In order to reach our final stop for the day in Grand Junction, Colorado--nothing to see there, just our motel--we began by backtracking through the sparsely populated areas of northeast Arizona and southweast Utah. Unfortunately, we didn't pass through Monument Valley again, but we did have lunch in Bluff, Utah, at the Twin Rocks Cafe. On what proved to be an otherwise non-pet-friendly day, Baxter enjoyed the attention that diners on the patio lavished on him. The attention he drew also allowed us to strike up conversations with fellow travelers.
Before leaving Bluff, we drove around the few blocks designated as the "historic loop." Part of what I enjoy about road trips is stopping in quirky, out-of-the-way towns and learning a little something about their history and what life is like now in those places. The remains of the original 1883 settlement (constructed by Mormon missionaries--who would've guessed?) provided the main attraction of the loop. According to the signs, the area was once considered too harsh a place to live. It seems the people of Bluff have managed just fine over the past 123 years, though.
Leaving Bluff, we traveled north through Blanding to Moab, where we visited Arches National Park. Arches may not be as renowned as Bryce Canyon or Zion, but it boasts its share of captivating sights. Unfortunately for Baxter (and us), the park didn't allow pets on the trails. I assume dogs aren't allowed on the trails for fear of them deficating. (I'm sure it has something to do with irreparably upsetting the delicate balance of the desert ecosystem.) Of course, pet owners could simply poop scoop. But even if the owners lacked courtesy, since the park is in the desert, it wouldn't take five minutes for a dog turd to dry up and resemble a rock. So rather than leaving Baxter in the car to die from overheating, one of us hiked/jogged to an arch while the other stayed in the car with him. Not optimal sightseeing, but effective.
Once we finished touring the park, we elected to take the scenic byway out of Moab that runs alongside the Colorado River. The route was plenty scenic--the river, the canyon, several wineries--but given that we longed to eat something by this time, the route grew too long for our taste. Eventually we made it to I-70 and started looking for food exits. Much to our chagrin, the two or three towns between the 128/I-70 junction and Fruita, Colorado, proved utterly useless, with their exit signs reading only "No Services." When you're a one-horse town along the interstate, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, and hotels can be quite lucrative. Apparently the town councils of these towns assumed sheer boredom would attract visitors. (Or maybe they just don't like outsiders.) At last, the exit sign for Fruita offered not just one, but five, restaurant choices! We felt like we'd discovered El Dorado.
Finally sated, we continued on to Grand Junction, arriving around 8:00. Motel 6 offered rest for our weary bones, but only after we lugged our belongings to the second floor. We plan to sleep in tomorrow since our last stop, Glenwood Springs, is only about an hour away.