Today started peacefully enough. We woke before the alarm, got packed, discovered that the group of women who sang happy birthday to me last night at the restaurant were our neighbors and exchanged cordial greetings…we even got on the road on schedule. Once in Kanab, we searched for somewhere open early on a Sunday to get breakfast and lunch to go. We found a delightful coffee shop called Larry’s where there was not only yummy coffee, but breakfast and lunch sandwiches, Wi-fi and the charming and entertaining Valerie…a story for later..

Our first destination was Escalante National Monument. As usual, the scenery on the way was beautiful. The landscape of the West is so different from the lush green of the East. It’s arid, yet colorful, with the tall red and white layered rocks dominating the view skyward. The land is alternately barren and speckled with desert-loving bushes. Wherever a river flows, the banks on either side are lush with green vegetation creating a greater contrast to the sandy white and brown everywhere else. Black-eyed Susans or a flower that resembles them are plentiful.

After a two hour drive we arrived at the Escalante park entrance. The road through the park, Road 400, is a dirt road for 50 miles. In Utah roads named “Road” are dirt roads.

In Stuart’s diligent research, he read that the road was impassible when wet and was best traveled by an off-road vehicle. Since our rental car is a Toyota Corolla, we had a moment of doubt, but decided if ever we were going to see this park, it may as well be today. Besides, what were the chances it was going to rain? In case you never spent too many hours in English class analyzing literary elements, that was “foreshadowing.”

We took our time sight-seeing through the park, partly because when you’re traveling on a gravel and dirt road in a small sedan, you don’t really have any other choice. At one of our stops, the park ranger happened by and warned us of a coming storm. He pointed at his pick-up truck and said, “I can’t even get out of here when it rains. If you get stuck in here, you better have a couple of days of food and water.”

We heeded his warning and left immediately. We were 20 miles from a paved road. In the distance we could see several storms throwing it down. We started counting down the miles, 19 18, 17, 16, 15…

I’ll be cruel and leave you with that cliffhanger for a day before I reveal what happened to us.

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