Back on the road, further into Utah, the Loneliest Highway is showing signs of population. Already, I'm missing the wide open spaces of Nevada. Still, the drive is scenic in its own right; the green fields have morphed into wind-sculpted cliffs and burnt orange plateaus.
As we drive, I can't stop smiling at Tara's incredulous joy every time she sees something iconically American. Her jubilation quadruples when we pass a real live cowboy, lassoing cattle on a frontage road next to the highway. It's like we're in a Western out here!
Slowing to a stop at a scenic overlook, the wind no longer blows in our faces, and our air-conditioning-less car rapidly becomes an inhospitable sauna. Overcome by the unbearably oppressive heat of Utah's afternoon sun, we stand at the viewpoint, aching for a breeze of some kind. Meanwhile, we pick our noses furiously, shoveling out the seemingly endless supply of crusty boogers that have taken up production in our nostrils, thanks to the dry desert air.
Returning to the car, we make our way to Moab, the mountain biking capital of the USA. We're not going for the cycling however; it is approximately one million raging degrees outside, and our bikes are in pieces in the backseat. Instead, we're here to check out Arches National Park. We don't stop for long—there's no way we'll be able to do the park justice, but we have an annual pass for all the national parks and it would be a shame to miss it.
The earth here is an intense shade of orangey red, contrasting with the sky, a vivid cerulean that looks like it should be as cool as a dip in the sea, but it does nothing to temper the heat. The rock formations that make this park special are truly impressive, but we're having trouble getting into the spirit of things. We go for a quick hike, but the scorching heat makes it hard to focus on or enjoy much of anything.
Unable to bear the solar assault, we escape, back to the road and the relative cool of moving air in our faces, exclaiming "GOD, why would anyone want to live here!? Our car feels like a convection oven, but at least the death-rays from above are no longer piercing us. Some people have a deep, abiding love for the red desert, but we are not among them.
Feeling an intense need to get the hell out of this parched land, we drive onward, celebrating as the dreaded sun slinks slowly into the horizon. Driving through the night, we escape Utah, and enter the cool havens of Colorado in the wee hours of the morning.