Saturday, September 17, 2016

Moab Weekend

We took a spur of the moment getaway last weekend to Moab, landing at one of our favorite spots: Red Cliff Lodge.  The lodge itself is fine, not great, but . . . location, location location!  Up the Colorado river from Moab along route 128, our room opened to a deck just yards from the river. Here are a couple of photos.

 From our deck.

 At the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

The hotel sits near Castle Valley, an aptly named area of sandstone cliffs and pillars at the base of the LaSal mountains.  We arrived late Friday, road bikes in tow (I know, I know -- you're thinking road bikes in Moab?  We are just a bit contrarian sometimes . . . ). After breakfast Saturday morning, we headed south down the 191 to route 211, a 16 mile paved road into Canyonlands National Park, and a spot called Needles Overlook.

The route had a surprising amount of climb and drop across beautiful high desert plateaus. It was also about 92 degrees -- hot for mid-September, but the ride out was worth it.  I had forgotten just how stunning Canyonlands National Park can be, but Needles Overlook, 16 miles in, reminded me what happens when God turns to sculpture to pass the time. So remarkable. (More on that later).

But first, for fun, can you tell me what happens when an FOM (fat old man) bikes 32 miles up and down hills for three or so hours?  (HINT:  It is NOT pretty.)   I began to cramp up a couple miles from the car, and only got there by virtue of some well-timed down hills. Thinking how badly I needed a Gatorade, I hopped in the driver seat and started for the main road, believing I had made it through the worst. Then it happened . . .

I sneezed.  Which promptly caused my previously non-existent abdominal muscles to cramp into a tiny little ball.  Which caused my always stressed back muscles to seize up from top to bottom. Which caused my shoulders to seize up, which caused my arm to seize up, which caused my quads finally to seize up completely.  Not only couldn't I move, I couldn't breathe.  All this while our car is careening down the road.   Who knew that a little sneeze would set off a chain of events that would turn me into a purple faced human pretzel?  I looked like Wiley Coyote after the road runner gets done with him.  Kathleen kept saying "it'll pass, just drive." I could barely draw enough breath to say "no it won't."

Luckily, I somehow managed to spasm on the break pedal. At which point I opened the driver door, and fell out.   After a long, breathless stretch and some ginger walking to loosen up, I managed to get back into the car and not die.  Miracle in the Desert, is all I can say.  Powerade never tasted so good.

Now back to more superlative things, as in Canyonlands.  The next day, we took a short but truly incredible hike to Grand View Point in the Islands in the Sky section of the Park.  Photos:

The drop behind me is several hundred feet.  Good thing those legs weren't cramping up then . . .

Not bad for a guy who would rather die by fire than by falling, no?  The jump back across actually scared me a bit, but then, I had barely recovered from the bike ride, and even a small leap was questionable.

No matter how many pictures we took, there was just nothing that could really show the scale.  I love this place. It is as unique and beautiful as you will find anywhere in the world, and every time I come, I wonder why I don't spend more time exploring it. Next time, though, the camelback is getting filled with Gatorade.