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Goblins and the Snot of Life

For the price of 20 extra miles on the way from Capitol Reef to Moab and Arches National Park, we were able to visit Goblin Valley State Park. The first time we’d heard of the Goblins was in the Glen Canyon Dam Visitors Center. There was a display that mentioned several of the other parks we were planning to visit and talked about hoodoos and goblins. As soon as we got home that day we searched the map and figured out where and when we’d visit. I think Alex and Deb also tipped us off about this fun park via a comment on our itinerary post, but even without a recommendation the park totally had us at goblins, we had to see them.

We don’t usually do long sightseeing stops on our drive days, so in order to give ourselves a couple hours inside the park and still get to Moab in plenty of time to set up before dark, we left our campground a little earlier than usual. It was much more chilly at 8am. With numb fingers and red noses we pumped poop, coiled cords, slid slides, rolled rugs, hitched up the hybrid and then rolled out onto Highway 24, the sister-friend of the newly named Scary Scenic Highway 12. I was driving that day and determined to try to be less of a freak.

It turned out to be a gorgeous drive, the road followed the river most of the way, mirroring it’s big corner-rounding curves, and only the wind gave me a little trouble. I had to keep both hands on the steering wheel to make sure we didn’t boogie off onto the narrow shoulder. We had just poked out of the canyon into open fields and sand dunes when we were passed by another RV and the driver gave us the peace sign. Neither Ali nor I had time to react and return the greeting before he was well passed us, but it was nice. We talked about how we should do that from now on much like we vowed to smile really big at hikers who pass us on the trail.

However, I had a small logistical problem in that I really didn’t feel like I could take a hand off the wheel very safely. My offering of peace to another would create a micro-storm of unpeace for myself, so we tried to think of other ways to offer a greeting that didn’t involve the driver’s hands. I suggested I could open my mouth, shake my head and wag my tongue at other RV’s. Ali quickly pointed out that might be inviting something that we didn’t really intend with that gesture. (I still do it sometimes though. It makes us laugh.)

Soon enough, from a road in the middle of nowhere Utah, we turned onto another road that seemingly led to more nowhere and drove 8 miles to the fee station entrance to Goblin Valley State Park and then another several miles to the parking area and trail head above the valley. Now, unlike my tall lanky hoodoo friends, these goblins are shorter and shaped like mushrooms which makes them cuter and way easier to climb on top of. I doubt it will stay this way for long, but I did love that about Goblins Park, they allowed us to wander freely among the rocks and play however we wished.

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It was hard not to just run down the hill and get right up on top of a goblin, but we wanted to get a hike in so we looked at them from afar for a few minutes and then turned away and headed out on a trail in the opposite direction toward Molly’s Castle. The eroded monochromatic landscape was so interesting and varied. We alternated walking along high ridges and down into small gullies, there was deep soft sand and crusty not yet grown up rock. It was beautiful in its uniqueness, and fun, and a good work out, but it didn’t take us into the valley with the goblins. So I talked Ali into going off trail in an attempt to get back to the valley as the crow flies and she said “YES”. Whoopie – adventure time.

Ali on top of a crusty ridge

Ali on top of a crusty ridge

Molly's Castle in the distance

Molly’s Castle in the distance

It was on this trail-breaking leg of the hike that I noticed how much my nose was running and it wasn’t just that day, my nose had been getting progressively more and more runny with each week of our RV trip. Hiking always kicks it up a notch, but I realized that it was running fairly regularly now, I’ve been having to blow 3 and 4 times a day. Before we left, in my life in Santa Cruz, I rarely had to blow my nose. Allison can testify to this, she’s always been a little jealous because hers runs a lot. Of course, if I caught a cold the tissues would come out, but when healthy, my nose just went about its business enjoying a nearly perfect state of equilibrium – not too dry, not too wet, certainly never runny.

Allison usually hikes, walks, reads, eats, goes to the grocery store, and sleeps with a tissue or two on hand, but she was without them that day and I hadn’t yet developed the habit of sticking one in my pocket, and so there we were – a couple of drips. In between sniffs I thought about all the logical reasons for why this might be happening, the colder weather, more exercise, the higher altitude, more time spent outdoors, more exposure to allergens, but all of that felt extremely boring.

Instead, I decided that my nose was like the faucet that came out of the wall in the foyer of the Italian villa that Diane Lane bought in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.

Here’s just enough of the story to illustrate my point, but hopefully not enough to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet. Diane Lane’s character, Frances, a writer, is reeling from a divorce. Her lesbian friends are worried that Frances is going to become a “shell person” – no light behind the eyes – so they give her their tickets for a gay tour of southern Italy – something to get her out of her rut. From the tour bus in the middle of the countryside she sees an Italian villa for sale named “Bramasole”, buys it on a whim, moves to Italy and starts to renovate. There’s a random faucet that comes out of the wall in her foyer – she turns the handle, but nothing comes out.

Frances patiently sets out to bring newness and love and family into her villa as well as into her own life and along the way the faucet slowly starts to drip water. It’s a touch point through out the story, a symbol of love and happiness, the more right her life gets, the more the water starts to flow. Eventually by the end of the movie, when she has finished the house and everything has worked out, she turns the handle and it gushes water out onto the floor.

So there you have it. My nose is simply the faucet of love and happiness in the villa of my restored body and soul, gushing out water (or snot in this case) as a symbol of my now full life. I’ve escaped being a “shell person”. Now let’s go climb on some goblins.

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