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The Road to Moab 16 February 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Uncategorized.
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Beware, narrative follows.

Friday morning: my room is a disaster, clothes strewn across the floor, wallet still in my pants, my shoes are peering at me from outside the doorway. And Goudey is gone. It had been his last night in town, and we had celebrated… well, let’s be honest, too much. But. Friday. I’ve planned on heading Utah to make the most of my three-day weekend, so naturally, I eat breakfast, consider my headache for a while and then head back to bed for two hours to strengthen my resolve.

At two o’clock, then, I hit the road and pass all the I-70 ski resorts on my way toward the Beehive State for a trip that as it strikes me now put me on roads farther west than I’d ever before been. And just to be clear, flying to California doesn’t count as “going west,” first because California isn’t really the West with a big W and second because flying eliminates one of travel’s best aspects: the landscape that evolves out the window. Destination-minded coastal people (of both Eastern and Western persuasions) toss that idea with the dismissive “flyover states.” Excepting Chicago, which occasionally does something noteworthy enough to reach New York.

So at any rate, I pass Vail and Avon, set my cruise control for 76 and begin passing signs for towns with geologically indicative names: Glenwood Springs, Basalt, El Jebel, Silt… Rifle? It is an interstate drive that defies comparison; nothing I’ve seen in the whole of Eisenhower’s grand highway system matches the raw beauty of I-70 west of Denver. Leaving the High Rockies, its path follows the meandering Colorado River staying true even into the narrow gash of Glenwood Canyon, the roadways winding nearly atop one another as they dart in and out of tunnels and around 1000 ft sandstone walls.  But maybe I shouldn’t be awed. This is the West after all.

The land sprawls into the sunset past Grand Junction, a boom town buoyed by the Western Slope’s mineral and gas riches. Around here, new wells and houses appear at roughly the same rate, spurring concerns that when the trucks and trains cart away all the wealth, Grand Junction’s reason for existence will have disappeared as well . The future may promise oil shale extraction — flammable ooze from rocks, essentially — that would dump millions more into the economy if anyone ever discovers a profitable process, or if gas prices return to their 2008 highs. But for now, what money flowing in seems at least sufficient to support the outward creep of Tyvek home wrap, vinyl siding and casual dining establishments.

Thankfully, the highway continues west, unfurling across a white sheet, that featureless expanse of the high desert. Moab lies out there.


Everything I’d written following my return from work just disappeared in the save process meaning this entry will end here at Grand Junction because I feel the need to publish anything at this point, but Moab will follow. For the time being, I hope you can content yourselves with some photos. Arches National Park will follow when I get up the gumption to retype my thoughts.

Canyonlands National Park


1. Mom - 17 February 2010

This is beautiful. Let us know about the hike.

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