Why do the state route signs look like beehives?
On the road, again. Heading north to the Arizona-Utah border via Route 89. I like to look at Google Maps while I write these, just to remind myself of the route and towns we passed through. We ended up going over the Glen Canyon Dam, but now I’m wishing we had taken 89A as a detour to see Marble Canyon…I would often think of the sights and experiences that we missed by choosing a particular route, but that’s just the bittersweet nature of a roadtrip. You either have a plan, or you don’t, but you have to try and enjoy what comes your way.
Before I get to the pictures, of which there are many, since Utah is really beautiful and warranted many, I want to say something that first occurred to me when we were somewhere in South Dakota, and was in the back of mind for most of the trip. This country is absolutely massive. While that may be obvious from looking at a map, it doesn’t really hit you (and it does hit you, either emotionally as some sort of quasi-religious experience, or it actually physically hits you as you veer off of the road into a Joshua tree from sheer boredom) as a tangible thing until you cross it. Anyone who has driven a car, ridden a motorcycle, or commandeered a recreational vehicle in a haphazard fashion, not to mention run or cycled across those vast holy-shit-we-have-been-going-for-over-400-miles-and-everything-still-looks-the-same distances has probably felt this. A feeling of massive scale, of city after city, town after town, filled with people living out their lives, towering mountain after towering mountain and boundless plain after boundless plain, all within the same national border. First trains, then planes, then phones, then the internet have led us to take for granted the almost unimaginably gigantic physical space between taco trucks in Los Angeles and cocktail bars in New York City, even though they sit next to each other on a Top 10 Something-or-another list. If you have the opportunity to drive across, you should do it before Google takes away our steering wheels.
Our first stop in Utah was Dixie National Forest, which is right between Zion NP and Bryce Canyon NP, both of which get way more press than humble little Dixie. Which is probably fair, since both of those places look amazing. But once again Porter, though we love her, limited our options. However, it was a beautiful place and we pretty much had it to ourselves. We arrived to an empty ranger station with a sign that said something along the lines of “See You Next Season!” and a hand-carved wooden map of the area. We drove up into the hills, through a meadow rimmed by brilliant yellow aspens, to the Virgin River Rim Trail. There were only two cars at the trailhead, and one of them was leaving as we arrived, so we opted to camp out out on a point below the parking lot and go for a quick out-and-back hike.
The view from where we set up camp, looking toward Zion NP at sunset.
Unfortunately the wine wasn’t very good, but I suppose it was good enough for ramen and tofu dogs.
The next morning was windy and frigid, so we wasted no time getting back on the road. We were headed north to Salt Lake City to visit Katie, the hutmaster at the Lakes of the Clouds AMC hut while Becca was working there. She was working on her Masters in Geology at the University of Utah, and has since started her doctorate in Switzerland, which is really badass! We spent the next few days with her hiking and discussing the intriguing habits of Mormons (we even visited the zero point [0,0] of Salt Lake City, where the LDS temple is located). Katie also explained the meaning of the beehive road signs in Utah; the beehive is the state symbol of Utah, and symbolized hard work and industriousness to the early Mormon settlers. Hiking is hard work and beer brewing is industrious so we hiked a lot and drank plenty of local brew.
Porter and Murray foraging at ~11,750′ on Mount Timpanogos.
After a great few days with Katie and Steven, a native Utahite (?), we bid farewell and drove down to Moab. Moab was a bit of a whirlwind day since we were on a schedule to meet people in Colorado; we did a trail run through a canyon out to Morning Glory Arch, drove through Arches NP, camped somewhere in the desert, and got up at the crack of dawn to drive to Colorado.
This “balancing” rock is just further evidence of my theory that the National Parks were constructed by the United States government in order to give the masses something to be wondered and inspired by, as well as be a revenue stream. How do all the parks have so much amazing stuff crammed into such a relatively small area? It really should be investigated.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to get a picture of Delicate Arch without someone doing a yoga pose underneath. We saw one photographer with a sleeping pad who looked like he was in it for the long haul. A few thousand downward dogs, selfie-stick selfies, and synchronized jumps later, and then he’ll have his perfect people-less frame.
Waking up with a view of the La Sal Mountains.
Morning light reflected off of the cliffs as we made our way to Colorado. Utah is an incredibly beautiful state; I’m sure we’ll go back one day.