The Pioneer Loop. Day 11: Mountains.

30 September 2018.

(Location: Torrey to Moab, Utah)

After going to bed late last night (11.30pm! We have barely made it past 10pm most nights) it was slightly annoying to be woken by children being allowed to run up and down the balcony at 0630am… it wasn’t even daylight yet!

I failed to get back to sleep although I did try, eventually getting up and making drinks before completing yesterday’s blog, making the most of the great Wi-fi. After getting breakfast we packed up and set off for Moab. Before we leave, though, I don’t think I posted the hotel room photos, so here they are.

The route took us through the park again and then out into a more lunar landscape as we headed towards Hanksville, following the Fremont River Valley. A left turn there and we paralleled the San Rafael Swell up to I-70.

Half an hour along the interstate and then it was a southbound turn for the last section of the drive down into Moab, the familiar mountains and red cliffs marking the entrance to the city.

We pulled in to Denny’s for lunch, thinking that we’d get a quick bite to eat but unfortunately service was extremely slow and it took almost 45 minutes for our food to appear. When it did, Andrew’s order was wrong, covered in cheese and missing a side order. We ate what we could (well, I was ok..) and then left, but not before I had complained to the manager and got Andrew’s order removed from the bill. Ah well. We had a fun afternoon planned…

In 13 years, we have often looked at the La Sal mountains from a range of viewpoints, but we had never ventured into them. In fairness, they have sometimes been snowed on already. So today we drove south of Moab past Spanish Valley and then turned into the Old Airport Road, which connects to the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. A couple of things about the road. First of all, it must have been recently resurfaced and was wonderfully smooth.Second, it is obviously used for cycling in the opposite direction, as there was lots of stuff chalked on the road (uphill encouragement, Strava segments and downhill and corner ‘slow!’ warnings).

The main thing though was the view. Even from the bottom the mountains looked really colourful, which is unusual to us. Up close, the leaves on the trees and bushes were a full range of autumnal colours and we were back to the fresh air smell of mountains and trees, although not quite the vanilla scent of Ponderosa Pines. The road climbed from the Moab elevation of around 4,000 feet to 8,300 feet at the summit of the climb. And plenty of cyclists were tackling this route…

Once at the summit we had a view of Castle Valley, which has towering red rock pinnacles and cliffs, views which continued as we descended, the afternoon sun enhancing the colour.

Finally we joined the River Roadand followed the Colorado back towards Moab. It may have taken us a long time to do this drive, but I think we picked the perfect time and season to see it and I’m glad I have finally met the mountains ‘up close’.

After that, we went to City Market to buy supplies for breakfast. We are staying in a flat, with a kitchen, so I thought that it would be nice not to have to go out for breakfast, but just to have it when we are ready, and then go out for the day.

And then we went to the Purple Sage flats. I had been sent a code which unlocked the front door. The flat is great, loads of space… it also has a back door, which was closer to where we could park the car and unload (Andrew saw a deer running along the nearby road while he was unloading…). The video below is a guided tour starting at the back door, through the kitchen to the living room and Andrew’s bed, the bathroom and my bedroom!

This video doesn’t exist

There is also outside seating and a hot tub, if either take our fancy.

We decided to go to Zax’s for dinner. The place was extender last year to include an upstairs, but apart from that, the food, the service and the atmosphere are still as good as ever. My first pizza of the holiday and it was scrumptious!

Back to our flat, and time for relaxing on the big leather sofa, watching tv and blogging, hoping for a good night’s sleep.

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