-reading my blogs after the first few days. I know it helped, but I suspect that a bunch of editorial stuff still needs to be addressed. I will try to fix errors as I find them.
The return to Gaithersburg and reality was smooth but I would not call it pleasant. The election season is upon us, and it is the season of lying and spreading fear. But a day at the Manna food bank revived my spirit somewhat.
I did manage to rescue the jacket that I had left at the security checkpoint on our way out of Dulles Airport on the 6th. Some people may not be happy about that, hoping that this rather tattered piece of clothing would disappear. But I think there is something to be said about being sentimental about old things.
Here is the link to a page that lets you access all the blogs for the trip in the correct order.
By the way, this is an amazingly beautiful country!