Dan and Hannah Hike to Mesa Arch and Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

A full kitchen and dining table for six in our VRBO at Rim Village in south Moab gives Max a chance to shine with morning scrambled eggs. 

Scrambled eggs a la Max

Breakfast at N-4 condo in Rim Village, Moab, Utah (Five stars!) before we head to Canyonlands

As a Biblical name for the land just short of the Promised Land, Moab, Utah is no quiet western outpost.  There are many major chain motels, restaurants galore, four wheel adventure stores, Colorado river rafting and condos, condos, condos.  These getaway townhouses seem to be solely built for people like us looking for an outdoor vacation in eastern Utah. 

This mid-April 2022 morning we are off to Canyonlands National Park, 45 minutes north and west of Moab.

Dan, Molly, Owen, Tip, Max, and Hannah

No longer is Canyonlands the little sister to Arches.  Though we don’t need a reservation to enter the park as we did In Arches National Park, we have come at popular time of year – school vacation week in the Northeast, which includes Massachusetts where our grandsons, third grade Owen and second grade Max attend school and our daughter Molly rocks as a math specialist in an elementary school.

Asking the park ranger what she would recommend for hiking, she says our three signature hikes are Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, and Upheaval Dome.  We’ll hit the first two before lunch, and third at the end of our hiking day.

The desert landscape on the way to Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch is regularly used for advertising because of its spectacular-ness (see the end of this blog).  It’s a simple half mile with little elevation gain to the arch, which makes it uber-popular.  Perched at the edge of a cliff with vast views of canyons, rock spires, and the La Sal Mountains in the distance, Mesa Arch spans fifty feet across atop a 500-foot vertical cliff.

Mesa Arch
Magnificint Mesa Arch

9 AM at Mesa Arch (Tip, Max, Owen, Molly, Hannah, and Dan)
Mesa Arch is to the right of this map

Driving through to the end of the road in Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, we have little traffic and no trouble finding parking at the trailhead for Grand View Point.  See the map below for the two other districts of the park with different entrances).

At the trailhead of the Grand View Point one mile trail with Owen, Max, Molly, Hannah, and Tip

With 15-20 mph winds buffeting us, we take the promontory trail between the canyon created by the Colorado River and the one created by the Green River.

The rocky sandstone trail to the promontory (in the distance) of the Grand View Point trail
Dan and Hannah away out West in Canyonlands National Park

Solid chunks of rock, three-layer cairns guide us between the canyons below for the one mile hike out. 

Owen and his Omi
The Grand View Point trail

From the viewpoint at 6,080 feet elevation, you can see distant mountains, canyons, basins, and the White Rim Road.

One grand view towards the Green River Canyon

Weeks after we returned from Utah, this image popped up on the DailyOM blog that I get for inspiration each day. The Mesa Arch!

Dan Moves Forward – KGUA #88

For May 23, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Moving Forward.

I am moving forward from the external and my self-imposed restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As far as I know I have never had Covid-19 in the two plus years since it came to America about 7 PM on March 12, 2020.  I guess I could have had it and been asymptomatic, but I don’t think so.

Currently, I do not isolate to such an extent that I couldn’t get it.  I just feel that since I have been vaccinated and booster-ed twice, I won’t get so sick even though I am in the danger zone – over 65.

I am aware that the son of a friend of Hannah’s in his forties, mind you, got Covid, soon was on a ventilator, got better, then didn’t, and died.  So Covid, the killer could get anyone.  I’m not invulnerable.  But I am not scared.  I am moving forward.

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

I’ll continue to hike with my old friend Bill in Acadia National Park as I did last week.  I’ll play pickleball with two of the good guys  Fran and Steve, as I did earlier this week.  I’ll go to outdoor birthday parties as I did last Saturday to the 8th birthday party of our grandson Max with 24 people.  I didn’t think of Covid once.  I’m changing my mindset and moving on from Covid on the brain.

For the two years Covid has been a part of me, but it no longer drives the bus as it once did.  I’ll move forward being Covid-smart but living large.  At 74, I have no time to waste.  Do any of us?

Words – 267

Dan with Molly, Tip, and Max Hike to Sand Dune and Broken Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Throughout the morning Owen (9) has given his all rock scrambling and climbing the sandstone monoliths on the eight mile trail to and from Double O Arch.  Four hours later he is whooped.  He chooses to hang back in the car with his Omi while we four (Max, Molly, Tip, and moi) hike the two final arches.

Molly’s family loves to capture “jump photos” whenever they travel. Here is Max at Broken Arch.

With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we find a parking spot across the road from the trailhead, which leads first to the nearby Sand Dune Arch and then out across the prairie to the Broken Arch.   

Mid-day at 6000’ in mid-April 2022, I join the other three on the side trail up a slot canyon (a narrow gorge amid sandstone walls) to the sandy beach of a trail to the Sand Dune Arch. 

George Mason U Molly at the slot canyon to the Sand Dune Arch

Wading through luxurious sand, we very quickly find ourselves in front of the aptly named Sand Dune Arch.

With Molly under the Sand Dune Arch, the guys always appreciate her enthusiasm
Molly and Tip at Sand Dune Arch mid-afternoon

On a day going to the mid-80s and with the condo association pool awaiting us 30 minutes away in Moab, we four have a winding one mile trail across a prairie of greening tumbleweed to the Broken Arch.

The prairie trail to the Broken Arch

The Broken Arch isn’t really broken, but a large crack at its top gives it that name.  We add this final arch jewel to our charm bracelet of rusty red stone landscapes.

The Broken Arch is so named for the crack at the top center of the arch
The crack that gives the Broken Arch its name.

By 2PM we are whooped.  Even so, we make one last stop at the Balancing Rock.

Balancing Rock

Returning to our sweet VRBO for a late lunch, we have a chill afternoon ahead.  For my part, I enter first drafts of each of today’s two hikes into my laptop, edit the pictures from my iPhone 12, and then surrender to a quiet bedroom in our now quiet condo.

The others have the Rim Village pool to cool their jets on a mid-80s afternoon.  The warm pool and then the even warmer hot tub are therapeutic for what ails Owen and a joy for Max. 

A travel tip if you are looking for wine in Moab.  There is one small liquor store with hours Monday through Saturday from noon to 6 PM.  Snaring a fine Black Box, I was 12th in line at the one cash register open.  When I finish on this mid-afternoon Monday, there were 16 others behind me. 

With our “grapes,” the adults toast another day in paradise.

Dan’s Wednesday Quote of the Week #71 – Chicken Joe

My father always said, “Don’t walk away from negative people, run.” Always look for the silver lining, be nice, slow down, love people, and pay it forward.

Chicken Joe Taylor, 72 year old lives in Wells, Maine. A fellow Wildcat from the University of New Hampshire (Dan in 1999), Chicken Joe is now a cardio-aerobics instructor at No Limits Fitness in Wells. As you might imagine, his chickens are loved, cared for, and adored.

Dan and Why I Write – KGUA #87

For May 16, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt:

Why I write.

I write to be known and to tell my story.  That my life mattered in the big picture.

By nature, I am shy and introverted.  Shy being overly concerned about what others think and introverted in that I get my energy from being in twos, threes, and fours, not in large groups.

I’m often in the background.  I was on the periphery in my youth (and by that I mean into my twenties). 

I wanted to be noticed, but that was easier said than done.  As introverts do, I did find my niche with a small group of friends in high school, a roommate and  later a sweetheart in college, and as a part of group of five at Arizona State University. 

As a sixth grade teacher of 30-35 diverse elementary school students at Nevitt Elementary in Phoenix, Arizona, in the 1970s, I could organize and lead students, but I wasn’t all I could be as a teacher until…

…until in 1983 at the University of New Hampshire, I took a summer workshop in the teaching of writing with the premise that to learn to teach writing teachers must write themselves. 

The unintended consequence of that understanding was that I now had way to express myself through writing.  At last I could tell my story in my writing.  The words on the page gave me the belief that what I thought and did mattered.

Today, I write weekly for KGUA radio and post my travel blogs on Saturdays.  Such writing allows me to be known and regularly tell my story.    

Words – 252

Dan and Hannah Hike to Landscape Arch and Double O Arches in Arches National Park, Utah

Our VRBO condo in south Moab, Utah is just fifteen minutes from the entrance to Arches National Park.  With a timed reservation (we must enter between 7-8A), we have an uncrowded park morning ahead of us in mid-April 2022 in search of more magnificent arches of eastern Utah.

Arches NP in east central Utah

Driving to the end of the park at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead, Hannah and I with our daughter Molly’s family of Tip, Owen, and Max will soon have an Avenue of Arches for our viewing pleasure. 

Hannah and I first came here in 1992 with our three kids (Molly [then 12}, Robyn [10], and Will [8] on the first of our four consecutive family cross-country trips (1992-1995).  She and I have returned again and again as we love the outdoor vibe of Moab, the warmer weather, and the being-away-ness of the place.  The at-home “to do” lists just dissolve. Today we get to share our love of this uber-popular national park with Molly’s family (she is now 42) that includes hubby Tip, and our grandsons Owen (nearly 10) and Max (nearly 8). 

All the sandstone climbing you could want. Max with his Omi.
Owen, the rock scrambler.

As we set out at 8A, we six have a mission to hike the two mile winding, slightly ascending trail to Double O Arches.  Along the way, we’ll have side trails to multiple other arches, including the Granddaddy of them all – Landscape Arch. Though temperatures will go to the 80s this mid-April afternoon, this morning we all start out in long sleeve tee-shirts or sweatshirts.

Almost immediately, we have a side trail the Pine Tree Arch. 

Early morning Molly and Tip at the Pine Tree Arch

Taking the sandstone trail northward, Owen and Max get more Fitbit steps than Hannah and I do as they haven’t met a rock side or sandstone summit they couldn’t climb.

Owen, the sandstone scamperer

Our next focus is the classic Landscape Arch that stretches some 300’ from side to side though is only 11’ wide at its center.  All rock formations at Arches National Park are temporary as water shapes and transforms the sandstone.  They will eventually all crumble. In fact, in 1991, a 60 ton slab of stone fell from the center of the arch when visitors were allowed under the arch. As you might imagine, no one is allowed under this arch anymore. My pictures are taken behind a fence some 300′ from the arch itself.

Landscape Arch accentuated by the deep blue Utah sky
Brothers Forever, Max and Owen

We then find side trails to Navajo and Partition Arches.  Our what we thought we might be a simple four-mile roundtrip hike to Double O stalls as we celebrate two more arches.

Tucked away but oh so accessible Navajo Arch
Our traveling party of six at the Partition Arch (Owen, Max, Hannah, Tip, Molly, and the blogger)

After walking though the Partition Arch, we have ourselves a modest climb
Max and Owen tucked into the sandstone with their Omi

Our destination is the Double O top and bottom arches which we arrive at three hours later.  Peanut butter and jelly, salted almonds, granola bars and lots of water sustain as we quickly stow our long sleeves for summer’s short sleeves.

Within two months of our 50th Anniversary on July 1, 2022, Hannah and I celebrate at the Double O Arch
With the Double O Arch in the background, Dan, Hannah, Molly, Owen, Tip, and Max have reached their morning destination.
I told you Owen was quite the rock scrambler.

As we return to the trailhead, we hike all the sandstone fins back to the trailhead from the Double O Arch.

By 1230 PM, we are back at our rented Toyota Sienna mini-van for nourishment.  Our hiking day of nearly eight miles is not quite done.  With this being our last day in Arches National Park, we want one more fix of arches. We’ll hike first the Sand Dune Arch and then out into the fields to the Broken Arch.  That’s next week’s blog.

Dan’s Wednesday Quotes of the Week – #70

How cheerfully he seems to grin,

How neatly spreads his claws,

And welcomes little fishes in

With gently smiling jaws!

Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

We aren’t robbers, you and I.

To rob a fool, you don’t need knives:

Just flatter him, tell him sweet lies,

And he is yours for life.

Bulat Okudzhava, “Of Gluttons, Braggarts, and Fools (The Con Artists’ Duet)”

Found in The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time (2016)

Maria Konnikova

Recently I read Maria’s latest book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win about the world of poker. She is an insightful, engaging writer, indeed.

Dan and a Fifth Chamber in his Heart – KGUA #86

For May 9, 2022 KGUA Radio Writer’s Hour hosted by Peggy Berryhill and Mark Gross, we are asked to freewrite to the following prompt: If you added a fifth chamber to your heart, what would its purpose be?

First, thank you Anne (companion KGUA writer who suggested this out-there prompt).  I love it, even though I initially had no idea what I would do with it.  Second, thank you Mark for embracing out-of-the-box writing.  I think that is a major reason for the longevity and success of KGUA writers.

Of course, I had to look up the what the other four chambers were for.  For those still wondering, the two upper chambers receive the blood while the two lower chambers pump blood out of the heart.

Got it.

What if the fifth chamber is, in fact, a room at the heart of the house that Hannah and I have called home for forty years?  

You see, our two upper chambers are the two bedrooms where our three children, Molly, Robyn, and Will grew and came of age.  Our two lower chambers are our first floor bedroom and our dining room/kitchen.

Our fifth chamber is the fireplace room off the kitchen.  Now that our kids have grown and made their way in the world, Hannah and I sit most evenings in front of our propane fireplace with a glass of wine – checking in and mellowing out.

The purpose of this chamber is to keep our hearts beating as one and as two and to keep our love light burning. 

Words – 215

Dan and Hannah Hike the Windows and Double Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

After a morning hiking to the Delicate Arch (click here for that blog from last week), Hannah and I drive with Molly’s family to the parking lot that serves as the trailhead for both the Windows Arches and the Turret Arch as well as the Double Arch Trail in mid-April 2022.

We start off on what is called the primitive trail (by that I mean poorly marked).  It’s a longer route to the Windows and Turret Arch, but as you may know, Hannah and I rarely pass up a chance at more Fitbit steps.  Counseling has not helped our neurosis. By the way, arched windows have square bottoms and an arch or half-circle on top. 

From “You Are Here” we hiked the primitive trail to the South and North Windows, then to the Turret Arch, back to “You Are Here” to the Double Arch.

Predictably we lose our way on the primitive trail but are always within a few hundred feet of the backside of the window arches themselves. We never are lost lost.

Owen on the primitive trail
Owen again with the windows in the background from the back side

Eventually back on the Windows trail we climb to the rock beneath the arch for pictures.  Agile-lite at the age of 74, I remember days gone by when I, too, could scamper up and down the sandstone rock as Owen and Max do today.

The high desert of Arches National Park
Molly complements the natural beauty of the window arch
Turret Arch with its own turret to the left

Five hours into our day, we then hike the half mile to one more arch, the Double Arch.

One half of the Double Arch in the distance
Approaching Double Arch with Molly, Max, and Tip in the foreground
The bluest of blue skies accentuates that earth tone beauty of the Double Arch

Foolishly I follow the others 35′ up to the ledge beneath the Double Arch.  Definitely not my best choice.  And the thing is, I know it as I soon as I am mid-way up the rock wall that trouble awaits on my descent.   Yet I continue. Pride goeth before the fall.

Looking out from high above the desert floor from the base of the Broken Arch.

More than ready to return to terra firma, I need all the support our son-in-law Tip can give me.  Facing the rock, knowing at any moment I can slide 35′ down the rock wall, I use Tip’s offered foot as a toehold. My whole body tightens as I somehow inch down the rock wall finding the smallest of “Free Solo” cracks in the stone.  I make multiple promises to the Universe that I will not be so foolish again. There is enough fear in my heart to make that a believable pledge.

At last, I’m off the ledge. I will live to hike another day.

After a day on the trail at 77F, Owen and Max head to the pool while Molly and Tip “chill” in the hot tub with Hannah.  Moi?  Oh, I’m back at the condo doing what I love – writing a first draft of each of our two hikes, editing my pictures for the blog, and, yes, napping.  Later I join them in the hot tub. I am no fool.

If I am to guess, I won’t be surprised it the pool and the hot tub will be the highlight of our time in Utah for Owen and Max.  It would be for me if I were eight or ten.

It’s a 77F afternoon in Moab, Utah on April 17, 2022 for Owen and his Omi.
The poolside hot tub for cooling our jets (Tip, Owen, Max, and Molly)