I was scared, again, this morning. Everytime I re-checked my route on Google Maps, it always defaulted to a long detour onto an interstate up north – having me go straight north, straight west, and then straight south down to Escalante, Utah. The little ’scenic’ route that was much shorter didn’t even show up, and I had to zoom way in to even seen that the road was there. Google also had bold red letters stating, “Warning: Road May Not Be Passable Certain Times of Year”
The mere 236 mile trip also had an estimated drive time of 7 hours, so I really did not know what I was in for, but I figured if I got into trouble I would just turn around…
The only truly terrorizing part was route 12. In Dixie National Forest, I had climbed to a summit of 9600 feet, and as I descended parts of the road were a frightening ribbon snaking along without guard rails on either side. Honestly, I couldn’t even look because I feared that if I glanced over either edge I would panic and plunge to my death. So, of course, no stopping for photos. In lieu of that, I’ll show you a shot someone else posted online:
That shot does not capture it, because, I can assure you, where the road is a sheer drop off on either side, no one is stopping for photos.
But, the terror was worthwhile. Since my words are inadequate to describe the shocking, almost painfully exhausting beauty of this place, I will just post photos.
I am settled in at the Circle D Motel in Escalante, Utah. It is a strange and much more charming little town. It looks like an abandoned Mormon community taken over by people drawn to live in such a beautiful, remote place. The population can’t be 1,000. There are lots of boarded up old run down homes with fences falling down, but then funky organic and gourmet restaurants overrun with cats, artists, and eco-aware outdoor enthusiasts.
At my motel, I was checked in by an older (male) gay couple with heavy New Jersey accents, who warned me not to have breakfast across the street, as they serve “Folgers-type coffee.”
For dinner I went to a recommended restaurant, which I drove past several times, and finally had to stop again to ask someone for directions. It didn’t look like a restaurant, but was a little junk house with cats lounging around, tables turned over in the front lawn, and yard art overrun with untended landscaping. So, inside, contemporary music is playing, organic juices and teas are displayed, and a giant mural of a leaveless tree stretches across two walls and the entire ceiling. A pretty native american girl directs me to the right, into one of four tables that make up the entire restaurant. Eavesdropping on my neighbors, I hear the table to my right is speaking German and the table behind me is speaking French. The food was wonderful. Not what I was expecting in Utah!