Thursday, March 23, 2017

A weekend in Moab, Utah

I love Moab.  Since living in Arizona, I have visited Moab three times.  The first time was last Spring when Brandon and I went with another couple from Flagstaff.  While in Moab, we met with two of their friends who were from Salt Lake City.  We only have one and a half days exploring on that trip, but it was just enough to give me a taste of something that I enjoyed.

When coming back home from Denver last Summer, we drove through Moab.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time or enough sunlight to explore the cute town, but once again, it gave me an urge to come back and visit again.

Last October, I decided to give Brandon a unique birthday present.  Gifts can be difficult, especially when that person buys themselves what they want all year long.  I wanted to do something different, so I bought him a ticket for the Canyonlands Half Marathon race in Moab, Utah.  Brandon was running a lot with Kodak, so I thought this would be a great gift for him.  Since I didn't want to wait my entire morning for him to finish the race, I signed myself up for the 5 mile race.  I don't run, and I really haven't ran that much since I played soccer.  However, I paid for my ticket, which made me committed.

Fast forward to March-- Brandon did some training, but he still never ran 13 miles straight.  I also did not train.  I've been doing my body sculpt class twice a week, so I was getting a workout in, but I did not ever run.  I was a little unsure since I did not train for the race at all.  I know people walk these races, but I didn't want to walk.  I told myself that I will be fine.

Moab is an excellent spot to camp.  There are lots and lots of campground on the BLM lands around Moab.  However, Brandon and I both wanted a shower after the race.  I looked at hotel rooms, but they were almost $200 a night!  I looked at Airbnbs, but the ones that were available were all hostel style.  Lastly, I found a privately owned campground called ACT Campground.  They were pretty cheap at $25 a night with very clean bathrooms with showers.  We never spend a lot of time at camp, so I decided this was our best option for what we wanted.

The Weekend

We left Flagstaff right at noon on Friday.  We both wanted to get an earlier start, but we had to take care of some work.  Driving to Moab isn't too bad.  It's a 5 hour drive, but it's mostly on the reservation,  It takes 3 hours to get to the Utah border, and then it's all good from there.
Newspaper Rock

We have been participating in the Utah GeoTour.  This is a geocaching tour all across Utah.  When you find 3 specific caches in each county, you get a patch.  After 10 patches, you can receive a coin.  Anyways, we needed one last cache for San Juan County.  We stopped at Newspaper Rock, which is on the way to Canyonlands Needles District.  This was a really cool rock!  I highly recommend stopping here if you are in that area.  We would have continued to the Needles District, but we were running out of time and sunlight.

We got to Moab with about an hour left of sunlight.  We drove up to Dead Horse Point State Park to see the overlook at sunset.  It was very pretty! Once the sunset, we drove back into town to pick up our race packets.  We ate dinner at a cool burger joint, then found our camp and went to sleep since we were waking up early for the race!

The Race

Brandon and I left camp at 7:15am.  That is 6:15am Arizona Time.  We found a parking spot downtown, wished each other good luck, and went to our shuttle pick ups.  The race was very organized, which is very nice.  When I did the Warrior Dash back in Atlanta, it was not organized, which made it the worst race I have ever participated in.  Anyways, I was on one of the first shuttles for the 5 mile racers.  We waited in a trailhead parking lot for about an hour.  Once we were 15 minutes from the start of the race, we walked a quarter mile down the road to starting line.  When I got to starting line, I realized I had to use the restroom.  Yes, I used the restroom when I was waiting for the hour.  I was drinking a lot of water, but wasn't sweating anything out.  

The race started, and I was feeling great.  I did the first mile in 8 minutes!  I kept thinking about my bladder and knew I was going to have to go to the restroom soon.  After mile 2, I saw a porta-potty with no wait.  I was finally able to use the restroom, and I told myself "if this puts me 2 minutes over an hour, it's because of my bladder."

The course was very, very nice.  It was very scenic and was mostly downhill.  Mile 4 went along Hwy 191.  This was probably the worst part of the course.  Many cars, and the sun was beating right on you.  I reached mile 5 and knew I was almost there.  I had to walk and catch my breath a few times, but I kept going.  I crossed the finish line at 1:03:15.  That's maintaining a little over 12 minutes a mile.  Not too bad for someone who doesn't run. 

I got snacks, stretched, and waited for Brandon to cross the finish line.  We completed his race at 2 hours and 23 minutes!  We grabbed a free beer and sat around.  We finally decided to head about to the campsite around 2pm to take a shower.  


Once we were all cleaned up, we decided to drive around Arches National Park since we were both sore from the race.  We went to a lot of the viewpoints and parking areas that we missed last time we were in the park.  I love Arches National Park!

Double Arch
We made our way back into Moab for a small geocaching meet & greet.  We met two other geocachers who were from Blanding, Utah.  We talked about geocaching, about Utah, and the Bears Ear National Monument.  After about an hour of chatting, we parted our ways.

We originally wanted to go to Moab Brewery for dinner, but the wait was 50 minutes for a seat!  We went across the street to the Blu Pig for some yummy bbq.  We got back to the campground around 9:30pm and quickly fell asleep.


We woke up around 8am, broke down camp, and made our way back into town.  Brandon wanted to show me where he started his race, so we drove up to the Half-Marathon starting point.  We found a few geocaches, set up the GoPro, and went back down into Moab.  It was a very beautiful drive! 

Musselmans Arch
Next, we decided to visit Canyonlands for a little bit before heading back to Flagstaff.  We went to Mesa Arch, which was a short little walk we did last time.  After looking at the map, we wanted to go into the canyon to see Musslemans Arch. 

We took the Suburu down Shaffer Trail, which is a 4WD road that goes into the canyon.  The road and drive was scary, but also very cool.  It took us about an hour to get to the Arch.  The Arch was wild!  There were only a few other people down there, and one offered to take out photo on the arch, so we did!  Walking on the arch was terrifying!  

Moab Potash Ponds (source: Google)
After the arch, we decided to go back home.  Only problem-- we either go back up into Canyonlands, or we follow the road into Potash and then Moab.  We decided to take the latter!  Brandon had lots of fun taking his car off road.  It was a beautiful day for a drive, so why not?  We saw the Moab Potash ponds, which are the "electric blue ponds in the middle of the Utah desert".  Super cool!  We ended up seeing a lot of rock climbers, found even more camping spots, and had a nice time driving.

On the way back home, we found a few more caches before the sun went down.  Overall, it was an awesome weekend. I will definitely sign up for the 5 mile race again next year! 

View from 4WD Shaffer Trail

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