route out of the park which was a dirt track across desert lands and dry (thankfully) washes. It's definitely the most intense off-road driving I've done (beats RRG hands done) but is nothing compared to some of the trails that people with proper rigs will drive on
. Nonetheless, we successfully negotiated our way and were dumped back onto the main highway. We spent the next several hours driving towards central Utah, where we planned on doing some bouldering at Joe's Valley. The nearest town is called Orangeville, but basically there was nothing around. (Think 90 minutes off the interstate with 3 or 4 towns, population 100?) We spent the night camping (free) and woke up early to start climbing before it got hot. That happened rather quickly. The valley was filled
with soft sandstone boulders (easier on the fingers than most southeast sandstone) and since we didn't have a crash pad, our climbing was limited to how high we were comfortable falling (or landing) from. One could easily spend months here and not climb everything. From Joe's we took Rd. 29 (dirt) across the mountains which took several hours but were treated to some gorgeous alpine views. (Meadows, Birch trees, multi-colored boulders) The road eventually dumped us out into what I thought would be another small Utah town, but was actually a bustling college town called Snow College. (Anyone know anything about it?) We worked our way south and eventually got back on the interstate and headed towards Zion. Route 89 leaves I-70 and heads south through greanish/grey mountains and lush valleys. This road continues all the way to Zion National Park. (With a turn off for Bryce?) The road into Zion gave us hints off what we'd find deeper in the canyon. Eventually we drove through this huge tunnel carved out of the mountain that brings you into the canyon. As you're driving through this dark tunnel, every couple hundred of feet or so, there were "windows" cut in and as the blinding light hit your eyes, you could catch a glimpse of Zion. (Cue the angels and the harps). I've never seen anything like this...Arches was fantastic, the Rockies were amazing, yet there was something a bit magical about Zion. The sandstone towers form these brilliant dihedrals and lines, and I was drooling thinking about all the climbing possibilities
. (For which I have neither the equipment or the technical ability) The next morning we hiked up to Angel's Landing for some exposed views. The trail gets as narrow as 3 ft. in some sections with a 1200ft drop on 1 side a 800ft. on the other. Luckily, 3/8" steel chains and posts are installed for you to latch on to. After the hike, we pointed the car west towards Sin City.
At this point, I hadn't showered in 4 days, and all I wanted to do was bathe and gamble. (I'd put $55 aside from all the lose change I've saved over the last 3 years). We hit Vegas about 2pm local time and headed west to set up camp at 13 mile campground. Unfortunately the campground was closed and a new mission was presented to us; win enough money in Vegas to get a hotel room. (Besides, I wanted to see the strip lit up) We agreed to put our combined winnings together and make this happen.
We parked at Circus Circus and walked through the casino. Michal had never gambled and was quite ecstatic about winning a few bucks in 5 cent slots. (which she rapidly lost) Chris went through his slot machine allotment as well. So it was up to me. I sat down at the blackjack table and got $20 in chips. 20 minutes later, I was up $95 and walked away to check in.
So we got the showers, got to see the strip at night and enjoy some amazing people watching. Vegas is the height of capitalism (and Hedonism), and I loved every minute of it. I couldn't spend more than a weekend there, EVER, but if I had $1000 that I could easily part with, I'd head back.
The next morning, we checked out early and began our drive to California. As we came over the hills into the San Bernadino Valley, the sky went from a sea blue to a foggy filthy haze. YUcK! My first impression of the L.A. area was rather unpleasant, but our destination was Joshua Tree so we headed East again. Which brings me to Lalajava in Palm Springs from where I type this very moment.
You'd think that in America I wouldn't have this much trouble finding a computer w/Internet access. I feel like I've been away from "outside world" contact since I last updated the log on Tuesday. It's funny how dependant we can become on technology. Let's get up to speed...Rewind three days and you'll find us entering the town of Moab where Arches National Park lives. On my Uncle Ron's recommendation, we tried to get a dose of meat at Fat City Grill but they were closed, so I had these awesome (overpriced) eggs Florentine with a Hollandaise sauce. We drove into Arches and were blessed with cooler weather (think mid 80's not 100's) and a breeze. The scenery was phenomenal, and we only hiked briefly to a couple of the arches. For all you geology buffs, the arches are formed from wind erosion and from water freezing in the sandstone. We decided to take a