Marco Capote is the kind of friend you want around when the shit goes down. When he pulled up to meet us in Moab, driving a vintage Land Cruiser with a Great Dane and chihuahua poking their heads out the window, I knew this was going to be fun.

Later I learned he’d replaced the Toyota engine with one from an Escalade and geared it down low. A solar panel charges two batteries that power a refrigerator/freezer and the biggest inverter I’ve ever seen. The consummate engineer, Marco also showed me pictures of the 525 cc motorcycle he’d transformed to a snow bike this past winter by replacing the front wheel with ski and the rear with a triangular tank tread. In high school, we’d used his powers mostly to blow stuff up. Now I see he’s put his skills to more industrious purpose at work for Medtronic and at play in the desert and mountains.

There a lots of places to camp around Moab, where red sandstone rises up from the desert in every direction. The distant mountains blend with horizon clouds. The Colorado River slices the canyon; green scrub brush, pinyons and cacti stretch for miles. We pass by the marked campgrounds, turn up a dirt road and finally at the four-rock cairn pull off and park. “You read Desert Solitaire?” asks Marco, “You know, Edward Abbey lived out here.”

Marco and his wife Allison had snowboarded that morning at Breckenridge. She was still off mountain-biking with her girlfriends. Now in their 8th year living in Boulder, Marco told me how they do it. Winter on the slopes, spring in the desert and summers up in the mountains, every weekend is full of activity and beauty. Biking to and from work during the week. Hatching crazy plans to ride dirt bikes or bicycles to Moab and back, and then doing them. Can’t say I wasn’t a little jealous.

The next morning we drove into Canyonlands National Park to Mesa Arch. As the sun slowly rose to illuminate the canyons below, the sandstone arch and surrounding cliffs burst with deep red. Andrew fell asleep on my shoulders, but not before asking in a bewildered voice, “Where are we, Daddy?”

In Moab we also hiked Bill’s Canyon and skinny dipped in the Colorado River. We climbed a giant sand hill across from Arches National Park. We ate gelato. We lived like Coloradans for a minute and hoped to take a little of that whimsy back home with us to Memphis.

 

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