After Capitol Reef we drove on to Moab, as it was close to Arches National Park.   We again passed wonderful scenery

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and with vistas that could have been imported from the moon (apart from the amazing blue sky, of course) (and the car)

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It was not hard to imagine that these guys were running loose, considering the landscape

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Like a lot of KOAs, the facilities were good and, being at quite a bit lower altitude than the previous stops, it was actually quite warm there.  I do confess that I was finally starting to have my fill of the wonderful scenery around Utah, as hard as that was to imagine when we first started exploring the state, so it was a relief to just sit back and chill for a day.

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On the Sunday, we drove into Arches and it was very beautiful, with lots of, you guessed it, arches. 

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There were fabulous views

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and petrified dunes

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Arches also had some amazing balancing rocks

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and some other interesting formations

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(lion in ancient Egypt?)

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(marshmallow monster?)

These were called the gossips (I would have been offended if I thought they meant women)

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We met a nice couple who managed to persuade Tim that we should have a picture taken together (OK, I lied, it was my idea, because I wanted to be in a picture for a change, just in case anyone thought I had been abducted by aliens)

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Arches had one thing in common with Zion, however; it was absolutely heaving with people.  There were signs everywhere, asking you to keep to the path and not climb on the rocks, but you could see footprints everywhere, showing where people had trampled the delicate soils either side of the trail.  You could see hundreds of people climbing all over the rocks and some people were posing in really dangerous places and encouraging their children to climb up so they could take photos. Tim and I watched with our hearts in our mouths as two small boys climbed up a pretty dangerous rock face, the younger one slipped down so quickly that I thought he would break something. 

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The parents didn’t turn a hair.  They just took photos (both kids survived, so no improvement in the gene pool there then).

Although the National Park experience was a tad underwhelming, we did meet some great people on the campground, including this lovely family who were camping with four boys, who all seemed to play together very nicely (they also had a daughter, but she had stayed back at  home to study)

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We also got to chat to this group of incredibly fit and friendly cyclists over a couple of beers. 

DSCF4822The discussion ranged through everything but hit a bit of a barrier when we got onto ‘intelligent design’.  Tim made a few cogent points and I could see that the son of the guy on the left, who was most keen on the idea, was thrilled with what Tim was saying.  The poor lad sounds like he has a hard time getting his point across at home.

We have travelled for about fifteen thousand miles in the States so far and have hardly met any other Brits camping at all.   Therefore it was pretty shocking to come across two other couples who had actually shipped their cars over from the UK.  Firstly we met Michael and Gina,  who had shipped their beautifully restored Defender over to the Sates and were aiming to explore South America.  They were great fun and we really enjoyed sharing a couple of beers with them. (They had an ex military, left hand drive Defender that should have no problem going south)

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Low and behold, later on the wonderful Welsh John and Amy turned up with their Defender, together with John’s rather shell shocked sister.

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They were a very experienced pair of overlanders and had just managed to drive up through central America despite having a right hand drive car.  Apparently, the boarder guards are much more relaxed about people coming north than heading south.  They had managed to travel extensively in Africa and the middle east before the Arab Spring and had come out in one piece.  At one stage Tim and I thought we might get banned from certain areas as the rain always seemed to follow us.  With John and Amy, it seems that they might get banned because wherever they go, war breaks out shortly afterwards.  John’s sister had met them in Las Vegas and was expecting a nice relaxing break with them, hopefully staying in nice hotels.  Instead she ended up sleeping in a roof tent and being dragged on some fairly challenging walks.  I suspect she will question her brother more carefully before she ever agrees to do anything with him ever again.  (The effect of talking to these two lots of people is that we are actively considering getting a defender to convert into an expedition vehicle, complete with roof tent; Tim is over the moon that I am considering such a thing and I said I would send Gina and Mike hate mail if we get stranded in the desert).

To top that, as we were walking across the campground we came across a Brit who had brought his Triumph Tiger over so that he and his wife can travel all through the Americas.  (In London there is a saying that you wait for ages for a bus and then loads come along at once….)

We were intrigued when two identical small pop up caravans turned up in the pitches next to ours and we thought, at first, the guys in them were brothers.  They had the most amazing mountain trikes and Tim went over to salivate over them (the bikes!).  As we watched them eat pot noodles and the like later on and, as they seemed really nice people, I popped over and asked them for dinner the following evening.  Myron (bless him) turned up with flowers

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and Bill came with lots of pretty good cider.  It turned out that they were just good friends, who had met at a cycling event and who had been let off the leash by they extremely understanding wives and they were having a great time mountain biking in the area.  Both were (or used to be) science teachers and we had a fantastic evening feeding them curry and chewing the cud about a huge range of subjects. 

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It was impressive to listen to Myron and Tim talk about American history and to get Myron’s take on how the present attitudes to gun ownership came about.  He also explained that not all lobbyists are evil; there are so many causes out there that politician sometimes need a little help to get pointed in the right direction.  So yet again, the joy of travelling in the USA turns out to be mainly about the people.

When it came to it, I could not face another long drive past lots of rocks so I persuaded Tim to make our third day in Moab a lazy one.  Heaven….. 

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