“I just kept finding myself coming back here,” the waitress said in the restaurant I sat at at the end of the day in Moab, Utah. “Now, I can’t leave.”
She gave me some really great tips on spending time here. Moab is the “gateway” town to Arches National Park. The waitress explained it is also a mecca for rock climbers, white water rafters and hiking enthusiasts. She called herself a rock climber first. It’s hot here in the summer, with above 100 temperatures. Spring and fall, she explained, were perfect. Winter, with snow and sub freezing temps, she runs away to Southern California.
I took 70 west from Snowmass, Colorado. The entrance was open going west but the fires had it closed going east. I drove to the other fire in Grand Junction. I heard there was a good coffee shop. It was a nice little city where I got my first parking ticket.
Snowmass, and the area around it, had a certain feeling to it. Moab reminds me of it. It’s a place to get lost. And maybe found. The mountains in Colorado that leveled out leaving the state were imposing. The features jutting up from the ground in Utah not so much.
Was I about to get lost? Did I still owe Ben money from college? No. But it did seem like it when I first left route 70 (with an 80mph) speed limit and onto a somewhat road running southwesterly towards “Cisco” with a big sign saying “there’s nothing here for 60 miles” –or something like that. It was just…empty. Even when I made a left onto 128 I still wasn’t sure why Ben sent me this way, as I passed what I could only describe as a trailer park graveyard. What the hell did I get into now?
A few miles down the road, though, Utah revealed her treasures and I knew why Ben sent me this way, and why somebody else recommended it after him, and why I urged the young guy I met at the junction to take that way back towards Grand Junction. Like the breathtaking drive in Colorado but gentler. It follows the Colorado River. Huge red stone formations line the road and then valleys will spread out in greenery. With the temp on the car showing 105, the river begs you to jump in.
“South about eight miles,” she said and then turn right towards La Sal. “You climb into the mountains and the temperature will drop 20 degrees. Then, it loops around into Castle Valley, where the first season of Westworld was filmed.”
You have to watch for the dogs though if you hike the many trails, she explained. The dogs aren’t bad, but they are out chasing the bears. So, if you don’t see any dogs, you are good to go.
I’ll do the loop. Maybe even hike. Maybe even get lost. Aye, I’ve lost states, Great Lakes, roads, so you never really know what is going to happen. I am, however, not sure if I want to find anything. Definitely not a bear–though how cool would that be? (Someone come and find my phone and download the epic pictures! Mike Z knows where it is.)
Peggy is an old friend of Ben’s in Snowmass. She was a wanderer. After talking to me for a while, Ben called her and asked her to stop by.
Being lost is okay, she told me. I’m not really struggling with that. I’m struggling with finding the wrong things. Like bears–though how cool would that be?!?
We talked a lot more. She thought she overwhelmed be but I just got tired. Ben had warned me. He said the altitude alone would get to me–and I already know I have an issue with altitude sickness. The smoke, I think, compounded it. It wasn’t bad in the morning, with the winds blowing from the northwest. At night, something created a spiral effect and it was like being too close to a bonfire.
I wanted to talk to her more. Other people like her more.
Lost and found. Being lost opens you to finding something inside of yourself. Peggy explained after four trips to India and multiple trips on other countries, she finally found something at home.
I can feel it on the road, especially the beautiful ones like 128. In motion, lost, is okay. Perfectly fine. Comfortable in my ability to be in the present. It is when I stop that I feel the tugs. Loneliness tugs at me. I want to find it like I want to find a bear. Face it. And walk into it until it doesn’t tug at me anymore.
Yeah, Colorado was epic. The mountains offering silence and solitude but with an immense backdrop that pushed me back into myself. So far, Utah seems more inviting, less imposing without being any less beautiful. I don’t know. There is the thought to leave the car, leave the phone and go bear hunting. I won’t. But the feeling is there and I want to hike down some trails and explore it a little bit, on a loop that brings me back to being lost.
(Yes, I had the camera angled wrong. Ooops.)