Monday, January 16, 2012

Arches

Photographers say that the best photos are taken at dawn and sunset. Well, how can one come to the Arches and not get up at the crack of dawn? The downside is that the weather report says the temperature will be in the mid 20's. Even though we had brought lots of winter clothes, the thought of getting out there in the dark and cold, was not terrifically motivating. Ray partook of the free motel breakfast; I ate the instant oatmeal and banana bought the night before. We set out close to dawn and entered the park as the first rays of light appeared. I had my list of recommended morning sites for photography and we headed for "the windows". The park had an eery feel as we drove the winding park road among the huge sandstone columns and wide expanses of desert. Unfortunately, the skies were cloudy and though "the windows" were interesting, they appeared dull and colorless. We walked the short trail and took photos but I was uninspired by the sights.

By mid morning, the skies gradually cleared and patches of blue appeared. What a difference it made as we looked through openings in the columns. The contrast of the red sandstone with the blue sky was striking and my excitement grew. We drove to selected points of interest and hiked the trails, taking pictures along the way. With limited daylight hours of winter, we walked, photographed and gazed in awe at the monoliths. The park was ours alone to enjoy as we saw only 2-3 couples the entire day. We ate lunch in the car, sitting at an overlook, while warming our fingers and taking a brief break from walking. Suddenly, the clouds turned dark and snow flurries swirled around the car. In the distance, we could see snow blowing like sheets in the air. I jumped out of the car to catch the moment on camera. Lightning bolts appeared across the desert floor and a crash of thunder behind me made me jump.

We ended the day at sunset watching as the reflected light turned the columns deep red and balanced rock was striking. We had been outside for 10 hours! January in the Moab and the dining choices are limited. Zax for pizza, recommended by Yelp, wood fired but somewhat lacking in tomato sauce was again food that filled the stomach, but not a culinary delight.

I had made reservations at the Red Cliff Resort, half price in the winter, but a 20 min. drive from Moab. Again, we made the drive in the dark, wondering about the scenery which appeared to be bordering the Colorado River. The ranch was practically empty with only 2 other guests. The room was comfortable with living area and small kitchenette, and stood at the edge of the river. We had plans to get out early again in the morning, and so it was an early night.

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