I hadn't intended to do it. I pulled off the highway north of Moab to dip into Arches National Park and get my "senior" parks pass, a $10 card that would give me lifetime free entry to all parks and 1/2 off on camping. I purchased the pass at the gate, drove in to turn around and realized what the heck, I'd go inside the visitors center. I asked about the campground and was told spaces were (miraculously) available. I changed my mind about camping on the Colorado River in my favorite spot. I opted for a drive through Arches and the hope that a space would wait for me in the first-come-first-served camp. At the very worst, I'd have to turn around and drive back through the stunning sundown landscape of Arches. It was a win-win.
The CG began to fill on the second night as generators whirred and stirred the air; it was time to get outa dodge. A van full of students arrived at the group site across from me. Turned out they were from University of Northern Iowa, where I had gone my first year of college during the Viet Nam War days. They were environmental science students on Thanksgiving break. The leader was named, perfectly enough, Forest. He bought a copy of my book as we talked about our travels. He told me of a cave down in Havasupai. Now I want to return to those reaches of the Grand Canyon.
It was only a few miles to Moab. I had my heart set on eggplant parmigiana from Pasta Jay's Italian restaurant but they didn't open until 11:00. I killed an hour getting gas, washing the truck and La Perla of salt and road dirt, and visiting the local visitor center and health food store. I arrived promptly at 11:00 to pick up my order and headed south to find a scenic spot along the road to eat my first real meal in days.
I found a level pullout with a view of Wilson's Arch. Perfect. I parked and had just opened my garlic-laden meal when a semi-truck pulled next to me and blocked my view of the arch. WTF? I put aside my feast and pulled forward as I silently swore at the he-man truck driver. Let's try this again. I opened the container and bit into the hot buttery garlic bread when a short woman in nice jeans and a casual jacket walked up and politely asked if I'd like my picture taken with the Arch. I chewed my mouthful of bread and glanced back over my shoulder. There weren't any cars. I swallowed and asked if she was driving the truck. Her eyes sparkled as she smiled and said yes. So much for stereotypes, Christina. She apologized for blocking me in as she proceeded to tell me about her most recent trip from Bellingham to Austin and an impossible turning dilemma in Seattle; how a guy driving a little pickup changed lanes and blocked traffic so that she could maneuver through the turn lanes. I liked this woman. She looked like she had just stepped out of a Tupperware party. I took her picture and she took mine, then she chugged away towards Monticello. I saw a broken down semi-trailer a few miles down the road. I was relieved to see it wasn't my friend.
The days of travel were catching up with me. I was bone tired as I entered Colorado, about 80 miles from my destination of Cortez. I pulled over in Dove Creek, aptly named the pinto bean capital, to check out the mill and the store. Always wanted to do that; no time like the present. The store was homespun-wonderful; I left with several bags of beans. I was tempted to buy some New Mexican red chile but reminded myself I was headed south.