21-25 June: Kelly’s Dirty Thirty (+ 3 National Parks)

21-25 June: Kelly’s Dirty Thirty (+ 3 National Parks)

Kelly’s birthday (What is her full name? That’s for me to know!) was coming up, and apparently it was going to be very dirty, as she was turning 30. I decided to drive down to Blue Mesa near Gunnison, while Kristi decided to fly in to Grand Junction, where I would pick her up and, later on, drop her off. The drive was about 7-8 hours for me, and it was great, by which I meant that it was rainy and snowy on the way down, which was a portent of things to come. 

The airport in Grand Junction is cute, but the city itself is laid out somewhat oddly, with roundabouts that are very close together, and roads that go from 4 lanes to 2 and back with great rapidity over short distances…plus there were a ton of transients. After I picked up Ms. K., we made our way to get food…but Chic-fil-A was far too busy, so instead we moved on to pick up food for the weekend from WalMart.  

The trip to Blue Mesa took about 2 hours, and we stopped and got some “Middle Sister” wine for Kelly, as that was our ticket to going on the boat that weekend. Once we made it past Montrose, the scenery became much prettier than the arid grasslands we’d been stuck in from Grand Junction on down. The Blue Mesa Reservoir itself wasn’t very gawjus, at least in my estimation, but it had some dang awesome, old lava formations, which were locally referred to as the “Pinnacles.” I wanted to hike to them, but our plans didn’t allow for it in the end.

We made our way up the Curecanti/Red Creek Campground group area, where Kristi surmised was our camping location. The Blue Mesa area has very little cell service, so we couldn’t fact-check this supposition.  Upon erecting our tent, I found a sign saying that the site was reserved for “Wade” starting the previous day…while Wade wasn’t there, I was suspicious that Wade wasn’t in our party. Eventually a couple showed up and informed us that Kelly’s FB post said to camp at the “free, dispersed camp sites” along the creek. Oops. We packed and moved away. The long story given short is that our campsite smelled like pee, but there were only two decent ones within 10 miles, so that was that. The campsite was beside a creek, which was nice, but the area isn’t really “forested” per se, and the road is also less than 10 feet distant. 

Most folks arrived the next day, which featured a high in the 40s with almost non-stop, torrential rain, coupled with thunder. There wasn’t much that we could do, but I did loan my waterproof clothes to Kristi that she might be warm.  The rain did keep the pee smell down, thankfully. Kristi and I went down and checked out the dam area, but the weather was too rough to really explore, so we ended up back at camp. Kelly was an incredibly gracious host, and some of her friends were really fun. I mostly just listened to the conversations, as I knew the fewest people.

That night I got bitten by a tick, and the next day was a little warmer without constant rain, so we took a pontoon boat out in the wind. Kelly’s hubby had a jet ski, which he offered to everyone for use, but it was too cold for my liking, so I mostly just played lateral thinking puzzles with Kristi and talked with a few folks. Also, I intermittently held a tiny, old, gregarious dog called “Mazee,” who was a real blast. That night, Kelly paid for us to shower, and we helped her pack most of the camps up.  Kelly and her husband stayed the night with us, but they were the only ones, as most folks had to be back to work on Monday. We said our goodbyes the next morning, and Kristi and I headed out to Arches National Park via Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP and Placerville. 

The BCotGNP was amazing, though Kristi really hates heights, and even yelled at a girl named “Leigh” for “really pissing her off.” Later on, I ended up really pissing her off as well. Thankfully, she really liked the area in Ridgway, CO, a “Kristi’s Kitchen” in Norwood, and the drive over the La Sal Mountains! We also managed to get a great deal on a Super 8 room in Moab ($80/night)! To top it off, my favorite place to eat (Quesidilla Mobilla) is located in Moab, and we got there 2 minutes after it closed at 6…but they had a little food left, so they stayed open, made me an Enchanted Beef, and Kristi a Fiery Fungus. SO GOOD!!! Very blessed.

After checking in at the Super 8, we then headed out to Canyonlands National Park. My fuel gauge “acted up,” but somehow we didn’t run out of gas, and got great, sunset views by ourselves at Upheaval Dome, which is Grade-A spectacular. Just fantastically gorgeous. There is shocked quartz in the formation, so I support the theory that it’s secondary to a meteorite, rather than the remains of a salt dome. After the dome, we stopped by Shafer Overview, which once day I’d like to explore, then a dinosaur on the way out, and back to the Super 8. 

The night was fine, and we were on the road by 0800. Our first stop was Delicate Arch, as it has by far the longest section of walking, and it gets really hot in Moab in June—the forecast was for 99F. Thankfully for us, there was a high, cirrus overcast, a gentle breeze, and it only got up to the 80s during the walk. After Delicate Arch, we made our way to some of the other places that one goes to see (Pine Tree Arch, Sand Arch [sp?], etc.), and then headed out to Grand Junction via Castle Valley, which is a much prettier drive than going straight north to the interstate out of Moab. 

Before dropping Kristi off at the airport, I ate some very yummy Jimmy Johns, talked to a man who liked the NP stickers on my roller bag, and then got some gas. Kristi’s departure was very sad, but I had a 5-6 hour drive home after that, which made it even sadder. Thankfully, I’d downloaded plenty of Futility Closet podcast episodes, so I had a little companionship. The drive was mostly uneventful, though I started to notice some issues with my Jeep, which I believe (as I am typing this) are due to old spark plugs. 

With love, always,

—Lucas

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