Kelley and I have a few days off before gigs in Fresno and the SF area.  We will make the necessary stop in LA to see our film peeps and good friends — but I wanted to “stop and smell the roses” a little more.  The choice: Arches National Park in Moab, UT.

All I knew of Moab was from the brochure that came with my last mountain bike (model name: the Moab.) So basically —  nothing.  I did know it would be beautiful — what I didn’t know is that it would be enlightening.

First was the perilous drive over the Continental Divide.  I don’t do slushy roads, dull windshield wipers, large trucks whizzing by and early mornings well on a good day — let alone thrown together in an endurance test over the Loveland and Vail Passes.  I am glad that part of I-70 is over.

We arrived at Arches around 3:00 — which gave us a few hours to drive around, see the sites, snap a few pics, and walk a few short trails.  Good plan, right?

It was until we drove in and were completely amazed and overwhelmed by the sandstone formations:  arches, balancing rocks, fins, and more.  Each stop the conversation went something like this:

Jon: It’s amazing.
Kelley:  Wow.
Jon: Gorgeous.
Kelley: Incredible.
Pilot: (pee on a rock or bush)

We took a few short hikes (I misread one description, mistaking a moderate path for an easy one — oh well.  We survived.)  We took lots of pictures. Pilot took lots of whiz breaks.

We also took in a ton of languages: Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Dutch, and German. Just as I observed on the last cross-country excursion, our National Parks are visited by everyone but those who live here.  Not that this is a bad thing — it is just sad that Americans think a vacation is a week at a corporate theme park or an overcrowded beach town.

On the way out, I suggested parking the car and waiting to watch the sun set.  I mean — how often am I going to have the chance to do that?  We drove back to the Balancing Rock and sat down at the end of the walking path.  While waiting for the moon to rise, I had some time to think — think among some of the most incredible forces of nature, taking in some of the cleanest air I will ever breathe.  Kelley and I sat in silence and I thought.  About work.  About boys.  About my cousin and the mess I inadvertently created.  About my purpose — or more specifically, my lack of one.  As the air chilled in sync with the disappearing sun, I relaxed and took it all in.  No decisions were made — but some were contemplated.

In a matter of moments, the temperature dropped to where my light sweater was of no use — so we headed out.  Driving into Moab, I took two rooms at a Super 8 (not the Ritz, but it was better than the dump in PA the first night.)  After dinner, I spent Halloween alone (ok, with Pilot) in a moderately-priced motel room, watching a restored print of the original “Phantom of the Opera,” putting the final touches on my Cafritz grant application — and continued to think.

Today, my brain hurts — but at least I am clearer than I was the day before.  Whoa yeah!