day 10, moab to bluff: love muffin, canyonlands national park.

If you had told me that some of the most impressively delicious things I would be placing my tooth against on this adventure would be "muffins", I would probably have had little to respond with other than a rather dead-eyed stare.

But I shit you not, friends. I had at least three muffins on this trip that deserved to be called something way better than that ("muffins", I mean). Two of them were from Moab's Love Muffin: above, almond raspberry; below, apple and red chile. Neither of them were really very sweet, both sported a perfect, fresh, somehow scone-y crumble, and a lightly buttery crust. Both really super great, and I am not a how you say muffin man.

In fact Love Muffin was kind of the highlight of Moab, even though we only spent about 20 minutes there. Pictured below is the 30-second walk from our hotel room to Love Muffin.

And here's the menu. Like I think I said, we didn't mean to eat here three times in one day, but I picked up pre-awakeness coffee and muffins there first thing, because it was well right next door.

And it was all so well-done that we went back there for Nelson's "real breakfast", which ended up being this exceptional "sunrise panini", with egg, spinach, onion, tomato, avocado, and this thing called sikil p'ak, kind of a pumpkinseed pesto or salsa from the Yucatan that is apparently popular enough for Better Homes and Gardens to have a recipe for it. I'm going to go ahead and trust Rick Bayless more, or Saveur more.

And anyway the sandwich was outstanding enough to where we said well we should probably get something else from here for later, since we didn't know what the eating situation was going to be on the road to Bluff.

Turns out, as you can see from this photo, there were indeed not so many food options.

This is Canyonlands National Park, which was not on the original itinerary, but kept showing up as something to not miss during our last-minute research. Unfortunately we didn't really have time to do it right, iow, not see it from the confines of our automobile. Edward Abbey was surely hating us from wherever he is: all we could really do is drive through one of the park's four districts, Island in the Sky.

I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but it's hard to say how much grander something would have to be to draw me over that way. I thought this was pretty grand.

On the way out of the park we ended up stuck behind a camper van with one of those rear-panel paintings that tries to blend in with the scenery. We'd always laughed at how high the fail quotient was on these things....until now, that is.

You almost can't even tell there's a camper there, can you.

Not long after this, we unwrapped our third Love Muffin meal of the day: a burrito Morita, with black beans, spinach, potatoes, eggs, and salsa negra. This was our #1 burrito of the trip, I've got no idea how you successfully get all that stuff inside a burrito.

And then....Bluff. We lost cellular reception shortly before arriving in Bluff, and had zero information about where our hotel was, so we stopped at the ol' Twin Rocks Cafe to orient ourselves.

We totally didn't mean to eat, but the hostess was so sure that we were going to that one thing quickly led to another and before we knew it we were drinking 3.2% beer and sharing a Navajo fry bread pizza.

There's something so slightly alien and surreal about 3.2% beer that it lent a slightly dream-like quality to every meal in Utah. Like, you're drinking your Sierra Nevada, a beer you've had 4,000 times, you know it's a Sierra Nevada because of the beautiful green can, but something is just a bit....off. Like you can't really taste it properly, and then you become suspicious of everything else that's going on around you, like your entire surroundings are 42% less real than usual (that's some quick and probably ridiculously inaccurate math, based on Sierra Nevada's normal alcohol content being 5.6% and me thinking I remember how to figure out what percentage of something something else is, or even thinking I know how many times 7 goes into 100).

Anyway, our 42% surreally friendly Navajo hostess/waitress gave us directions ("Um, you can't miss it, it's right there [gestures]"), but it still took us 20 minutes to find the Recapture Lodge, quite a feat to be lost for that amount of time in a town of 300 people.

Once we were there, the very friendly proprietor told us we had juuuust enough time to walk down to the river before it got dark. "It's just down that path a ways."

So we did. "A ways" turned out to be 15 minutes' walk. Worth doing! But on the way there we freaked ourselves out by imagining that this is how they got rid of people in the tiny fanatical Mormon cult town of Bluff (all not true in the end), and then we freaked ourselves out on the way back by noticing that, yes it was totally getting dark, quickly, and we were kind of out in the middle of the wilderness and yes there were all manner of unidentifiable pawprints in the dirt, some of them disconcertingly sizable.

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