Daytripping Destinations

Guess What Day It Is!

Guess What Day It Is: Week 28

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Dear Daytrippers,

Greetings from Moab, UT – last November the famous Canadian Rocky Mountaineer launched a new train journey in the Southwest United States –Rockies to Red Rock – the route for this will bring a new luxury train tour to explore the historic rail route between Denver and Moab. My immediate thought is that this would be a great addition to our ‘Trains Around Colorado’ tour. After poking around Glenwood Springs, I decide to follow the train route to Moab and check out the scenery along the way to determine if the addition is worth the expense. I know the Denver – Glenwood Springs leg of the journey passing the Gross Reservoir Dam and the famous Moffatt Tunnel, the six mile tunnel built in 1928, which cuts through the Continental divide, will be jaw-dropping but am not so sure about the line to Moab.

Tucked in a valley at the foot of the red-hued cliffs and the La Sal Mountains, overlooking the Colorado River, Moab was a refuge for Butch Cassidy and other outlaw gangs. Author Zane Grey made it the scene of many of his stories and it is often the location for movies. Today, it maintains that wild west atmosphere. Moab in the Spring is new to me – the temperature is pleasant enough to hike and explore the whole day and the Colorado River is filled with snowmelt. On past visits, I have found that as a city Moab can be crowded and underwhelming so have favored staying at the Red Cliffs Lodge and only venturing to town for lunch and shopping. But the times they are a changin’ – I never miss a chance to slip in Bob Dylan and the Band. New hotels are springing up at almost every turn with the very cool, very upscale Hoodoo Moab, just off the main drag, enticing me to change my mind – maybe two nights at Red Cliffs and one in town for future trips. Don’t misunderstand, Moab still has the small-town vibe but is evolving – so quickly it could be time-lapse photography.

Last Spring when the shut-down happened, I started hiking and discovered that I am really into it. So on this visit to Moab I wanted to hike up to Mesa Arch for the iconic sunrise photograph. After much discussion about the virtues of sunrise vs sunset – I was convinced Laurie was just saying sunset was better because she is not an early riser – I decided on sunrise. Since it is such a famous spot for photographers to catch amazing shots of the sun peaking over the canyons with beams streaming through the arch, I expected a crowd but nothing like what we saw when we arrived. The short hike was one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever experienced in Moab. And to say it is magical does not do it justice. The sun rises from behind Mesa Arch and, as it reaches the level of the arch, the reflections of the sun beams create a sunburst effect under the arch. It is like nothing I have ever witnessed.

Arches National Park is a treasure with 2,000 – or so I am told – natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch. The parks colors, textures and landforms highlight the extraordinary balanced rocks, fins and pinnacles. Canyonlands National Park provides a wealth of stunning landscape filled with countless canyons, mesas and buttes, carved by the Green and Colorado rivers which can be thoroughly enjoyed from a scenic drive – Island in the Sky – that follows the rim of the mesa.

You can’t enjoy the beauty of Moab on an empty stomach so I checked out the most promising restaurants for our next visit. Beginning with the towns newest dining experience, Josie Wyatts Grille at the Hoodoo Moab, a steakhouse with southwest flair. They are open for indoor dining and have a great patio as well, but I only take a quick look around to see if it is suited to group dining and check out the menu which is limited but I think you would approve. The Sunset Grill – steeped in local history – once the grand home of a millionaire and located atop a mountain with sweeping views of Moab – is exactly as I remember – the Daytripping group (always particular about restaurants) raved about the food but I can’t seem to remember anything except the views – still unlike any else in the world. The beloved Desert Bistro I learn requires appropriate attire – more appropriate than what I am wearing – and requires a reservation – which I don’t have – so this is a nose-pressed-against-the-window review – great setting and atmosphere – and they promote nightly game specials and fresh seafood flown in from the coast daily – making it a real contender. By now, I am ‘moose-goose burger, 16 pickles and purple plumb’ hungry and stumble on Moab Food Truck Park – picnic tables, outdoors and music – perfect. But, so many choices – I couldn’t decide and ended up with Mexican and Chinese – I am now thinking I have discovered a fusion food sensation – Chinexican Cusine – couldn’t moo-shu pork be a relative of the burrito – I may be on to something – Kung Pao Quesadillas, Juan Ton Tacos… okay, okay, when you have been on the road this long it’s the silly and ridiculous that keep you going.

Having said all this – we will return to Moab on a future trip and we will be doing the ‘Trains Around Colorado’ tour in 2022 but we won’t be adding the new Rocky Mountaineer to Moab train ride. At $1,250 a person for two days it seems too costly, especially when the best scenery is from Glenwood Springs to Denver – so that is what we will do – on Amtrak. I hope you will join me.

Missing you all,
John

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