Day Two - Arches National Park

Trip Start Jun 26, 2010
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
Campsite #41, Arches NP, Moab,UT

Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, June 27, 2010

Left from my campsite under the venerable old Juniper early Sunday morning and headed back out on the 211, now east, back to the 191, and then north to Moab and Arches, some 50 miles. Cruised up and down the one main drag in Moab, getting a feel for the little place, and looking for a likely breakfast spot. I found the Jailhouse Cafe, Moab's only (I think they say) specialty breakfast place. The spinach/feta/mushroom omlet was indeed pretty good.

Gassed up and headed out the two more miles to the entrance to Arches NP. The booth tender offered that there might be a spot or two available at the single campground in the park, no guarantees of course, this being the high season for visitors, at the end of the drive - about 40 minutes up - and that I ought to go there first if I wanted to try to camp in the park. That's what I did, and it turned out that there was indeed a single available site. The campground host told me that they take reservations six months in advance, and most every site was occupied or reserved for people expected to be arriving later in the day. Lucky me again.

The site I got, the only one left, happened to be right next to the hulk of a burned out RV, still smelling from fire if the breeze was just right. Not too bad really, and I was happy to be able to pitch my little bivy tent. No shade at all though, and it must have been close to 100 degrees. This is high desert in all of its ferocious splendor.

After setting up camp I had all day to ride around the park and look at the various lookout points and arch formations and other dramatic rock formations throughout the valley, and to spend some time riding around Moab, and actually finding some shade to hang out in for a while till things cooled down a bit. Bought some fresh fruit and salad makings for dinner/snacking, and eventually headed back up to the park. Nancy and I were exchanging voice messages, not able to connect directly because of signal sketchiness in the park, and the fact that she was in a formal retreat/teaching situation and only available at specific times and by landline. We never did get to talk that day, but managed to connect on day three when I stopped in Kayenta, AZ at my favorite road-food place - Subway.

Another Ranger Program tonight, this time with slides, and the theme was "Venemous Creatures of Arches NP", including the local, short, midget-faded rattlesnake, the black widow spider, and the local variety of scorpion. Very interesting and entertaining presentation by a ranger who had clearly given this talk many times before, and who was clearly still excited by it.

The main point of the presentation was, if I can summarize it perhaps too simply, that none of these creatures have any interest in harming humans, and all of them are likely to go out of their ways to avoid, hide from, and/or retreat from people. Do you know, for example, what the two main likely responses from a rattlesnake are to a human? One, a warning rattle. A warning that is not to step on them. And two, nothing at all. That is, they'll hope you don't see them as they blend into the surroundings. Black widows will retreat farther into their web if they are disturbed by a light for example (they, as with all of these creatures, are nocturnal), and the scorpion sting, in the very unlikely event that a human should happen to be stung, is less toxic than a bee sting (assuming you're not allergic to bee stings, that is).

Off to bed, well satisfied,educated and entertained.

Up early again, and on the road out of Arches by 6:30AM on Monday.

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