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April 19th 2014
Published: April 19th 2014
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Is it possible to fall in love with a whole state. If it is, Utah is the one for me. They have counties named after cartoon cats. The people are really friendly, I keep meeting happy Wolves fans, the roads have corners making the driving interesting, the hotels are charming, and the scenery is out of this world. Quite literally occasionally. Many many movies have been filmed here. 127 Hours, Galaxy Quest, Planet of the Apes, Back To The Future, Indiana Jones, Independence Day, Star Trek, and High School Musical. Woohoo.

(I Shouldn't have looked that up, I now have 'We're All In This Together' stuck in my head. Last time I heard that was watching the parade in Disney World. Any song that gets stuck in your head that long must be evil)

Anyway, back to holiday diary. At last we met, I was stuck in a sand storm, unable to see the canyon I'd come to see.

Day 11

Sand storm went away, I managed to get up in time to whip round the main sights in this canyon. Not bad, but from high up, it just couldn't compare to being in the canyon, amongst the rocks and sandstone sculptures, chatting to the locals.

Next stop was Monument Valley. Very famous area, so many Westerns have been filmed here, your impression of the Wild West probably includes this valley. HUGE sandstone monoliths in all directions, like big lumpy sky scrapers. Annoyingly, you can only get down into the valley with a 4wd, which my ickle Mazda2 hire car certainly is not. Good excuse to come back one day.

The highlight of the day came much later though. A Lunar Eclipse. The Moon turned a fabulous blood orange, obviously celebrating Wolves's promotion. I drove out into the desert at 1am for a better view. A fabulous night sky full of stars, including a few shooting stars, Mars and a deep orange moon.

Day 12, 13, 14

Here is where I really fall in love with the place. Utah Canyonlands and Arches National Park. On the horizon you get snow capped peaks, in front of them, lines of sandstone cliffs, monoliths, buttes, giant boulders. Flat lands covered in slightly scrubby trees and bushes. All separated by a maze of everything from narrow shallow holes, to incredibly deep wide canyons. Some of which had their own sandstone columns poking out from the base of the canyon. And it's all very accessible. Wandering up and down the boulders and monoliths to get the 360 degree views of awesomeness. And sneaking in out of the caves and canyons, getting up close and personal with the chipmunks living in the caves. Climbing under the giant arches. Crawling up and down the sandstone cliffs, even to the point where you're not quite sure if you can get down again, it's so steep. I started to really appreciate the solid boots my parents brought me for my last birthday which clung on to the steep smooth rocks.

One particular trail, which came with a warning, 'Strenuous, Dangerous Hiking. Not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights', yielded the most amazing views of the mountains, canyons and columns, from under an array of beautiful arches. The description of the trail put off most of the noisy tourists, so I also found some peace and quiet to listen to the birds, the chipmunks, and Mr Loaf. A charming area called Devils Garden, probably because, with a small amount of alcohol, it wouldn't be too big a stretch of the imagination to see the deep red sandstone walls and spires you're walking through as columns of fire as you walk through hell. Ergo, the Bat Out Of Hell soundtrack was a worthy homage to nature's genius.

Not far away, there is also the Garden of Eden, but that wasn't half as pretty.

Day 15

Today, I drove, for miles, and miles, and miles. About 300 miles, slowly, on a very scenic route. Over the Colorado River in a stretched out version of the Grand Canyon. Same vast cliffs and deep crevices, but spread out over an even wider area. Just after that was Dirty Devil River, which wasn't very pretty, but amused me. I was treated to 100 miles of driving in deep canyons followed rest stops to stretch legs and get 'gas' surrounded by mountains, giant lakes, and yet more canyons.

I've now surpassed 2000 miles driving in the last 9 days, and I'm still a long way from Vegas, when I have to give the car back and get on the plane. I won't miss the car. It's comfy enough but my Ford KA is much cuter, and goes from 0-60 in less than 20 seconds. It makes joining the interstate a lot less disturbing. Tomorrow I finish off the last couple of Utah's National Parks. Drive another couple of hundred miles (thank you amazon for the audio books which are keeping me sane), and work out how to pack an extra 5 t-shirts into an already full bag, one of which Meat Loaf himself has admired so needs a big blanket of cotton wool around it.

Then I have to start planning the next trip...


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