The landscape changes so dramatically around every turn and over every crest. Sometimes the road stretches out before us for 10 miles with barely a variation in direction, and then suddenly it descends into a vast crack in the ground, twisting and turning between towering red and gray cliffs as it parallels a river. Like scenes in a play, the stage curtains are drawn open at the start of each act revealing a completely new set and cast of characters. We find ourselves anticipating each change, asking aloud to no one, "I wonder what they are going to show us next?"
Our drive today took us into some of the most remote and sparsely populated regions that we will encounter on our trip. At under 200 miles it was also our shortest daily distance traveled which afforded a more leisurely pace. Heading south from I-70 on Highway 24, we drove across the flatness of the San Rafael Desert. The La Sal Mountains that make up the snowcapped backdrop of Moab were visible in the distance to our left while the San Rafael Swell appeared on our right. Not much punctuated this vast pastel-colored plain until towering red mesas announced the turn-off to our first sight-seeing stop, Goblin Valley State Park.
Past Goblin Valley, Highway 24 bent westward. By now the landscape was looking its strangest yet. Mountain sized blobs of gray cement-like rock plopped here and there. Rocks of every color stacked on either side of the road like a giant layer cake with so much vanilla frosting that it oozed out from between the layers. Red and salmon-colored slick rock randomly strewn with smooth black rocks that appeared to be made of asphalt. "What the huh?"
Entering Capital Reef National Park, the road climbed and then descended into a slot carved out by the Fremont River along the base of the Waterpocket Fold—a huge ripple in the earth's crust that stretches for more than 100 miles. Left and then right we turned through tight s-curves while the walls of the slot encroached closer and closer to the sides of the road. This was more fun than any amusement park ride.
We arrived at our campground in Torrey, Utah with plenty of time to relax before dinner. In fact, we ate a late lunch of random leftovers that had accumulated in the refrigerator. Our site has a great sweeping view of a red mesa. We have a little patch of soft green lawn, a picnic table, and a fire pit. Yes, we can finally have a campfire!
We're all sitting outside and enjoying the warm sun and cool, dry breeze as the sun begins to set behind the mesa. The fire is about ready to cook our burgers and Samuel is playing his guitar for us.
And, we're really excited to to see Drew tomorrow when we pick him up in St. George, Utah.
I'll publish more photos tomorrow.