Fri. Oct. 11, 2013:
As we planned our drive, figuring out how to get to the arches that were accessible we found out that Utah was going to use its own funds to open up the State Parks… the next day- AUGH! When I went downstairs to grab free breakfast everyone was glued to the TV watching CNN, the shut-down was still in effect. Clearly whoever had set up breakfast was also distracted: there were so few good options (apple danish, apple streusel, blueberry muffin or an appeared-to-be-banana-better-not-risk-it muffin). Thank goodness I had saved my giant M&M cookie from the previous day. While I was gone I had missed some developments in the Utah-Opening-Its-Parks story, now they were possibly even going to open later in the day. Alas, we could not risk sitting around and the parks not being opened, we would have lost a whole day.
Before we could really set out on the road I demanded a quick stop at Wicked Brew. It was a drive-thru coffee shop we had walked by the day before and I simply had to have their coffee. On the website it said that they roast their own espresso beans plus they had a bunch of wacky flavour combinations. In the end though I ended up getting just a regular latte, you cannot try in-house roasted espresso with all the bells & whistles of flavour shots. It was so cute, they put a little guitar pick sticker over the opening to prevent spillage as well as a chocolate covered espresso bean. I hadn’t even had a sip of it yet and already I was in love with the place. One sip and I knew this would be my go-to coffee place if ever I were to return to Moab (which is sadly doubtful, the espresso was so good!).
Our first stop was Hoe n” The Rock, which was along the way thankfully. We were originally just going to have a quick look, use the bathrooms and leave. But then they reeled us in with the promise of an albino raccoon and we wound up paying admission to the zoo. Yes, that’s right; the house carved into a rock face was complete with a zoo. We bought a bucket of animal feed as well, it was early in the day and clearly we were the first visitor’s of the day. The male deer, aptly named John Deere was in heat- we were told not to be bothered by him if he decided to hit the fence or angrily grunt at us, he was just protective of his lady. Warned or not, it was still pretty scary, we didn’t feed him. The zebra and the cows with giant horns could not care less that we were walking by with a bucket of food. The albino raccoon and the pot-bellied pig were asleep. Things turned around when I saw that there was a baby buffalo, alas it also did not care that we had food and paid us no attention. The baby alpaca was interested- but so were his parents, who got most of the food. I fed one of the alpacas a carrot, scared that it would spit at me if I didn’t hand it over. They have giant ugly teeth that are probably not meant to be seen from that close up. The miniature horse was the really pig amongst the zoo animals, hitting the fence with his hoof demanding more food. All that did was alert the miniature donkey that there was food. On our way in to the zoo, Brent tried to get the camel’s attention, apparently it will take the carrot straight from your mouth, but he was more interested in eating hay. He only perked up as we were coming back, carrot-less at that point. On our way out we had fed the animals again with what was left. The albino raccoon was finally awake and poking his cute head out, it was zoo-keeper feeding time. The zebra finally cared and ate some of our food. The cows were only interested in us when I tried to take their picture. The real winner of the zoo was the ostrich. We had been told that once we had very little food left in the bucket to go see the ostrich about cleaning it out. Sure enough, he obliged and stuck his head through the fence eating the last little bits. It was scary and entertaining, I am glad I was not the one holding the bucket.
We popped into the gift shop, which was part of the house built into the rock and therefore counted as entering the structure. We had spent so much time in the zoo and then wandering the grounds that we had to get going. Plus it would have been an awkward tour as we were the only people there.
Looking Glass Arch was off the highway, down a dirt path road that, thanks to all the rain, was now a mud path road. The car was not doing so well, red mud was flying everywhere. There had been no warning of this whatsoever. The arch was beautiful but I could not climb to the very top to look down over the other side as my shoes did not have enough tread and the rock was too smooth and steep. I was not alone, there were a few other people hanging out near the top that could not make it all the way up.
Up next was Wilson arch where I made Brent pose like a dorky tourist beside the sign for a dorky tourist photo. This arch was right next to the highway. Somehow I had managed to climb all the way to the top, being able to look out over the wonderful highway. Getting back down was the tough part. I had forgotten the path I took to the top and struggled to get back down. It did not help matters that I kept slipping. At the last ledge I was stuck and could not figure out how to get down. Brent was amused to no end as a toddler passed by, somehow beating me to the bottom as I tried to figure out how to get down.
We drove towards an entrance to Canyonlands, but we were headed to Newspaper Rock. We saw a tour bus coming the other way; they had tried to go to Canyonlands- which was another 25 minutes down the road! I had looked up Newspaper Rock online, curious about it. One person had complained in a review that they saw no petroglyphs but when we got there, we saw so many. That person had clearly gotten lost and was just staring at a rock. It was amazing to see these drawings that had been done over 2000 years ago, despite the fact that some idiots had also defaced the rock.
Driving back to the highway I noticed that the road signs appeared to have bullet holes in them: a lot of holes in a lot of signs. It was odd to say the least. A cute little chipmunk with a white tail scurried across the road- right in front of us, but he got to the other side safely. Just when my heart had stopped racing I saw a cow up ahead, standing in the road but not in our lane. Brent rolled down his window and slowly drove up and the cow just stared at him. I was beside myself with laughter.
Listening to Stuff You Should Know on how handwriting analysis works was driving me crazy. They were talking about what a z looks like in cursive writing. The next minutes were filled with mad scribbling on a scrap of paper, desperately trying to write a z.
We drove by a deer-crossing sign that was all lit up Vegas-style… but where were these deer coming from?! All around there were just houses and valleys! And right then I saw a deer standing in someone’s driveway.
It was a long drive to Santa Fe with a lot of passive staring out the window, watching 10 Corvettes go whizzing by in the opposite direction. We passed by an alpaca farm where there was one alpaca in desperate need of a trim. All his friends had been sheared and he was the lone fluffy fuzzball left, he looked hilarious because he was twice the size of his buddies. We stopped at truck stop/welcome centre for a much needed break. My legs were cramping and I was hungry. This whole time driving we had not passed anything at all. Lunch consisted of a Moon Pie, Oreo Brownie and Jalapeno Cheddar Munchies mix. Moon Pies are sorely overrated, there is way too much cookie and I would rather just eat a Jos Louis. The Oreo brownie was just a brownie with icing on top, nothing too special. I kind of wish I had not bought the Munchies mix, as it was so good that I curse the fact that I cannot find it in Canada. The driving was getting to me. I was antsy and stiff and then inexplicably my eyes started to burn and I had tears rolling down my face- no, I was not crying because we just drove by a bison farm or because there was snow on the ground.
Thanks to the government shut-down we didn’t have a hotel room booked in Santa Fe. First we drove to Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese resort & spa in the hopes that in addition to finding out about spa services (our plans for the next day) we could maybe book a room for the next 2 days. Alas, it being a long weekend we were out of luck. And not just for hotel rooms either. I had wanted to book a deep stone massage; alas those were all booked up. I was intrigued by the deluxe herbal wrap and good thing I had asked about it: you are wrapped up like a mummy and then it is boiling hot in the room, but oh it’s ok, they feed you ice water through a straw, pass. In the end I booked a head & neck massage, as I had not brought my bathing suit with me on vacation and there was no way I would get naked in a communal co-ed tub (which was Brent’s plan).
Dinner was inevitably at McDonald’s; we needed the free wi-fi to find a hotel. I caved and tried their mighty wings, they were ok, but I should have known better than to order wings at McDonalds. We drove to the hotel we had found, but along the way we saw a Days Inn and stopped there to inquire. They had 1 room and it was smoking. The Quality Inn was full. Before we got to the Holiday Inn we saw a Courtyard Mariott where we got the last room available. It turns out that trying to find a hotel room on the Friday night of a long weekend is a less than stellar idea.
We walked to the Walmart down the street so I could return my memory card; turns out I didn’t need it after all. I had bought it in another state and the clerk balked at their higher tax to which I replied that is even higher in Ontario. We found MegaStuff Oreos (as in quadruple icing) that were half chocolate half vanilla and strawberry-infused Mike & Ikes (they were gross). This Walmart had the worst selection of Ben & Jerry’s I had ever laid eyes upon, they didn’t even have Phish Food. On our way to the register Brent thought he had found a smaller package of Oreos, I laughed because I knew he was wrong. He insisted and so we bet 3 kisses on it. Lo & behold, I was right.
The cherry beer that I had gotten in Utah, Kriek Lambic, had a labyrinth of wrappings. It was wrapped with foil, like a champagne bottle, under which there was a bottle cap which after prying it off I found a cork! Luckily the bottle opener we had gotten from the front desk was also a corkscrew. It was all worth it as… THIS WAS THE GREATEST BEER EVER (which I later learned was one I had fallen in love with in Canada, not realizing it was the same beer). Bad TV and junk food, topped off with beer made for a really great evening. And it turned even better when a good show came on, about the brain and illusions. Illusions such as: double stuff Oreos are amazing, therefore quadruple Oreos would be twice as amazing! Not so, my stomach (and my pancreas) were not happy. Brent was not doing too well either, he had been nursing a rather large 13% beer and it was getting to him.