Saturday, August 21, 2010

Road Trip: Review II

I began driving into Utah and was still overwhelmed with how beautiful everything was. The mountains were huge and I kept looking at them like "I am suppose to drive through those?" and yes, there was some panic. Luckily for me, there were plenty of large trucks who were going slow that I could drive behind. My little car is a mighty one, that is for sure, but I didn't want to push it so much either that it would break up with me. I went slow on the steeper areas and breezily cruised through the rest. All was well until I got closer to Salt Lake City.

I really looked forward to SLC. It was suppose to be beautiful and clean and I was excited to see the Temple. I am nothing close to a Mormon (or any religion for that matter) but to see this mecca of the Mormon religion was going to be amazing. I honestly didn't know much about the religion except they have strict and conservative rules and those people on "Big Love" are Mormon (great show, btw). I also wanted to try and see the Great Salt Lake but that never happened.

I have to say that my least favorite aspect of the entire trip was the heat. Some people LOVE this summer weather but I am definitely not one of them. When I get hot, I get really cranky and I want to shove all plans out the already opened window and just find a way to be comfortable.

I had gotten into SLC in the early afternoon but close enough to the end of the work day that I hit some heavy traffic. Utah drivers are crazy! They are really aggressive and like to drive fast. I tried to get to my exit as fast as possible without getting hit or lost and once I made it into the slower pace of the city, I breathed a bit easier. My hostel isn't too far from the city center so I was excited when I spotted The Avenues and was able to park my car for the night. FYI: Every time I parked my car after a long day I driving, I was relieved to not have to get back into it for at least 12 hours. At least.

This was my first time in a hostel and I was really glad I got my own private room. It wasn't very busy but I was happy to unload all my stuff, cool down, take a nap, and then hit the town fresh. I hit the streets to go see the city after my rejuvenation and it was just a short six blocks to the Temple Square. It was hot out so I went into the visitor's center to see what they had to offer. Immediately I was approached by two nice girls who wanted to know all about me and tell me about the LDS/Mormon religion. I really was in there for the A/C so after some nice small talk, I kept walking through the museum area and eventually made it back out to the gardens and the rest of the grounds.

In Idaho, all of the people were really friendly. They would smile and say "Hello" to you all the time. I began automatically smiling at people while walking around SLC but was not well received. I absolutely have to believe that maybe I just looked cranky (because I was) or something but I did not have a great experience with the people in SLC. I felt judged for wearing shorts and a tank top (it was at least 95 that day) and felt very out of place. I am going to just assume it wasn't my day to fall in love with Utah.

Temple Square both in the early afternoon and the evening:

So I continued walking through the city, grabbed a few souvenirs including these awesome copper postcards for the family and decided to splurge on some thai food and sweet treats. I still wasn't liking SLC so I thought some of my favorite food would help perk up my spirits while I sat in the park. All was going well until these huge thunderheads rolled in and there was a weather alert for severe weather. The winds kicked up as I walked over the library to see if there was a better place to eat. I sat down, had a few bites of my thai food, and decided I had given it a good try. The library was an amazing architectural structure that I was on my must-see list so I was happy to at least seen that.

My feet were tired, my food smelled so good, I was starving, and I was just wanting to get back to my hostel. I got a little turned around but finally found my way back. Of course, about 3/4 of the way there, the sky was perfectly clear with a light breeze coming through. Yep, I called it good and ate my lovely meal in my room while watching reruns.

Again leaving very early in the morning, I set out for Moab, UT. I am grateful that I left so early from SLC and could avoid crazy drivers during rush hour. The drive was pretty uneventful and as I neared Moab, I could really see how beautiful the state was. I took a state highway that was a shortcut to the city located in the SE area of the state. My whole reason for Moab was to go to the Arches National Park. Why there? Same reason why you would go see the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower; you see it EVERYWHERE and why shouldn't you go since you are so close?

I tried to go as early in the morning as possible to avoid the crowds and arrived around 10am. Not early enough! After a stop at the gift store and information center, I headed up the big hills to get to the different areas in the park. It is confusing to describe but there are big attractions (Delicate Arch, Balancing Rock, The Windows) and they are spaced out in this huge park along with smaller sights. I chose not to go in too deep so that I could take my time but not worry about getting out once the bigger crowds hit. I took a lot of pictures from my car (safely) and got out to stop and see the Delicate Arch from the lower view point (my yen to hike up to the arch was lessened when there were a lot of people and I was already sweating in my car) and then went over to The Windows view point. Everything was just amazing! It still baffles me that nature created everything I saw around me. The different formations were cause by erosion and weather and the natural character of the rocks and minerals.

Here are a few of my favorites from the park:

Here was my second time at a hostel. The Lazy Lizard is like being at camp. You have a ton of little cabins (one room, bed, A/C, heater, closet, nightstand, chair) and the shower/facilities are in the middle of the campground. Some people choose to stay in cabins that are separate from the rooms and provide a bit more privacy and quiet. It was definitely cheap and just what I wanted. Once I unloaded I settled down, took a really long nap and then took a nice shower. I felt completely rejuvenated and calm after the nap so I headed back into Moab for some dinner. I knew I didn't want to spend a lot of money but I wanted something with substance. I packed a bunch of snacks before I embarked on the drive from Washington but it was mostly nuts, Slim Fast, crackers, and dried fruits. I wanted some meat! I went to the grocery store and grabbed some chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, watermelon, and iced tea. It was so delicious and perfect comfort food. I totally screwed myself by taking that long nap before dinner though and ended up not being able to fall asleep until well after midnight. My coffee addiction was in full effect this trip to say the least!

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