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No Utah Saint

Utah PlateI can now finally reveal the real reasoning behind my indecision of if I should stay in the USA, or go home to the UK : It all comes down to my driving license.

I will be forced to go back to England, when I have so many points on my driving license that that I get banned here for a little while. Because during the 3+ years that I’ve been in the USA, the 9 points that I had on my UK license have been slowly dropping so I’ll go back when it’s clean, and probably slowly accrue points back home whilst they drop off my US license. Basically, I plan to hop from one side of the pond to the other every 3 or 4 years, depending on where my driving record is the cleanest, neat idea, huh?

All this was sharply brought into focus yesterday, when after 58 days on the road, I got pulled by a cop.

Hang on. No! Wait … because I wasn’t the one driving. Ha! Ashley was. The same Ashley, who a few weeks before the trip had jibed at me that I was clearly going to be pulled by a cop whilst on my trip, was whizzing down the US139 towards Moab, Utah at 80 mph on a 65 mph stretch, and the county cop was actually coming in the other direction … but that didn’t stop his radar detector picking us off, and as he will still coming towards us, Ashley saw him, braked too late, and sure enough he did a 180 and gave us the blues.

Some serious “Oh I’m sorry officer” and flirting later and Ashley got off with a warning. There was a slight moment of panic when he asked for the registration and insurance, and I’m fumbling through the glove compartment trying to find it. The glove box is still a mess from when it got robbed a few weeks back as the bastards had rifled through it and left it in a mess, and I hadn’t tied it. Ashley explained this and maybe that got us some leniency too – whatever, she got off with a stern “Slow down!” and a nice warning ticket.

We get to Moab and go the Arches National Park. I’d never planned to go here at all, but when we saw it was on the map and we were driving right past it and I Google’d it, then there was no stopping us. There are many attractions to see in the park, but the main one is the one that is plastered all over the latest incarnation of the Utah license plate – the Delicate Arch.

The Arch itself was a long hike out. Only 1.2 miles long it said – about as wide as my thumb on the map, but a slow uphill and dry hot climb it was to see something that was most stunning.

There are no rubbish bins out here, no drink dispensers – just, pure rocky nature totally untouched by man. Well … almost. My spidey sense went off inside of me, and somewhere in my mind I imagined the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s, and a guy sitting there saying “Hey, here’s an an idea …. if we installed a SECOND arch, and painted them yellow, we would hen call it the McDonald’s Golden Arches”, and I know it’s a joke, but why do you just KNOW that someone in the McDonald’s corporation has been on vacation to Arches and has also had that thought.

(Note, whilst driving through Montrose, Colorado that next day, we pass a McDonald’s that just has ONE arch. Uh-oh I thought, this is it … they’re slowly converting all their arches to be just one, so that it looks more like the Delicate Arch!)

At the arch itself, I realised there were a lot of accents about – mainly European. I felt quite at home for a bit, and even managed to respond naturally in French when a girl asked (in French) for some directions. She rapidly switched to English to make it easier for me though.

We get chatting to a couple of brothers up from Florida, and I longingly looked at their iced lemon Gatoraid which they were quenching on. The warm bottle of water which Ashley and I had shared on the sweaty trek up had long gone.

Some Emo punk kid a few feet away from us was nonchalantly smoking a cigarette and we watched him – well all knew what was coming – as he finished it, and flicked the stub to the red rocky ground and started to walk away.

“Don’t forget your cigarette butt” said one of the Florida brothers, heh … nice. The kid stopped, turned, looked, mumbled “Uuh”, under his breath, picked it up and slunk away. Wednesday is not the day that the cleaners come round the National Park, y’see – so we’ve got to tidy it all up ourselves.

Moab itself is a strange tourist mecca. Mountain Bike Capital of America, that’s for sure … but strangely there are no coffee shops open after 6pm. Restaurants stay open -sure – for a full meal, but where was the dinky cute little coffee shop with WiFi for me to sit in and watch the world go by? It doesn’t exist, I looked and asked, but could not find – c’mon Moab, sort it out.

The red rocks that hugged the road side also loomed over our campground. We weren’t actually planning on stopping here for the night, but apparently Moab does that to you – sucks you in, and tries hard not to get you to leave. But we left. Too many cops around y’see, and not enough coffee shops. Colorado tomorrow.

One response to “No Utah Saint”

  1. geofftech says:

    My bad pan today is based losely on the fact that Ashley was being no ‘saint’ for driving too fast, and er.. this really bad remix of a Kate Bush classic:

    There not even from Utah, but from Leeds, England instead. Strange.

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