Arches National Park
October 31-November 1, 2016
Traveling from Denver to Moab, Utah and then to Arches National Park was the first stage of our exploration of four national parks and one state park. We traveled on Interstate 70 across Colorado. The other roads we took are shown in red. The return trip joined I-70 at Ritchfield for the drive across Utah and Colorado.
Rod and Brenda at "Balanced Rock" in Arches National Park late in the afternoon of October 31. We explored until sunset and then returned early in the morning of November 1 for a second look.
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We headed up the entrance road, which was a set of switchbacks winding through the high red sandstone walls. At left, if you look very closely, you can see a tiny image of a black car approaching us, and get an idea of the scale of the high red walls. Above us we were seeing the high red sandstone with a variety of column structures scattered along the tops of the walls.
From up higher on the approach road, we could look south to Moab, which is about 5 miles south. The road at right is Hwy 191 which we used to come from I-70, 30 miles to the north. The left road is the approach road to Arches and some of the support buildings for the park. The green and yellow trees in the distance are along the Colorado River, which runs through the north end of Moab.
Looking to the north, you can see Hwy 191 approaching through a canyon on the left. Middle and right are views of the approach road we are on, and you can see the entrance gate to Arches lower left and then the Visitor Center in the middle of the first big curve.
On this approach road we were surrounded by the high red walls with interesting formations of stone along the tops of them.
I am always surprised by the beauty of desert regions, and I liked the green plants that were growing on the floor of the area in contrast to the bare rock formations.
The red wall formations were on our left and out in front and to the right were the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
Fifteen minutes into the park, and I blew a tire!
It took me all of about 15 minutes on the Arches entrance road to blow a tire! I pulled back on the road too fast from an unpaved turnout and there was a sharp edge of asphalt that deformed the tire enough to dent the wheel and immediately flatten the tire. I pulled over and opened the trunk to start the tire change and almost immediately a young couple from Montana stopped and he offered to help. He was in the National Guard in Utah, working at Salt Lake City Airport. He had brought his girlfriend down from Montana to tour the area. He was very helpful and we got the tire changed quickly, but to the tiny donut tire.
It being clear that we couldn't continue on that, we reluctantly turned back to Moab. I was very apprehensive about finding a Nissan wheel. Brenda called and found a tire place at 860 South Main, but there were no numbers on anything. I drove through Moab and found a "Grand Tire Pros" place, which turned out not to be the one we had called, but the owner said they could fix it. A Spanish guy measured the wheel and went off to see if they had one. In the meantime, a guy who worked there said "I might be able to fix it." I was very skeptical about whether it could be fixed, but I watched him pick up a large hammer and give the dent a hard blow. Surprised, I watched him hit it hard about 10 times, and it gradually went back into its normal shape. There was still a small irregularity, so he squeezed the tire on a steel platform until he exposed the wheel edge enough to get an adjustable wrench on it. He worked the remaining irregularity out until it was barely visible. Then he pumped up the tire and it held air!
He rolled it into the office to show his boss and a lady there who seemed to be the owners. They laughed about the comment "It's round, it's black, and it holds air. It's a tire!" It was clearly one of their common statements around there. Still apprehensive about whether it would hold, I asked how much I owed them. The boss said "You don't owe me anything. You can tip him if you want to." He followed up with words of assurance that if it held air, it was probably ok. He said he wouldn't trust an aluminum wheel in that circumstance, but with a steel wheel, it would probably hold.
We took the tire outside and the guy put it on the car, stowed the donut, and put everything back in place. I watched all he did and we talked the whole time, and I was certainly complementary that he knew how to do this. I gave him $30 for the repair and he was obviously shocked that I had given him that much, but I certainly consider it the best $30 I spent the whole trip! It turned out that they did not have a wheel for the car, and if this repair had not worked, it would have derailed our whole trip plan. As it was, we drove on that tire another 1000 miles and had no problem.
About that time, Brenda called to see what was going on. I had dropped her off at the motel before driving down to look for the tire place. So I was pleased to tell her that we were all done and I was about to drive back to pick her up. We were able to head out to Arches again. Driving out of the park, finding the tire place, and repairing the tire had taken a little less than an hour and a half! We were back on track, exploring Arches. But I was much more careful about where I pulled off and made sure I was very gentle about pulling back on the road.
This was an awesome and humbling experience! From looking at the derailing of our entire exploration plan and sitting almost 400 miles away from where we rented the car, we were back on track and exploring the beauty of Arches. I had the feeling that the Lord was looking after us and was merciful to us in this circumstance.
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