"Miatas in Moab III,
Return of the MX5"
What an adventure. 2,285 miles in seven days and six nights. Only about 1,570 miles round-trip. The rest spent in and around Moab, UT.
So what was this trip all about? In May 2003, the Utah Miata Club hosted "Miatas in Moab." It was attended by about 50 cars from across the United States and Canada. In May 2005, they hosted "Miatas in Moab, The Sequel." It was attended by about 150 cars. In May 2007, the Utah Club hosted "Miatas in Moab III, Return of the MX5." This event was attended by more than 250 cars.
To get there Debbie and I planned a route that would take us through some scenic places and not so much dull and boring straight roads. After all, we were in a Miata. We left Lubbock on a Wednesday morning on US 84 and headed NW to Clovis, NM. Of course we were equipped with GPS and maps. About 5 miles from the state-line, a nice Texas State Trooper stopped us for going "75 in a 70." The GPS said that I was going "73." With a Written Warning in hand, we continued on our way. In Clovis we continued west on US 84 to Fort Sumner, NM. This of course is the place where according to legend, Billy The Kid was shot and later buried. There are a couple of interesting museums here that we visited on a previous trip. We then took US 60 west to Vaughn, on to Encino and then up US 285 to Clines Corner where we took I-40 to Albuquerque. From here (after fueling both the car and ourselves) we took I-25 NE for about 25 miles to Bernalillo where we turned onto US 550. We followed US 550 north to the town of Bloomfield, NM where we spent the first night on the road.
Now as most of you know, a Miata is a small two passenger car. It has limited trunk space. We were going to be gone for seven days and six nights. We managed to get all the necessary clothing into two moderate sized duffle bags, and one small one that we put the clothes and toiletries for the next day in. That plus car care supplies, and camera equipment, laptop and the trunk was full. We did not have anything in the passenger area other then the sun block, sunglasses, CDs, etc. We were in good shape.
On Thursday morning we left to continue our adventure. After a slight 50 mile/one-hour side trip when I missed a turn, we continued up US 550 to Durango, CO. Durango is an interesting town. The buildings, even Home Depot and Wal-Mart have a Chalet type design. "Old" Durango, the downtown area is a fine sight to see. A town that you could easily spend a couple days in. Now we had been told that the drive from Durango to Grand Junction was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the grand views that we saw. US 550 starts through Durango as a five lane plus road, and quickly narrows to two-lane. I had been smart enough to take the little camera out of the trunk when we stopped to get fuel, and the pictures that you see of US 550 were taken with that. A large number through the windshield as I was driving. Taking pictures through the windshield is a form of photography that I learned from Miata runs where you are taking pictures of the scenery and the cars in front of you. It works best with the top down and taking the picture over the top of the windshield. This drive, which was to take just a couple of hours took about three. We stopped about every 200 yards it seemed to take a picture. It was fantastic. Of course since Debbie and I were both born and raised in Washington State, we compared this to the North Cascade Highway and other places in the Pacific Northwest.
Once into Ridgeway, CO the road straightened out considerably and it was off to lunch in Montrose before stopping in Grand Junction.
In Grand Junction, we stopped at Flyin' Miata (We make Miatas Fly). I had a book written by Keith Tanner on Miata Maintenance that I wanted autographed. Keith works for Flyin' Miata as a web designer and technician. We also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Bill Cardell the owner of Flyin' Miata, and probably the foremost expert on anything Miata. And we met Turbo Dog, he met everyone that came in with his tail wagging, wanting to be petted.
After our visit, it was off to get fuel and stop at Wal-Mart. What trip is ever complete without at least one stop at Wal-Mart?
We continued west on I-70 from Grand Junction to US 191 that goes down the west side of Arches National Park top Moab. This is a scenic, but fairly straight road. We later found the road (Utah 128) that most people come down from Grand Junction. We will talk about that soon. We arrived in Moab about 4 P.M. local time. Time to unpack, unwind and have dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.
Friday morning found us on-the-road again. This time for a "short" drive out Utah 128 to I-70 then west to US 191 and back into Moab. Well, Utah 128 follows the Colorado River. It is in a spectacular canyon with cliffs that loom high overhead. Of course, as always, the sun was not in the right place for all the pictures, but was definitely in the right place for a lot of them. The color of the rock was fantastic, reds, orange, blues, browns and just about every other color. The blue sky, the photos that you see are the ones I think were the best. On the way back, we stopped at Arches National Park, got our entry permit, toured the Visitor Center, took a few pictures and bought the requisite souvenirs.
We returned to Moab, and arrived just in time to have lunch at the Moab Brewery. We found the food to be excellent and the beer even better. I dropped Debbie off at the hotel while I went and washed the road grime off the car and registered us for the event. Now the event is not very structured. The only set items were a social at 9 P.M. every night at the "host" hotel to mingle, talk Miatas and share the days events. There was a whiteboard in the lobby where you could put down where you planned to drive to and where and when you would be leaving. Other then that you were on your own, or with others that you knew or came with, etc. Though there were others that we knew from Texas attending, Debbie and I spent much of the time exploring the country by ourselves.
After an early dinner at Eddie McStiff's, we went off to Arches National Park to take photographs of the areas recommended for afternoon light. This include "Park Avenue" "Balanced Rock" and "North and South Windows." I took other pictures also, some that with some "Photoshop" work will probably turn out OK. We spent about three hours in the park and did not get to the end of the road.
Saturday morning, after the group photo, (photograph courtesy of the Utah Miata Club), we were on the road again, this time going south on US 191 through the towns of Monticello and Blanding. Along the way we stopped and took some pictures of the "Wilson Arch," however the light was wrong, and a Tour Buss pulled up right in front as I was taking the picture - Needless to say, I have not included them. South of Blanding we turned west on Utah (SR) 95 and followed it to SR 275, which took us into Natural Bridges National Monument. This is an awesome place. I took lots of pictures (as always) some were "keepers" and some will look better after some manipulation. Guess I should point out that I used both a Canon A420, 3.2MP camera and took pictures at a 1200x1600 JPEG format. I also used the "big" camera, a Canon Rebel XTi, 10.1MP camera, shooting both RAW and 3888x2592 JPEG format. I used a Sigma 18-200MM lens on the Rebel. The ones that I link to have all been reduced to 800x600. The weather here was turning a little bad, a spot of rain or two, and thunder and lightening. I came across a sign that caused a few people to turn back "WARNING Do Not Stand At View Points During Electrical Storms." Here I was on the top of a canyon, the tallest thing around was a 40" high metal hand rail during a rain/electrical storm taking pictures. You can see the dark skies in some of the pictures.
We returned to Moab on the same route, stopping in Blanding at an A&W for something to eat. This is the first time in years that I had A&W Root Beer in a frosted mug. Fantastic.
Saturday evening, we checked at the "Host" Hotel for anything new, then had Kalidascoops Ice Cream and went back to our hotel to load pictures onto the laptop.
Sunday morning found us in Arches National Park. This time to take pictures of those formations that look best in the morning light. As you will see, I have pictures of "Turret Arch" in both afternoon (not recommended) and morning (recommended) light. I also have pictures of the "Double Arch" in both morning and afternoon light. The "Delicate Arch" is probably the one that I needed more time with. The view point is about a mile away. At 200mm, I don't think that the pictures do it justice. I simply did not have the time to walk the mile to the base of it. I found like most photographers do, "the closer you get, the better it looks." And, if you get away from the View Points, you will always find a much better picture. I found this very true in the Natural Bridges National Monument.
After leaving Arches National Park, we headed for Canyonlands National Park. The entrance to the part of the park that we visited was off SR 313, which takes off US 191 north of Moab. Along the way, pictures were taken of the landscape. I sometimes just seem to take pictures of the landscape, then try and figure out why I took the picture. In some of my photographs, the sky is much more interesting than the landscape. Canyonlands proved to be another picturesque place. I was fascinating to learn that this park is considered the "park in the sky" or "island in the sky" as it is located on top of a plateau with canyons on all sides. Again, lots of photographs.
From Canyonlands National Park, we went to Dead Horse Point State Park. This Park has a tremendous view of the Colorado River and a very sharp horseshoe bend. There is a rock formation that resembles a "Dead Horse," hence the name of the Park.
During this jaunt into Dead Horse State Park, the low fuel light came on. We found that we can drive 30 miles once this light comes on, and then you will put 12.8 gallons of fuel into a 13 gallon tank.
Sunday night the farewell pizza party was held by the pool at the "host" hotel. It gave us a chance to meet more of the people that attended and talk with some of the Texas folks. An evening rain storm put a little damper on the event, but nothing serious. An Ice Cream social was held later, but we passed on that as we were off for home early the next morning.
Monday started with trying to get everything back into the trunk for the trip home. Funny how things expand once you take them out. Course all the souvenirs did not help. The camera case, some clothing and some coke ended up on the parcel shelf inside the car for the trip home - Not uncomfortable, but things had to be re-arranged if we wanted something - like the camera- that was back there.
We headed south on US 191. This time we took a short side trip to the "Needles Overlook." This is off CR 133. Several photographs were taken, and we were back out onto US 191 headed south. As we were entering the highway several of the Texas Contingent passed us also going south, so we tagged along with them until we got to Monticello.
We continued south on US 191 through Blanding, and Bluff, turning east on to US 160 just east of the settlement of Mexican Water. We followed US 160 east through Red Mesa to the town of Teec Nos Pos, AZ. We continued on US 160, going north until we got to the Four Corners Monument. At this location, the corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico meet. The only place where four States come together. This is also where two Indian reservations meet. The Navaho Reservation and the Ute Reservation. So technically you can be in six places at once. Of course photographs were taken and requisite souvenirs purchased.
We retrace our route to Teec Nos Pos, and took US 64 east through Shiprock, Farmington and back to Bloomfield, NM. From Bloomfield we basically retraced our route that we came in on. The only exception was upon getting to Bernalillo, we turned east on I-25 and went to Santa Fe and spent the night.
Tuesday morning we left Santa Fe, went down US 285 to Clines Corner and then went east on I-40 to Santa Rosa. At Santa Rosa we got onto US 84 which took us through Ft. Sumner, Clovis and back to Lubbock.
We had a great time - we know that we need to go back to Moab and visit some of the things that we did not have time for, and spend more time in some of the areas, like Arches National Park, Newspaper Rocks, etc. It was a great trip and might think about doing it again in 2009 when hopefully they will have a Miatas in Moab IV.