Some Things Are Cool

"You don't know if you don't go."

September 5, 2013

Day 6: Arches National Park, mile 1172

High Desert, the final frontier.


These are the voyages of the Roadship Element. Its 8 day mission: to explore strange new scenery, to seek out new life and novel personalities, to boldly go where ever I feel like.


Captain’s log, Earth date: 09.6.02013


Yesterday, I entered a spectacular curiosity of nature located in the Southern Utah quadrant,  sub-sector Moab. The away team party of one, yours truly, was discharged with the directive of observing the environmental conditions and documenting in detail any social or geologic phenomena of scientific importance.


Upon arrival, I located the indigenous population. They were worshiping what appeared to be an archaic form of warp-gate transportation. They took turns exalting the gate, individually or in groups, while those waiting took photographs to use as evidence of the worshipers dedication. I observed from a distance at first to avoid disruption of the ceremony.


Delicate Arch


Eventually, they became accustomed to my presence to the point where I could approach their gathering. They spoke various dialects which appeared to be derived from latin root. I was able to discover that these beings were not natives, but travelers from distant worlds on a pilgrimage to this sector.


Despite the language barrier, the pilgrims were cordial to each other and to myself, and soon they offered to document my exhalation of the stone gate. I obliged immediately to avoid conflict.




After accepting me as one of their own, one outspoken pilgrim described another gate deeper within the territory. From the parts of his description that I could make out, it sounded like a gate of equal or greater peculiarity. After reapplying solar radiation resistance formulae to my exposed skin and, ingesting a liter of di-hydrogen monoxide, I set off on my quest for the ruins of this grand warp-gate.


While following the directions to the grand gate, I came across these strange inscriptions made by the ancient natives, masters of the warp-gate lands. My tricorder dated these petroglyphs to between 1650 to 1850, Anno Domini.




After continuing onward for 1.7 miles the native’s recommendation proved true, and I was astonished at the breath spanned by this decaying warp-gate structure. At 300 feet in width it could have easily accommodated a small steller-cruiser. I stood dumbfounded in sheer disbelief.


Landscape Arch


I found this to be an excellent point to reflect on my journey thus far, and after great debate, I have decided to return to Starfleet HQ and report back my findings to the High Counsel (or maybe just my friends and family).


Every step, every mile driven, every sector traveled will bring me closer to home base.


Captain James R. Zantos – out.

September 5, 2013

Day 5: Canyonlands National Park, mile 1115

What a rush.

Canyonlands National Park encompasses the merging of the Green River and the Colorado River and the massive canyons carved by each.

The view through Mesa Arch
The view through Mesa Arch


There was a 100 mile off-road trail known as The White Rim Trail that looped the park and got you right up close to the inner canyon cliffs. I was crazy tempted to take it, but it was already afternoon, I only had 3/4 tank of gas, I was alone, excuse #4, excuse #5.


It’s something my brother and I will come do some day. It looked like a full-on experience. Shown below are the switchbacks into the inner canyon.


Hold on to your hats and glasses, 'cus this here is the wildest ride in the west!
Hold on to your hats and glasses, ‘cus this here is the wildest ride in the west!


I opted to go as far south as the pavement would take me and then hike the trail to the point where the rivers intersect. Its not actually where they meet but its as close as you can get without entering the lower canyon. I have never seen more of the earth at one time.


The view was said to be 150 miles to the mountains, and it wrapped 270 degrees around the butte I hiked to. Massive. My shouts echoed for 4 seconds or so, and it sounded like they slung around the canyons the way a hockey puck swings around the backboards behind the goal.


I felt tall spirited out there.


This is just the canyon carved by The Colorado River alone

Now to Arches National Park.

September 5, 2013

Night 4, Day 5 Capitol Reef National Park, mile 901

I made it to Capitol Reef with enough time to have camp set up before dusk.


I met a curious man from the campsite across the road from me. He was a sun-beaten flower child with a silver pony-tail and moderate potbelly. He casually watched me deploy my rig for 15 minutes before coming over and striking conversation.


His name was Ken. He was camping out of his VW pop-up van. With thinly veiled pride, he explained that he had recently retired and set off to do what he knew he wouldn’t regret – Travel. Since late June he had driven from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, up through the Carolinas through to Illinois then over to northern Colorado then down to southern Utah.


Drawing on my limited experience, we swapped Utah travel advice for a while. He said it made him happy to know that someone from the younger generation was traveling the way we both were. He said that it’s a shame that young people can get “wrapped up in cubical jobs and have the life ooze out of them”. I didn’t mention that not only do I have a cube job and that I work in the sometimes socially/politically/environmentally questionable oil and gas industry. That little fact didn’t appear to have a place in our conversation.


Then we wished each other safe travels and shook hands.



This morning I drove the park scenic trail leading south from the Capitol Reef campground. The asphalt eventually gave way to sand, silt, and rocks.




It was a fun little rodeo until I came across a small stream through the trail. About 6 miles from the last car I saw at the pavement turnaround, I decided to turn tail and head back.


My mom would be proud; my dad would remind me “you do know you have 4 wheel drive, right?”




Canyonlands National Park in the cross-hairs now.


Trip Highlights


I made up a visual index of my best stories from the road.


This is where I recommend you start.




Photo Gallery


My favorite pictures from across the country, individually annotated and organized by state.




National Park Cliff Notes


Short descriptions of the history and geography of each national park with a few recommendations on what to do.



Jump to a random national park



The less well known parks are better because of their obscurity.