Over-"arch"-ing fun in Utah
As a lover of any vehicle with big knobby tires and four-wheel-drive, I've always wanted to visit Moab, Utah. It's the place to be for anyone interested in going off road! There are tons of trails weaving through the canyon rocks that any lifted vehicle would love to traverse. Well, this was the chance! We were on our way to Utah.
First stop, Moab
I've wanted to go to Moab basically ever since I saw my first Jeep. The idea of driving a vehicle that can climb anything has always seemed like fun to me. Of course, I've never had a true "off-road" vehicle, or at least one I've been brave enough to beat up like that (Don't worry Eugene; you're safe), but it's always fun to look!
The drive into Moab was filled with spectacular rock formations on either side of the road. We knew were were going to be in for a geological treat. It almost looked like we were on a different planet.
My only reason for wanting to visit Moab was for the rocks and the off-road vehicles. I didn't really know what else was in the area. As it turns out, there's a lot! There are several National and State Parks nearby — which makes complete sense looking at the scenery.
We were staying in a private campground just a few minutes outside of downtown Moab. We typically shy away from private campgrounds because they always have the strictest rules. This one was no exception. We pulled in about an hour early (which wouldn't be an issue in a state campground), but this campground had a sign on the office door that said early check-ins would be subject to a fee equal to an extra day.
We didn't want to pay for a full day just for an extra hour in our campsite, so we hauled the trailer back into town (which is rather tight and busy) in search of somewhere to spend an hour. We sniffed out a "soda" joint pretty quickly...
One of the strangest things about Utah are their laws — specifically about drinking. We planned to just hang out in the restaurant for a beer or so, and then head back to check into our campsite. As delicious as their BBQ sounded (and smelled), we weren't going to get any food. But as we found out, Utah law requires you to order food if you want an alcoholic beverage. Twist my arm, why don't you...
Long story short, we waited to check into our campsite over a beer and a big ol' plate of BBQ nachos. It could have been worse.
Downtown Moab was adorable. There was one main street lined with restaurants, cute shops, and plenty of off-road tour companies. Everywhere you looked, there was some ridiculous lifted rig that was ready to hit the trails. It was a truck-lover's paradise! Eugene did look a bit out of place without any big knobby tires. Perhaps I should have gotten four souvenirs...?
We spent some time in Moab shopping and eating, but that wasn't the highlight of our visit.
Moab, Utah is also home to Arches National Park!
To preface, we're not big National Park fans. We find the rules, cost, and (most importantly) hoards of people basically ruin the experience. They're more like nature amusement parks, rather than "real" nature — in our opinions, at least. But "when in Rome."
Because of COVID, there were still rules for getting into the park. You had to schedule your visit ahead of time. That included booking a time slot to enter the park. We looked at our work calendar and picked 3pm on the following day.
We always like to be punctual, so we arrived at the gates at 2:50pm. Of course, we couldn't see the gates because of the MASSIVE line of cars to get in! We were joking that this would be the only view we got of Arches National Park:
I'm really not exaggerating; we entered the park at 4:15pm.
Grumpy from waiting in line, we paid our $30 entrance fee and drove up the first hill into the park. I'd say the government is super lucky they picked such an amazing spot to make a national park. Because when we crested that first hill, we forgot all about being grumpy from waiting in line for over an hour.
Arches was absolutely stunning! I won't even bother writing about it because words can't do it justice. Just take a look at these pictures, and you'll see exactly why this easily became one of the major highlights of our trip:
If you have a chance to go to Arches National Park, take it! It's totally worth waiting in line and paying the entrance fee.
For the rest of our time in Moab, we enjoyed visiting the downtown area, relaxing by a nearby lake, and working in the campground (yes, we work).
After a quick stint among the rocks, we were ready to head back up into the mountains to our next destination.
Strawberry bays forever
It's wild how drastically the landscape can change in just a matter of hours on the road. We headed out of rocky, desert Moab and ended up in the lush, green mountaintop of Strawberry Bay campground in Heber City, Utah.
Sitting at an elevation of just over 7,500 feet, heat was no longer a concern (finally). We were panting a bit more whenever we had to climb a hill, but we were just happy to enjoy a comfortable breeze!
Strawberry Bay was absolutely gorgeous. There wasn't much around, so we enjoyed most of our time sitting around the campsite, taking walks, riding bikes, and canoeing in the lake. Since we were at such a high elevation, the water was frigid! It's a good thing we didn't tip the canoe over.
We were also able to enjoy some incredible sunsets over the mountain, which made a great opportunity to take the drone for a spin.
The funny part about being a remote employee is that you never really meet the people you work with and talk to every day. One of the clients I've worked with the longest lives in Utah, just outside of Heber City. After almost two years of working together, we finally made plans to meet in person!
We enjoyed a nice BBQ dinner in downtown Heber City, just down the mountain from Strawberry Bay. It was fun to finally talk to my co-workers without using a keyboard.
After a few days in beautiful Strawberry Bay, it was time to head off to our next destination (and new state) of the trip.
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He likes pizza.