The Loneliest States

4 May

Jeff got wilderness permits for Coyote Buttes, the site of “the Wave,” an impressive sandstone feature lost in the no-man’s land between Utah and Arizona. Unfortunately, having a fever gets in the way of being a happy hiker, as does a distinct lack of iron and protein. Whoops. Also, crab-walking down desperately steep sandstone almost-cliffs means you get tons of sand in your underwear and then all you want to do is get the hell out of the desert.

Zion NP: Very pretty. Fun road, except for the idiot ahead of me trying to take pictures out his window while driving. A river! Flowing water! Hallelujah! And the National Park pass comes in handy because you have to pay the entry fee to drive through the park on UT 9.

St. George, UT: evidently one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. All because of cotton. Which failed. This led to lots of wikipedia searches on Mormonism and Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, all leading to the conclusion that it’s insanity. However, dinner was delicious: cupcake bakery slash restaurant. REALLY good cupcakes: sorry Daddy. Continuing the hunt for better weather, or at least less harsh terrain, here we are in Ely, Nevada – just a place to lay the head in the midst of elk-hunting territory. Ah, the life of a nomad. Cheap hotel rooms and extra long showers but the shower head is shorter than I am. Searching for greener pastures. The sunset was pretty but as far as I can tell all these states look the same as each other.

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Feats

3 May

Cottonwood Canyon. Sick. Sick. Sick. 100 miles of dirt roads, and that is no exaggeration. Abandoned in the desert for an hour and a half. Slot canyons and desperate scrambles up steep slopes. Dan learns that he has to force feed me sometimes.

The Hunt for Better Weather

2 May

Chaco: HailSnowSleetSlushRain. We woke up with accumulation – ACCUMULATION – on the tent. Driving in clay = not easy. Bloomfield, NM: Sonya’s Cookin’ USA; Truckers Welcome!: this is what happens when you forget to pack food. Oops. Learned that lesson. Farmington, NM: Republican Headquarters of San Juan County.

State Border: AZ. Navajo Nation to Page. Alfonso’s burritos: cheap and delicious, hiding near Safeway somewhere. Finding Jeff on a random side road in Southern Utah, camping on Bureau of Land Management lands for free. Wind and dust. Dust and wind.

New New Mexico

30 April

Santa Fe -> Los Alamos -> Jemez Valley

Santa Fe:
Est. 1608-ish (memory hardly serves) and is therefore about the same age as Jamestown. Wow! History outside the East Coast! Since 1610 it’s been the capital. Of whatever. It has lots of old buildings, like “the oldest house,” which has also been standing since 1610. Middle-aged white women like Santa Fe. They’re the only thing to see there other than fake adobe architecture and lots of silver, turquoise, and tacky western stuff. Vaguely redeeming quality is that I actually like turquoise, and there are a good number of non-western themed art galleries and boutiques. Positive points: cheap burritos and cheap hostel and a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s within a block of each other, Frito pie.

Los Alamos:
National Laboratory, atomic bomb, very confusing road through town.

Jemez Mountains/Valley/NF:
River oasis nestled between big hills. Bright green trees turn to scrubbiness, boulders, rockslides, and parched desert clay. The earth is red. Clear skies make for excellent stargazing but excessively layered sleeping arrangements.