Tuesday, October 04, 2005

All Hail the National Parks Service
or, The Utah Adventure: Part I

While my dear homeland may have dropped the ball on running a decent public transportation system, it has managed to do one thing right: the National Park Service. I have been remiss in my blogging, but last month, Sept. 4-10, I took a trip to Moab, Utah, and decided that maybe being an American isn't all bad after all.

The excuse for the trip was that my friend Andrew has been needing to take a vacation for forever and ever, but didn't want to go by himself, and being unemployed at the time, it seemed like a good use of my free time to suggest to him that perhaps now was a good time for a vacation. I'm selfless that way. A saint, that's me. I expect to be beatified any day as the patron saintess of vacations. In any case, it turned out that he was a perfect person to take a trip to the Southwest with, given his wide knowledge of biology, geology, and paleontology (as well as his non-annoying taste in car music.) Let the educational adventure begin!

Well, almost begin. On the day we arrived in Utah, we had to start by visiting friends from college who are now living in Salt Lake City. Since Marian and the other Andrew have just had a baby, there was much oohing and aahing amongst the requisite Grinnell gossip. Yay, fun people! But then we did hit the road towards Moab and the next day got all the way to... Timpanogos Cave, which isn't actually that far away. It was, however, very cool.

To get to the cave, you have to hike for miles up the steepest path I've ever seen paved, with many switchbacks, and occasional stretches painted red where you're not allowed to stop and rest because rocks might fall on you. It was a beautiful day, though, and the scenery was beautiful. The cave is almost at the top of the mountain, and is famous for having the one of the largest cave lakes in... some geographic area. (The US? The world? I don't remember.) As it turns out, though, to be a cave lake, the water only has to be 1 ft. x 1 ft x 1 ft, and the big one is in a cavern you have to do the special spelunking tour to get to. Oh, well. What we did see was pretty anyway.

When we got out of the cave and back down the mountain, I had worked muscles I didn't even know I had. I think it was a good way to start the vacation, though, because it didn't give my body any illusions that it would be able to slack off.

We got back on the road after the cave tour and made it this time as far as Price, Utah. This was the site of Andrew's famous facial repair, (for which story you can read his account,) as well as the more exciting Prehistoric Museum. Andrew proceeded to wander around in ecstasy until they closed the museum for the day, pointing out various things of interest just sitting on the floor, which he insisted would have been prized pieces in any other museum. They also had an very exciting statue of their famed Utahraptor at the entrance to the parking lot. He is posed in a rather dramatic kung-fu-esque stance, and amused me no end.

Once they closed the museum, though, we did finally get back in the car and drive the rest of the way to Moab, where we checked in to the Lazy Lizard Hostel and got our very own cabin! So cute. And then, sleep, because the next day we had to get up and start exploring the joys of Arches National Park!

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