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Moab Food Pantry…and Arches

September 27, 2013

Utah – Monday, September 16

When I woke up this morning, the first thing I saw out of the van windows were big red rock formations – I was sort of in a canyon and it was a spectacular view to wake up to! Tula and I walked around our little campground, and watched the sun come up over the high walls of rock, which made them all look as though they were catching fire. I got packed up, then drove out of the canyon and headed to Arches National Park. The line to get in was the longest I’ve seen at a national park yet. While I was waiting in line, I double checked the hours of the food pantry I wanted to make a donation to, and realized they were only open til noon on Mondays. So I decided to go take care of that first since I didn’t know how long I’d be in the park. I found the little food pantry, and stopped in to talk to the director and one of the volunteers, who was busy dividing up a shipment of chicken they’d received. They finished helping a lady who’d just come in (they pass out pet food for those who need it too) and we got to talking about how crowded town gets in the summer, but then the whole town nearly shuts down during the winter months. Winters can be cold and snowy, and temps can get down to 10 below, and they get a lot of snow, even though they seem to be in the desert.

When I was done at the food pantry, I figured I better make a reservation for Tula at a kennel in Salt Lake City for this weekend. My niece Kim was getting married this weekend in Seattle, and I was going to fly up there for the weekend, so Tula would have to stay in Salt Lake City. Luckily my friend lives next to a vet, and she gave me a couple recommendations. I talked to a couple places, and only one of them could work with my travel schedule as far as an “interview” with Tula, so that’s the one I chose. But, she was also due for a bordatella shot, so I called the local veterinary clinic, and they would be able to get us in in a couple hours. While I was waiting for that, Tula and I did some walking in town, and covered a couple miles. Then I drove out to the clinic, which was quite a ways out of town, and Tula got her shot, and then we could finally head back to Arches National Park.

This time, there was no line at the entrance booth, and there were cars coming out of the park. I was hoping the morning crowds would have thinned out a bit. I stopped at the visitor center and the ranger recommended 3 hikes. The whole park is amazing, and I loved driving through it. Everywhere I looked there were different rock formations and arches caused by wind and weather. I walked around the Balanced Rock formations, then moved on to the Windows, where I walked a couple miles. I stopped at the Fiery Furnace for a short walk, then covered another 3 miles to walk back to see the Landscape Arch. I got Tula out for a while in the parking area too – she couldn’t go out on any of the trails. And then I headed for the Delicate Arch, which I had saved for last since the ranger said that was a good one to see around sunset. Because of heavy rains and flooding, the Delicate Arch trail had been closed for a couple days, but was open once again. The sun had just set, but there was still plenty of light out, so I thought I had time for the 3 mile round-trip hike. I started up the trails, and parts of it went across rock faces, and the path was marked by small rock cairns. As I climbed up and up, I passed a lot of people making their way down after having watched the actual sunset. I figured there must be a pretty big space up at the top to hold all those people. There were a few other people climbing up too, but the light was fading, and I simply hoped I’d be able to see the arch after climbing all the way up there. And when I got up there, the arch was beautiful in the full moonlight. I couldn’t get any good pictures, but it was very peaceful up there – there were still a few groups of people up on the rocks, and I couldn’t imagine how congested it must have been earlier.

After I was done admiring the view, I began to make my way back down. I was going to take it slow since it was a bit darker than I had expected, considering there was a full moon. Sometimes a full moon is so bright, one can almost read by its light, and I also hadn’t expected it to get dark quite so fast! But I was moving along well enough, and was making progress, and I could hear some people behind me. Because I was moving kind of slow, they caught up to me and started to pass by, and then they were very kind and told me I could walk down with them, since they had a good flashlight, and there would no doubt be places where that would come in handy. They were a young couple, originally from Russia, and they were also on a long road trip. After a while, we caught up to another couple about my age, and the group of us continued our walk down. They had a light, but kind of a weak one, so Anatoli, the young man, helped guide us all down, and it was fun to listen to some of his travel stories. Thank you Anatoli, and it was nice to meet you Martin and Madge!

I had walked 10 miles today, and saw everything I wanted to in the park. I headed out, and drove about 30 miles or so in the direction of Canyonlands National Park. I knew there were a couple campgrounds on the way, and even though it was getting kind of late, I got a good site at Horsethief Campground, and after getting set up, I took Tula for a short walk, and called it a day and slept like a rock!

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