Arches National Park, May 27, 2007
We were at the park visitors center at 6:30am to make sure we got one of the few remaining campground sites. There were seven available, and we were number three. We drove to the end and picked the site we wanted, it was still occupied by three people in two tents. Their car looked nearly loaded, so we parked to wait for them to leave, not wanting to hurry them. After a few minutes we walked to the site to put our daily reservation on the post, so someone else wouldn’t get the really spectacular view site. We talked to the people there, who turned out to be from the south of France. They had arrived at 2am and slept in their rental car (filled with camping gear and food) They were very disappointed to learn of the system, and that they would loose their site. We offered to share our site with them, and enjoyed talking to them both days they were with us. They tried to share the cost of the site, but we refused; we have been on the receiving end of the kindness of strangers (sometimes very poor strangers who didn’t speak our language and we had been told wanted to kill us) that we could not take money from them. They have nearly a month in the States, and are going to see more of the West than most Americans will ever see. Their English is fantastic, and we had some interesting political and social discussions. They like Americans despite the anti French press they have been hearing the past few years. One thing we all agreed on was that people who travel are much less likely to harbor hate for other peoples and cultures; once you have looked in a stranger’s eyes, and broken bread with him/her, it’s hard to hate him or his kind.
Nancy, Pasqual and Daniele (forgive our spelling)
We had a long and enjoyable visit with the campground hosts, Gary and Francoise who are looking to move out of Phoenix; she has asthma and can’t take the air anymore. I can relate, and attest to Tucson’s clean air. They had heard about Far Horizons, and we gave them our pitch. I think they will visit in the fall and maybe move there. They would be a great addition to the park; they are full of energy and social.
Our first day in Arches we took a short hike, enjoying at least one, new to us, arch and the beautiful wildflowers and cactus arrayed against the coral pink sand. Sunday we took, what we thought would be a moderately strenuous mountain bike ride of about 30 miles. The first seven miles were easy, showing us lots of different wildflowers and only a few corrugations. Then the —- hit the fan. First it got steep, then the steep turned to sand. We thought we might have a couple of miles of pushing our bikes, but it turned out to be an epic of seven plus miles of deep sand and hills.
A bicycle is an awful burden to push through sand, and we couldn’t even pedal the downhills the sand was so deep. Good thing the flowers were blooming.
We ran out of water and food near the end and felt the big bonk:
To bonk is to run out of glycogen in one’s muscles from exertion and not have food to replace it. It is very unpleasant, particularly when you do not have any choice except push on. Each step is a struggle to force your muscle to do work it is really incapable of doing, and every muscle in your body makes you pay in pain for making it move when it only wants rest and food.
We finally made it out of the sand and to a motorhome parked in an unusual place. The very pleasant young man from California, was the “mo ho” (California speak for motorhome) manager for a company that supports film and still photo shoots. The photographer, assistants and model were off doing their shoot. He gave us water and that made a big difference; we only had to push our muscles without food for another nine miles.
The photo shoot was for French Vogue magazine and the model was wearing Pocahontas, and other Native American inspired dresses. Claire thought they came to the red rocks of Arches, and not the more famous Monument Valley because of the fake Indian theme. I can imagine the Navajo would not be angry, but only too glad to take their money, and laugh at their absurd vision of Native Americans.
The light was lovely at sunset and we clambered over the slickrock taking pictures and enjoying the truly spectacular location. Arches never disappoints, though this time we could have done without the epic part of our mountain ride!