In case you missed the previous post: Solo Road Trip: Part I – Introduction and Colorado
People constantly ask, “How did you drive that much alone? Didn’t you get bored?” The answer is, “Yes and no”. Driving from southern Illinois to Colorado Springs will make your eyes bleed. There’s absolutely nothing outside of St. Louis and Kansas City. However, the drive from Colorado Springs to Utah was absolutely stunning. Here’s a snapshot of some of the scenery as you drive on I-70 along the Colorado River in western Colorado near Glenwood Canyon.
Sure you need to make sure you keep your eyes on the road, but there’s plenty to take in while you’re driving and rocking out to some music. For me it was mostly 90’s and 2000’s rock and today’s county. Anyway.
As I was coming into Moab, Utah I drove past their local municipal airport where they had advertisements for skydiving. Skydiving was not part of my original plan, although I knew that I always had wanted to go. I spent the next few miles pondering the idea. Less than 10 minutes later I’m on the phone with one of the skydiving companies checking to see if they had any openings in the next hour, luckily for me, they did. After watching several safety videos and signing several waivers saying I’m assuming all risk, I was putting on my harness. The guy I was jumping with was a pretty typical extreme sports type. He had long hair, his name was Bodee, and, well, you get the picture. The guys that were there and how they acted (immaturely) did not exactly inspire confidence, but I wasn’t nervous yet. I spent my time waiting for my turn chatting with the other guy that would be doing a tandem jump at the same time I was. He was a 20-something from Germany, took off a few months to explore the U.S. before he returned home to start work. Finally it was our turn to go up. We were in a small, stripped out Cessna, no interior other than the chair for the pilot. We were crammed in this plane like sardines. Nerves still hadn’t hit me yet. At least not until we hit 6,000’ and Bodee told me we still had another 4,000’ before we jumped.
When my feet were on solid ground I had told myself I wasn’t going to make one of those scared faces people make when they do their jumps. Let me tell you, everything you tell yourself on the ground goes out the window when they open up that door and there’s nothing between you and the ground 10,000’ below you. You put your feet on this little platform and they push you out, then you free fall for about 45 seconds. It’s both the longest and shortest 45 seconds of your life. Then they finally pull the parachute and you catch yourself and your breath. The views were amazing. I was thousands of feet above Arches National Park and Canyonlands. The minutes flew by as I took in the landscape and before I knew it my feet were back on the ground after a pretty easy landing despite the windy conditions. I can’t say I was prepared to go sky diving. It was mid 30’s on the ground and it doesn’t get any warmer when you’re 10,000’ up (16,000’ above sea level). I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt on my drive, but luckily I had a hoodie in the Jeep to change into so I wasn’t freezing.
After I got my bearings I was off to Arches National Park. I’m not going to lie, after I got to Arches National Park I had to lay in the back of the Jeep for a good half hour to let my stomach and body settle. Arches NP was pretty busy that day, but from talking with others it was much less busy than had I gone on a weekend or during the spring. Arches was spectacular, the rock formations were amazing.
Arches is set up with a road that winds through the park with numerous pull off area where you can park close to the more popular landmarks and hike to them. I got to Arches National Park around 1 and didn’t finish up there until dark. I was actually getting worried that I wasn’t going to make it back before dark as I started on the longest (and most dangerous) trail just 2 hours before sunset. As I was coming into the last stretch of the path I came across a gentleman I had talked with on a trail before, he had taken a shorter route back and I was just catching up with him. We hiked the last half hour of the trail together. He traveled to Moab almost every year about this time so I picked his brain for places to eat and things to see while I was in town. After finishing up at Arches I headed into Moab for a much needed meal. I hadn’t eaten other than my muffin I had for breakfast and some crackers and Slim Jims after my stomach settled from skydiving around lunchtime. After some quick googling, I settled on the Moab Brewery.
After stuffing my face I decided a warm bed and conditioned room would do me good. It was night 3 and after 2 nights of sleeping in the Jeep I felt it was time to get a hotel room.
Next post: Solo Road Trip: Part III – Moab, Utah Cont.