So here’s the rest of the story of our adventure exiting Escalante. We did manage to escape, driving all 20 miles before the rain made the road impassible. Using the GPS we counted down each half mile until we reached paved road. We were so relieved. Don’t get me wrong, Escalante is interesting, but not a place I’d like to be stuck for days.

Giddy at escaping several days starving in a desert, surface of the moon rock landscape, we proceeded on to our next destination, Road 500, where we were hoping to find a slot canyon at Willis Creek. We passed over a dry creek bed on our way up a sandy muddy hill, and as we did Stuart said “I mean the thing isn’t going to fill up is it! What’s it going to be a rushing stream?” I promise you dear reader, I am not making this up. He really challenges the gods that way.

Once our Corolla was safely at the top of the long muddy hill, we ate our lunch and deliberated whether it was wise to continue. After all, it had already been raining for several hours and the storms were visible nearby. It was just a question of which direction the weather was heading.

I stepped out of the car for a quick potty break and when I returned to the car, my shoes were caked in a thin layer of mud from the earlier storm. We both agreed that since the storms were continuing, we didn’t want to risk it. It would be a pity to escape Escalante, only to get stuck on another Road. We headed back.

When we got to the bottom of the hill where we had crossed a dry creek bed earlier, we discovered to our horror, in only twenty minutes, it had become a rushing stream, getting fuller by the second.

We paused for a brief moment as Stuart asked if we should go for it. Without waiting for an answer he gunned the engine. I was still weighing the options when we found ourselves in the middle of a muddy river praying that our spinning wheels would get us safely to the other side. For the first time, I understand all those pictures I’ve seen in my life of cars floating on flooded roads. I used to ask myself how the drivers got themselves in that situation. Now I understand.

We did make it to the other side of the stream, but not without a fair amount of mud flying in through the open windows and nearly giving us both a heart attack. I immediately got out to take pictures, but I was shaking so much, I doubt any of them are clear. Our car looks like it went through a mud bath, which of course, it did.

Since then, we’ve been a bit of our own tourist attraction. People consumed by their curiosity have stopped us to ask what happened, always with a smirk and a chuckle. One tourist asked, “Is it a rental car?” We heard another couple walk past and joke out loud, “That’s a rental!” They tap on the window and ask if we mind if they take a picture of the car. Park rangers do double takes before asking the story. As we drive through parking lots, heads turn and stare, companions are tapped and fingers point the direction of the attraction. Yesterday, as we were leaving Arches National Park, I noticed someone had drawn a smiley in the dirt on the car. It’s really been quite entertaining and given us many laughs.

Last night though, Stuart insisted that we get the car cleaned, just to make sure we have enough time to remove all evidence of our off-roading from the rental car company. We used a clean-it-yourself car wash, and got most of the mud off, but there’s still the interior mud to address, as well as the areas deep within the rubber window trim. That should be interesting to remove.

There are more storms forecast this weekend, so it doesn’t look like we’ll get to any slot canyons. Utah seems to be short on asphalt becauase when you look at the map, there are as many unpaved as paved roads. Off-road vehicles must be great sellers here.

Now we too, are wise in the way of off-roading.