Monday, August 17, 2015

moab: arches and canyonlands


Three weeks before Theo celebrated his 4th year on Earth, I asked him what he wanted to do to mark the special occasion. His emphatic response was: adopt 32 Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs (apparently they would live happily in our backyard and he assured me he would be in charge of water and food distribution) or see "81 hundred million billion stars” (he’s really into the cosmos). I explained that there’s this pesky little thing called extinction and he was about 65 million years too late for his first wish, but I did know just the place where he could see all those stars. I told Theo about a little desert town in Utah called Moab and he was elated.


On a warm summer evening, we piled into the car, crossed our fingers and hoped for a smooth ride, free of tantrums and backseat fighting. This was the first family road trip we had taken the boys on that exceeded the 4-hour mark, but they did really, really well.  After movie and a quick roadside dinner, Theo and Otis both fell asleep…


The next morning, armed with our annual National Parks pass (one of the best things that money can buy), we headed out in search of area’s two main local attractions- Canyonlands and Arches.

Believe me when I tell you that two places are extraordinary. The giant canyon, which has been shaped over millions of years, is how I imagine the surface of Mars might look. Arches is equally spectacular. The formation of arches rarely occur in nature, but the national park, which features the largest collection of arches found anywhere in the world, boasts over 2,000 natural stone arches…along with enormous fin rocks, pinnacles and boulders. If you love geology, this is the place for you.


Now it’s really hot this time of year so we planned our hikes accordingly. We did one in the morning after breakfast and one after dinner, just as the sun was setting and the stars were becoming omnipresent in the summer sky...


The boys learned so much about geology, erosion, constellations and the park’s wildlife. We explained that these “living” places are constantly being altered by the forces of nature. Some of the arches we saw on this trip, like Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch, might not be there when we go back next year. It’s an ephemeral environment that is nothing short of magical.

Both Theo and Otis declared the Utah road trip to be, “one of the best adventures” they’ve ever taken. They loved the ravens, mule deer, lizards and other creatures we saw scampering about the desert floor. They also really enjoyed the hotel pool, which is where we spent many hours each afternoon.  

It’s always a guessing game how these trips will turn out. What the boys called the adventure of their lives provided us, their parents, with a handful of challenging moments. My husband, Matt, characterized the long weekend by using a bowling metaphor and described the excursion this way: there were many strikes (awesome hiking) and a few gutter balls (meltdowns at breakfast, in the hotel room, and before naps). But despite some behavioral hiccups, we both agreed we would do it again in a heartbeat. All in all it was a wonderful birthday adventure and I’m glad we committed to doing it. It really beats another weekend in the playground...

Happy trails.
xx,  
Batya

PS: Theodore, I wish you the best year yet and I know we will continue to make awesome discoveries together!  I love you oodles and oodles!
xx,
Mom

Photos were taken with my iPhone because my real camera broke on the trip. 

 

Hiking: 
In Arches
Delicate Arch
Landscape Arch
Balanced Rock
Skyline Arch
The Windows.

In Canyonlands
Mesa Arch at Island in the Sky District
Trails in the Needles District 

Accommodations: Moab has terrific camping options (be sure to book ahead) but the heat this time of year, coupled with the fact that we have young kids, made us think a hotel was a better bet. We stayed at the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites, which can be pricey ($230-$300 per night), but we used hotel points when we made our reservations.       

Take lots of water. Make sure you know where the water stations are located; Arches only has two spot to fill up your bottles.


Distance: About 5 ½ - ¾ hours from Denver.
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