Moab, Utah

We arose, shook the dust off our sandals and left the Quality Inn without looking back. The Quality Inn didn’t exactly mislead us with their name — they just failed to mention that they were more ‘low’ quality than ‘high’ quality. The first indication last night that all was not as it should be was when I inserted the key to get into our room only to find that it was already occupied by another man. I didn’t stop to ask whether we could join him but rather shamefacedly closed the door and went back to the front desk. The young man hardly batted an eye and certainly did not offer any apology — he just re-keyed the card for the next room down the hall.

Breakfast seems like it is no longer a thing during these covid times. The continental offerings were a juice box and a package of trail mix which may just come in handy as we are planning to hike in Moab today.

We were in the van and traveling by 6:30 a.m. heading down a barren stretch of highway. The landscape is monochromatic and even the oil rigs and stations are painted a desert tan to blend in with the surroundings.

We have driven backroads these last two days and the landscapes make my jaw drop. The land changes dramatically hour by hour and I can’t keep myself from gaping out the windows and exclaiming inanely about how beautiful it all is. The ranches are mostly small affairs which most likely reflects a certain harshness of life here.

We arrived around noon before checkin time and managed to roust “Ernie” from room 102 at the Days Inn. He emerged with a mouth full of sausage, none too happy. Apparently help is hard to come by during the off season and he basically mans the desk about 20 hours a day. He checked us in whilst bits of half chewed sausage fell from his mouth. Despite initially seeming a bit rude and ornery, he turned out to be a very helpful character and we enjoyed our stay in the clean but well-worn room.

After stowing our bags we headed up to the Arches National Park. We pulled up to the entrance gate. We were planning to visit this afternoon and possibly come back tomorrow morning to take some ‘morning’ photos. The gate attendant gave us several options: get a daily pass for $30, or a Utah annual pass for $55. OR… I could get a ‘seniors’ annual national parks pass that was good for ALL the national parks in all US states for $20! Hmmm.. I wonder which option we should choose? We drove up to the winding road that led to the iconic red rock formations. We parked the van and hiked the windy trail to the ‘delicate arch’ which was absolutely fabulous. The grey skies and chance of showers must have dissuaded a lot of tourists — so we actually got to take photos WITHOUT the backdrop of crowds of people.

In the evening we dressed up a bit and headed to a fancy Thai restaurant in a renovated old house not far from our hotel.