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[Comments] (8) The Summer of John: It's been a great weekend. Friday night Jodi and Franko came to sleep over so we could leave Saturday morning at 4 am for Moab. We got there about 8 and went straight to hike Delicate Arch, which is an 1.5 mile hike straight up slickrock, which means no shade. So after eating breakfast up there and applying generous amounts of sunscreen to our faces, we began the trek. It's a good hike to do in the morning before it gets too hot, but because it's Moab in May, it already was hot. Delicate Arch is the famous arch that is on the UT license plates, and is really worth the hike.

The whole up, down, and taking pictures there, took about 3 hours. I felt semi-proud of myself on the hike, but not fully satisfied as I watched these large groups of 80 year-women hike to the arch. If they could do it, why was I sweating so much? Maybe I'll just have to go back in 60 years and try it again.

By then it was about 11:00, and since we felt we'd already put in a whole day, we left to go check into our camp site. I think Moad may have invented the campsite; they have the system down pat. For only $24, the four of us got a camp spot for both our tents right next to the showers and toilets. The place also had a pool and three hot tubs for us to drown our heat and sunscreen in. After rejuvenating, we tried the park again.

In the afternoon we hit the Windows section, Double Arch, Skyline Arch, and Sand Dune Arch. Sand Dune Arch is between two sandstone fins, so it is in the shade about 23 hours a day. Jodi, Franko, and I climbed on top of it (about 30 feet high) for some cool pictures. It was hard to get up. There was a wind tunnel that ran up the crevice we climbed up, and it shot sand straight into my face and mouth. So I got a free "sand"wich (pause for laughter from the audience). On the way down Jodi ripped her back pant pocket completely to shreds. Good thing it was only the pocket and not the pants at least. I remember climbing on top of the arch as a boy scout about 10 years ago, and we would jump off into the sand. None of us dared; kids do the darndest things. But since my teenage Superman complex has worn off, we opted to climb back down.

That night we cheated and used a super-log to light the fire for our weenie and Starburst roast. Then, as soon as the sun went down at 9 pm, we hit the hay. I didn't think I'd be able to sleep, because of the heat. But it was actually cooler than our third floor apartment in Happy Valley, so I slept very comfortably. Another nice thing about these campsite places is that you don't have to worry about sleeping over a sagebrush.

We awoke promptly at 6 am the next morning to do it all again. This time we hit Devils Garden, which, if you do the whole 7.2-mile loop, takes you by 8 arches. We hit Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, and eventually made it to Landscape Arch one mile into the hike. That was a really cool arch. A big chunk of it fell off about 15 years ago, so now they won't let you sit under it anymore. The spectators on that fateful day in 1991 heard what they thought was thunder and ran for cover. No one was injured, and one rather foresightful individual took pics.

Then the morning "stroll" turned into a real hike. Up, up, up we went through a narrow canyon and happened upon Wall Arch halfway up. Then it was up some more until we hit both Navajo and Partition Arch. Partition Arch was amazing. It is on the cliff north of Landscape Arch, and through it is an awesome view of the whole valley. The wind whips up there pretty furiously, so it cooled us down after our long upward ascent. I wish words could describe the view and feeling up there. Maybe pics will; they will be developed tomorrow.

Next we got to walk atop the sand fin, while the valley hundreds of feet below was forgotten, or at least mostly. The wind was strong up there, and while the view was breathtaking, I was rather glad when that cliff descended into a higher valley. I would have kissed the sand, but by now it was 10 am and rather hot. By 10:30 we hit Double O Arch and the Dark Angel. Double O Arch was cool. It was one arch on top of another. I tried to climb the first for a pic between the two arches, but halfway up I realized Susie and I would have a hard time coming down, so we settled for pictures under the first arch, instead of above it.

At this point you can either backtrack the whole way home or take the "primitive trail" home. We took the primitive loop, even though it adds a whole mile to the trip and is supposedly not for the faint of heart. It was a nice way home, because we got to see another arch, Private Arch, and the trail wasn't nearly so congested. As we started, we realized Jodi had drank all her water, so it was a good thing I brought extra. As an aside, I am a prepared hiker, even if I just wore a backpack with water bottles, a camera, sunscreen, and food in it. My sister and her sophisticated husband had their fancy-smancy camelbags, but nothing else. Plus they ate sunflower seeds the whole trip, so it's no wonder they were so thirsty. Some people started the trail much later in the day than us with nothing more than a bottle of Dasani in hand. I sincerely hope they survive. I, however, take enough to see me through two days. Sure it's a little heavy at times, but is worth it to me. I guess maybe I am prepared to be a dad--I'll be able to successfully pack a diaper bag because I'll expect all of the "unexpected" events of the day. But I digress....

Back to primitive trail. I have no idea why it is called this. The trail was in no way primitive; maybe it's a direct knock on its trespassers. It's a mystery. But it was awesome. We jumped from slickrock to slickrock over caverns, and basically got to make our own trails sometimes to get to the next rock cairn. I love doing stuff like that. I'd say it's because I'm a nonconformist, but that would be a lie. I guess it's a form of problem solving, and I love that stuff. The trail eventually leveled off and we walked down a wash for a ways, and eventually made our way through very soft, but very hot sand back to the car. The whole journey was 5 hours. In essence, it was 5 of the neatest hours of my life. We never did that loop as scouts (the leaders would have killed over).

We ate at Hogi Yogi and then came home. It's a pleasant 4-hour drive. This adventure has got me all excited to go camping. Too bad we are moving soon. I mean, Cal as places to go, but honestly, Utah is the epitome of camping. Maybe we'll make it to Zions or Bryce another weekend.

I have been studying like crazy for the CPA exam, and still have yet to catch up for not studying on the cruise. Of the four parts, I've opted to study Regulation and Financial Accounting first. Friday was the first day I felt I actually understand and digested all I learned. Hopefully it's a breakthrough, as I must have all parts passed by the time I hit my one year anniversary with EY. Plus, they won't reimburse me the $700 until all parts are passed. Wish me luck!


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