Sightseeing across Utah

though clearly not long enough...

We finally ripped ourselves away from Telluride and headed west. We debated long and hard still hitting Taos, despite the absence of storms for the last few weeks...but being 7 hours in the opposite direction made it a fairly easy decision and we pointed for the left coast instead.

We have no timeline from here, but did see the makings of (another) storm in the sierras and kept one eye on the wether forecast and one on what was nearby as we drove.  We have always known that we need to spend ample time in southeast Utah...this was our plan for almost every weekend the year we lived in Ogden, but life somehow had us working on renovations/repairs instead and we never really got to explore this beautiful land.

This quick pass through certainly wont be a replacement...but it did prove to whet our appetites and made us even more excited to return with ample time to explore, camp, hike, backpack and generally play in the area.

Our first night we pulled in late and picked out a campground and campsite by headlight.  We ended up staying just outside moab in a campground pretty much created just for offroading. In the morning, we could easily see why... and had to resist the temptation to test out the sprinter 4x4 capabilities, even if just to get access to better photos. ;)

Our campsite (and every other one) was gorgeous, and our eyes fought to adjust from the white landscapes that have filled our vision for the past weeks to the red desert landscape surrounding us. Just minutes away was arches national park, which we pulled into at sunrise while finishing a breakfast burrito we picked up in town.  I could see spending at least a day in this park waiting on the best light for each and every arch feature in the park, but we pretty much snapped some quick pics in between awe of the enormous features and trying to take in the scale of it all.

It's absolutely majestic, and you can't help but feel small and insignificant when approaching or passing through any of these enormous beauties that took thousands of years and weather to form.

We eventually left the park and continued on westward.  The landscape kept changing as we drove and my typical highway work-time was more difficult than ever as it seemed every turn was another photo opp...

We eventually got as far as ecanlante and pulled off the road and down into the canyon for another campsite.  The riverbed seemed to simply engulf us as we wound our way down and picked among the empty spots for the night.  Even as i scrambled around the top of the canyon for a photo, you could barely make out the van at the bottom of the frame. As the sun dropped, its rays lit the canyon walls around us and for the first time in all too long we got to fully stretch out, unroll the awning, pop a bottle of wine, make a fire and setup a full fledged camp.  It felt good.  Real good!

The light on the walls above us glowed well after the sun ducked behind the horizon as though nature was keeping a nightlight on for us, but a few hours later when the moon crept our from it's resting place the sky opened up into a majestic display of stars without a single cloud in the sky.  This place seemed so completely distant and opposite from the places we've been staying on this trip, and we felt like we had just stepped out of a cave into the expanse of it all. In the morning Jen whipped up an always incredible and healthy breakfast and we hit the road...knowing that Escalante and all the park has to offer should be discovered slowly over weeks and we decided to not even try hitting the highlights in this pass through.  In fact any one of the places we stopped over the past 2 days could have easily been a week or month-long home base for us and we would have been thrilled at the opportunity...but that's another trip for another time (probably closer to spring or fall).

For now we're still driven by snow. And for now, there's too much of it coming down west of here... so we continued on, made a quick stop on Bryce Canyon to remind ourselves of a backpacking trip long ago...and continued on to Nevada and the bright lights of Vegas.