I break camp by 8:30am and begin making my way through the loop that is Arches National Park in Utah. While driving and, quite safely, I am holding the camera out the window and snapping pictures as I turn and wind around, discovering vista after vista that tops the one before. I come upon a scene that screams at me to be painted. A pull-off. Even a wee paved walk-up, such as a look-out, maybe 4 x 4’ – this will be my spot. Two towering peaks ahead, the blue fading ranges in the distance, a snow-cap nestled betwixt the twain, and the Colorado river snaking its way as my lead-in, though from right to left, but I will, without too much heavy-handedness, utilize the winding road bending from lower left to right leading the eye to a focal point, as the road, river and ranges (alliteration intended) converge.
A very nice German, maybe Austrian, couple stop to say hello and ask to take a photo. I ask them to take one of me with my camera for documenting purposes, to which they oblige. Approximately an hour and a half later I have a nice little 11x 14” that is a combined effort of brush and palette knife. Lunch at the Sorrel Ranch, which is stunning, a luxurious get-away and spa. I am, of course, early in the season and have virtually the sprawling place to myself. Jenna, my server, a local native from Moab, suggests that this is perfect time to be in this area as the peak season of June/July/August is miserable hot.
I remain a bit concerned how desolate seems to be the travel on Hwy 50 – I allow the movie to go on in my head, what if a breakdown, what if no service stations, oh, and I have cellular service only off and on. I see a sign: “Highway 50: the Loneliest Highway in America.” Comforted? I think not. Or am I? Hmm. Try to make the push to Austin, Nevada, I then will be within five hours’ reach of Carson City and striking distance to Carmel on Tuesday. But arrive in this hilly town before 11pm and the three motels all display No Vacancy. Well, that just sucks.
Seemingly a charming main street, though it is pitch black, very few town lights on, and no activity. None. I try to follow a cryptic sign for Big Creek Campground, but an endlessly bumpy dirt road frustrates and I turn around. Big 'Creepy' Campground perhaps. I sleep in a no-vacancy motel parking lot for two hours and decide that the Kia and I must needs catch some road, keep on keeping on. My new best friend, the Sportage, has been stupendous; I have asked of it tremendous demands in the ne’er-ending climbs and requisite over-drives. To elevation 7,880, then descend for fifteen minutes, maintaining 65 mph without touching the gas or the brakes; 30 minutes later, up we go again, elevation 7,500 and once again the descent. I am waiting for a voice to come from the Kia’s sound system, “dude, you kidding me?! Enough with the up and downs already, I'm just four cylinders, man!.”
I want to see if we can make Carson City but the gas tank suggests otherwise and we fill up in Fallon, NV, and find the EconoLodge. I can sleep a few hours, organize thoughts for the blog and get Google directions to Carmel, which I had already done at some point earlier, but they are buried in the too-much-stuff pile that has been my life for a week and will continue to be so for another six weeks. A sign for complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby is welcomed. It has been a fifteen hour day of driving with two hour nap in a motel lot, sitting straight-up against a pile of very important stuff, though I haven’t any idea what is in the pile just yet, till I can unload in Carmel and investigate each bag. Sleep.