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Highlights of My 2007 Sabbatical:  Utah

View Alaska and Yukon Highlights

We love dramatic scenery!  So on the way back to Massachusetts from Alaska, we lingered in Utah to further explore some areas we'd visited in 2003.

Sunset at Arches National Park

First up was Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah, which features thousands of natural sandstone arches, more than any other place on earth, amid desolate high desert landscapes.  At left is Arches at sunset and below, two of the dozens of arches that we hiked to.

Natural rock arch, Arches National Park

Another natural rock arch, Arches National Park

Second, we just had to re-experience the dizzying Moki Dugway, a section of Utah Highway 261 that takes drivers up a sheer 1,100-foot cliff in a series of steep gravel switchbacks.  From the bottom, it is impossible to see where the road goes.  We looked up again in awe:  "There's a road up over that?!"  At right, how it looks from the top.

The Moki Dugway, Utah

Valley of the Gods, Utah

After that wild drive, we ventured into the nearby Valley of the Gods, full of red rock formations eroded into fantastic shapes, like the one at the left.  We had the 17-mile dirt road, treacherous with rocky gullies, all to ourselves as we uneasily watched a thunderstorm crash in closer and closer to us.

Overall, our 2007 trip gave us the following interesting "firsts," in addition to those mentioned on the Alaska/Yukon page:

  1. Wildfire burning on hillsides, a helicopter fighting it and an impromptu camp for hundreds of firefighters 

  2. Sightings of caribou, whales, puffins and sea otters

  3. The patience-testing "pilot car" system of blocking, then guiding motorists through construction on two-lane roads

  4. Big-city downtown shut down for a vice-presidential motorcade

  5. Mountaintop wind farm

  6. Plug-ins at most parking lot spaces in Fairbanks so cars don't freeze in below-zero weather

  7. Free on-demand ferries in Yukon 

  8. An isolated Alaskan town of around a dozen residents that had no phone service but had electricity and high-speed Internet 

Read about the business aspects of the sabbatical.

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