Last Day of Vacation: Arches!

Woke up far too early so that we could drive far too far to see Arches National Park.  It was crazy, but it was worth it.  Our drive took us through all sorts of Utah towns.  First we went to Provo, home of BYU, where we stopped for breakfast at Hruska’s Kolaches (this chicken just happened to be next door).

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Then we stopped for fresh lemonade at Happiness Within, a wonderful coffee shop in the tiny (populate 2,117) town of Helper:

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Helper, by the way, is named after the “helper” engines that assist trains that are carrying extra-heavy loads of coal through the mountain.  This is, no surprise, and old mining and railroad center.  If you look closely, you’ll see a balancing rock on the mountain way up above town.  Helper’s Main Street looked a little sad, but the young woman at the coffee shop said that they have a great arts festival — she could probably work for their booster club, were they big enough to have one.  We also ended up stopping for coffee at the Green River Coffee Co; Green River isn’t much to see, but the coffee shop was wacky and wonderful.

We saw at least seven pronghorns along the side of the road on our way there.  Our wildlife tally hasn’t been huge in Utah, but yesterday we saw a pika, a green-tailed towhee, and a grouse of some sort.  We also heard — but never actually found — a mountain goat.  Today we also saw a couple of whiptail lizards.

Our final stop before the park was for lunch at the ultra-hippie Ekelecticafe in Moab.  We found this amazing rendition of ‘Mater next door:

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Full of way too much lunch, we proceeded to Arches National Park.  It’s such a remarkable place, and this is one where the pictures will tell most of the story.

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Here are the Three Gossips:

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And here I am having a conversation with them:

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Prescott helped to hold up one of the rocks in the Garden of Eden:

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I did a little work as Atlas:

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And then I stole a kiss: IMG_5556

Then we took the short trail to Double Arch:

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Our next adventure was a strenuous three-mile hike that took us to Delicate Arch.  Actually, it was only strenuous because we decided to do it in the bright sunlight at 3:00pm on a 92 degree day in July with just barely enough water.  But it was great.  First you go by one of the original rancher’s houses:

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Then along (and often up) a seemingly endless (and fairly busy) rock trail:

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And then you finally get to Delicate Arch, which is probably the most famous arch in the park (and the one on all of Utah’s license plates):

 

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If you squint, you can see us standing here under the arch:

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And this is the view if you lie under the arch and look up.  You can see the meeting place of the two different kinds of rock that form the arch — so cool!

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Here’s Prescott waiting (again) for me to finish taking pictures:

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And some of the views just to the north and east of Delicate Arch:

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On the way back, a quick side trail leads to some Ute petroglyphs that date to some point in the seventeenth or eighteenth century:

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We made one more stop for the Fiery Furnace viewpoint before starting the long drive back to Salt Lake.

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As we neared Provo, a huge double rainbow appeared by the mountains:

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Dinner was at the remarkable Pizzeria 712 in Orem, where we had an outstanding marinated beet salad with truffle-ricotta, an heirloom tomato salad with burrata, and a margherita pizza.  Wonderful!  The food in Utah has definitely improved since my last visit here twenty-five years ago.

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