I got a great night’s sleep in the back of the Jeep. I stayed pretty warm, though it was 26 degrees (-3 C) when I woke up. When beams of light struck the inside of my car, I opened the door to get the above photograph of the sunrise. Then I tucked myself back inside the warm sleeping bag and waited to wake fully.
I felt refreshed and excited to be camping out there, and was eager to get on down the road. In no time at all, after a couple more shots, I did exactly that.
I had camped north of Moab, Utah, just outside of Arches National Park. I have been to the park before, and knew it was wonderful, but I would have to skip it on this trip. I saw good reviews of a place called Jailhouse Cafe, and went there for breakfast.
I asked the guys to take a picture of me in my bright green Shamrock Run T-shirt because at that very moment, Pedro was getting ready to run in the 2022 Shamrock Run in Portland. I sent the pic to him as the best I could do for supporting him in the race, since I was so far away.
After my tummy was sated, I had the presence of mind to look around me. Moab is not only a beautiful town, but beautifully situated. It really reminded me of the fictional town of Radiator Springs, in the Pixar movie Cars.
Though I had skipped Arches National Park, I knew there was another arch coming up that was quite close to the highway, and I planned to stop. Soon I arrived at Wilson’s Arch. I parked and climbed up to stand in the arch.
I’m going to skip ahead in my story and show you some shots from the city of Holbrook, Arizona, because it also reminded me of the town of Radiator Springs. Twenty-four hours later, I was in a different desert town, on my way to look for some petroglyphs, and saw this place:
This hotel rents out rooms shaped like tipis. This motel calls them “wigwams” here, but wigwams are low, domed homes, and a tipi is shaped like these. It is an example of what is called “microaggressions,” in which non-Native people use Native culture in a disrespectful way. It’s not a crime, or obviously hurtful, but in reality it is hostile and demeaning. The message here is that there is no value in understanding what a wigwam is, and the more important thing is to use a foreign word because it sounds cool, or whatever their reason is. The message is also that this is normal and acceptable, when its disrespectful and harmful. To add insult to injury, the town of Holbrook is surrounded by Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Apache reservations, so Native people are subjected to this scene daily.
But after I got done being annoyed, the scene once more reminded me of Radiator Springs. And when I got closer, I saw the old cars parked around and just had to stop.
I noticed all around me the references to Route 66. The old famous east-west American road trip highway goes right through Holbrook. (Route 66 does not go through Moab, which was up north in Utah, just so I don’t confuse you) This highway opened up in 1926 and connected Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. I realized that with so many similarities, the fake city in the animated movie Cars must have been designed with Moab and Holbrook in mind, and the story of the city in the movie was the story of Route 66. I was delighted with the discovery. And yes, I am 52 years old and I love animated movies and watch them over and over, just like a kid.
Today, portions of Route 66 are marked and managed by the National Park Service.
Thank you for bearing with me while I got off topic a little bit there. In my next post I’ll tell you about the end of my day, when I finally reached Arizona, my destination state, and explored Petrified Forest National Park.