Rattlesnake and the Fiery Furnace

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
1
11
45
Trip End Aug 16, 2009


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow
Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Colorado
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another hot day in Moab, and we bid La Quinta adieu (the sign outside promised that "You'll love our new rooms" and we have.) Today’s first destination is Arches National Park, home to Delicate Arch (you can see our grainy picture), Balanced Rock (an RV-sized boulder perched on a hundred-foot pinnacle), and Fiery Furnace Ranger Guided Tour.

Again, we want to thank Geddes for this recommendation, which lasted about three hours and put us in the able hands of a woman I’m calling ranger Amy because I can’t remember her name and she had a perky knowledgeableness shared by most Amy’s I know. The hike was beautiful, and led us through true wilderness—no trails—and up, through, and under soaring arches, rock “fins” and rock “amphitheaters.” We had a number of Canadians and families in our group (and even a combination of the two), which meant children and all their attendant joys. One in particular took a shining to Ranger Amy, and would fight his way past anyone to pepper her with questions and random factoids (“I saw a deer yesterday. It was dead.”) Normally, this would be endearing, but in his excitement to get to the front of the line he would often break both of the only two rules we operated under (1: stay single file while perched on slick stone ledges (most of the tour) and 2: stay with your family.) We could understand why his family would allow him to break the latter rule, but his pushiness was a bit much for Maribeth, so she pushed him into a crevice to teach him a lesson.

Just kidding. But she was tempted.

On the tour, we learned that Moab receives a scant 8 inches of rain a year, and we were “lucky” enough to see at least an inch of it in the form of a massive downpour. (Just a note on western rain showers: We’re not sure if it’s the open vistas or the nature of the clouds, but you can actually see rainstorms occurring – big tendrils of rain stretching down from ominous looking clouds.  Disconcerting and beautiful.)

On to Hole 'N Rock, a 5000 square foot home hewn out of the side of a Moab cliff, surrounded by a collection of old-timey signs, “junk art” sculptures, and cheap knick-knacks so numerous that the place operates like a kitsch black hole.  Aesthetic sense comes here to die. We took a 12 minute tour of the house, carved out by a couple over the course of 50 years, complete with kitchen, bathroom, and even a fireplace with a 65-foot chimney tunneled out of the rock. They even stuffed and mounted the two mules they worked with over the years and (creepily enough) kept them in the bedroom.  Yikes.

After a quick lunch at Milt’s Burger Joint (which was great – fresh milkshake, pile of cheesy fries, and a blue-cheese crusted burger) we hit the road. Destination: Boulder CO, 350 miles away. We made good progress along the spaghetti noodle highway up through the Rockies, including a jog along the highest interstate in the country (at over 11,000 feet), surrounded by snow in July, and through the ritzy towns of Aspen and Vail. The green landscape was a welcome sight after days of arid scenery.  Also odd was the evidence of population—the roads grew wider, traffic more abundant, and mountain towns gave way to exurban McMansions, suburban sprawl, and then Denver’s downtown skyscrapers. How odd was it to see 6 lanes of cars after the emptiness of Arches Park just hours before?

We ate at a Denver landmark – the Buckhorn exchange. The restaurant occupies a western saloon-like house jam packed on the inside with the heads of all manner of animals, most of which can be found on the menu…which is how we came to eat, between the two of us, rattlesnake (does not taste like chicken), elk (tastes like the zoo smells), bison, and pork ribs. Feeling stuffed and fearing that we might be on a PETA watch list, we hightailed it to Boulder. More on this hippy haven tomorrow.
Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: