Road Trip 2: The Return

Day 3: Monday, July 1

As early as we could manage, we got back in the car and headed south for Arches National Park. The temperature was already climbing into the 90s. Still surrounding us were the towering red and yellow standstone cliffs and peaks, a promise of things to come.

Arches is better explained in pictures than in words, though of course the best thing is to visit for yourself. The park sprawls for miles, revealing and preserving some amazing features of the rugged landscape — the most famous of which are, of course, a number of natural arches carved over millennia by erosion. Much hiking is available, including a 3 mile round trip to the famed Delicate Arch, but in the sweltering heat we made just two conservative hikes and drove the rest. We’ll let the photos take over from here.

In early afternoon we drove into Moab, the local mecca for hikers, bikers, vacationers, and other nature enthusiasts. The name Peace Tree CafÈ boded well for hippie food, and indeed we were rewarded with fresh lemonade and two different veggie wraps. And Moab’s bounty didn’t stop there! Down the block was an ice cream shop affiliated with a river restoration organization! It was as if we had mistakenly stumbled back into Berkeley — a 70% Mormon Berkeley, that is.

We drove the long way from Moab back to Route 70, meandering along the river and past fields of cows amid the sandstone spires. We again found ourselves following the river in Colorado, as we climbed our way into the Rockies. We must give kudos to the engineers who designed these mountain freeways; the ascents seemed hardly to strain the engine, and much of the time the road simply hugged the river. We amused ourselves by reading aloud to each other from The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, by Oscar Hijuelos, and singing along to our CDs.

At a filling station in some small Colorado town, we signed the guestbook — a somewhat ragged spiral notebook — and saw that previous customers had come from all over the country and even some foreign nations. The filling station isn’t the only thing that brings visitors to this town, however; apparently a huge country music festival had been held over the weekend. We saw dozens of empty white tents still waiting to be taken down.

The drive through Colorado was uneventful, though we did note that amid ski towns along the freeway, it seems to be the custom to give every house a different colored roof. Hardly a condo, chalet, or shop had a black roof; instead, green, red, and even pink and blue were the shingles of choice.

One other item worth mentioning is that, much to our confusion, we kept seeing signs for Denver, “Gateway to the Rockies.” Of course, we knew we were headed for Denver; we planned to spend the night there. But we thought we were already in the Rockies. And certainly we expected the Rockies to end well before Kansas and Nebraska. Eventually we realized our mistake, that those signs were biased toward visitors from the East; never mind that we saw the signs while west of Denver!

We stopped for the night at Cherry Creek State Park within the Denver city limits. The grounds were adequate but unexciting. The only thing worthy of note was the bugs. For the first and only time in our journey we were plagued by mosquitoes, from the moment we stepped out of the car. By some miracle we managed to keep them out of the tent, but the little bloodsuckers definitely curbed any desire to explore.

Day 4 »

Cliffs Gnome King Balanced Rock Balanced Rock Up Close Being Watched Upper South Window Delicate Arch
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Epilogue