You going to Moab? You going to Moab? Yeah, I'm headed to Moab.
That is all I heard at the end of our time at Keystone, and all I knew about this city that was the place to be as a ski bum in the off-season. We had a lot of options for camping, but we grabbed a site at the first campground we came too since it was right outside of town. We had to wait around for a while since there was some confusion of whether or not the site was actually occupied already, but we took care of some camp chores and sorted it all out with the camp host, Franco. We moved sites in the morning to be riverside within the Goose Island BLM 20 site campground, and stayed there for the four days before our kayak trip. It was a lovely spot, and we were sad to leave, but enjoyed our time at camp thoroughly. The host, Franco, was an incredibly kind and interesting person, and we enjoyed getting to know a bit about him during our few conversations over the days as well. I hope he is off livin life in Hawaii at this point, or perhaps has traveled back over seas by now. I hope I am as complex and fascinating as he was at his age (close to 70!) but still have the heart of a 20 year old. Always curious, always adventurous, always kind.
Our days in Moab before and after the time on the Green River were spent doing a variety of things. In theory, this town seemed like the perfect spot for us. Small size, forested mountains, large desert, rock climbing, rafting, hiking and skiing available, lots of land, and filled with like-minded people. But for some reason, we were not connecting with it. Both of us had a block about living here full time, and it took a while for us to figure out why.
Firstly, neither Eric or I are desert rats. While Moab has access to trees within a few hours of driving, it is predominately desert surrounded by desert. Even with the Colorado and Green rivers nearby as sources of consistent water activities, the hot dry dust and lack of shade really gets to us. However the biggest issue with Moab was the people. They were nice, interesting folks, but everyone we ran across was a bit too into extreme adventures. The grocery stores were full of people gearing up for multi-day expeditions. The houses all looked like there were being used as base camps to prep for huge excursions or places to live while recouping funds in the off-season. While it didn't have quite the bay area 'here is how I used my weekend to better myself' vibe, if we lived here we would absolutely feel pressured into spending every moment not working being extreme adventurers. And man, there are times we just want to crack some beers/ciders, sit on the couch and chain watch shitty TV without feeling like we should instead be rappelling our kayaks into unexplored whitewater canyons.
To add to that, the entire economy is based on adventure tourism. This makes it both vulnerable to economic downturns and forces you into contact with way to many people who feel entitled to the land because it is their yearly vacation spot. This was most evident when talking with some of the locals and they universally HATED Jeep Week. A week+ long gathering of the worst 4WD culture has to offer. Reckless driving, environmental destruction, and far far to many out of shape rednecks using expensive aftermarket suspension systems to feel like big men while driving in a line of other big men with expensive toys. Nothing says adventure like a potato shaped Texan “conquering” a well graded dirt road with nothing more than sixty thousand dollars and a crippling need to litter in hard to reach places.
Not to shit on the town, or the chance to live here, it just wasn't our thing. For us, a good balance of outdoor adventures and time enjoying home life is where I want to be. Especially after working in the outdoor 'experience' vacation industry for the winter, neither of us have any plans of working for adventure tourism in the future, so Moab would inevitably grade on us a bit. Also, due to this tourism industry, there is a large “locals vs. the world” mentality throughout the town, which I despise. Major props for those who do choose to make Moab a home, it is a cool town and I do hope to visit again. We also scored some great thrift items such as my new primaloft jacket and some sweet, oddly specific cookbooks that we sent home for later us. (Did not take 'Cooking in the nude'.)
Before we headed to Canyonlands National Park, we did partake in some of the adventure tourism ourselves. We FINALY learned how to sport climb! For years we have been talking about this, but due to different work schedules, cost of gear and instruction, and time to actually climb together, we could never make a class in California work. Who knew it would just take quitting our jobs and bumming around for two years to finally get us climbing on our own outside.
We went with a guide from Moab Canyon Tours, since they were the cheapest in town and still decently rated. The instruction we received was sound and thorough, but the experience was lack luster to say the least. Our guide, whose name we already forgot, was a very experienced climber, but really didn't care to be there teaching us. He did it anyway, because, you know, money, and we learned exactly what we asked for in a safe and controlled environment. However, this was the first time we had actually hired a guide for something, and it was good lesson that instruction from a guide isn't the only thing you want to pay for. The experience is also worth the money.
We climbed at a crag called Ice Cream Parlor, and luckily were right next to two guides from Red River Adventures (that were also semi-internet famous, so I geeked out a bit.) They were very encouraging even through we were not with their group. The next day we returned to the same climb to reinforce all that we learned on our own, and one of the Red River guides (TradPrincess) helped us out a few times once again (also I totally climbed next to her gah!) If I ever go for a guided event again, I hope I remember that sometimes if you are already spending the money, a little extra can make a world of a difference. Luckily, we were really hoping just to learn how to climb on our own safely, and we got exactly that and saved about $80 so all and all it was fine.
Sport climbing, however, is freakin fun! We don't have too much time planned for climbs this year, but it is nice that we can practice if it is available and now we know the basics for when we are settled as well.
Oh, and we can totally say “when I was climbing out in Moab” for super street cred points.
This town really did have some adventure for everyone, and I encourage taking a trip there yourself if your looking for a rad vacation. We hope to return for some more extreme exploration ourselves, but will look to visiting in the winter when the 'locals' say it is way more chill (pun intended 😉
9/10 would totally be an ultimate outdoor bad-ass again.