Around Moab: Dead Horses, Canyons and Arches

We had a good overnight stop at Green River, around 45 minutes North of Moab. It was a typical-looking town…

On arrival we asked at the ACE Hardware Store (a veritable emporium; we could’ve spent many happy hours in there if we hadn’t been in a rental van we’re not allowed to improve at all) for directions to a supermarket, which the young chap gave us. we were then confused half an hour or so later when, approaching the checkout with our trolley of groceries, the same chap walked in, hopped behind the counter and served us…..  The next morning we asked where we could get our propane tank filled and we’re directed to… the ACE Hardware Store, where the same chap came out….. When asked if he worked in every business in town, he explained that the Hardware Store and Supermarket were owned by the same people, and that he worked in both as “you gotta keep working”….

Heading down towards Moab, our next stop was at Dead Horse State Park, a “sticky-out” bit of mesa above the canyons below. the name is supposedly due to the fact it was once used to corral wild mustangs (by fencing across a narrow part) while they were sorted into those that were wanted and those that weren’t. A group of those that weren’t wanted was once abandoned there and died of thirst… 😦    Dead Horse State Park’s main claim to fame seems to be that it was here that Thelma and Louise drove off the edge in the 1991 film. When I read out to Mark that Tom Cruise also scaled the Dead Horse State Pak cliffs in Mission Impossible 2, his comment was that “they can’t be very high then”.

All in all, Dead Horse was a fantastic little State Park. The ranger in the visitor centre was incredibly helpful with our campground booking, and, when we got to the campground and found a “reserved” label on the pitch we’d been given, the ranger we asked as he trundled round in his pick-up truck was equally positive: “oh… well you just come along with me and we’ll get you folks sorted out” – and sure enough it was all sorted. Not the gruff “nothing to do with me” response you might get elsewhere. There were two main trails, one up each side to a viewpoint at the end, so we made these into a loop and carried out our visit on foot, leaving K.A.C. at the campground.

The next day we visited the nearby Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. The scenery is quite similar to Dead Horse State Park, though it’s much bigger so, like most of the National Parks we’ve been to, a visit involved driving between parking areas and choosing which of the trails to walk. We got good views of the Colorado and Green rivers heading towards their confluence further South in Canyonlands N.P.

We had a very very unusual experience whilst at Canyonlands. A day and a half later, I’m still not quite sure how to describe it, so I’ll stick to the bare facts….. As you go around from parking area to parking area and from viewpoint to viewpoint, you often see the same people and / or vehicles doing the rounds. This tale concerns an American couple in, say, their early 60s who we’d previously seen in a couple of other spots but not at close range (I.e. We’d never had cause to speak to them). Anyway, at one particular viewpoint (“Orange Cliffs Overlook”) we decided that another pesketeer picture was required for the collection (Zippy generally gets his picture taken at suitably-named locations…… not often, but a handful of pics from each trip…. Orange is, needless to say, his favourite colour…..).

Hardly had the picture been taken when the American couple appeared and asked if we take pictures of “the penguin” everywhere we go? “Pretty much” replied Mark, somewhat misleadingly but not to worry. There then ensued a very short conversation in which they displayed their knowledge of Brexit, expressed dismay at the US election outcome, and asked why the press dislikes Jeremy Corbyn….. This all took maybe a couple of minutes…

He then announced that they must buy us dinner… we squirmed (as you do). It then became clear that he didn’t want to eat dinner with us, he wanted to give us money for dinner…. we protested that this was totally unnecessary (again, as you do). We then got a bit of an explanation about how they like to buy Europeans dinner, having had good experiences in the past when they’d spent a year in Germany and a year in Spain…..last time they had bought dinner for a Swiss couple who were travelling around on rented Harleys…. it was a good thing to do because in the future we could do the same….. maybe we could buy dinner for someone who couldn’t afford it? A note was thrust into Mark’s hand, it didn’t look like we were going to be able to decline without offending them, so we thanked them and agreed that it was a marvellous idea…..

All’s well that ends well? Sort of….. Mark looked horrified when he later pulled out the note he’d been given to discover it was a hundred dollar bill…… there’s no way he would’ve taken it if he’d realised what it was (American notes do all look extremely similar and it wouldn’t have been polite to have scrutinised the note too closely as it was handed over….).

We’ve had a day and a half to digest the event. I can kind of see the idea of making a positive impact on the World by starting some kind of chain of good deeds… but I’m not quite sure I’d use the approach of handing hundred dollar bills to well-fed and well-travelled Europeans as a starting point. Having said that, I should point out that I brought a very old down jacket (Go Outdoors own brand, I can’t remember what the make’s called  as the label fell off years ago) with me on the grounds this could be its last outing… and it has emulsion paint on one sleeve from a slight mishap in Kampington a couple of days before we left (part of the biannual freshening up routine). So maybe we looked a bit bedraggled….

Anyway, I think the best resolution to the 100 dollar question may be to stick it in my Kiva account and let it go to someone who it might well make a difference to…. (and then to someone else… etc etc).

Update: $100 has gone to a lady called Papi in India…. It’ll get recycled to new borrowers for as long as Kiva exists (and if Kiva ever ceases to exist I’ll just donate the account balance to a suitable charity, so although it’s loaned in my head it’s donated….):

Papi is a 22-year-old married woman from a small village called Kulhari in the South Dinajpur district, Bengal. She is engaged with her husband in a paddy selling business. They purchase raw rice from farmers in their village and process it into various products. The processed products are sold in the local market. She lives with her husband, a son and a daughter. Their current income of INR 6,000 per month is very meagre for running the household for a family of their size. Papi wants to increase the household monthly income and she wants to expand the business. She wants to ensure that she saves sufficiently for her children’s future. She has applied for a loan of INR 14,000 with Gram Bikash, Milaap’s field partner. The loan will pay for the higher working capital required for a larger inventory of raw rice. Papi and her family will be thankful to their lenders.


Today we visited Arches National Park which, unsurprisingly, is all about rock arches….

There were also some petroglyphs, these much more recent (mid 1600s to mid 1800s) but still of cultural importance to the local indigenous tribe.

We could easily have spent more time at Arches, but we’ve decided that rather than going back tomorrow, we’re going to continue on our way. Our next stop is the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park (a separate part of the park to the one we visited yesterday), accessed from the main road heading South.