I’m definitely back into familiar territory. And with it, familiar faces. My uncle Dick and aunt Karen and cousins Adam and Sarah graciously invited me to spend some time with them while they’re vacationing in the Aspen area this week. I had planned on holding out for another day, to meet them tomorrow, but after a voice message from them and realizing I didn’t know what else to do, I showed up late this afternoon. I’ll likely hang out here until they retreat back to Humboldt on Wednesday, when I’ll finish up my trip my style. I’ll get back to this in a little bit.
But first, it’s back to the vast deserts of “red and sandy” Utah. I had been looking forward to today since I knew I’d get a lot of driving in on my way to Colorado. I had a long drive before my first stop at Moab and Arches National Park. The drive was rather unimpressive, a lot more red sandstone and an occasional arch or two with roadside pulloffs, none of which I bothered to stop at.
Because: I was en route to the largest collection of these natural arches, at Arches NP with over a thousand of them in its borders. Besides that particular statistic, I only found one other thing fascinating about the park: the number of tourists who are impressed by these arches. On many occasions, while looking at an arch in the distance and grumbling to myself about how boring they are, I overheard others remarking, “Wow, isn’t that amazing?”
I’ve never been more confused. Maybe I’m just a sour grape, but I just couldn’t figure out what was so amazing about them, at least by any one in particular. To reiterate: the only thing I found interesting was that so many of them occurred together, in such small parameters, that the conditions to make them could be so overwhelmingly perfect that they could be mass-produced with little effort. They were able to give many of the rock mounds interesting names like “Sheep Rock,” “Balance Rock,” and “Castle Rock.” Fortunately, though, they didn’t name all of the sizable rocks or else I’m sure the park maps would have been littered with “Phallus Rocks.”
So, being as blasé about the park as I was, I didn’t stay long. I took a half-mile hike out to a viewpoint of the Delicate Arch, supposedly the park’s most wondrous arch, but I still didn’t get it, couldn’t grasp why people cared. There are some things that nature does that spark a sense of wonder, makes you question why things turned out like they did, but there, at Arches, it just made complete sense. Simple erosion. It’s just erosion! Get over it. So I left, disappointed but not sorry.
I stopped briefly in Moab again to update my site at the fabulous little Red Rock Bakery, where they advertised for fair trade and played Ani DiFranco music and sold big bags of homemade granola. I bought a glass of cherry coke with free refills and a raspberry fruit bar that was too dry for the weather. Their computers, in a separate room, away from the dining area, cooperated nearly perfectly and I was in-and-out and back on the hot pavement.
I took a road less traveled around the eastern side of Arches, thinking it’d be faster since I would be heading east on I-70 once I got there. But the road was a 45-mph twisty thing that followed a small river through the canyon it had carved and later, out onto a flat blank white desert. I didn’t obey the speed limit once I got away from Moab and the area traffic. I managed to do 70 over the hills and through the soft curves, only encountering a handful of cars, one which bore the first Powercat license plate I’ve seen on my trip.
Once I got on I-70, it was a fast but two-hour drive through western Colorado to Snowmass Village and the Works’ condominium. Karen was just finishing up a delicious home-cooked meal of spaghetti and salad and bread, a welcome meal amongst my fast food fare of late. After dinner I took a shower, ‘cause I needed it, before we all headed into Aspen for a walk around.
Adam and Sarah and I wandered the streets on our own with not much to do, necessarily. There were only a handful of street performers, all save one who were young string musicians preparing for an Aspen School of Music performance. The exception was a guy doing sleight-of-hand and other magic tricks (he called himself an “extraordinaire,” and I only hesitate on agreeing because I don’t think he’s French). He was pretty good, certainly entertaining. We had about an hour in town, plenty of time to aimlessly wander, so we capped the night with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
I’m anxious to get to bed because tomorrow morning, early at 8 a.m., Dick has arranged for us to go white water rafting on the Arkansas River for several hours. I’m really excited since this is exactly what my trip still lacked. I had planned on going, desperately wanted to go, and later dreadfully regretted not going on such an adventure anywhere along my way. It’s just very difficult, nearly impossible for a person of my disposition, to arrange such a thing by myself, going alone. And so this whole thing is truly a godsend, a perfect supplement to my list of amazing experiences this summer.
I’ll stick around Snowmass with the Works’ through Tuesday (I don’t know their plans for then yet), and depart in a different direction on Wednesday morning. I’m happy I’ll have a little more than two days of solo travel on my way home, a perfect opportunity for some final introspection and reflection. And a lot of driving.