Well, we did not exactly sleep like babies because Sleep Inn being a 2-star motel did not have central A/C, it had a wall unit. And this wall unit was either a) purchased from the dollar store or b) attached to the wall by someone who ran out of nails and screws before he got to our room. So every time the A/C turned on it sounded like a small jet was landing in our room. Then, as it stayed on for about 20 minutes each time it felt like various pieces of it would fall off the frame We tried putting heavy books on top of it to stop the vibration (good thing in Utah they have both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in each hotel room) and then we tried to wedge it to the wall with our hand luggage and eventually we removed several parts sticking out of it which had a minimal effect on the noise but I guess at some point our tiredness just won and we managed to sleep through the noise (Victor was so exhausted that he did not even notice anything).
Next morning we were up bright and early and after watching some cartoons in bed (who the heck invented the show called Adventure Time on Nickolodeon??? And how is this show suitable for kids???) we decided to get a healthy breakfast (as opposed to powdered eggs in the hotel) in town. Moab is a tiny town (less than 5,000 people live there permanently) of one long street and a few side roads in which all the alternative populations of the country seem to happily co-exist. Hippies, bikers, musicians, hikers, girls with tattoos, boys with dreads, piercings, 80s t-shirts…everything you can think of you can probably see it there. It has a bit of the feel of a tiny college town except the students are a bit older and all of them drive SUVs with an attached trailer carrying kayaks, ATVs and rafts. The main street is filled with restaurants and cafes and many people walk from bar to bar at night. It is not really a party city (probably would be if not everyone was exhausted from adventures during the day) but is a cool small town nevertheless.
After breakfast we decided to tackle one of the more challenging trails in the park, the 7-mile Devil’s Garden Trail. Located in a more remote area of the park the trail goes to a handful of arches that cannot be reached by car and is one of the busiest trails. Unfortunately it was a very hot and sunny day and the trail offers very little shade so we had tocarry several water bottles with us and from time to time stop and squirt water directly on our heads and faces to cool off.
First stop was the Tunnel Arch which is only a half file from the start of the trail and while it is an interesting one, it is too far from the trail to really appreciate and in my opinion not one of the most impressive arches in the park.
Then we were off to the Landscape Arch, which is one of the largest and probably most photographed ones but after about an hour of hiking in the blazing sun we knew we were not going to make it all the way around the 7-mile loop and turned around after seeing the Landscape Arch.
On our way back we made a short detour to the Pine Tree Arch, which was one of the best decisions of the day. The arch is easily accessible from the trail and you can sit in the shade literally underneath it. We spend a good 30 minutes just laying on the cool rock and staring at the blue sky and once again it felt so surreal to be able to connect with nature in such a way. It was just us and a pair of Japanese students and we enjoyed every moment of it.
We finally mastered just enough strength to trek to back to the parking lot, get in the car and blast the A/C on high.
Since we were already in that area of the park (and after sitting in the car for 5 minutes with the A/C blasting) we figured we should probably go see the Skyline Arch which was a short drive from there. Luckily it was a very short and easy trek from the parking lot and while not utterly impressive we could still check it off the list.
Time for lunch (surprisingly many restaurants in Moab are open either only for breakfast or only for dinner so we ended up in the Moab Brewing Factory where the food was utterly unimpressive but at least Chris enjoyed their beers) and then a dip in the pool and some rest (yes, we did take a nap every day and I am offering no excuses for it).
In the afternoon, on our way back to the park we were forced to take a quick pee-pee break in the Visitor’s Center which turned out for the better because we learned a bit about the history of these amazing formations. Apparently, 150 million years ago this area was at the bottom of the ocean. As time went by, the ocean withdrew but the salt remained and that is what is underneath all the rocks. Because salt is unstable, over the course of many years it has caved under the heavy weight of the rocks and this has caused entire huge chunks of rock to cracks and fall leaving the surrounding pieces of rock intact and thus creating the arches. As you drive around you can see this is all a “work in progress” as you notice huge parts of the rocks in various stages of cracking, falling and moving (the soil is sandstone which gives the rocks the unusual orange color). Honestly, in some cases I wondered how safe it is to drive and walk around mere feet from some rocks that seemed just about to fall off. But I guess if it took them 150 million years to get here then we should be safe.
After the super hot morning that we had we wanted something cooler for the afternoon so we chose to hike the Park Avenue trail because the huge tall rocks around it keep it quite shaded. Park Avenue is named after the famous NYC street because the tall rocks around it remind of the skyscrapers and building along the avenue.
There are also many other formations like the Three Gossips, Nefertiti, Babel’s Tower; literally everywhere you look is a rock that looks like something. The trail starts with very steep stairs down to the “avenue” but once you are down there it is an easy hike along wide almost flat rocks as you just enjoy the view. Victor loved jumping from rock to rock and decided to make this trail a “difficult’ one by trying to climb on top of every large stone and jump from there.
It was a perfect place for kids to just explore and run plus the end of trail had a ton of geckos coming from under the stones which provided added entertainment. Once in a while you would see another person and say hi to them but other than that it’s you and nature’s grandeur. The trail is not a loop so once you get to the end of it have to go back the same way you came in and climb up the stairs to the parking lot but overall, even young kids don’t find this a challenge (actually, I was the one more challenged with the stairs while Victor ran up the hill like a little spider monkey).
Since we had a bit of time left before sundown we decided to explore the Indian petroglyphs near the town of Potash, only a few miles from Arches. The petroglyphs are drawn on the orange rock about 20-30 feet above the road and are believed to have been drawn by Indian tribes who lived there before Christ. They are a bit hard to see without getting hit by a car because you have to stand in the road in order to see many of them but still worth a quick trip.
What actually impressed me more than the petroglyphs is the fact that Potash Road is a rock climbers’ paradise. All along the road are hooks (?) placed at various heights along the rocks and rock climbers just drive up, leave their cars on the side of the road, pick a hook and attach their ropes to it and start climbing, right there next to the road. This must have been a very popular activity because there were also family and friends who have brought foldable chairs on the side of the road and were watching the climbers. This is absolutely not an activity that I would ever partake in because I get dizzy from the top of the Ferris’ Wheel and I would probably sit on my rope as soon as I’m three feet off the group and refuse to go any higher, but it was s till really cool for those into climbing.
Dinner was at Sabaku, the only sushi place in town, which was actually really good even though all the servers appears to have walked out of a Nirvana video try-out but they were very nice people and the sushi was yum. Back to the hotel for a dip in the pool (a bit chilly without the sun) and the hot tub (which some bright architect decided to place not by the pool but in a tiny window-less room next to the pool) and after a quick struggle with the A/C unit we were all asleep.