I pedaled solo through southern Utah in 2007 and fell in puppy love with sandstone and shapes of the artist. I would return to its red-wine intoxication, but it took four years.
Moab is the only town that’s close to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and also close to many smaller places to escape and die and never be found. I came here for a long stay, to absorb depth, height and color until my need for it stops.
I moved in on the seventh of June, took up residence in JR’s Desert Inn because they gave a good deal in peak season in at town of five thousand that gets a million visitors per year. The cheaper motels run about eighty dollars, but I stay for thirty-five on the story that I am quiet, don’t need room service, and will be here nearly a month. Raphael asks me every few days if I need anything. I hand him towels and sheets; he hands me clean ones.
The town has a dozen motels and a dozen restaurants. Neon NO modifies the vacancy signs about half the time. Most restaurants have waiting lists in the evenings. Gift shops line Main Street for its three-block central section. I’ve looked into all the shops and restaurants, but don’t linger there much. My schedule begins at least an hour before sunrise and by their dinnertimes I am nodding off.
To the west of Moab, red sandstone rises, and of course I go up there to have a look around. Who wouldn’t? If you think I live averse to civilized society, it’s not true, just the way it worked out.
Looking down on Moab, I see an agrarian culture turned host. Where Mormons came to convert the Utes, and cowboys came to exploit the grass, prospectors to relive the gold rush stories of their grandfathers refitted in uranium, now the neglected arches and needles bring thousands to viewpoint turnouts and loop drives from which they can return to the same gas station and give big tips to waitresses who know how to smooze.