Saturday, January 5, 2008

on the road (volume 5)

Yet another chapter in the adventures of Leslie Ann has begun. This time the destination is Portland, Oregon. The time frame is within the month. The intention is unclear. The plan was to leave New Year's Day in honor of the symbolic force of beginning at the beginning. Plans, however, tend to change when one procrastinates. I spent that particular day packing up my life (once again), and running errand upon errand to "prepare" for this. Ironic because the task is impossible. Needless to say I managed to get the car partially loaded, spent one more night in Ogden, woke up, loaded everything else, and hit the road.

It was relatively cold when we (I say we because Garrett is accompanying me for an undetermined period of this journey) left Ogden. We started driving (Thel getting used to the load one again) toward Moab. Now I've been wanting to visit Moab since I got to Utah because my dorky self wishes to view, up close and personal, the famous Delicate Arch, which is such the emblem of Utah that it is planted distinctly upon my license plates. Furthermore, I've heard of a tribal belly dance troupe who claims Moab as home. The drive was gorgeous, and I expected no less because Southern Utah and Northern Arizona are my favorite areas of the country. By the time we rolled into Moab, though, the sun had set so completely that my night vision (that is, the lack thereof) had thoroughly kicked in. We had no idea what to do at this point as the time was a mere 5:30 in the evening. We sat in a parking lot attempting to catch some wireless Internet. With no luck, we wandered into a local grocery store, picked up the paper, got some green tea, and asked the clerk what there was to do at night. At this point several people that heard us broke into simultaneous laughter. Eh, so much for that. We noticed a hostel listed in the accommodations section of the paper, at a lovely $9 per night (I have yet to mention that Moab was a good deal colder than Ogden, and camping seemed on the dangerous side). We groped our way around the town until we finally found this place set back behind some storage units. Driving into it seemed like the perfect set-up for a really bad horror flick. Upon entering we found a wood stove with a (warm, thank god) fire blazing. The guy behind the counter was a total hippie, and the place seemed to be full of the hippie- hipster type. We talked for a while with him and other guests about where we had travelled and where we were headed. Then we got the key to this cabin outside that was supposed to be equipped with a fully functional radiator that would warm it up in "half an hour." We cranked it on high, and ended up wearing coats and hats and making pb & j sandwiches with frozen fingers which we warmed up hobo style over the radiator (that never actually heated up the room).

At this point it's now about 8:00, and we've nothing to do. We crawl into our sleeping bags, read some faery tales aloud, play shadow games on the wall with flashlights, and finally get to sleep. We wake up when the sun does, pack up the car, and are thankful for the heater that finally warms us up. It's off to see the sights. We cruise back through town to Arches National Park. Enter a faery tale. Red rock is magic to me. We saw many gorgeous formations. And, of course, the Delicate Arch.
We get a free dinosaur bone from a local rock shop, get some food (for us and for Thel) and hit the road again. It's Grand Canyon or bust this time. Yet again the drive is gorgeous, and I can't explain how amazing I feel being on the road again. I live for that feeling... to know that the world really is at my fingertips. I could go anywhere and do anything. It's all for me.

By the time we get into the Park, the sun is setting (what'd ya know?). So road trips in the winter take a little tweaking, especially if you can't afford a hotel room every night. It's $25 to get into the park, so we're hoping to get to camp. However, the season apparently doesn't allow campers as all the campgrounds are closed. We don't want to backtrack, and I don't want to go through in the dark. The lodge is out of the question, so we park and get ready for a long night in the car. We talk and Garrett tells me a story or two, then by about 8:00 I'm falling asleep. I awake sporadically to passing cars and bizarre dreams. I awoke at one point to a sky full of amazingly clear stars, and I was gazing realized I was witness to a meteor shower! How incredible. It wasn't too bad being in the car all night, besides getting wicked cold a couple times. We awoke with the sun (again) and made our away along the South Rim to gape and the grandness there.
It was, of course, as beautiful as I recall, only it was much colder and snowing most of the time. Anyway, we hopped back in the car and made our way to Flagstaff to grab a bite to eat. Flagstaff, as always, was heavily congested, but we finally found our way to 89 which would take us straight into Sedona. This drive was amazing as well, as we drove through Kaibab and Coconino National Forests, and various terrain from heavy snow to dry desert. We hit Sedona by noon, wandered through the many little shops, loitered on the sidewalks, grabbed a map, and drove down 179 to see Chapel Rock, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, etc... I love how this place feels. I keep going back. I would have liked to have hiked, but as winter as it was, we were unprepared.
Rolling out of Sedona in the afternoon, we made our way to Phoenix. I've never driven this far south in Arizona, so I was in awe of the landscape changes. The further south we got, the bigger the cacti, until the outskirts of Phoenix which actually felt like Florida to me because of the palm trees. This is a good thing because it also got warmer, and I shed the snow boots and thermal shirt in favor of a t-shirt and my good ole sneakers. We were meeting up with some of Garrett's friends who live just south of Phoenix. They took us to a pretty chill brewery where I was surrounded by a group of geeky animators who are working on a star gate game. It was pretty cool to listen to these people geek out about their passions (though I had nothing to add). I was so tired and so thankful to be able to stay in their house where it was warm. Also, showering was pretty amazing after not having done it for a while.

This morning we ate some authentic Mexican for breakfast and headed for the zoo. It was nice weather, though a little rainy. They say this is the cloudiest Phoenix has been for some time. Anyway, I enjoyed the animals thoroughly.

After that, we got to see the studio where this whole stargate game is being created. I respect these guys so much because I have NONE of their skill. :) Tonight we are going to try to go dancing, but I'm not sure how that'll turn out. Anyway, we leave in the morning for Tucson. I am, of course, loving every minute of this.

Until next time...

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