July 19th – Fuckin’ Euros

I awoke and discovered I was badly sunburned from the rafting adventure the day before. Just on my legs from about halfway up my thighs down. Bright red. I had neglected to reapply sunscreen to my legs on the rafting adventure, and now I would pay the price. Grimacing in pain, I slowly eased some pants on, trying to avoid contact with my skin. Coming out of the tent, I had to pause a minute in awe of the morning. Though the night had been quite stormy, the morning was glorious. “God I’m tired,” I muttered as I set up the stove for coffee…and I guess breakfast too, but mostly coffee coffee coffee.

We decided to move to nearby Canyonlands National Park, hoping we could get a spot since it was still early in the day. It was kind of a pain to have to run the 5 miles to go get water every time, and we figured the national park would have water on-site. We loaded up the bike, and headed over. We were in luck! There were a couple spots left. However, there was no water to be had in the park, and the closest place was Dead Horse Point State Park, some 10 miles from the entrance. No matter, I was excited to get to stay in the national park.

Shameless, unsponsored plug: We opted for the annual pass, which costs $80, and gets everyone in your vehicle into any federal recreation site for a year. We planned to hit a lot of national parks this trip, so it was a no-brainer. I find many people are unaware of this amazing value. If you like nature at all, go get the pass. Many parks are $25 to enter, so if you make it to even 3 or 4 parks in a year, it’s completely worth it. We ended up seeing 5 this trip, and the pass paid for itself before we left Utah. Support your parks programs.

We rode the 15ish miles down from the ranger station to the campsite reported to have vacancies. To our delight, we found a nice vacant spot tucked back a little bit, and began unloading the bike. There was a shade structure that looked nice and sturdy, so we hung our hammocks from it’s supports, and scooted the picnic table of to the side a bit. I rode off to get water, which turned out to be a 50 mile round trip. It was nice to get a little space and time to myself. We were both totally exhausted, and started to get snippish at each other. I hopped in my hammock and dozed off for a bit. I awoke to find half a pot of cold mac and cheese, and Gianna nowhere to be found. How long had I been asleep? Why hadn’t she woken me up for lunch, I grumbled to myself. I searched for her fruitlessly for a little while before heading back to heat up the leftovers. As I figured she had wandered off to hoop a bit.

Just as I was about to take the first bite of much needed sustenance, some euros(Moab is a very popular spot for European tourists this time of year) in a rented camper van pulled up, and insisted this was their spot, and we need to clear all of our stuff out. No, this is our spot, I informed them, gesturing to the obvious encampment of our things. A light went off in my head. I hadn’t actually gone to pay for the spot yet, because I’d fallen asleep in the hammock. It was unclaimed when we arrived though. So, as far as I can tell, these assholes went and filled out the paperwork to claim our spot while I was napping, and then used this to usurp us. To this day, I regret backing down on this, but I was so tired I couldn’t even comprehend having to deal with a ranger to get this sorted out. We packed up our stuff, and thoroughly trashed the site before riding off. Overturned picnic table, food waste all over the ground to attract ants. It’s possible I marked my territory as well. Who’s to say?

At this point, the sun had gone down, and we were effectively exactly where we started that morning. A day wasted. I couldn’t bring myself to go through another packing/unpacking of camp that day, so we headed into town to find a motel. Unsurprisingly, almost every place in town was totally booked, and the ones that weren’t were extremely expensive. Thankfully, while we were calling around looking for vacancies, the clerk at one of the booked hotels referred us to a place he had heard still had a couple rooms left. We both visibly relaxed when we finally got handed the key to our room for the night. I think it was only about $50 or something. Not too bad. It was definitely a cheap motel, but it would be good to sleep in a bed, and take a shower.

We ended up using the propane stove to cook dinner on the picnic table by the vending machines of the motel. We had spent quite a bit of money the previous day on the rafting adventure, and were feeling too poor to go out to eat, especially since we had to pay for a place to sleep. At least all the nights on the BLM land had been free, though admittedly we hadn’t really slept there. A solid meal and a long hot shower later, we were feeling much better, and drifted off into a deep, much needed sleep.

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