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Day 8 :: September 26, 2004: 12:55 PM

Saturday, September 25th 2004
Day Eight

One week is completed, two more weeks to go. Today was the day for Arches National Park. The day was expected to be sunny but not over hot and so it turned out.

We had to choose between SEVEN espresso places for our morning coffee…seven! Moab is not what we expected. It is a mini Las vegas…a town of shopping and –yet again – casinos in the desert. Also a thriving alternative community that enjoys cycling plus driving ATVs in the neighboring three parks and sells anti-Bush bumperstickers (a fake resume for George W. on the awning of a local coffee shop has to be on the internet…I must look for it.) There are also two microbreweries and a couple of dozen restaurants, not including Wendy’s, MacDonald’s and Burger King.

We had to get Mike a hat and then we were off. Arches is just 6-7 minutes away and we were soon enjoying breathtaking scenery unlike any we have ever seen before.
Pillars, cliffs, arches, things that will be arches in time, things that were arches and have eroded further, petrified sand dunes, balancing rocks…and information about the living soil…

There are signs everywhere about staying on the designated tracks because the soil is being changed by—da-dah!! CYANOBACTERIA!! The very things I have talked about for years at Petrrified Sea Gardens in a fossilized form and here they are living and alive and doing stuff…. there was a great exhibit in the Visitor Center and now here they were, little patches of blackish crust: cyanobiotic soil We were very disgruntled to see footsteps on them… they take upto 250 years to regrow. In fact there were people climbing the rocks too…and this is off-season and there were not many people there, but still there were miscreants. Not pleased.

There is a road-trip round the park which they claim takes 4 and a quarter hours allowing ten minutes per viewing stop. We took over 7 hours, but we did stop longer than 10 minutes a few times: we took a walk in a canyon before the sun got too hot; we took two walks at the Windows area to see the north and south windows and the double arches and we went on a walk to the Landscape Arch.

At the Double Arches a boy of about 3, just less, and his dad came running towards as we sat looking at them. He looked up and started to laugh! That had been my reaction – just exuberance at this terrific sight – but adult and supposedly sensible I did not laugh – I should have.

The Landscape Arch, part way along a 7 mile hike that it was getting too late for us to accomplish, is a huge arch that in the 1990s shed a 180 TONS piece of rock. Some hikers – at that time you could still walk under it – were getting close and they heard poppings and groanings and one of them had the idea to put his camera to his face and caught the chunk of rock falling and making the arch even thinner and wider! Since then no-one can go under the arch, the hike by-passes it and goes onto more wonders we did not see. It was here we felt the huge cliffs of rock which were no longer in the sun’s glare giving off radiant heat. We saw deer and rabbits and lizards and a large magpie sized bird which was all blue, and a bird of prey overhead, maybe an eagle.

Oddest sight of the day? A bride, in full and fluffy white making her way up the steps and dusty paths to the North Window and then hiding on a ledge on the far side awaiting the rest of the bridal party who walked up in twos, arm-in-arm to meet her. The wedding party arrivied in a fleet of Hummers.

The eroded rock made all kinds of shapes. Where one of us saw chess men and teddy bears and a man’s laughing face and the (sic) Three Wise Men, the other one saw things that, depending on who you are, I might just tell you should you ask!

At the end of the day, there is a moment known to photographers of these parts, as the Magic Hour. It is really a magic 10 minutes if you are lucky. The red rocks are accentuated by the setting sun as it becomes redder itself.

Realizing it was about to happen Mike raced us to a favorite spot to photograph it and then rushed to another and we did the same. We caught the red rocks and the moon in a beautiful blue sky and then in an instant it was gone and all was a pinkish gray, but definitely gray…what a wonderful end to our day…except we then had a fine meal and local brew, which made it better…now, if only the airbed stays inflated all night….

Comments

What I want to know is which sight was more spectacular: the Arches Park at Sunset or DAD IN A HAT??? I look forward to THAT photo...

Posted by: Ali at September 26, 2004 11:49 PM

You had to get DAD a HAT?

Even before I saw Ali's comment, I was going to say something about that!

I sincerely hope it's a cowboy hat, for full amusement value.

Posted by: Jo at September 27, 2004 05:45 PM

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