Days 45 to 52: Mountain West, Salt Lake City, Moab

Hampton managed to take a picture of this little country house at sunset, in the hinterlands around Butte, MT. The next morning, two guys and a bulldozer smashed it into a pile. Looking through these photos today, we realized he might have taken the very last picture of it, and studied the lost house’s details. We’d driven to Butte after Glacier, on our slow way south to warmer climes. Weather reports about Yellowstone held below-freezing temperatures and snow, which had Hampton fearing for his toes. So we stopped in Butte for a few days in a cozy bunkhouse while we redirected our route.

Our country excursion was a nice break from the outdoors, and we worked our way south with the same degree of gentle leisure afforded to us there. We spent a day driving to escape our first snow of the season, slept over in Blackfoot, ID, and drove into Salt Lake City the next afternoon. With the mountains as our halo, we relaxed, ate deliciously (at Red Iguana and Caffe Molise, among others), and explored the home of Gary’s LDS ancestors. We met his Great Aunt Heidi—and her sweet, loud German shepherd, Evie. Aside from the sweet fam, we gotta admit: towering temples, an omnipresence of Mormon businesses, and oppressive religiously motivated state laws meant SLC was not our favourite city, by far. We also had more than one opportunity to discuss the horrifying overlap between Christians and assault rifle enthusiasts (see the flag?) #gunpowermasculinity

The main event of these past days was our adventuring around Moab, UT. Deep in the red rock desert, Moab is sandwiched between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. In the first, where we spent Gary’s 27th birthday, we explored a valley with beautiful sandstone features rising around us, cliffs we can’t see the tops of. Unique erosion left the area with thousands of the eponymous stone arches, as well as wonders like Balanced Rock. Hampton made me amazing nachos and surprised me with a heavenly caramel apple walnut cake, and his sweet voice serenading me with that familiar tune. Friday we explored Canyonlands, which was like Arches in reverse—you stand at the top of a canyon’s cliffs, looking down on the eroded wonders below. Both were really incredible—the first time either of us have seen anything like them (even a canyon) in person.

Crazy sandstone cliffs between SLC and Moab

As we write this on a short stint in Grand Junction, CO — more sand, less red rocks, but similar to Moab — snow has returned as an eminence blanche, closing doors for our winter road trip. We’ll be redirecting away from Denver, where they’re expecting the largest October snowstorm in history (eight inches of snow!), and driving south through the Rockies to Albuquerque.

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