06 October 2006

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 6

(Days: one, two, three, four, five)

22/viii/04: Moab, UT (Arches National Park)
44 miles/71 km or so exploring the park for another day

I knew the light had been poor when I photographed Double Arch the previous day, so I went back for a proper shot in the morning light.
Double Arch
As always happens when I'm traveling alone, I encountered a couple who asked me to take their photograph. I obliged, but I hate taking vacation shots for strangers. It stresses me out because I'm afraid they'll be disappointed when they get their prints, and everyone's point-and-shoot is different. There's no settings and no definitive click of a mirror returning to position to let me know the exposure's complete. For whatever reason, knowing I'll likely never see them again doesn't help.

Driving to the next trail, I was unnerved by all the motorcycle riders I saw without helmets. Where I grew up, helmets were mandatory, so it was really strange to see people without them.

Along my walk to Skyline arch, I passed a dead tree in the desert landscape.Desert Tree Skyline Arch

Landscape ArchThe trail to Landscape Arch was full of hikers, but I didn't mind their company with all the warning signs for black widows, scorpions, and rattlesnakes. Even though it's a relatively flat mile to the arch, the midday heat and high altitude took their toll on me. Any time I came across a bit of shade, I stopped to drink water. Landscape arch is worth it though, spanning more than a football field in length. Again, it wasn't the best time of day to shoot it, but these shots will give you an idea.
Landscape Arch

On my way back, I hit a couple side trails. Pine Tree Arch had a great view with trees growing at its base and nearby Tunnel Arch had a little double arch.

Back at my car, I snacked, rested, and cooled off.

Sand dune Arch
Narrow PassThe trail to Sand Dune Arch was appropriately sandy. The arch itself was secluded within a series of tall rock fins. The shadowed rock in the lower center of this picture was about 3 times my height and walking through the narrow pass to its right made me feel a bit claustrophobic. It was significantly cooler though which was nice. Lots of lizards and geckos, some at least a foot long.

Walking back, I took some wider shots of the rock fins.
fins 2
("Sandstone Fins" available for sale at my shop.)

At the Fiery Furnace viewpoint, I sat on a rock. It was nice to be sitting after several short hikes that seemed longer in the midday heat and to be alone if only for a few minutes with an amazing vista: distant mountains, foreground fins and spires, and my favorite blue sky with lots of puffy white clouds. Since it was too early for a spectacular shot of the Furnace rock formations, my cameras stayed in the car, empty. I could hear some French tourists approaching from further up the trail and all I could think was, "Il fait chaud aujourd'hui," but I passed them without saying anything.

On my way back towards the entrance, I pulled into La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, one of the coolest spots in the park. From there, you can see many of the popular formations at Arches: the 3 Gossips, Tower of Babel, Sheep Rock, Organ, Balancing rock, South Window, Colorado River canyon, Courthouse wash, and obviously, La Sal Mountains. I considered taking a shot, but anything smaller than their 1 ft. high x 2.5 ft. wide display would've been too small to discern the details.

I stopped in at the Visitor's Center again to see if they had any postcards I wanted and saw a family of big horn sheep. They looked similar to deer but grey and with curved horns, just like the petroglyphs I'd seen at Capitol Reef. I asked one of the rangers about them and learned that they live around their temporary buildings.

On my way back into town, I stopped at Lin Ottinger's Moab Rock Shop: Fossils, Dinosaur Bone, Minerals, Crystals, Gemstones to look for souvenirs for the fam. I saw some iron ore carts that would've been very cool in my parents' garden, but they were huge and very expensive. Instead I got them 3 spent Uranium cores. They're not Uranium, just rock cylinders extracted from drill sites while looking for Uranium. I shouldn't have joked about radiation with my dad like the proprietor had with me though, because it made him all paranoid about the core samples. I haven't actually seen them since...


One year ago at TTaT: Lost again, it seems, Nate Cushman (part 1 of 2)
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  1. Mmm... lovely. I'm going to have to go there someday.

  2. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I'm glad, btw, that I'm not the only person who gets anxious about taking photos for others on vacation. I always figure, if the photo comes out bad, they'll be showing to people for years saying, "Yeah, we should have asked someone else to snap this one..." But you have such a good eye, I doubt that's a problem, C. :-)

  3. Love these pics - those rocks, er, rock!


  4. Dan: It is really cool. I would try to hit it more off-season next time though.

    Merujo: Thank you. As for tourists, I'm not cutting off anyone's head, but I'm always concerned about focus. I hate all the "depress half way" buttons. Give me focus ring!

    Claire: Thanks!

  5. Keep them coming these posts, they makeme feel like am travelling too! Great shots Claire, I love the Skyline arch!

  6. I really liked the Skyline Arch too, Fitena. Thanks for the encouragement- it helps keep me motivated.