Pulling into the Visitors Centre (not appreciating that post Labour day the opening hours change) it was getting late but despite having to wait while the person in front of me was sworn in as some kind of Ranger I managed to ascertain if we were quick pitches might be available.
After a bit of confusion we worked out that a number of slots were indeed free & nestled Martha into one. Realistically we knew that climbing to the top of the dunes was probably not sensible as during the day it would be too hot & we didn’t know the area well enough for long distance night hiking especially given the mountain lion warnings.
Taking a short exploratory walk around we headed back for supper & a beer where upon the notion of watching the sunset from one of the lower dunes struck us. Flinging the flute in the back pack we set off across the dry river bed & headed for the smaller mounds of sand.
The sunset was indeed beautiful which was probably more than could be said for my flute playing but we had a laugh given how windy it was & we only had phones to record the noise I was making on. Concluding ‘westernised’ music was not conducive to the surroundings trying to play the examples of native songs in the dark with no idea what they should sound like was more than challenging.
Like many ancient cultures the music originally would not have been written down & I have come to understand ‘playing the scenery’ was an accepted way of composing tunes. That is my excuse & I’m sticking to it! Later sharing this tale with my guitar teacher we concluded that this was a sound concept could be of use in any musical composition.
Heading back in the dark we picked our way carefully & amazingly found the track back using only our wits & natural moonlight. It truly was a magical place for as we traversed we were treated to calls of wild coyote that clearly were roaming in the mountains beyond the dunes not to mention other wild life that joined us at breakfast time the next day.
Pricey though the fuel here had been filling up lessened the risk of running out & meant we could get a head start in the morning.
Having spent the morning trying to drive out of the beautiful clutches of the Dixieland National Forest (well there is nearly 200 million acres of it) we were to pass near to the Grande Escalante National Monument on Scenic Highway 12.
The beauty of road tripping I have found is the freedom to roam about until something catches your curiosity forcing you to stop & investigate. Midmorning brew ups generally occurred a random beauty spot that caught our eye & wending our way across to The Arches National Park was no exception.
As the miles rolled by & we spied all manner of unusual geological scenery that is difficult to describe or capture we were totally unprepared for the unique shopping opportunity that was to befall us.
Nevada may officially have what’s known as ‘the loneliest road’ but Utah could certainly claim a number of equally lonely stretches where there was a distinct absence of any kind of settlements.
So when a small wooden shack appeared on the horizon it stood out & drew us to a halt when we were close enough to read the sign heralding a Flute Shop.
Once inside we marvelled at the array of hand made North American flutes for sale. The gentleman who carved some of them provided us with information & tempted me to purchase one.
Determined as we were to get our moneys worth of the pass we had purchased we arrived at Williams Bottom campground that sported the oddest rest room we had yet encountered.
During supper preparations I kept out of the way by practicing my flute only to find it had begun to lure the curious to us ascertain what we were up to.
The spot minus my playing was a quiet place & only about 10 minutes away from the park entrance which was great as we embarked on the scenic drive almost as soon as the gates opened the following morning. True to form we aimed to do the scenic drive by heading to the farthest point & wending our way back. We stopped for some fuel & a minor panic when a warning light appeared on the dash but a nice guy with a pressure gauge was able to allay our fears as we headed back to complete the loop.
Whilst America is geared up for RV life the volume of traffic that builds up means that making early starts pays dividends in ensuring you get to park where you want & we certainly took full advantage of this.
The Arches was another place where the photographs don’t really do justice to the view & think we both felt that we were lucky to be able to explore on foot some of the incredible landscape. The weather beaten rock formations were fascinating & up close it was possible to see where nature was sculpting the landscape & thankfully no arches fell during our visit!
When we felt completely ‘arched out’ we pointed the van towards the Great Sand Dunes keeping our fingers crossed we could find a place to stay for the night.