We turned off our cell-phones just as we reached the city limits. For the next two weeks everything that happened had nothing to do with technology—we were off the grid and driving straight into the desert of Moab, Utah.
The rendezvous with the rest of the party was set for main street, and nothing more than that, though it didn’t take long to find the other travelers wandering around town. At the information center, we perused the shelves for some local insight, to find where we might pitch a tent for the next few days, but only I walked out with was a disgust at new laws. We lunched and then set off to find our home in the desert.
First we traveled up the slopes of the La Sal mountains, they must have appealed to our Colorado nature—but somewhere amongst the alpine foliage we remembered we came to Moab for the desert, and the desert was what we needed. Down from the elevation, we turned off the highway, exactly twelve miles south of town, and onto a dirt road that wound behind a great wall of rock and deep into the sprawling desert. For twenty minutes we bounced up and over hills and rambled through the washes until a beautiful monolith rose out of the sand before us. Prostitute Butte. From far away it we could tell this is where we were meant to be.
We found a cave and settled in. Mother Earth had offered a safe place to bed down, natural and primeval, with a stone roof protecting us overhead.
Surrounding the Butte was a vast desert, with a character deeper than all of cinema. We explored for two days in a row, discovering the intricacies of the red rock landscape with every turn: living soil, mineral rainbows, bleached mouse skulls, and a rusted drill head. LSD, sun full blazing, exploring within the landscapes of our minds in tune with the surroundings.
Water always seems to flow in the desert, even when the rains stop. We followed the dry stream beds, finding features on the forefront of evolution in a constantly changing place. Waterfalls crashed, mist billowed out, trickles slowly made holes in the rock—all of it was clearly seen in the blazing summer sun.
On the back of Prostitute Butte lived a giant arch which led into an equally magnificent bowl that gave the odd sensation of being both inside and outside at the same time. A great surprise that endeared the Butte to us even more.
The third day, we left our private desert and went to explore Arches National Park, where arch formation has its own distinct personality. Landscape arch stretches 290 feet across—the longest natural arch in the world—with a most harmonious relationship to its surroundings. Sand Dune arch exists in another world, nestled between giant sheets of rock, growing out of the purest red desert sand. And Delicate arch, the most famous of all, perched on the edge of a cliff in a perfect position for capturing the last waning rays of the sun in the last moments of the day.
A lifetime could be spent in that one spot alone.
However, our journey was set to continue down the road. Our short time in Moab had too quickly come to a close, but that humble home in the Butte had treated us well. And she’s still there, waiting to serve.
Marty Brodsky lives in Colorado, exploring the mountains and writing in between adventures. He is editor-in-chief at Expedition Underground, where people share their own stories of adventure with the world at large.