I took a vacation! Yaay, vacation!
This is really just a holding spot. I want to post a couple of pictures here, but I haven't downloaded and looked through them all yet and may not before the weekend. But I did want to say, if you find yourself wondering where you should go, I highly recommend Arches National Park in eastern Utah.
We also visited Canyonlands National Park. I would like to go back there; unfortunately, it rained on us much of the day we spent there and I don't think we got to see the park at its best. There are many hikes I'd like to take, and I think renting a jeep and taking the White Rim Road around the park would be pretty damn cool. But even on a very good day, I think Canyonlands would take a back seat to Arches. Arches is just an absolutely incredible place.
As a Calvin & Hobbes fan I know that Bill Watterson based the scenery in Calvin's Spaceman Spiff adventures on southern Utah--in fact, ahem:
"Most of the alien landscapes come from the canyons and deserts of southern Utah, a place more weird and spectacular than anything I'd previously been able to make up."
Watterson, as is so often true, is absolutely right. You've seen the pictures, you've imagined it, but until you've been there you can't quite believe it's real. The Delicate Arch, the cowboy chaps of so many photographic exhibitions and Utah state license plates, really is as ridiculously beautiful as you've been led to believe, even from a mile off. The Fiery Furnace is a devilish maze of titanic proportions, where the way out is never the one you'd pick at first hand and every turn brings you to a new vista of incredible beauty. The Landscape Arch, so frail and yet so enormous, defies description even on a day without the blue skies and tinted sunsets of the picture books. It is a place that cannot be believed without being there, and cannot be understood even while in its midst.
There are a lot of things to see in the world, and never enough time or money to see them all. But Arches, like the Everglades and Ha Long Bay, is entirely unique in the world. If you have the means, you must go.