MOAB BLOG SERIES (PART 1 OF 6)
By: Jill from 1Five1 Garage March 10, 2022
Saturday, February 26, 2022, 7a.m. EST., we boarded our Delta flight from Orlando, FL to Salt Lake City, UT. We did the super early flight because 1) it wasn’t going to be as crowded so early in the morning, 2) we could relax a little before boarding the non-stop flight to Utah, and 3) gave us an opportunity to take photos, eat, and find that much needed coffee or caffeinated soft drink. Another reason we chose this flight time and location was because it was a NON-STOP flight. All the others we have looked at were several hours of layover. Yeah…no.
The flight time was a total of 5 hours. The pilot we had was excellent. The take-off was smooth, the landing was great, a tad rough, but good. During the boarding, I of course took the window seat. I like watching the views, and they were truly amazing, especially the mountains at 30,000 feet! It’s been many, many years since I have flown anywhere.
We landed in Salt Lake City at noon MST. If you are unfamiliar with how time zones work, we literally went back in time two hours. We secured our bags at the carousel, found the rental car location in the airport, and hauled butt immediately to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Shawn never been to the Salt Flats, while I had some twenty years ago. Man, I sound old…anyways, the journey there took approximately two hours. Take I-80 West towards Reno, NV, and you don’t get off the interstate until you see the vast expanse of white flat land. That’s the Salt Flats. I drove while Shawn took a nap in the Wrangler we rented.
To get onto the Salt Flats from I-80, you just slow down and pull off the side of the road. LOL no lie! You pull off the side of the interstate and presto you are on the Flats, and let me tell ya, we found some of the weirdest things there. When I was there, some two plus decades ago (geez that sounds worse than the 20 years or more, haha), I do not recall there being weird sculptures anywhere on the Flats. However, I’m beginning to think it’s A) a new thing they started or, B) I might not have been in the correct area when I went the first-time round.
Shawn was always a car guy, even as a kid, he heard of the Salt Flats and always wanted to go. It was a Bucket List item he never had the chance to do or see until now. So, I wanted this to be a great experience for him. For those of you reading this blog, if you have not gone to the Bonneville Salt Flats, you gotta go. It’s so pretty there. For a big, flat white expanse, you would think, “Geez, that sounds boring. Why would I ever want to look at a wide open area of sheer nothingness?” Well, I understand your point of view. However, it’s not as barren as you think. There are plants that actually grow out there, and let’s not forget about the weird sculptures we found.
The weirdness we found ranged from a plastic skeleton holding a very long stick with a string like he was fishing, a rusty metal Great White Shark – and whoever made that, WOW! They did a fine job on it! It looked awesome! It even came with a fake severed arm LOL. We also saw a random wood stool just sitting in the middle of nowhere, the beautiful Tree of Life sculpture, and the graffiti covered toilet. Yes, it was truly a residential toilet, complete, covered in all sorts of graffiti. Did we take a picture of it? You betcha we did! Why? Well, go to our Instagram site and check out the “Jeep” advertisement Shawn put up! (Sorry Jeep owners) …
There were also normal things like piles of rocks you know a person stacked up and not nature. We did not go to the Bonneville Speedway. Before we get judged and bashed on, we saw it, we just did NOT drive on it. Here’s why. The Bonneville Speedway is a separated portion of the Salt Flats, and for good reasons. The areas we drove on were very course packed dirt. It wasn’t suitable for any hyper or super car to be on when they undergo speed testing. The area the Speedway was located was pristine, fine dirt. There were no items in it that could cause potential danger to the driver(s) of said vehicles. When you drive a car more than 150+ mph, anything can cause it to wreck. We respect the area enough to not go and ruin it for others. Same goes for anyone else who visit. Have respect for the areas you visit and leave it BETTER than when you found it – ALWAYS.
We stayed there for 3 hours or so before we decided it was time to head back to the city to find our hotel for the night. We were exhausted. We had been up since 2am EST, packed our car, headed roughly 2 hours north to Orlando, did the airport shuffle, jumped on the plane, and sat for 5 hours, made for an extremely long day.
We made it back to the city, found the parking garage and made our way to the hotel lobby. It was GORGEOUS! The place we stayed at is Little America. You must visit. It so stunning inside. Even the hallways and the rooms were beautiful. The lobby was covered in a warm marble. Marble everywhere, floors, walls, the reception desk, columns. The marble was coupled with elegant warm wood trimmings.
If you love bling, you will love the crystal chandeliers, because they hung all over the place. The biggest of the chandeliers was in the area where you would come in through the front doors at street level. The next largest was on the second floor over the landing coming up.
Shawn got the keys, we loaded up into the elevator for the long ride to the top. It wasn’t a 3-4 story building, no. Shawn reserved the suite on the 16th floor, and it came with a gorgeous view of the mountains and the city below. We reached our floor and stepped into the hallway. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a typical cheesy hallway of cheap wallpaper and outdated gaudy patterned carpeting. They really did a great job with it. The room was equally as impressive. Glass doors lead to the sink area, another glass door led to the shower and toilet area, the room had a HUGE flatscreen television, not some rink-a-dink ones, and the balcony was nice.
Shawn took off his shoes and passed out on the bed. He instantaneously fell asleep. I on the other hand, repacked our bags to condense them down, for I just knew we would be bringing a crap-ton of stuff back to take home. Once packed, I set them all nice and neat by the door so all we had to do was grab and go. We were staying for a week in the beautiful state of Utah, and this was just Day 1 of 7.
THE NEXT DAY
We woke up before dawn broke, and it was a good thing we did too, for we saw the most beautiful pinkish-purple sunrise break over the mountains in the distance. The closer mountains were shadowed, but the ones in the distance were dressed in pink and purple hues from base to summit. Above the shadowed mountains, the crescent moon hung effortlessly in the sky like a jewel. The colors shifted from pink and purples to gold and blues as the sun rose higher into the crisp morning sky. At the foot of the shadowed mountains, you see the twinkling lights of the city. As the morning progressed and the sun was up, the city blossomed into life. Buses were running, cars were scooting about, people were walking along the streets bundled up (it was rather chilly), it was great.
We showered, got dressed and made our way down to the restaurants. They had 2 within the building. We chose the Coffee Shop. The food was fantastic, and the staff was wonderful. Super nice and the service – exceptional. We were fortunate enough to get a window seat with a view.
After breakfast and a couple of stuffed tummies later, we went back to our room, grabbed our bags, rode the elevator to the parking garage floor, and put our stuff in our rental Jeep and set off for our four-hour drive to Moab.
Typically, this is a four-hour drive for the normal person, but we are not normal people. We stopped a lot along the way to look at the sights, including to check out a railroad track covered in snow. This was a prime photo opportunity. The views going to Moab were beautiful. The color pallet was on the warm side with cool tones of the white snow on the ground. The colors ranged from sage green, mustard yellow, terracotta, and various shades of red.
We reached Moab (the outskirts) and found the place we were going to be staying for the duration of the week. The lodge is called Red Cliff Lodge and it has quite the history. It was once used as a movie set for several movies and commercials. The ranch on the property was built in the late 1800’s. Some of the movies filmed at this location are Wagon Master, Warlock, Rio Grande, Commancheros, Son of Chochise, & Cheyenne Autumn. Newer movies include Geronimo, City Slickers, and Thelma & Louise. If you get a chance to go, and are a movie fanatic, especially Westerns, I recommend the museum they have on site. It’s jammed packed full of neat memorabilia.
Red Cliff Lodge was once home to Utah’s first and largest winery. The name of the winery was Castle Creek Winery. Notice I said was. More on that later. Moab is a high-altitude desert, so it’s not as hot as the Sahara, which gets well over 100 degrees easily in the summer. About a century ago, the Sahara reached a record high temperature of 136 degrees Fahrenheit. You may be scratching your head pondering, “How in the world do grapes grow in such a dry hot environment?” This is a great question to ponder while taking a shower. While we won’t be diving into the scientific details; experiments were carried out some decades ago by the University of Arizona. They learned grapes really liked growing there and grew rather well. Who could blame them? Moab is a gorgeous place! Well, come to find out, you can grow grapes in the state of Utah until you are blue in the face, but it is illegal to manufacture wine. Go figure…
The Castle Creek Winery may be closed, but all is not lost. An organization called Bronco Off-Roadeo took over the building as part of an experience offered by Ford to new Generation 6 Bronco owners. The owners would come here, get a briefing of the vehicle, get quizzed on their knowledge of the vehicle and off-roading, and experience exactly what this vehicle is capable of straight from the factory with zero modifications. We will cover the Bronco Off-Roadeo in the third blog.
We get to our individual cabin, complete with towering red cliffs flanking each side of the green tinted Colorado River, splotched with patches of white snow. Absolutely gorgeous. Inside the cabin, everything was wood, bed, tables, desk, chairs, coat hanger, the mantle, and dresser. Coupled with the wood was the warm lighting and the much-needed fireplace (gas not wood), and that’s where I spent most of my time in the evening sitting in front of.
Our next blog topic will be about our adventures in finding some (not all) of the famous arches in the Arches National Park.
KEY SAFETY TIPS:
When visiting Moab, or any desert for that matter and you never lived or visited one before, consider following the tips below.
1) If you are visiting the desert for hiking the numerous national parks or running the famous 4x4 trails, or looking for dinosaur tracks and bones, ALWAYS tell someone where you will be going and make sure you go to that place. Don’t tell someone, “Hey, I’m going to go to the Arches National Park,” and suddenly decide to go to Zion Canyon. You want people to know your location should an unfortunate event happen. They’ll have a starting point of where to look for you.
2) Another tip I learned off the internet, and this was a great idea, I wish I thought of it, is when you go to such remote locations in the desert where there’s little to no cell service in some areas, you may want to consider changing your voicemail greeting of where you are. Yes, I do realize this can be a real pain in the rear, but if you consider the scenario as I mentioned above, having a voice mail greeting letting people know where you are going, could save your life. Just something to ponder.
3) For all you newbies who never experienced a prolong period of time in the desert like we have, remember, water is the key source of life here. Drink it like it’s going out of style! Do NOT be wasteful. It’s literally the most precious resource in the area, more so than gold, I would say. Drink. Drink. Drink. At least a gallon of water each day per person while you are there, even in cooler temperatures.
4) Chapstick, Lotions, & Anti-Flyaway hair stuff (A wintertime MUST have). These are essential to not ending up looking like the cracked ground you will be walking on. The wind and even the still air will whisk the moisture from your body quickly and you won’t even realize it. Consider the desert air as Moisture-Sucking Ninjas. Stealth, silent, and you won’t know you lost moisture until your lips get chapped and the skin gets dry. Trust me on this. For hair, yeah, if you don’t have thick or heavy bodied hair that doesn’t fly away, then I would recommend bringing whatever you use to keep your hair to not be static and fly-away, and a leave-in conditioner of some sort. Even the hair will get dehydrated quickly.
5) SUNSCREEN and a hat and even those neck coolie thingies are a definite MUST for the desert in the summertime. Temperatures soar here due to the rocks and the ground radiating it back up. Since there’s really no insulation to hold the heat in at night, the temperatures can quickly drop.
6) Salt is also a necessity. You can lose electrolytes through dehydration. You can eat Saltine Crackers with salt, or suck on sunflower seeds with salt, or even add a little salt to your drinking water to keep the electrical system within your body functioning correctly.
I hope you found this blog informative, entertaining, and helpful. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read it. We hope you have a blessed day/evening, and we will see you on the next one!