We left Ogden on Monday and spent the night at Green River. Tuesday we came on down to Moab, got set up and took a nice drive along the Colorado River through red sandstone country.
Today we re-created a moment in my history. The backstory goes thus: My father was fairly directionally competent, and he never hesitated to ask for directions, but he didn’t just ask for the bare bones directions. He always wanted to know if there was a different road to get where he wanted to go. His favorite road was one he hadn’t driven on yet. This lead to a number of “adventures” in our travels, especially since he usually managed to forget at least one key piece of information. The most memorable mis-direction was the short cut to Brussels, where he drove all the way into a farmer’s barn, blissfully confident that the road would come out the other side of the barn and take us to Brussels. Somewhere there’s a Flemish farmer still telling that story.
The adventure in question, though, happened in 1966. Father was stationed in Salt Lake City and I was going to the university there. Canyonlands had been designated as a new National Park just a couple of years before, so we all decided we needed to see it, so the three of us set off for Moab in the Ford pick-up truck. We made our way out to the new park, which had virtually no infrastructure at all, took in the spectacular views and Father asked the ranger his favorite question: is there another way back to Moab? The ranger told his there was – just take that road back up the way a bit and we’d end up back in town. The catch was, the road had been carved out of the face of the cliffs decades before as a way to move cattle from the valley floor to the mesa tops and it was a series of hair-pin, hair-raising turns, dropping 1,500’ in less than a mile. If he told Father that, he neglected to share the information with my mother. At the first switch-back, Mother and I had to trade places because she couldn’t stand being on the outside edge, and she covered her eyes and just kept repeating, “at least we’ll all die together.” But we defied fate and made it safely down to the valley floor.
In 2007, Gerry and I were on our first trip in our new motorhome and we came to Moab. Out on the Canyonlands rim I told this story to one of the rangers, who laughed and said the road was called Schafer Trail and we could see it from an overlook. Sure enough, there were all those switchbacks below us, but we decided the road was too rough for our shiny new Honda CRV, so I took a few photos and we traveled on
But now here we are in Moab again, and we agreed that we wanted to make the trek down Schafer trail just for the experience. We rented a jeep, hereafter referred to as OJ for Orange Jeep, and set out to discover if the journey was as harrowing as I remembered.