Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adventures in Utah

After a very fun month in California (except for the snake, but luckily Sita is doing much better now!) I am finally back in Colorado. I am also (boo!!) back in law school. However (yay!!!) this summer class is my last law class EVER!!!

I had quite an adventure on my way back to Colorado. It took River and me almost two days to drive from Groveland to Salt Lake City, Utah. This was partly because Tioga Pass, the most direct route east from Groveland, was still closed due to snow. So I had to drive quite a ways north to Donner Pass (yes, the one where the pioneers ate each other). 

I was born a California girl, but here's how I know that I have a little Colorado in my blood after four years: It was snowing a little over Donner Pass, but there wasn't even any snow on the road and it wasn't cold enough to freeze. I put my windshield wipers and defroster on but I didn't even consider putting chains on. There's more snow than that in my driveway on a regular basis! But the Californian drivers were freaking out about the snow. They were backed up going 3mph for probably 2 hours as everyone got in each others' way trying to put chains on. And, after the traffic broke up, I was flying by people at a totally safe speed of 40mph. Everyone else must have been going about 12mph. In any event, I guess I've done enough driving in the snow by now to make it not a big deal to me. But River and I ended up staying the night in Reno because it took so long just to get over the pass.

The next day we finished the drive to Salt Lake City. Then, since APL had Memorial Day off, he flew to SLC and met us there, which turned out to be a really good thing because my knees (particularly my driving knee) have been giving me a lot of trouble. (The stop and go driving over Donner Pass was killer on my bad knee. I probably would have had a hard time making it all the way back to Boulder on my own.) Then, since we had three whole days to get back home, we decided to do some exploring in Utah. We didn't have a plan - just like our spontaneous car trip last year.

So we headed to Capitol Reef National Park, which was extremely beautiful. The weather that day was perfect too. There's a historic Mormon homestead that still makes fresh pie, so we enjoyed  peach pie and vanilla soda and beautiful scenery. Then we kept driving towards Natural Bridges National Monument, which is at least 50 miles from anywhere. It's so remote we figured we'd never just be "in the area" again. But, as the afternoon faded, we discovered that spontaneous car trips with no plan whatsoever are perhaps not the best idea on a holiday weekend. We passed a bunch of motels but they were all full. We arrived at Natural Bridges, which is 50 miles from any civilization, just after dark.

I was afraid that if we drove another 50 miles to the next town there would still be no motel and then we would have driven too far to come back to Natural Bridges in the morning. It was then that I had the brilliant idea of sleeping in the back of our Subaru. Mind you, we had no camping supplies whatsoever. We pulled into overflow camping at the monument (because the campground was also full on the holiday weekend) put the seats down in the back and slept in our clothes under a dog blanket using dirty laundry for pillows and River laying on our legs. There wasn't a lot of room, but the real problem was how hard the back of the seats were. I woke in the middle of the night with so much pain in my hips and shoulders that I thought I was going to vomit. I thought I'd never be able to move again. Perhaps not my best plan ever.

But, when River woke us up at 5:15am as soon as it got light, we both felt surprisingly ok. We were tired and sore, but not as bad as we thought it would be. And we were super happy to get to see Natural Bridges in the light. I guess a good mood can help more than you'd imagine. By 8:15am we had seen all three natural bridges, taken a small hike to see some ruins, seen the first solar panel installation in the country, and stopped by the visitor center to stamp our National Parks Passport. 

Then we drove to Canyonlands National Park. We went to The Needles District this time, which was also really pretty with some crazy rock formations. Utah is a beautiful state. We explored Canyonlands and had some lunch. Next time we want to go back to the Island in the Sky District.

On our way back to the interstate we also drove through Arches National Park. I was fairly exhausted at this point, so I have to admit that we didn't stay very long and we only saw the arches that were visible from the car or a really short walk to a viewpoint. But someday we'd like to go back there and hike up to Delicate Arch, which is the iconic arch that you've probably seen on Utah license plates.

We spent Sunday night in Grand Junction and drove back to Boulder on Monday morning, early enough to beat the evil holiday traffic on I-70. I know I was supposedly resting for a month in California, but now I'm totally exhausted again!! I still haven't quite figured out how to tone down my "adventure instinct" to deal with the amount of energy I actually have. Also, I'm not sure my "roughing it" habits are exactly good for my body these days. But, in any event, we had a really fun impromptu adventure in Utah - even if we did have to sleep one night in the back of our car!

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