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Life is a Highway, Part 17: Canyonlands National Park

Moab is pretty cool.  No, really.  It’s a bit touristy, but it’s got some decent food, decent beer, and it’s fairly young and active.

The other nice thing is that it’s positioned close to two gorgeous national parks:  Canyonlands and Arches.  I would be spending two days there, and the first was dedicated to Canyonlands.

If you remember the story of “that dude that went hiking alone, and fell and got trapped, and he had to drink his own urine and saw his arm off and now James Franco played him in that movie that was nominated for some awards,”  well, that happened in this park.  Not that I saw the movie, but I knew this place got a lot of attention after it came out.

I was getting a bit more excited because this was going to be the first real park where I got to start the day early and hike till my heart’s content.  I chose a trail that would lead me up and around, and to a canyon rim.  And the view was totally worth it.  Of course, the first thing I noticed was the road….

IMG_20150507_131203712_HDRWhile this wasn’t a terribly strenuous hike, it was pretty hot out on ground level.  But once I got some elevation, there was a whipping wind that I thought might actually blow me off the cliff.  I managed to stand my ground, however, and ended up staring out into the great beyond.  There are a few entrances into the park (something I realized too late), and I ended up at Island in the Sky.  I planned a few trips – I have all day, might as well use it – Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, the overlooks.

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The overlooks had, by far, the most breathtaking view.  There’s just so much to take in, and it really does look like an island in the sky.

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I explored the Upheaval Dome, a crater made from meteor impact around 170 million years ago.  The curious bit is that there are green points in the middle – there are two theories of how it was formed.  One is that it’s a salt dome, and the other is that it’s an eroded impact crater.  I like to think it’s baby mountains or something.

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I don’t have any photos of Whale Rock, and it’s because I took a lovely tumble down it.  Balancing with camera in one hand, water bottle in the other, and quickly becoming aware of an issue with the joints in my toes in my left foot (as in, with too much strenuous impact they swell to the size of kumquats and make it impossible to walk comfortably), I stumbled, fell, and was mortified.  I tore my jeans and skinned my knee so deep, it ripped through scar tissue I’ve had since 2004, it didn’t heal for almost a month, and I will probably have a scar forever.  The two Italian tourists (both a good deal older than I, and gracefully jaunting down the path) were amused at the little round Asian chick tumbling down the rocks like a tumbleweed.

Anyway, following that, I was a bit less enthused to go scrambling and running down the rocks.  What can I say – blood, torn jeans, and general embarrassment at my inability to walk properly sort of dented my confidence.  Instead, I decided to make use of my small stature and climb into places normal-sized people couldn’t fit.

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Check out my ripped jeans. I’m so rugged 😛

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The canyon rim walk to end my day here was probably one of the best, and most wonderful walks and moments of my life.  Slightly over a mile long, the views were spectacular, and because it was late in the day (6-7pm?) the sun was starting to go down, and the trail was all but deserted.  It’s interesting – I was forced to go slow because of my (still bleeding) knee, and I was able to really get up close and personal with some of the rock formations.  It’s amazing what the elements can do.  I have to admit, I didn’t notice some of the things at first, and it was only on the way back.  I guess what they say is true:  Hindsight really is 20/20.

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When I reached the end of the trail, there was a large flat rock, and I just lay down and took in the vast landscape.  It was the closest to zen meditation I’ve ever gotten, and when I finally opened my eyes, I felt very at peace.  There’s something about being out there, something about being so small, that really makes you realize what’s important and what isn’t, and in that moment, I felt very grateful and lucky.

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Hop, Skip, and a Yelp!

Sometime back in 2011, I used to have this friend named Geoff (check out his photography site!).  He worked at Reuters, and therefore was able to eat his way through Manhattan.  I don’t remember why, but he encouraged me to start reviewing places on Yelp, and so I did, and after just a short few months, I was nominated to be Yelp Elite.

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Somehow, four years later, I’m still at it, and still Elite, which basically means I eat out at random places and end up reviewing them, and I get invited to some kickass events.  It’s been so long since I’ve been able to drink wine that’s been properly paired with food, I could have stayed there if the snacks kept coming.

Most events have great booze – this had local vodka and tequila with local-made mixers.  Let’s be honest – there was a margarita and a cosmo stand.  I barely needed the wine!  The vodka was better than the tequila, but the margarita was better than the cosmo .

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And there was wine.  Seven different types, to be exact.  And they were all fairly good, even the sweet bubbly ones.  But before there was wine, there was FOOD.  And oh, the food!

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Manchego cheese with quince paste and an almond.

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Hot sweet peppers with goat cheese – a weakness!

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They were small, but they were amazingly delicious. And I don’t even really like macarons!


Anyone want to be my +1 next time?

Happy Birthday To Me

I don’t like my birthday. 

I like other people’s birthdays. I like to celebrate with them, and really make them feel special.

But I lash out when people try to do it for me.

I never really understood why till this year. I think it’s because I still resent being born into a world where people gave birth like it was a business, and I was some sort of good to be sold.

 

Yes, Eye Muscle Spasm, I’m talking to you. It’s been….four days now? Since Wednesday night, you’ve been going crazy – what has you so upset? I’ve tried more sleep, less caffeine, more caffeine, more ACV (yes I went out and bought more). I’ve tried no food, lots of food, greasy food, raw food. I’ve tried exercise, sleep, relaxing, hot showers, cold compresses….I’m really not sure what else you want?

I know you’re probably enjoyed your time making me excessively self-conscious, as well as extremely annoyed, but don’t you think that someone else deserves a turn? I mean, I can’t even put my eyeliner and mascara on properly due to your little joking ways. 

Anyway, it’s been fun, but I’d really appreciate a break from you. Soon. And permanently. 

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Never underestimate the obliviousness and stupidity of even the most unlikely of candidates.

Also, never underestimate them in general, for they might be playing dumb just to piss you off. Which is probably more likely.

PSA

Be aware of your surroundings.

 

On Tuesday, I worked late. I have a short walk to my parking garage, only about 3 blocks. I have to cross a paved walk/bike way, that runs perpendicular to my path going to my car.

I noticed someone coming towards me, about 50 yards away, when I was leaving the building. A man, in baggy clothing and smoking something (not a cigarette). He was walking funny, but oh well, sometimes I walk funny with my big purse. I crossed the walkway, and started towards the garage. Halfway through the first block, I realized the man was behind me, and was catching up. He was saying something to me, asking for something, but I was on the phone with my husband, and was talking loudly on purpose.

By the time I got to the end of the first block, he was less than five feet behind me. He kept asking for things, and as I crossed the street, another girl passed me. He backed off a little, but by the time I made it across the street and onto the second block, he was directly behind me. His shadow kept getting closer and closer to me, which was my only gauge, as I refused to turn around and make eye contact. I was close to the end of the second block by now, and where I usually take a left and walk along the “projects” till I get to the back entrance of the garage, I was contemplating going for a longer walk, to the official entrance, just to be around more people and not have to walk next to a dangerous area.

Fortuitously, a security guard in a security vehicle made a surprise turn down the street at the end of the second block, where I would normally turn to walk along the projects. The man threw up his hands and turned around. I decided to walk to the official entrance anyway, and ended up walking near an elderly grandmother with her granddaughter, and a jogger. 

I was a little shaken, but I made it to my car and home safely. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, so you can report when something is different, or unusual. You never know what might happen to you……

….and now I’m figuring out the laws in my state for Mace or pepper spray. Working in the ghetto sucks sometimes.