Day 20: Arches to Opulence

This morning we woke up fairly early (but not ridiculously early like the day before), ate breakfast and got ready to head out.  The parking lot of the hotel we stayed at was full of big trucks trailering ATVs that had big winches and jacks attached to them, ready to head out into the rocky desert surrounding Moab for a day of man stuff.  Jimmy just stared incredulously, and noted he thought it was funny because he spends his whole life trying not to get the ATVs stuck, and yet these people seemed to relish the opportunity.

See how little the stop sign looks?

Our first stop this morning was to The Arches National Park, another geologic wonder that just cropped up in the middle of nowhere.  The Arches is a park similar to Bryce Canyon, with giant red rock structures and a handful of hoodoos, but several of these rocks had apparently been exposed to different erosion patterns that left big holes (arches).  Why?  No, I’m asking, why here?  You think I’d know this by now.

That’s Jim in the middle of The Window Arch

We first saw the Balanced Rock before moving along to The Windows and Turret Arches.  Here we hiked about a mile to get a closer look but the wind was starting to pick up and we felt some raindrops.  There are signs in the Visitor’s Center (and a few in the park) to not be out there in a rainstorm (and definitely not in a lightning storm), as apparently flash flooding can occur in a… flash.  The ground is so hard that the rain will gang up on you in a jiffy and chase you down the roadway.  We didn’t fancy seeing that happen.

Delicate Arch

Moving along quickly, we headed over to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint and dutifully photographed it.  Next up was a quick look-see of the Skyline Arch before parking the car and hiking in a mile to see the Landscape Arch, which is the longest arch on the planet at 290 feet.  These arches were interesting, and all, but we were kind of growing tired of seeing big rocks.  Don’t get me wrong, they are super cool, and we’re glad and fortunate to have seen them, but the blowing dust that made our mouths gritty, overcast skies, and redundancy were making us move along a little faster than had this been the first big red rock formation park we’d visited in the past few days.  I feel that we gave it a good go, though.  And we would so come back to this park over Death Valley any day.

Us at Landscape Arch

I also need to make mention of the fact that one key component missing in many of the photos is scale.  Many of these formations are the size of the White House or larger, but it’s hard to capture sufficiently.  Next time I’m going to pack a yardstick.

The storm rolling into our lunch spot

We left The Arches and headed out along scenic route 128 that followed the Colorado River.  At one point we had lunch along the river and just watched the blowing dust while watching a storm in the distance roll in.  Eventually we reached Colorado and hooked up with I-70 East that looked as if it was going to run right into a wall of mountains.  Those Rockies sure sneak up on you.  We could also still see that storm moving in behind us and it caught us as we started our ascent.  The really good news is that our wipers still worked because we were worried we’d spent all our swipes in the Pacific Northwest.  Phew.  The other good news is the rain gave the car a good washing and it really needed it after getting all gritty in Utah.

Our final destination was reached sometime around 4:30 PM, and that was Vail, CO.  And not only Vail, but the Four Seasons Vail.  Oh, yeah.  The Four Seasons.  You see, we had been given a gift card years ago, and dear friends of ours gave us another gift card for our wedding.  We had been waiting for the perfect time to use them because the Four Seasons is so fancy I wanted to be able to spend as much time in the room as possible, bathing over and over with the L’Occitane bath products they supply.  When we heard there was a Four Seasons in Vail not only did we re-route the entire trip, but we also pushed the trip’s start back a week because they only reopened for the season this past week.  Of all the things planned and researched for the trip, if you would have asked me at the start of it what I was looking forward to most (outside of seeing family, of course), it would be the Four Seasons.

Four Seasons hotel and pool

We arrived in a filthy car we’d been living out of for a couple weeks, with a trunk that was packed to the gills.  Jim went to go check in while I sorted out what we needed for our stay and I’m pretty sure the bellman was a little envious of my plastic World Wildlife Fund bag full of toiletries.  Oh, I saw the open-mouthed stare he had and I’m kicking myself for not doing the right thing and telling him where he could get one, too.  We headed up to the room and I had to keep it together while the bellman was offloading our gear, even though all I wanted to do was run around examining everything with glee.  He showed us how the Nespresso espresso machine (!) worked and I just casually nodded yeah, I know, but inside I was ready to burst.  After he left I danced around the room before racing into the bathroom to suss out the full gamut of L’Occitane products while Jim put things away.  Oh, I did not want to leave this room.  Ever.

Unfortunately, we had to go move the car downstairs so Jim tore me away.  Besides, he wanted to see Vail, a place I’d been years earlier.  We strolled around town a bit, noticed there were a few skiers up on the mountain and were told it was the US Ski Team, and then, as it was dark and 5:30 PM, we stopped for pizza dinner at a place called Pazzo’s.  It was Friday, after all, and the earlier we ate the earlier we could get back to the hotel.

Aaah, glorious tub

Strolling and eating done, it was time to head back to that glorious room.  Wheee!  There was a gas fireplace so the first thing we did was turn it on.  The second thing we did was put on the fancy Four Seasons robes and slippers.  Aaahhh, does it get any better?  Yes, yes it does, because to get all the day’s grime off I decided to do something I’ve never done before, and that was take a bath in the hotel tub.  It was a giant tub with one of those trays going across for reading a book, and it had a loofah.  Who can resist?  Not me.  It was fabulous, and when I was done it was right back into the robe and slippers while Jim fixed us up a couple of decaf espressos.

The fireplace that works all too well

By this point, the room had become rather warm due to the gas fireplace pumping out copious amounts of heat.  I glanced over to Jim as he sipped his coffee and noticed he had shrunk to 2/3 of his original size and even I was gasping for air, so we turned it off and opened the door.  The door?  Oh, yes, the room also had a balcony.  Let’s review:  espresso machine, robes, slippers, L’Occitane bath products, a fancy tub, and a balcony.  Did I mention the walk-in closet, beautiful wood furniture, humidifier, or turn-down service where they left water bedside?

I didn’t want to go to sleep because that would mean missing out on enjoying the room some more, but it was inevitable.  It was sweet dreams all around in one of the most comfortable hotel beds in the world.

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