Monday, July 17, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 36: Moab and Hell's Revenge


This is the site of a significant part of the Neal Stephenson book, Fall, so of course I sent pictures of Moab to a few other folks who have read the story. I thought the Uranium Building was the best part. 

In the evening, we strolled up and down Main Street in Moab. Yeah, we visited a few side streets but most of the downtown is on four blocks of a single street, really. It's all nice. 

When we took a seat in a restaurant called Gloria's, we discovered a nearby table of folks who had noticed my t-shirt. It was the second time for it that day. The haiku on my shirt inspired the people around the table to start making haikus. And as we sat down, they approached us. Really, they were sitting so close they talked with us for an hour. During the hour, all the other tables around got involved, too. So it's a pretty friendly town. 

Hell's Revenge Dune Buggies - Tuesday, June 27

After a morning coffee stop, we made our way to the Moab Tourism Center so I could drive a dune buggy. Honestly, I love doing new things and this looked to be one of the good ones. But Diane had the idea, not me. 

They call them dune buggies but the vehicles are ATVs, really. Ours were the Teryx4 model made by Kawasaki. We took them out to drive up mountains and on top of canyon ridges. It's the Hell's Revenge tour.

Does that sound a little advanced? It was a little advanced for someone who hasn't done 4x4 off-roading before.

If you haven't done something like it, here's what it feels like for an experienced driver. For the first 20 to 30 minutes, you are constantly in the I'm in an accident right now mode. Bad things are happening and you're steering and accelerating in order not to die. Everything you're doing would, in fact, be part of an accident in a normal car or under more normal conditions. There's no reason you would climb a mountain in a regular car or tilt at an angle that knocks you out of your seat. A regular car would tip over at the first weird angle, so your instincts are right. You would fall to your death if you tried this in a regular car.

You're not in danger of tipping. But you're constantly aware of the danger.

Add to that the fact that you're driving on a trail precisely wide enough for your vehicle and it slopes off to cliff edges on both sides. You have the impression that a wrong twist of the wheel will kill you. That part is right. Frankly, though, it's often right in many driving situations we think of as harrowing but ordinary. This cliff-climbing and cliff-diving circumstance isn't ordinary so your adrenaline is thrilling through you for longer than it usually does.

The guide placed me at the head of the line of 4x4s. We're not sure why. However, Diane marked on her forms that she might not be comfortable with the experience. And that was correct. And the guide, Jeff, checked on us a few times to make sure she was okay. (She says she was absolutely not okay.)

Jeff told me to copy his moves and I did. He also kept complimenting my driving right up to the end and past the end, when he didn't have to be reassuring. I had sometimes felt the compliments were a little suspicious or maybe he was glad I wasn't being an idiot. (He didn't ask me if I'd done this before until halfway through. So perhaps he was genuinely happy that, as a novice, I had gotten comfortable with the course.) He said nice things even after I parked, tipped, and checked out. We really were done. I started to buy an ice cream bar and he told the cashier to give it to me for free.

Thing is, Jeff was fairly stern with the drivers for a lot of the time. In his job, he has to be. He was also a knowledgeable guide of the area, which Diane and I both appreciate. So I had a lot of fun. Diane, not so much.

Based on our experience, if you drive, you might like it. If you ride along, you're at risk for hating it. Really a lot. You have to not be prone to motion sickness or have any fear of cliff edges or heights. And you have to really, really at a deep level trust the driver. It's a big ask.

Importantly, the experience is a couple hours of adrenaline. You're constantly up against your instincts to avoid an accident. If you consider making the trip, you have to think about whether or not you'd genuinely find the hours of adrenaline to be enjoyable.

And I did. But the course might not be for everyone.

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