I hiked up to the Delicate Arch, and it was a wonderful hike. Just as you start up the trail there is a rock face with some interesting petroglyphs, done by ancient Ute Indians. Then up the trail, great views going up, lots of hiking across expanses of petrified sand dunes--often called slickrock--where the trail is marked by a series of cairns, put out by the rangers. Fortunately these are pretty easy to follow on this trail, plus there were lots of people on the trail. In some places we've been, apparently some misguided people have either moved trail marking cairns, or sometimes build "false" trail cairns, just for laughs, according to one ranger we talked to the other day. Sad that some folks seem to feel that the only way to get their kicks is at the expense of others. Anyway, it was a wonderful hike. On the way up, I met several folks we had seen on other hikes in the last few days--always fun to compare notes. Saw the German family we had seen the day before at Canyonlands--the ones with whom we were trying to converse in German when my Spanish interfered. Well, the man first greeted me in Spanish this time! So we had a delightful conversation, with his wife and daughter speaking German, him speaking a mix of Spanish and German, me speaking German and English--a veritable little UN gathering on the Delicate Arch Trail!! Just lots of fun. Met some delightful folks from Norway a little farther up the trail.
Got to the top and stopped to eat a bite and rest a bit. Lots of folks up there, including a number of pretty small children, which was impressive that they were doing this hike, and one family with the 79 year old mother shuffling along--that was really impressive!! Anyway, while I was sitting there, looking at the famous arch on one side and looking out over a sheer drop to the other, seemingly on top of the world, I noticed a young family right behind me, with 2 small children, a boy who looked to be about 6 or 7, and his sister, who could not have been more than 4. They were scampering around, eating fresh cherries, and the little girl was so adorable, with cherry stains all over her cheeks and chin! As they were about to finish their lunch and go over for a closer view of the arch, the little boy noticed me and his eyes got real big when I gave him a Santa picture. Then his sister came running over, jumping into my lap, so Mom could take a picture of them with Santa, and the Delicate Arch as the background--really fun! Then there was this young woman, looked to be an early twenty something, doing a reverse handstand, forming an arch with her body, right on the edge of the rock, while her boyfriend took pictures--her body arch in the foreground, the Delicate Arch in the background. It was just a really fun, festive atmosphere up there, and the arch is so amazing--different when you look at it from different spots, even just a few feet one way or the other.
Met a nice couple from Indiana on the way down and we had a great visit as we hiked back. When "arch woman" and her boyfriend passed us on the way down, they were saying it reminded them of when they hiked along the Great Wall in China and this young woman started doing handstands and then walking on her hands along the wall! Got down from the hike and hitched a ride back to the visitors center with a young couple from Virginia. They said they were about to move to Columbus, Georgia, and when I told him were I was from he said he'd be up in Dahlonega eventually, I knew he was in the Army, as that's where they do Ranger training, and I guessed right that they were headed to Ft. Benning. When I asked him how long he had been in the Army, he said, "Officially, just a few days--I just graduated from West Point Saturday." I asked him how he liked his experience at West Point, and he said he liked it a whole lot better now that it was in his rear view mirror! It was fun to talk with them, they'd just gotten married and it reminded me of when Trisha and I were just starting out on our life adventure together, listening them talk about what life may have in store for them.
Had a wonderful bike ride for the 4 miles back into Moab, as there's this terrific paved bike trail along the road but totally separated from the vehicular traffic--boy, do I enjoy finding these bike paths, where you can jut enjoy the scenery and the ride, without having to worry about cars and trucks! The only hazard I encountered was a young mother, with her small child in a bike trailer, coming toward me on the trail--and she was texting!! She veered out of her lane and almost ran into me; couldn't believe it. But I made it back to town safe and sound, just in time to stop by the spa to wait for Trisha to finish up her massage, and we walked back to the campground together.
The folks in the site next to us told us they were on their way to a farmers market in the local park, so we went and it was a delightful setting. Not too may booths of produce, but some delicious looking tomatoes and greens and radishes, which we stocked up on. And this one woman had the most amazing strawberries we've ever eaten. We heard this woman excitedly exclaim as she bit into one and then when we sampled a couple, the same thing happened--it was just this involuntary squeal of surprise and delight at how delicious they were! So we now have some wonderful strawberries in the fridge.
Then off to the rodeo, and what fun we had. It had been probably 20 years since we'd been to a rodeo, and we really had a good time. It was fun to see all the little kids, hanging on to the fence as the riders came around during the pre-rodeo warm ups just to get a closer look at the horses, and the kids were so excited when some of the riders would stop and let them pet their horses. Not too many of the pictures turned out, since there was so much movement and most of it was coming across our field of vision, so just got a lot of blurry shots. I'll include a couple of them from the bareback bronco event, though, just to convey a little sense of how fast paced the action is. 8 seconds is a long time when you're on the back of a big, strong and active animal! I didn't remember this, but I was actually surprised that more of the riders made it the full 8 seconds on the bareback broncos than the saddle bronc riders. The rodeo clown was good, too, and he really entertained the crowd. The brand new cheerleaders from the local middle school were selling programs, and he got them all engaged in some of his routines. They also had 3 kids events, for any kids who wanted to sign up--the stick horse races, the greased pig chase, and the "mutton busters" sheep rides. The sheep rides were probably the most entertaining, as they had kids under 10, outfitted with flak jackets and helmets, holding onto the back of a sheep as they let it out of the bull riding chute--it's hard to describe, but seeing these little kids hanging on for dear life as the sheep would come running across the arena was just a hoot! One little girl made it all the way across the arena before she fell off! Then the sheep would just go gather at one end of the arena until they all had finished and were herded out to their pens. Then the classic ending event--the bull riding, billed as the most dangerous sport of all. It is amazing to see the beating these guys take on top of these huge bulls. And the clowns and bullfighters are quite impressive, too, as they have the job of distracting the bull after the cowboy is thrown, so the bull hopefully won't stomp the vulnerable cowboy. Takes a lot of skill and agility, and they're face to face with a not too happy hunk of beef! Anyway, a great evening, though it did keep us up past our bedtime!!
As we've been sitting here this morning, reflecting on all that we've seen so far, Trisha came across this quote in one of the brochures she was clipping for her journal, and it's most apropos:
Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit--Edward Abbey
Some pics from yesterday:
Ute petroglyphs, first shot is the story board by the wall
Heading up the trail
Beautiful little city park where the farmers market was set up--band playing, families picnicking, children playing on the playground, with the mountains in the background--just delightful!
Rodeo: drill team from Junction City, CO, all using side saddles and dressed in 1800's period costumes, showing the style that women rode back then
Bareback bronc rider ready to come out of the chute
Doing his Evil Kneval imitation, using a mini cycle, a table for a ramp, and two brave guys willing to lie down at the end of the table
The sheep, after the Mutton Busting