My oldest friend (we met in math class in junior high!) had a birthday over the weekend and wanted to celebrate in Moab. So I hopped in the car with my other friends and had an epic 72 hours.

One of our group is a landscape photographer, so I actually got out of bed to catch the sunrise. Turned out it was too cloudy for good color, but I got to hear the desert birds waking up.
IMG_2500 (This was by The Windows in Arches National Park)

Then it cleared up and the sky did this:
IMG_2557 (Heading into Arches from the west, looking southeast to the La Sals)

And then there was the evening light on the red rock.
IMG_2590 (In Arches; I think the Petrified Dunes area)

The whole trip had really amazing light and clouds.
IMG_2716 (Around the Sand Dune Arch area in Arches)

The group all had 4WD vehicles so I got to see the back roads around the park and arches I’d never been to.
IMG_2720 (Looking through Eye of the Whale Arch, west side of Arches)

We hit Canyonlands, too, in the Needles area, and saw Newspaper Rock on the way in to hike some of the Chesler Park loop:

And yesterday, before we headed out, my friends used their backpacking forum notes and GPS skills to get us to something called “Magic Mystery Arch” (in the Sand Dune Arch area, but no trail).
IMG_2717 (The arch is back against the wall, but it looks almost solid until you see light through it.

We walked up under it and looked up through all the magic mystery:

The sun and the light were just incredible, all weekend long. The long views and the rocks made me think of this Paul Bowles quote I’ve posted before:

Once [someone] has been under the spell of the vast, luminous, silent country, no other place is quite strong enough for him, no other surroundings can provide the supremely satisfying sensation of existing in the midst of something that is absolute.


My inner hippie (in Canyonlands here) agrees.