Once in Moab, we stopped off at Wicked Brew, a fantastic little coffee kiosk with some of the best coffee either of us has ever enjoyed. They put a chocolate covered espresso bean on the lid for you. It’s a nice little way to start your day. We drove roughly 10 miles down a scenic byway to the campsite, Hal Canyon. Let me tell you, scenic is right. You’re surrounded by beautiful red rock, jutting out all around you, while driving along the shore of the famed Colorado River. This first day in Moab, we take it easy. After securing our campsite, we drive back into town and another 3 miles to Arches National Park. A week long pass to the park costs a mere ten bucks. A fantastic deal for all that the park has to offer. We drive into the park and I am immediately taking by surprise at the sheer mass of the landscape. I knew it was big, but to see it is another thing altogether. Impressive doesn’t do it justice. We drive around the park while I take pictures and ooh and ahh over the sights. Devon drives down into the Windows Section so she can show me her favourite arch, Double Arch.
Double Arch is made from entrada sandstone, like all of the more than 2000 arches in the park. However, this arch is vastly different from the rest as it’s basically a pair of conjoined arches. You are allowed to climb into the arch, but not on top of it. No one knows how long we have these arches to enjoy for, so you are never allowed to climb on top of an arch for fear it might collapse under your weight. Double Arch is easy enough to walk into and climb up, and once inside the arch, you are able to sit in the belly of the arch and stare out into the distance. The wind whips through here with an intensity that once had Devon and her friend trapped in the arch for a few hours until it was safe enough to climb back down. From inside the arch I quickly begin to understand why Devon likes this particular one so much. There is a quiet calm and a gentle beauty to it. After hanging out in Double Arch for a little while, we start making our way into the other parts of the park. Devon is a wonderful tour guide, because she’s been here before and speaks about it with an awe and wonderment in her voice. This place brings out the inner child in her. It’s nice to see this side of her.
For now, it’s back down to base camp to set up the tent and to go into town to look around and pick up some supplies. Devon & I have a few rules when we’re on the road, one of them being that we only bring in what we can carry out. Leave nothing behind but footprints. There isn’t much that we need, and for larger meals, we both prefer to go to a nice restaurant. The town itself has a charm that can only be described as Mayberry-esk. The people lead a slower, simpler way of life that can only be fully appreciated when witnessed first hand. Since Devon & I are from a bustling, major metropolis, we both enjoy this welcomed break from the daily insanity of our lives back home. Here, in Moab, people stop and say hello. They have time to wave to you, give you directions and tips on where to eat your next meal. The major industry here is tourism, which we’re used to since Vancouver is a huge tourist destination itself. The people are kind and generous, and the vehicle of choice is large and recreational.
Back at camp, we survey the area and find the best place and position for our tent. Putting it together was a bit comical since neither of us had touched a tent in a number of years. Once erected though, the whole scene was complete. We looked around at the red rock and the rushing Colorado River within a stone’s throw from our spot. It was a truly magical moment. With the sun setting on us and the temperature dropping quickly, we resigned to the tent for the evening. I don’t recall if we made it through the movie we put on, or which movie we ended up watching. I do remember waking up to the sounds of the river and the traffic passing by on the byway. Opening the tent for the first time was truly an experience. Seeing the gigantic wall of red rock in front of you, looking around and finding out that you’re completely surrounded by monstrous walls… it’s breath-taking.
This is my first time in this desert and one of the first things I notice are the colours. There are some amazing colours out there. Reds and greens in shades I’ve only ever seen in Crayola crayons. I imagine they come with “colourful” names, like ‘Sandstone red’ and ‘Juniper green’. I’m sure if I tried harder I could come up with better names, but I’ll leave that to the creative geniuses at Crayola. All around me I soak in the sights, and think about what it took to create this. Time. With enough time, anything is possible. The millions of years it took to create the wonder that is Arches National Park is impressive. There is an innate beauty in the serenity that comes with the stark terrain. The habitat and wildlife are thriving here with minimal rain and harsh heat.
We rise the next morning with the thoughts of our first hike in the park. Devon tells me that she enjoyed a decent hike off of Landscape Arch the year before and was up to the challenge of doing it again. It’s considered moderate and it’s a little off the beaten path. Just the way we like it. It starts out slowly, marching through what feels like quicksand underneath our feet. Hiking up a small hill and back down again, then around a corner and the terrain changes before our eyes. We are met with the awesome sight of rock spires. These brilliant formations are jutting out from the ground, having been created by years of wind and water wearing them into their current state. I cannot get over the size of them. There aren’t a lot of people on these paths and that’s perfect for us. We don’t come here to socialize. For us, it’s all about the nature. We come to the desert to remind us of the stark contrast of our lives back home, to challenge ourselves and our abilities. This brings us closer to nature, and closer to each other. To see what one is truly capable of achieving is inspiring.
I could sit here and talk about the park and its beauty all I’d like, but until you’ve gone there for yourself, there simply is no way for you to grasp the scope and spectrum of it. Arches National Park is a place where we go to click the reset button. When you’re feeling tired and stressed, and you need to recharge the batteries… you go on vacation, to a place where you know you’ll get much needed rest. We travel to Moab, Utah. Every year. This town and all it has to offer gets better as the years pass. We find comfort in the small town atmosphere, the anonymity. Will we stop going there when someone does finally recognize us from all the times we visit? No. It’ll simply give us a better excuse to buy some land there and make it our permanent summer home. I think secretly, Devon & I both hope someone does remember us sooner, rather than later.
If this has left you feeling a bit slighted or cheated because of the limited information that I shared. Good. That was my intent. I want you to feel inspired by what inspires us, and my wish is that you make time in your life for more travel. Where you go and what you do is irrelevant and moot. I simply wish for you to go somewhere special and reset your batteries. Travel is the greatest ‘easy button’ the world has to offer.