|This sign is actually not in Moab, but at the Charcoalburger Drive-in over in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It is a popular stopping place for Moabites on their way through, though. It has nothing to do with the topic of this blog.|
Having lived in Moab, Utah for many years, I've been curious as to how the town is faring with Canyonlands and Arches National Parks closed. So, I had coffee with an old friend who knows lots of Moab business people and asked him how things were going.
Of course, I could simply look out the window of the restaurant we were in and tell something was up—the town looks more like it does in November than in October, even though October's the height of the busy season here (along with April and May).
|One way to see the parks—I saw one of these floating over Arches yesterday. It seems the Feds haven't shut down the air space over the parks yet (don't mention it to them or they may try).|
The first day of the government shutdown, according to my friend, one of the better-known B&Bs here promptly lost $3500 in cancellations—and that was just the beginning, as every day since they've had more people cancel. My friend spends a lot of time at this particular B&B, as it belongs to his best friend, so I suspect his numbers are accurate. This B&B is popular with the Europeans, but he says they're all being hit financially.
|Ha - no rangers around to make us be good!|
Many of these same hotels have earned the scorn of locals for gouging tourists with exorbitant prices during big events, so maybe it's a touch of karma seeing them empty, though I do feel bad for their employees, who are facing layoffs if it continues. The Moab Interbike Exhibit and Plein Aire Festival are in town, or things would probably be even more desolate for the lodging establishments.
|C'mon, let's sneak into Canyonlands!|
I had an early dinner at a popular place (Zax) today with some very special friends from Washington state, and it was like a normal restaurant in a non-tourist town. Usually, it would be packed with noisy people. It was actually pleasantly quiet.
It hasn't been all that long ago that Moab pretty much closed down for the winter, and it's starting to feel a bit that way now. Or maybe I should say it's starting to feel more like it did in the good old days before it got discovered.
Of course, in those same good old days, one couldn't find anyplace open to go eat out in the low seasons, except a couple of old-time restaurants like Smitty's Steak House (now renamed the Moab Grill) or the Westerner (now an ice-cream shop). But the low seasons were the paradise that made all the suffering during the high seasons worthwhile for the locals. We had the whole place to ourselves!
To illustrate, I remember hiking in late November down Park Avenue (one of the most popular hikes in Arches), when a fellow walked past me on the trail, almost startling me out of my skin. I thought I was the only one in the park. (We ended up talking and becoming friends and he's now my webmaster.)
This was only a few years ago, and any more, hiking anywhere in Arches even in November is far from a solitary endeavor (though I bet it's petty quiet there right now).
I personally don't mind seeing the town slow down and recover some of its lost charm, but it seems the price is high for the unemployed, and I'm not sure it could ever go back, anyway, especially with all the new big hotels and such.
But it does feel like our politicians are taking us back in time here in southeast Utah, whether we want to go or not.