Our stops at Arches National Park and Sin City
30.04.2017 - 01.05.2017
Denver, Colorado to Moab, Utah was the most picturesque drive by far. It started in snowy mountains and concluded in a rock-strewn desert. Ryan and I commented “that’s beautiful” literally 30 plus times. The route was entirely along 70 West which twisted through several nationally preserved areas. Our favorite was the White River National Forest, the most visited national forest in the U.S. named for the White River running through it. In order to be both mentally and physically present during our stays, I elected to begin the habit of writing my blogs during the long car rides.
Our friends and former neighbors, the Ridley family, were “boondocked” on public land just beyond the border of Arches National Park. Emma is my former pharmacy residency director at the VA Maine Healthcare System who subsequently became a dear colleague and confidant. Her husband Kevin is an electrical engineer like Ryan (in case you didn’t know, pharmacists partner well with engineers ) They have two daughters Eloise, who is 4 going on 5, and 8-month-old Eliza. After attending Ryan and my wedding last fall, I was officially dubbed “The Princess” by Eloise. Now that is a nickname I could get used to!
In May 2016, the Ridley family sold their house down the road from us to move into a new Dutchman Voltage 5th wheel. Even though we saw the Ridley’s right before they left Maine, we had yet to witness their new 39-foot home. It was a mini mansion fully equipped with a bathroom (shower/tub included), kitchen, king sized mattress, office for Kevin, kid’s room for Eloise and Eliza, plus plenty of other living space. Ryan and I comfortably slept on their sofa turned pull-out bed during our one-night stay. For more information on the Ridley family’s travels, I encourage you to peruse Emma’s blog: wickedwanderers.net
Ryan and I arrived around 2:00 pm on Sunday, April 30, giving us plenty of time to hit up Arches National Park that afternoon. We utilized our National Park Pass for the first time to gain entry, which otherwise would have cost us $25. The 12-month pass was $85, including shipping and handling, and covers entrance fees to more than 2,000 sites managed by the National Park Service. Speaking of “more than 2,000”, that’s how many arches are cataloged in the park. According to the information I was provided, Arches is 76,519 acres and consists of balanced rocks, towering fins and spires, and the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. It was truly a glorious spectacle unlike anything I had ever seen. The Ridley family joined us in hiking several short trails along “The Windows Section” which showcased Double Arch, North Window, and South Window. We drove until we ran out of road at Devils Garden, gazing at the Fiery Furnace, Balanced Rock, Petrified Dunes, and Courthouse Towers along the way.
Our visit would not be complete without a stop at the Moab Brewery. The adults guzzled down some local beers and the six of us enjoyed a nice dinner together. Kevin educated Ryan and I about Utah’s unique policies regarding alcohol and we were all happy to have the opportunity to catch up on life. The following morning, we were treated to scrumptious chorizo and egg breakfast burritos before it was time to hit the road once more.
The next leg of our journey took Ryan and I to one of my favorite places, Las Vegas! Along the way I experienced an interesting interaction at one of the rest stops in Utah. What appeared to be a local woman in her 50s singled me out on my way to the bathroom and asked, “do you have any pee quarters?” Not typically at a loss for words, I had no clue how to respond. Did this place require money to use the facilities? Was she yanking my chain? I replied, “Uh…I guess I don’t understand what you mean.” She retorted “P Quarters! Ya know, since you are from Maine! I have all the D ones but I need more of the Ps.” Of course, she wanted quarters manufactured by the Philadelphia mint on the east coast as opposed to the Denver mint near our current location. I informed Ryan I was going to put that gem in my blog, so there you have it.
Congested traffic added some time to the trip but we eventually got settled into our hotel room at Bally’s at 5:30 pm on Monday, May 1. Have I mentioned that I love to gamble?! My fix began at the MGM Grand where Ryan found his preferred quarter game called “Sigma Derby Horse Racing”. It involves a low-tech race track, five plastic horses, and bets based on the odds of which two will come in first and second place. I endorse the cheap yet very fun entertainment. After losing some coinage at the MGM, the two of us moseyed over to New York, New York. In lieu of a sit-down dinner, we opted for a soft pretzel with cheese followed by tasty corned beef nachos and mediocre mixed drinks at the Nine Fine Irishmen. Ryan plays the violin so he especially liked the live band performing at the pub; their Celtic version of “The Devil Went Down to Dublin” was quite good! We continued down the strip to the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace for more gambling. George Bernard Shaw once quoted, “In gambling the many must lose in order that the few may win.” The slot machines were tight and I left Sin City, as many do, with less money. Hopefully I will become one of the fortunate few when visiting again for a pharmacy conference in July. In the meantime, the road trip endures west to California.