Arches National Park, Utah

During the long weekend of Good Friday, Seb left to Oklahoma, to see his uncle. I quickly planned a day trip to Arches national park. Jonah got the car serviced for the trip. We were in a driving spree.

It was not a planned trip. By that I mean, we had not thought about this trip weeks before. On Thursday, I started planning on some place to visit. Friday was a holiday on occasion of Good Friday. Browsing through the net on attractions in the neighboring state of Utah, I found these gorgeous canyons. The nearest was Arches national park in Moab city, Utah.

Next thing I know, I was holding the driving directions to there.

Destination: Arches national park, Moab, Utah.
Distance: 404 miles
Estimated time: 6 hours, 25 minutes.

At 5:47 Am on Saturday (25th Of March 2005), Jonah and I began our journey to Utah. The roads were in a very bad condition as it was snowing heavily in Springs. This was the case in most of the places, east of Colorado. One small mistake on icy roads could be devastating. The drive of first 100 miles on I25 and E470 was not much fun as we had already been on it several times.

We stopped at Idaho springs for our breakfast at around 8:00AM; crossenwitch at Burger King. We had been to this place once before with our manager Suresh. But that time it was only a mere drive. But now it was rather an exploration; an enthusiasm to drive and see new places. Things were different now than then.

The roads were blocked for another half an hour, cars were flooding in.. Probably everyone was going to a ski resort. Keystone, Breckenridge, and Aspen, all the famous ski resorts are on the same route. The road was jam-packed and obviously the driving speed was much much lesser than the speed limit.

The next stretch was too good; amazing views; the road swiveled between the mountains, and began to unwind the most amazing views I had ever seen. The sky reaching mountains, or rather canyons, half or full covered with snow, rocks showing its skin here and there. That was a beautiful drive.

On one side was the Colorado River flowing. The mountains, the trees, the snow and the river all blended very well together. The view was totally breath taking.

We could not help but stop at the Glenwood Canyon Park. We could not drive any further until we absorbed a little bit of this spectacular view. We took some pictures, walked down to the river. The water was damn cold.

Tall trees on one side of the river and a railway track on the other and leaf less red-stemmed plants everywhere. I recall the scenes from one of my favorite films - “A River runs through it” which had exactly similar location. But most of that was filmed in Montana, believed to be a beautiful place.

I walked alone down till the river and stood there for sometime looking at everything as though I was uploading every bit of the sight in the hard disk of my mind. There was light snow fall too during the same time which added to the beauty. What a great sight it was. I looked up at the sky and saw thousands and thousands of snow crystals falling down at me. It was the most spectacular moment I had experienced in my journeys so far.

I watched 2 people fishing; an old man sat on a rock with his fishing wire deep in the water. A young man came and chatted with him, he too had a fishing wire. They caught a fish and I saw them cut the wire from its mouth. The fish fell down. I assumed that the old man had caught a fish and this young dude, while cutting the wire, had dropped the fish. I felt sorry for the old man. Then the young man began to fish. I asked him if he had caught any fish so far. He said “no” then he attached a small insect or something to end of his fishing string and sank it in the water. A big fish fell into his trap. I saw him pull it out. The fish fluttered and struggled with the wire still in its mouth. “A Big fish” I said and the young man agreed. He took it, cut the string and then held it in his hand. For some time the fish struggled then it lay there silently, motionless. I felt bad to see it die like that, but then the man slowly made the fish drink some water from the river and let it go. The fish which for sometime had pretended to be dead happily swam away. I shared a smile with the man. “A Big fish” he said and continued by attaching another insect to the string.

After that blissful moment at one of the most beautiful places I have been to, we continued our journey. We came across some strange sights again. One side of the road had mountains covered with snow and the mountains on other side had not a single drop of snow on them. It was truly an amazing view. One would never want to leave such a beautiful place, I remember thinking.

We stopped at Grand Junction sometime around noon and had our lunch. Utah started off with a plain land but as we drove further we started seeing big canyons at a distance.

Map had suggested that we take, 202 exit to UT-128 road but we saw that exit 204 led to the UT-128 road. We assumed that even 202 exit would lead us to the same road and if not would travel back as it was only 2 miles. But for our bad luck there was no 202 exit at all so I drove all the way till 193 exit and returned back. We took 204 exit and started driving on UT 128. On this road we saw a board that said –“No services for another 47 miles”. We had to drive till Moab but our tank was almost empty. 47 miles to go without gas was impossible so we thought we would return to I70 and find some gas station. Since the place was frequently visited by dust storms, there were no gas station or any service provided here.

We also noticed that we could take another road, UT 191 from exit 180 which would also lead us to the Arches. So again we drove all the way back to exit 190. It was already 1:30 PM and we had not reached our destination. We stopped at the visitor center and asked how far was the next gas station. The lady there said that it was just 2 miles away on 187 exit. So we drove there and filled gas and then took the road UT 191 to the park. We reached the park at around 2:45pm.

Time taken: 9 hours (Bad road, wrong miles data on mapquest, some confusion at exit 202 and some stops.)

We bought tickets and drove in. The place was good with some amazing views. The entire place was covered with interesting rock formations & canyons. We stood there in midst brick colored rocks. We drove around the park and stopped at various major points. We had small hike to the balancing rock, landscape arch, pine tree arch and many others. It was truly an amazing sight.

Lastly we climbed a 480 ft to see the famous Delicate arch; it was a 1.5 mile hike up a hill. I did not want to miss this arch. Jonah was not very willing to hike up but he had no option but to join me. It took us about an hour to climb all the way to the top of the hill. But the sight was all worth it, truly amazing. Everyone who was returning back as we climbed assured us that it was a spectacular view out there. And so it was!

At the summit, we requested an old man to take our picture. He said that he was too old and could not understand all this digital stuff, so he asked his grandson to take our picture. He kept apologising several times and told that he could not understand new technology and that he even called his grandson for switching on his computer. I guessed that the man was pretty old, but what surprised me was that how did he manage to climb that height? That was inspiring.

It was a great experience. Tired I was, but it was fun. I remembered climbing up and down small hills near my house in Surathkal and a small hill, on the way to Nandi hills. This small trek somehow lit a fire in me to explore other trekking trails in Colorado for sure. 

As the sun went down the almond coloured rocks glowed. 

On our way back, we met the old man again and he said, “We meet again, I am too slow for you guys.” We exchanged a smile. On our way we also saw a native Indian art drawn on a rock.

At exactly 7:05 PM we left Arches.

A funny thing happened while I was driving. A guy in red mustang was competing with me. He would speed and I would follow him. My strategy was to follow him as he was driving fast and I could trace his quicker path around the slower cars. At some point he slowed down a little and so I over took him. He accelerated and over took me again. He then pressed on the break a few times so that his brake lights would flicker. I assumed it to be his sign to indicate victory! Then he sped off. For sometime, I could see his car; he kept switching from right lane to left and every time he did that the yellow indicator flickered, which made me spot him from a distance. So I too for fun began to chase the car. I overtook him again. But later I slowed down and allowed him to go. It was a fun drive, competing with that red mustang.

Then we stopped for dinner. Tired of eating bread all day, i settled in for a bowl of fruits. I took a small nap as Jonah drove the next 2 hours. At 11:30 PM he stopped at a rest area and we switched seats again. It was snowing badly and Jonah was strained. I drove rest of the way. It was snowing most of the way that made it hard to view and strained my eye a lot. We reached Colorado Springs at 2:00 AM.

Near Dublin- Academy intersection the traffic light turned yellow. So I sped to make It through the signal. Suddenly Jonah shouted, “Cop”, but I was not in the position to stop so I took off. Luckily the cop did not pay any attention to us or maybe he just ignored us.

Time taken on return journey: 7 hours.

This drive boosted our driving skills even further and road conditions did not matter anymore. What a long day this had been and how adventurous it was. I shall always remember this day as one of my best.