Into Utah

Roadside stop in Colorado

27th June – 260 miles from Frisco, Colorado to Grand Junction, Colorado

We started the day with a quick trip to the factory shopping outlet in Silverthorne, where we hoped to pick up some bargains but came away with nothing but a couple of T shirts that would at least tide us over so that we wouldn’t have to make another laundrette run on the trip.

Eagle, Colorado

The rest of the morning was spent driving west, with a lunch stop in the small town of Eagle.

In the afternoon we drove up Grand Mesa, the largest flat topped mountain in the world, rising 6000 feet about the surrounding valley.

On the way up I started feeling rather uncomfortable and in need of, to use an American euphemism, a rest room; and not just for the sort of quick thing that can be done easily at the side of the road. I was hoping we’d find some kind of visitor centre with facilities, but I was beginning to think that I’d need to pull over and hope I could find somewhere out of sight in the woods. Bears do it, after all…

To my amazement, we rounded a bend and there, just at side of the road by a scenic viewpoint, were a pair of outhouses. I pulled in and literally sprinted towards them.

Caught short on Grand Mesa, Colorado. Photo by Spencer

I have to say, it was one of the least pleasant experiences of the trip. The facilities were basically a seat above an open pit. Needs met, though, I was able to continue in comfort.

That comfort turned to some stress on the way down. We nearly ran out fuel. The climb up the Mesa had taken a toll on fuel efficiency, and the low fuel light was showing all the way down. I think we were more or less running on fumes by the time we reached the bottom and the nearest gas station.

Refuelled, we carried on to Grand Junction, Colorado, hoping for a quiet and cheap overnight stay. It didn’t quite work out that way, as there was a big country music festival taking place in the area and we ended up paying full price for the last room in a Motel 6 on the outskirts.

28th June – 220 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Monticello, Utah

Heading into Utah the next morning, we stopped at the visitors centre and decided to phone ahead for accommodation for the next couple of days. We were now heading well into tourist season and were conscious of the remoteness of the area and potential to come unstuck, especially when it came to finding suitably cheap rooms.

We booked our room for the night in Monticello and then drove on for a lunch stop at a diner in Moab, Utah, which served excellent omelettes and was extremely efficient with coffee refills.

Our lunch stop in Moab, Utah

In the afternoon we set off for the Arches National Park.

The road into the Arches National Park, Utah

The views were spectacular. The highlight of the park is probably the Delicate Arch, which is, rather confusingly, not the most delicate of the arches. I almost came unstuck climbing down to get a shot and then finding that it was much harder to get back up.

I managed to get down here for a shot…

… but it was a struggle to get back up

The shot I was trying to get… Delicate Arch

We did several miles of trails across the desert between the various arches. It would have been useful to take shots of the trail signs at each arch, so that I could I remember which was which!

Skyline Arch, Arches National Park

The most delicate of the arches is Landscape Arch, and by the time we got to it the sun had moved around leaving a wonderful pinkish glow to the scene.

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

After leaving the park we headed on to Monticello. With the benefit of hindsight, Monticello was OK for a pit stop but we’d have been much better off staying in Moab. I returned to Utah in 2003 on a solo photographic trip and spent a couple of nights in Moab, which was lively and full of shops, restaurants, and bars. Monticello, on the other hand, was all but closed on a Saturday night and we ended up eating in a Taco Bell attached to a gas station.

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Next: “To the Grand Canyon”