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Moab - Rocks & Arches Galore

Saturday, September 30

- Woke up in Durango, Colorado.

- Drove to Hermosa Creek Grill. I had the breakfast burrito, and Chris had eggs benedict. The portions were *huge* which seems to be a staple in the U.S. - but also delicious.

- Moved on towards the Million Dollar Highway section. At first we thought the rain was going to ruin our views of it, but it eventually cleared up.

- Stopped in Montrose to buy some bagels.

- Drove to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It was free national park day. First we stopped at Gunnison Point - and then went to the visitor center. The weather forecast looked bleak, with rain forecast for the whole day. The ranger warned us not to hike if there was any lightning. Some bikers were breathing hard after the 10 steps back up from the visitor center view point.

- We decided to drive to the end of the Black Canyon to do the Werner Point Trail - while the weather was still decent.

- Made it to the view point at the end of the hike, and started to eat our bagels. And then the bad weather rolled in, complete with the lightning that the ranger had warned us about. We took some cover, kind of, under a juniper tree.

- The weather let up and we made it back. We took in a few more viewpoints, Chasm and Painted Wall. And then one more for good measure, Pulpit Rock Overlook.

- Drove back to Montrose. Got out of the truck, and couldn't find my wallet anywhere. Thinking I had to have lost it on the hike somehow, we called the Black Canyon visitor center, and asked. But nobody had turned one in. Gave the truck one final search, and lo and behold, the wallet was there. Relief.

- Went to the Montrose Oktoberfest and tried many different beers. The favorite breweries were Avery (Chai High and Liliko'i Kepolo, a Belgian style white) and Snow Capped (a cidery) and the Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin from New Belgian.

- Watched a stein holding competition. Really annoying announcer.

- Drove to Grand Junction and picked up some Nepalese food from Namaste.

- Checked into the Cherroke bed and breakfast. Ate our Nepalese food on the balcony overlooking the orchard.

- Went in the hot tub - met some people from Fort Collins.

Sunday, October 1

- Went and had a muffin and fruit for breakfast, because Poppy was too busy harvesting grapes to make us eggs.

- Drove to the Colorado National Monument. Started with the Devil's Kitchen - a short hike that ended at an interesting rock formation.

After that we drove around the monument, and stopped at a few viepoints, including Artist's Point and Otto's Trail. Also saw the Coke Ovens.

- Went to Grand Junction for lunch and ate at Cafe Sol. I had a chicken panini and butternut squash stew. Chris had a giant peachy keen salad.

- Drove to Palisade and rented some electric bikes to tour the wine region with.

- We started at Veraison Winery where we learned you should drink white wines down the center of your mouth, and reds on the side. And choose your bottles of wine by percentage of alcohol (12.5 to 14 for white) and 13 to 15 for red.

- Next up was Maison La Belle Vie Winery. We tried quite a few red wines, and they were all pretty good. Bought a bottle of the Syrah Blend.

- Next we went to Red Fox and tried a flight of ciders. We also watched the Grand Junction Air Show in the background.

- We tried to find one more winery, but we got lost. so we ended up at the Palisade Brewing Company. Tried 4 beers there and had some popcorn.

- Then we electric-biked around the river park area and used up most of our batteries. Had just enough to get back.

- Went for dinner at the Palisade Cafe. I had a chicken naan wrap and Chris had fish tacos.

- Capped off the night in the hot tub.

Monday, October 2

- Had fruit and coffee for breakfast again. (Even though the harvesting was finished and it was raining out).

- Went and picked up some sandwiches at Roasted Espresso and Subs.

- Drove in the rain towards the Moab area. Took the scenic byway (highway 128) which had some pretty great views of red stone mountains.

- Arrived at Fisher Towers, and it was still raining pretty heavily. Ate our sandwiches and hoped the rain would quit. It didn't.

- We decided to hike it anyways. The rain had created some muddy chocolate rivers and waterfalls. Hiked to The Titan - the tallest of the towers.

- Once we made it back to the car, the rain stopped.

- Drove to Moab and picked up some chai teas from the Moab Garage Company and a quesadilla from food truck 'Quesadilla Mobillia'.

- Went and hiked the Corona Arch hike. Also saw the Bowtie Arch.

- Went and checked into the Red Moon Lodge.

- Went for dinner at El Charro Loco. Delicious enchiladas!

Tuesday, October 3

- Had breakfast at our Red Moon Lodge (pancakes).

- Talked to the girl working at the lodge about the Moab housing crisis.

- Picked up by Josh from Paddle Moab who took us to our stand up paddle boarding launch point on the Colorado River.

- Started SUPing, and encountered our first white water rapid right away. We were advised to go in on our knees but I apparently didn't hear him and made it through the rapids successfully while standing.

- Then we encountered the second rapid - we both decided to kneel for this one, it looked way too tough to stand.

- On the third rapid, I tried to stand up through it, but fell off into the freezing cold water. Chris was going to stand up as well, but saw me fall in, and thought better of it.

- On the fourth rapid, it was technically a class II rapid and there were some parts that looked impossible for us to try and SUP through. We tried to do a bit of it, and I fell in again.

- The scenery was definitely very nice the whole way down the river, with the large red stone walls on both sides of us. Saw a few blue herons.

- Came back to the room, freshened up and headed to the Moon Flower co-op to buy some groceries for our hike.

- Went to the Arches National Park visitor center and obtained our permit for the Fiery Furnace. We had to watch a 5 minute video on respecting the Fiery Furnace and navigating around it.

- Drove to the William Granstaff trailhead and started hiking towards the Morning Glory arch / natural bridge, with it's 240 foot span. Stopped and ate our lunch along the way.

- Went to Miguel's Baja Grill for dinner. Good margaritas. Chris finished her M.O.A.B (Mother Of All Burritos).

Wednesday, October 4

- Went to the Love Muffin for breakfast and had huevos rancheros and a breakfast panini.

- Drove over to Arches National Park; we were still early enough to beat the rush.

- Headed straight for the Devil's Garden trailhead. We were the 9th car to arrive.

- Hiked up to Landscape Arch. There was a loud group of people there. They seemed to be shouting very loudly even though they were about 5 feet apart. Kind of ruined the tranquility of the place.

- Then we hiked over to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. Took in some good views on top of a fin looking down into an expansive canyon.

- Next up was Double O Arch, with a large arch on top and a smaller arch below.

- Walked over to Private Arch. Walked towards, but not on top of it.

- Came to a point in the trail where we had to walk through a cold pond that had formed.

- Made it back to near the beginning of the trail, and took in some bonus arches (Pine Tree and Tunnel).

- Back at the parking lot, what a difference from the morning! All 150 stalls were completely full.

- Drove over to Fiery Furnace. At first we were navigating the area pretty well, and locating the little arrows that the park service provided this year.

- We stopped and had some lunch and a few other Fiery Furnace goers passed us by. We wandered around for a bit and came across Skull Arch. We never did find Surprise Arch.

Continuing on, we thought we were doing quite well until we ran across a section with a few different options. We tried them all, to no avail. Eventually another group showed up, and they tried the same options, and at first it seemed like we were stuck.

But then one guy found one of the little arrows. It involved scrambling along the side of a wall in kind of a V shaped crevice. Once we made it through that challenging part, navigating the rest of the Fiery Furnace wasn't too bad. There were a few more tight spots along the way.

- Once we made it out of Fiery Furance we stopped at a couple more viewpoints, including Double Arch, drove past Balanced Rock, and stopped at Panorama Point.

- Left the park and went for dinner at Arches Thai. There was a long wait, so we went and bought some groceries in the mean time. When we did finally end up eating we had a panang curry and a pad thai - both were very good.

Thursday, October 5

- Went and picked up our mountain bikes at Chile Pepper. It took a while, but they did set us up with some very nice mountain bikes.

- Picked up some breakfast at Eklectic Cafe (breakfast bagel and breakfast burrito) and ate them on the way to Dead Horse Point.

- Rode on the Intrepid Bike Trail, starting with the green loop (easiest) which was still a little tricky for first time mountain bikers.

Then we connected to Pyramid and Big Chief, at which point we ran into a large snake that covered the width of the mountain bike trail. Chris exclaimed 'I hope it's not a rattle sn...', at which point it started rattling it's tail

Next up was crossover - at which point the trails started getting more difficult. But our skills had improved a bit as well and we were doing pretty will making it up, over, and down the slick rocks and bumps.

We moved on to Whip Tail which was getting into the blue/black sections, along with Prickly Pear. During much of the ride we had some amazing views of Island in the Sky.

We finished up on a green section at the very end - which now seemed very easy compared to when we first started.

- Drove out to Dead Horse Point and had lunch with a chipmunk, along with some more impressive views of the canyon below.

Walked around the point and then drove back to Moab for some cryogenic ice cream at the Moab Garage Company (reese's pieces and blueberry basil).

- Returned our bikes, but forgot to give back the helmets. Walked around the Red Moon Lodge property and visited the chickens. Then we relaxed at the pond before heading out to dinner.

- For dinner we had burgers and onion rings at Milt's. And then went to Gearheads, an outdoor store with everything under the sun that is outdoor related.

Friday, October 6

- Had breakfast on the road on the way to Canyonlands. Stopped at the visitor center to grab our permit for the White Rim Road.

- Stopped at Mesa Arch. A very nice arch with a nice view of the Canyonlands through the arch.

- Then we stopped at Grand View Point and took in the great views of the canyons, Needles, etc. We didn't do the 2 mile hike to the viewpoint, but regretted it later.

- Started our drive down Shafer Trail into the canyon. There were some narrow switchbacks. Amazing views the whole way.

At the bottom it turns into the White Rim Road and we drove out to Musselman Arch. It was tempting to walk across it, but we resisted.

- Next we stopped and hiked out to Gooseneck Overlook, where the Colorado river takes a 180 degree turn. Probably one of the best views we saw on our trip. Definitely took a lot of photos here!

- Drove back to the Potash road intersection. The road started to get a little rougher here, and we were glad to have the ground clearance of a pickup truck. We continued along, past a balancing rock, and the Potash mining operation, which actually produces some very vivid blue colors in the middle of this very brown area.

- Made it to the end of the road, and by this point Chris was complaining about her sore neck from all the bumps we encountered.

- Started our drive back to Durango. On the way we stopped at Wilson's Arch and hiked the steep trail to the top. Even though it was apparently not quite as large as other arches we saw (91 feet), it felt quite a bit bigger, being so close to it.

- The rest of the drive back to Durango was fairly boring. We were glad to get there and check into our Airbnb condo.

- Took the trolley into downtown for a dollar each and had a flight of beers at Animas Brewing Company. They were ok but maybe not our style of beers.

- Then it was on to Fired Up for some delicious wood fired pizza. Chris had arugula, fig, mozzarella, and tomato. Mine was pepperoni, with some chile flakes and some roasted red peppers.

- Headed over to Steamworks for a few more beer samples. We liked these ones more (Hefeweizen, Dunkel). And we learned what the SRM value meant in relation to beer (color).

- Driven home by a college kid Uber driver in what appeared to be a very nice Lexus.

Saturday, October 7

- Went to the Pethaus, and played with some kittens.

- Saw the end of some sort of Durango parade.

- Went for Crepes at Michel's and enjoyed the beautiful day.

- Walked around downtown Durango and took it easy. Walked along the river path.

- Grabbed some tacos at Nini's and headed to the airport.