17 July 2012 – Utah

Dad and I woke up and got everything packed up in the car.  We left the car at the hotel, but checked out because we didn’t know if we’d be back by 11 or not.  We walked and used the mass transit system, to get to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Dad stayed outside while I went to the top (10th) floor to take pictures.  I was expecting it to be an open area outside with 2 restaurants, but it was inside instead.  I went to the end of the hallway to take pictures (through the glass) of the Salt Lake Temple in the morning light.  I went to the other end too and took a couple of pictures.  I went back down the elevator to the main lobby.  It was very ornate and decorative.  I found out later that it used to be a hotel, and was turned into office buildings.  This looked like a more ornate version of the hotel lobby we stayed at in Washington DC.  I went back to Dad outside.

Next we walked to the Church Office Building.  A church volunteer gave us a tour and we went up to the observatory on the 26th floor.  The building has another 2 floors above there that aren’t open to the public.  From the 26th floor we got a good view of everything in the city.  I liked seeing the state capitol, temple square, and the university from up there.  It was also nice to see a long way in the distance to the mountains on both sides.  I didn’t understand everything she pointed out, but oh well.

After the tour, Dad and I sat outside to call a list of places to see if they had shot glasses.  We found one that did, Glytz, and walked a decent amount to get to it.  I got my shot glass for SLC there.  There was also a vegan bakery that my friend told me about, so I wanted to go there.  Sometime on the way there, I realized we we’re cutting time kind of close.  We needed to be back in Temple square at 12:00 to hear an organ concert.  We ended up walking a little more than we needed to on the way to the bakery, because Dad put the address in his iPhone wrong.  I got a lemon raspberry bar at the bakery, and we continued until we got to a train station.  By the time we got there it was 11:43.

We made it to the Tabernacle just in time for the concert.  There were a lot more people there than I expected.  Dad said it was twice the amount he expected.  The concert lasted 30 minutes and the first piece was one I’ve heard before.  We both liked the concert.

Next we leisurely made it back to the train station and went back to the hotel.  It was nice to not be walking so fast for a change.  We went to The Gateway to get lunch.  We ended up choosing Tascanos Brazilian Grill.  We both got their most popular entree, which has 2 parts.  First, you go a big salad bar they have.  It also has a good number of hot items as well though.  In total, there are about 40 items at the bar.  For the 2nd part of the meal, they bring out meat on skewers.  It was all grilled on an open flame.  It had lots of flavor with different sauces and spices.  They had bacon wrapped chicken too.  It was definitely good quality meat.  By the time Dad and I had the stuff from the bar though, we were getting full.  We got a decent amount of meat and some nice grilled pineapple before we stopped.  I had gotten a pineapple drink for the meal, and Dad got water.  It was time for us to start heading toward the airport so we payed and left.  It was definitely a unique meal.

When we got to the airport, we realized we forgot to fill up with gas.  Once we went back in town to do that, we went back to the airport.  We boarded our flight and immediately changed when we got to Denver.  Then took that flight back to Nashville.  When we exited the airport to catch our shuttle to the parking lot, it felt like we walked into a wall of water the humidity was so high compared to what we were in out west.


16 July 2012 – Utah

We woke up around 7 and got ready for the day.  First we went to the state capitol.  Once we got there, we decided to do the tour.  The next tour group was a bus full of old people.  We started out with them, but we shortly decided to split off.  Dad and I went to the top floor though, and they were there soon enough.  We ended up joining them the rest of the trip.  We got into the house of representatives room, the senate room, supreme court, and the gold room.  We wouldn’t have been able to get in all those rooms by ourselves.  The guide was very knowledgeable about things and told us some interesting information.  She was amusing and the old people were nice as well.  The group was a lot better than it seemed like it would be at first.  Once the guide referred to Dad as being young, which I thought was funny.

Next we drove to Big Cottonwood Canyon.  We had a map with a few hiking trails on it, some of which were in this canyon.  It didn’t have a hike Dad had seen online though, which was called Doughnut Falls.  After a while in the canyon, we found out where it was.  The waterfall was nice, and there were a lot of people there.  It’s the most popular trail in the canyon.  It was just 3/4 of a mile to the falls.  It was a nice short hike to do before lunch.

For lunch we went to Silver Fork Lodge Restaurant at the top of the canyon.  Dad got a soup and salad.  I got a sandwich that came with a salad.  Everything was good.

Next we went on a hike to Dog Lake, using the Mill D North Trail.  It was 2.8 miles one way with 1,500 ft of elevation change.  We kept going up and up the mountain and came down on the way back.  There were lots of flies on the trail so whenever we stopped they would buzz around us a lot more.  The last .6 miles of the trail were steeper than the rest.  The lake was good, it wasn’t great though.  Mainly,  it was getting up there that was nice.  The cottonwood trees and the wildflowers next to the trail were nice.   Once we were at the lake, we started hearing thunder.  We made it back to the car before the rain came.

Next, we went to Park City.  It was raining, but once we got to Park City, it wasn’t anymore.  We walked on Main Street, stopping at a few stores.  There was some kind of big event going on with a lot of kids and parents.  On our way back to Salt Lake City, we stopped at the Olympic Park, and I saw ski courses, and ski jumps.  I thought the ski jumps were especially ridiculous, and this was the first time I was seeing one.  In the rest of town you could see ski courses, since that is a big part of Park City.

Once we were back to SLC, we went to a Denny’s right by our hotel.  The food was ok.  This was our 2nd time going to one.  We went back to the hotel for the night and got ready to pack.



15 July 2012 – Utah

We woke up at 8, ate breakfast, and went to the Red Butte Garden.  It is a botanical garden on the edge of the University of Utah campus.  It was a lot bigger than all the other botanical gardens I’ve been to, and all of the garden part was outside with no glass around it.  They had an herb garden, fragrance garden, rose garden, and various other things mixed in.  The Wasatch Mountains were pretty close to us, and they made a nice background for a picture providing the sky didn’t overexpose them.  As well as the garden, with the plants and flowers, they had hiking trails on the mountains you could do.  We didn’t really have time for them though, so we just did a small part of one of the trails and went back inside.  Inside they had photographs of different places in Utah.  A lot of them were from Zion National Park.

My camera battery was running low, so we went back to the hotel to get a spare battery.

Then we went to the Natural History Museum.  It is right next to Red Butte Garden, and on the University campus as well.  We ate lunch here and looked at a lot of their exhibits.  They had a lot of dinosaur bones and a good number of fossils.  I’m usually not a big fan of fossils, but the ones here looked a lot cooler to me.  The dinosaurs were pretty interesting as well and I liked it.  After a while though, I got kind of sick of it.  They also had sections on the Great Salt Lake, the first people of Utah (Indians), Colorado Plateau, gems, biology of Utah, and various other things.  I got a little frustrated on the colorado plateau info.  As much as I like the national parks and red rock of southern Utah, I’ve never really understood how the rock formed.  Overall I liked the museum, and Dad thought it was excellent.

We went back to the hotel for a short amount of time, and then decided to go to the Red Iguana restaurant.  It is known for its mole sauce.  They gave us chips and salsa before our entrees came out.  The salsa was very unique and had a different taste than all the other mexican restaurants we’ve been to.  For the entrees, Dad and I both got mole dishes.  He got Negro Mole, and I got Poblano Mole.  All the food was very good.  We drove back to the hotel for the night.

14 July 2012 – Utah

We woke up around 7:30.  The breakfast here was a nice change from the one at Sleep Inn in Moab.  We were going to go to Temple Square but there were tents around Pioneer Park across the street from our hotel, so we went to that.  It turns out, there was a farmers market. There were lots of arts & crafts around, as well as produce.  They had recycling everywhere there were trash cans, and there were even volunteers to make sure people didn’t throw away recyclable stuff.  I got a bag of organic thai coconut curry popcorn, which I sampled beforehand.  We found this farmer’s market quite impressive.

We walked to a UTA stop (public transit system) and rode it to the stop at The City Creek, then walked to Temple Square.  It had a wall around the square that I was not expecting.  The first place we went was the South Visitor’s Center and spent about an hour in here.  It told how family was very important to the Mormons and talked about how the Salt Lake Temple was built.  It also showed what the Temple looks like inside, since we can’t actually go in.  We spent about an hour here.

After going outside for a few pictures of the real temple, we went back inside to get a tour of Temple Square.  It turns out we got 3 “sisters” who didn’t give us much of a tour, but spent most of the time talking about their beliefs.  They are being missionaries for 18 months so that they can get into the temple.  We didn’t go in the Tabernacle at all, just the Assembly Hall.  They weren’t really talking about the building at all though.  Even though they were missionaries, they were very polite and understanding.  Dad asked some questions that helped us figure out what the Mormons believe.

After the “tour” we took a lunch break and went to City Creek.  It turns out this is where The Cheesecake Factory is that my friend Chase was talking about.  I got soft tacos there, while Dad got a chicken artichoke soup and some type of blu cheese flatbread.  I got Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake for dessert.  As usual, their cheesecake is Awesome.  We had outdoor seating, and it started raining while I was eating the cheesecake.  Thankfully Dad brought a small umbrella, so he gave it to me while he stood under one of the patio umbrellas they had.  Dad and I have now been to 3 different Cheesecake Factories.

There wasn’t much we could do afterwards, since it was raining, so we just stayed in the mall.  Dad and I split up to look at stores, and met back up in an hour.  Now that it wasn’t raining anymore we walked to the Tabernacle.  It looked nice inside and there was someone on stage who demonstrated the accoustics of the building.  She dropped 3 pins and you could hear them clearly in the back.  The ceiling was curved which helped make this happen.  However, when she talked it echoed.

Next Dad and I went to the conference center and took a tour (an actual tour).  First we went to the huge auditorium, which had no echoing in it.  Next we went into a room with 12 paintings that told the story of the Book of Mormon.  I understood it at first, but it was hard to keep up since the guide was going through it so fast.  Besides the story, I wished I could have just looked at the paintings more and the artists.  The other couple didn’t like paintings as much though, and their kid was just sitting somewhere bored while we were in that room.  For the last part of the tour we went on top of the roof, where they had plants and a fountain.  I was expecting a lot more plants and grass up there than I saw.  We saw a  fountain and a few grassy areas around it, which looked very nice.  Apparently there was a more grassy area that we didn’t get to see.  The whole time, it was hard to believe we were standing on top of a roof, above the auditorium.  After the tour was over, I had Dad explain some stuff to me from the tour, that I didn’t understand.

We walked from there to the State Capitol.  Found out it had just closed for tours at 6:00.  We took a few pictures outside.  Next we went to City Creek food court to get a lighter dinner.  We thought about The Gateway, but just didn’t feel like walking more.  On the way, we stopped at City Creek Park and Brigham Young Park.  Then we went to get a tour of the Beehive House.  I liked it and thought it was interesting, but sometimes I had trouble understanding the guide’s accent.  Afterwards, Dad said he kept getting bored in it.  Together we would have made a good team.

At City Creek mall, Dad got a salad and I went to a Japanese place.  We continued our journey back to the hotel, going a different way than we went before, so we could see more of the city.  It was 9 something when we got back.

Dad’s guessing we did about 5 miles of walking today downtown.  We learned a lot about the Mormon religion.

13 July 2012 – Utah

We got up this morning around 7:30 and packed up to leave the hotel.  We checked out and got breakfast at Burger King just down the street.  We were tired of eating the same hotel food.  We headed to Dead Horse State Park and the first thing we did was go to Dead Horse Point.  From here we saw one of the famous bends in the Colorado River.  We took lots of pictures and walked around a good amount.  We felt like we could take or leave doing the hiking trails so we just drove back to the visitors center.  It was much more interesting than we thought it would be, it even had paintings of the scenery on the bottom floor, some of which looked more realistic than others.  I bought a small book that had pictures from national parks, monuments, etc. in the Grand Circle.  Next we took a nature trail around the visitor center that was short and decently interesting.  The views around the visitors center, off the mesa we stood on, were great.  Around 11:30, we decided we were done and took off for Salt Lake City.

We stopped at the same Blimpees in the town of Green River, that we stopped at coming into Moab.  Afterwards, I drove the car for a while, then Dad did it the rest of the way.  We got to SLC around 5:30 and took our luggage in the room.  We are staying in a Hampton Inn so I knew it would be nicer and bigger than the Sleep in we were at in Moab.  This is a big Hampton Inn though, since it is downtown, so the breakfast area looked a lot bigger than I was expecting.  I’m glad we didn’t have to park in a parking garage like we did in downtown New Orleans.  The window in our room looks towards the rest of downtown.

Around 6:40 we left to go to The Gateway, a mall close to our hotel.  Across the intersection from our hotel, is Pioneer Park.  Apparently a lot of homeless people live there because we saw them with their backpacks and blankets.  The Gateway was an outdoor mall, which I knew beforehand, and it was 2 levels.  It was pretty windy, which I’d seen from inside the hotel room.  At some point it started drizzling.  It was very light though so it wasn’t a problem.  We came across The Walking Company store, which had lots of walking shoes in it that were pricey.  We talked to a worker and apparently they can calculate the areas of your feet that you put more weight on, and give you more cushion in those areas.  They are sort of personally designing the shoe sole for you.  They did it for Dad to try it out, and it was interesting.  We continued on, as I looked in more stores.  Wet Seal, one of the clothing stores I like in the Franklin mall, was bigger here in The Gateway.  There were a few different clothing stores I’d never heard of that had some interesting clothes in them.  There were certainly a lot of restaurants in the mall, besides the food court for fast food.  The mall had an “Olympic Legacy Plaza” with a fountain sort of thing with water randomly coming up, and kids were playing in it.

For dinner we went to one of the restaurants in the mall, Z’Tejas, that my friend Chase recommended.  He said they had good cornbread.  We ordered our entrees and the waitress went off.  Right as we were about to ask about the cornbread, she brought it to us.  It was moist, fluffy, creamy, and had a lot of corn flavor to it.  Even though Dad and I like completely different types of cornbread, we both liked this.  For the entree I got Wild Mushroom Enchiladas, and Dad got Santa Fe Smoked Chicken Enchilada.  They were both very good.  We both saved some cornbread for after we ate our entrees. Save the best for the last.  Then we walked back to the hotel for the night.

12 July 2012 – Utah

We woke up this morning at 6:30 and got ready for the day.  We were going mountain biking and a van picked us up at 7:30.

The tour guide’s name was Kathy, and we picked up a 15 year old boy, Alexander who was from Denmark.  We went to some “Bar M” trails that are very close to Moab.  It is just north of Arches NP.  We got the bikes off the rack on top of the van and Kathy tried explain to us how to use it.  Then she had us ride around in the parking lot to get used to the bikes.  From the explanation it didn’t sound much different than normal bike riding, but when I tried riding in the parking lot, it was.  The seat was very high compared to my bike, and the ones we rented at hilton head, so it was very hard for me to get the bike going.  By the time we left to go on the trail, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun.  Everyone else didn’t have a problem.

There got to be enough times where I fell and walked the bike, to where she let me and Dad turn back.  She and Alexander continued while I walked my bike back to the car, and Dad practiced his slow riding.  We waited in the van for them to finish.  I rested and played a little on Dad’s phone since I left mine at the hotel.  Dad said he liked the mountain biking and could do it again, but wouldn’t go out of his way too.  He also said it was harder than he expected.  It was definitely harder than I expected.

We got back to the hotel around noon and I rested for 30 minutes.  After that we went to eat lunch at Pasta Jays.  I got eggplant parmigiana and Dad got a veggie sandwich again.  My dish was very good, but it was way too hot.  It was sizzling when they brought it out to the table, and Dad was 3/4 of the way done with his sandwich before mine was a good eating temperature.

Next I walked to buy some shot glasses downtown while Dad drove back to the hotel since he forgot his camera bag.  He picked me up right by Pasta Jays, and we went to Island in the Sky for the last time.

First we saw Mesa Arch again, and then we did the Neck Spring Trail.  It was a 6 mile loop.  It weaved in and out of some canyons quite a number of times, and towards the end of it, we climbed up a lot of rock.  The hike was nice, but i didn’t take that many pictures as there wasn’t anything that really striked my interest to do so.  We saw 2 people that just got done with the trail when we got there, but other than that we didn’t see anyone hiking it which I thought was a little strange.

We went to Grand View Point and did the Grand View Overlook Trail.  It was 2 miles round trip.  The view was better than what we saw last time we went to the overlooks so I was glad to see that.  It was still pretty cloudy though, as it was last time we were in this district of the park.  Dad set up his tripod to take pictures and wanted to wait a while to see if the lighting got better.  It didn’t really get that much better though, so after sunset we drove back to Moab.  I had gotten to drive the car some while we were in the park.

We stopped at City Market for dinner and went back to the hotel.

11 July 2012 – Utah

We got up pretty early around 6 this morning and got ready.  Then we left our hotel to go do canyoneering.  We went to the canyoneering place in town where we signed up to do this.  They gave us a backpack to put our water bladders in.  There was also the helmet and harness in there.  We got in a van with the tour guide and went to the Moab Adventure Center to pick another group up.  It was a grandfather with his grandson.  We continued on into the Sand Flats Recreation Area and parked in a parking lot.

With our backpacks, we started hiking.  The guide’s name was Joe and he tried to explain the cryptobiotic soil to the other people, since they hadn’t been in the national parks to hear it.  He didn’t do a good job explaining it at all, so i’m glad I already knew what he was talking about.

Once we got to our first cliff, Joe started setting up rope and trying to explain how to go down the rope.  It was different seeing Dad in a harness, and I couldn’t believe someone afraid of heights was actually doing this.  I let the grandfather go first, and I went down 2nd.  The total drop was 90 ft.  You landed after going down about 60 ft and landed in a puddle, so your feet and the bottom of your legs got a little wet.  Then you walked around some rock, and went the 30 more ft.  I thought it was a straight drop, so I got confused when I was hanging and didn’t know what to do.  It was a little nerve-racking.  Thankfully, it worked out ok and I continued down just fine.  When I got all the way down I didn’t know which things to unhook so I just let the grandfather do it for me, and learned from him.  We watched as his grandson came down, then Dad, and Joe.  While Joe had been talking about how to go down, there was another group that showed up and it was bigger than ours.  Dad and I could tell that they didn’t seem to be well prepared.  One of the guides asked Joe how many ft the drop was.  Once I belayed all the way down, there was this guy free hanging above the pond for quite a while because I think their rope was too short that time.  When we left that area, Dad told Joe that he was glad he wasn’t with that group.

We didn’t hike much at all before we got to the 2nd jump.  It was by a natural bridge called Morning Glory, the “6th largest land bridge in the world” whatever that means.  We were on a fin next to it, and walked around taking pictures while Joe set up the ropes.  All of us ended up going on top of the bridge, though me and the grandson were more excited about it.  When it was time to repel down, the grandson went first.  It was a 110-120 ft drop, down to below the bridge.  I went down next, and I was very glad I knew what to do this time.  You did a little less than the top half or so like normal with your feet on the rock, and the rest was free hanging, since the rock caved in away from us.  I looked around some as I went down.  I also knew how to unclip the ropes when I got down as well.  Before Dad came down next, a man came up to me and the grandson asking how we got up there (next to the top of the bridge).  Apparently we were at the end of a hiking trail and he was thinking he could go further.  I tried to explain it to him before I took pictures of Dad coming down.  After him came the grandfather and Joe.  Once Dad was down, he started talking to the man and we found out he was from Switzerland and speaks 3 different languages.  It was interesting to listen to them talk and chip in.  While we were standing there, a few other hikers asked how we got up to the top of the bridge.

After everyone was down we hiked 2 – 2.5 miles to where the parking lot for the beginning of that trail was.  There was supposed to be a van to pick us up, but there wasn’t.  We had to wait about 30 minutes for it to arrive, so we sat on a big rock.  It was pretty boring for me.  The other group arrived after us and had a car waiting for them.  As we headed back and reached 191, I realized that the road we were on, was one I’d been wondering where it went.  It was nice to find out.

Once we got back to Moab and back in our car, we went to Slickrock Cafe for lunch.  I got a buffalo wrap and Dad got a veggie sandwich.  They both came with some fries, which were pretty good.  We both liked our meals.  Dad seemed to like his veggie sandwich a lot, and it had been a long time since I had buffalo sauce.  Afterwards, we came back to the hotel to relax.  I took a 2 hour nap since we got up early, and Dad took a nap somewhere in there as well.

Around 4 we left to drive along that road to sand flats.  We drove past the parking lot we waited at earlier, just to see the scenery.  We went a ways, then turned back and headed to Arches NP to do the Park Avenue trail in the late afternoon.  It was good lighting and the shadows weren’t as close to the rocks as they were last time, when we tried to go for sunset.  We hiked the 1 mile taking lots of pictures, then hiked it back to the car.  After Park Avenue, we decided to drive around the park a little, as this will probably be our last time seeing it on the trip.

We drove back to Moab, went to the grocery store, filled up gas, and back to the hotel for the night.

10 July 2012 – Utah

Today is 4WD day, at least for us.  I went to Canyonland Jeep Rentals at 7:30am to pick up our Jeep-for-the-day.  It was a 2-door, red, Wrangler Sport with a lift kit and oversized tires.  I went back to the motel get pick up Teagan, who had been getting things ready while I got the Jeep.

We headed about 10 miles north on Hwy 191 until we came to Gemini Bridges Road.  After a couple of left turns, we were headed on a steep climb.  We passed up a few possible side trips since we were a little concerned about the time and headed straight for Gemini Bridges.  We parked at the trailhead and took the short walk to the bridges.  The twins are located side-by-side only a few feet apart.  There were many steep drops down into the anyone below.  After we explored the area, and discussed the differences between an arch and a bridge, we continued on the Hwy 313, which took us to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands NP.

Shortly after entering, we turned left on to the Shafer 4WD Trail entrance.  We soon arrived at the switchbacks that guide vehicles on a 12oo-foot descent to the White Rim.  Once at the bottom, we left the Shafer Trail and followed the White Rim Trail.  We stopped at the Gooseneck Overlook and took the 0.4-mile hike to a bluff overlooking the Colorado River.  The view at the overlook is from the south of the gooseneck.  We returned to the Jeep and proceeded to Musselman Arch.  We ate the lunch that we had brought in the car since there was no shade in sight.

After our lunch, we headed to the arch and took several pictures.  The arch was pretty popular while we were there.  We headed back toward the Shafer Trail making only one stop at another Colorado River overlook.

Along the way we encountered a movie set for The Lone Ranger.  It was located near Thelma and Louise Point (so named because of the closing scene of that movie).  There was a set of railroad tracks that had been placed there along with several 4-wheel wagons.  Johny Depp was nowhere to be seen.

We continued along the Shafer Trail, which at some point becomes known as the Potash Trail, until we got to the Texas Gulf potash ponds.   From there we picked up Scenic Byway 279 to follow back to Hwy 191 (main highway through Moab).  The scenery along 279 was very nice, although we had to overlook the power lines and railroad tracks.  The deep canyon cut by the Colorado River, together with the afternoon sunlight, made for a very nice view.

On the way back to turn the Jeep in, we stopped at a Gelato shop for some ice cream.  Then is was time to fill the Jeep and return it.

We came back to the motel after a long hot day in the sun getting bounced around in the Jeep by the 4WD trails. I did some laundry and Teagan continued planning the Salt Lake City portion of our trip.

We ate supper at Miguel’s Baja Grill.  The food was pretty good.  I got poblano enchiladas and Teagan got portabello fajitas.

We returned to the motel to get ready for our early morning canyoneering trip.

9 July 2012 – Utah

We got up at 7am to get ready for our Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike at 9am.  We stopped off briefly at Park Avenue in Arches NP for a few pictures in the morning light and continued on to the Fiery Furnace Trailhead.  We got there just in time to get our gear ready, apply sunscreen, and begin the hike.

The hike was led by park ranger Dick Toll.  He began by explaining a few common sense rules.  There were about 25 in the group.

We descended from the parking lot into the bottom of the Fiery Furnace area.  After we hiked a short distance, the ranger would usually stop and spend a few minutes talking about the features we were seeing, and then proceed.  We spent the first part of the hike going along washes between the fins.  Later we got to higher levels.  We saw several arches, hiked through narrow joints, and did some basic scrambling.

The hike was very enjoyable, but not at all strenuous.  The scrambling was fun.  The places we got to see in the Fiery Furnace were really neat.  My favorite place was a large chamber with Surprise Arch along the top.

We headed back to Moab after the hike.  After a quick look at TripAdvisor, we decided to try Wake&Bake Cafe for lunch.  Their menu was a bit eclectic, including Mediterranean, Asian and American.  I got a turkey panini and Teagan got a Miso Tofu wrap.  Both were excellent.  This is a quality restaurant that really cares about their food.

After lunch, we stopped at the Moab Information Center for information about 4WD trails we could take tomorrow.  The collections of books in the center was very interesting. They had all sorts of nice books about the Moab area.

Next, we visited several gift shops on Main Street.  Teagan was looking for shot glasses.  Afterward, we headed back to the motel to plan the next day.

At 6:20pm, we headed toward the Delicate Arch Trailhead in Arches to catch the sunset.  Its one of those must do things in Arches.  The hike to Delicate Arch in only 1.5 miles, but there is quite a climb to get there.  The last mile is uphill the whole way, increasing altitude about 500 feet.

Once there, we saw about 100 people gathered.  We walked around looking for a good angle.  A little later Teagan headed to the arch so I could take pictures of her.  The arch was very nice in the setting sunlight.

We hiked back to the car, downhill, and drove to the City Market in Moab to get supplies for our Jeep ride tomorrow and to pick up supper.

8 July 2012 – Utah

We got up at 7am and grabbed some breakfast in the motel lobby.  We left a little after 8am to head to the Needles District of Canyonlands NP.  Our plan was to begin the Chesler Park Loop Trail, get to the viewpoint of the park after 2.9 miles, and then decide whether to return for an out-and-back hike, or to continue and add the Chesler Park Loop for an additional 6 miles.  A few of the park rangers, plus our books, highly recommended this hike as the quintessential Needles hike.

We checked in with the Vistor’s Center when we arrived in the park at 10:30.  Things are really slow in Needles and they don’t staff the park entrance.  You have to go to the Vistor’s Center to register.

The people in the Vistor’s Center weren’t particularly helpful about trail information, so we just picked up our windshield receipt and moved on to Elephant Hill Trailhead to begin our hike.

We left the car a little before 11am.  We passed 2 park rangers soon into the hike and talked with them briefly.  Before long, we were viewing needles in pretty good light for pictures.  After that, the trail dropped down into Elephant Canyon.  The climb out of the canyon provided the toughest part of the hike.

We soon came to the viewpoint for Chesler Park.  The park can be seen from there between the “guardians” (white and rust colored massive sandstone spires that tower toward the sky).  To the north, we looked back toward the needles and also saw the mushroom shaped sandstone formations we had passed earlier.

We were feeling good, so we decided to start the loop.  We went left.  We took a side trail at marker CP1 after half a mile to take a break in some shade and eat an energy bar.  We continued around the loop from there.  The park looks like a desert meadow with lots of scrub brush.  It is surrounded by large sandstone walls.

As we continued clockwise around the loop, we came to the “Joint” section.  This is a very narrow passage, or joint, between huge sandstone walls.  At times, the passage is as narrow as 2 feet, and the walls tower about 50 feet.

Soon after the joint trail, we came to a 4WD road.  The loop trail shares this trail for 0.9 miles.  There are no trail markers along the road, I guess since it is difficult to leave the “trail.”  Teagan and I noticed a rock cairn along the road.  We remarked about it, but thought it just meant we were on the right trail.  As we continued along the road, too much time had gone by.  So we decided we must have missed the trail sign along the road and retraced our steps.  It turned out that the rock cairn was a marker for the turn we needed to make to continue the loop around Chesler Park.  Thanks NPS.

We had continued about .75 mile too far along the 4WD road, so we added about 1.5 miles to our hike by missing the trail turn.

After we returned to the trail, we took a rest to regather our wits, and then continued.  There was a climb during the next mile that required a bit of scrambling on slick rock, so it was pretty interesting. Then the trail turned to the east to get us to the starting point of the loop.

From there, we returned to the trailhead retracing our earlier steps.  The lighting was different on the rock formations, so we took a few more pictures.

We got back to the car around 7:30pm after completing our 12.5-mile hike (including our missteps).  We were pretty tired, but we drove around the park all the way to the end of the main road.  Along the way, I took a quick walk around Pothole Dome.  The most interesting thing to me was the view to the north of Island in the Sky.  I took a few pictures.

We returned to Moab, arriving around 9:45pm.  We went to City Market to get some microwavable supper, then returned to the motel.