“You can have 2 wives; but you can’t have a double!”

Balance Rock, located in Arches National Park. When our guide, Marsha, said the rock has been there millions of years, I asked her if, at some point, it would fall. Her answer: Absolutely. Yikes!

Alan and I and two close friends, Dawn and Richard Ford, have just returned from our first — and likely last — visit to Utah. I wanted to see the proverbial dark skies there and we chose our timing to coincide with a new moon when we were told we would be able to see the most stars.

Richard, a huge fan of John Wayne and classic Western movies, wanted to see Monument Valley where many iconic scenes were filmed. All four of us had heard great things about Moab and we were fascinated by photos of Arches National Park. So, off we went. We flew into Salt Lake City and drove four hours to Moab for four nights at the highly rated Red Cliffs Lodge.

The trip was filled with absolutely breathtaking vistas. You can’t adequately describe the scenery, it’s so stunningly beautiful. Our star-gazing outing was canceled due to freezing temperatures and cloudy skies, but everything else from the natural world exceeded our high expectations.

The only downers — and the things that made us feel unwelcome and generally hassled — were the draconian liquor laws.

Here’s an example. On Friday night at  9:30, I went to the bar (which was to close at 10) and asked for a glass of wine to take back to my room. “You can’t take wine to your room unless you buy food from the restaurant,” I was told. “Can I buy a bag of potato chips from the gift shop and get the wine?” I asked. “No,” came the reply. I left without the wine.

Our sweet server in the bar at Red Cliffs Lodge. The ridiculous liquor laws are not their fault, but it falls to them to give customers the bad news!

The following day, we had an excellent lunch at a casual eatery called The Spoke in downtown Moab. Richard ordered fish and chips and a draft beer. The problem came when he asked for a second beer. “I can’t give you another beer as long as you have more than a sip of your first beer left in your glass,” our server said. What? Richard emptied his glass and was given another beer. This was starting to get on my nerves.

Later, we were back at the Red Cliffs Lodge where we had dinner reservations at The  Cowboy Grill. I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio when we had appetizers. But, when my filet mignon came, I asked for a glass of red wine. The server brought it but stood there holding it instead of putting it on the table. I just looked at him, puzzled. “You have to finish your first glass before I can leave this one,” he said. My jaw dropped. I’m sure that if looks could kill, he’d be dead! He kind of smiled and set the red wine on a nearby window sill — near enough for me to reach, but not actually on the table! Lord, I thought, this place is crazy!

At another time on the trip, Richard wanted a double bourbon on the rocks and was told they couldn’t put more than 1.5 ounces of liquor in any one drink. That explained the miniature martini I was served on our first night!

There were several other incidents, but I think you get the idea. On our last night, again in the bar listening to music, I complained about the situation to the waitress. “It’s our biggest complaint,” she said. “In Utah, you can have two wives, but you can’t have a double!” Polygamy has been decriminalized there.

Anyway, for a state that is so invested in its tourism business, this seems very inhospitable, even unwelcoming. There are too many other places to visit without these silly irritations. So, I can now say I’ve been to Utah. I can also say I will not be back.

I will show you some lovely scenes, though, Read on.

We saw quite a few wind farms as we drove around Utah. This one is on the road between Salt Lake City and Moab.

We checked into our rooms at Red Cliffs Lodge outside Moab and were stunned by the beauty outside our doors. We each had a little patio with this view.

For about 60 seconds, as the sun was setting, the light did this on our view of the Colorado River!

Cute bar. But it closes every night at 10 — even on Friday and Saturday. Music stops at 9. And there’s nowhere else to go within 20 miles.

Here’s the tiny martini I got in the bar prior to dinner on the first night — 1.5 ounces. Little glass; big olives!

We loved our dinner at The Cowboy Grill. Clockwise from top left, Richard and his ribeye; Dawn loved her short ribs; my filet was delish; and Alan gave his salmon high marks.

The next morning, we took in the scenery for a few minutes.

And then we hit the breakfast buffet before driving 25 minutes to downtown Moab to meet our excellent NAVTEC Expeditions tour guide, Marsha.

Marsha, left, took us in a back entrance to Arches National Park and brought us to the site of dinosaur footprints that are at least 92 million years old.

Here’s one of them.

One of the some 2,000 arches in Arches National Park.

Looks like one of the founding fathers!

I see a little girl.

Skyline Arch.

Richard, left, and Alan with our terrific tour guide, Marsha.

Richard taking it all in.

This raven befriended us and hung around for quite a while.

More arches and buttes.

Included this so you could see the perspective of the size of the people vs. the rock formations! Pretty impressive, huh?

Everywhere you look.

Marsha took this picture of us. From left, Richard, Dawn, me and Alan.

Wolfe Ranch, in Arches National Park, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. John Wesley Wolfe and his family cared for this place for over a decade and raised 1,000 head of cattle there, starting in 1896. Six family members lived in this 255-square-foot dwelling!

After our half-day tour of Arches, we headed back to Moab and what was hailed as the best restaurant in town, Desert Bistro.

Yep. It was excellent.

Clockwise from top left: Alan’s excellent chicken; Dawn and Richard both had the pasta dish; Richard loved his chocolate mousse dessert; my pork tenderloin was amazing with a little zing in the sauce.

Our excellent — and fun! — server, Derek, posed with Richard and Dawn.

The next day, we started with a tour of the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, conveniently located in Red Cliffs Lodge.

Alan posed with this statue that was used in the 1997 film, “Passion in the Desert.”

Dawn liked this antique cash register that was used in an old Western. Scores of movies and more than 100 commercials have used the Moab area as a location.

This is a dummy of actress Gina Davis used in the final scene of the 1991 movie “Thelma & Louise” when the two stars drove their 1966 Ford Thunderbird off a cliff supposedly in the Grand Canyon. It actually was filmed near Moab. Will show you a photo of the location in a few.

Richard and his hero, John Wayne.

Next stop: lunch at The Spoke in downtown Moab. This Bloody Mary may look big, but it only has 1.5 ounces of vodka in it. Dawn loved it, though. Especially the onion ring and bacon on top!

And then on to Dead Horse Point State Park where the final scene of “Thelma & Louise” was filmed. They drove their Thunderbird off this cliff.

Dinner was back at The Cowboy Grill. Again, great! Clockwise from top, Alan’s pork chop, Dawn’s Southwestern egg roll, and my filet (for the second time on this trip!).

Live music in the bar was so much fun. Here’s Jody Pate of the band Jamie and the Dreamers, which consists of him and Amy Griffin, right, from Durango, Colorado.

On Sunday, we took the three-hour drive to Monument Valley. First stop was at The View Restaurant to meet our Navajo guide, Yvonne Seaton. We were barely into the state of Arizona on property owned by the Navajo Nation.

On the terrace of the restaurant, Richard posed at John Wayne’s Point, the actor’s favorite location.

Iconic monument.


We stopped for some “retail therapy” at tables staffed by members of the Navajo Nation. We both bought some interesting jewelry. That’s our guide, Yvonne, in the background.

A classic film location, John Ford’s Point, named after the famous director who shot nine movies in Monument Valley. Those little figures are Richard and Alan.

They loved it.

Yvonne took this photo of our group.

Yvonne took us to a hogan, a traditional Navajo dwelling. This one is a female hogan for women and children.

She said this sign on the door means, “Welcome friend. Come in.”

A woman named Cecilia was inside. She was turning wool into yarn that would be used to make rugs. She gave us permission to take photos inside.

Putting the yarn on a spindle.

A view of the entire interior.

Peeking inside a male hogan.

Alan inspecting a sweat lodge, which supposedly has healing qualities.

We stopped to get an up-close look at this beautiful arch.

Yvonne had us assume prone positions. Here’s Richard.

The view from that vantage point!

Yvonne played a haunting original melody for us on her flute. See video at the end of this post for a sample of it.

This nearby arch is called “Big Hogan.”

Ancient drawings.

After these stops, it was time to make the three-hour drive back to Moab. Being a Sunday, many restaurants were closed. But we did find a fun Mexican place that was open.

Welcome to Fiesta Mexicana!

And that’s a wrap on our very interesting trip!

Here’s that lovely flute tune:

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13 Responses to “You can have 2 wives; but you can’t have a double!”

  1. Kim Cunningham, on April 11th, 2024 at 2:22 pm said:

    The scale of the monuments is breathtaking! I guess I didn’t notice that everything closed early when I was there because we started hiking at 600 each morning and were in bed by 10. So glad you experienced the incredible scenery.

  2. Mike, on April 11th, 2024 at 2:57 pm said:

    “If looks could kill, he’d be dead.”
    Really? It seems like the waiter was merely doing his job and following the laws of Utah.
    Sounds like you are a great traveler, one who respects people, their customs and laws.
    I bet you really enjoy traveling out of the country.

  3. Tissi Smith, on April 11th, 2024 at 2:58 pm said:

    Traveled your same route 6 years ago. Wish we had booked a guide because we missed some of the things you saw like the footprints.

  4. Kathy Brennan, on April 11th, 2024 at 3:21 pm said:

    I enjoyed your trip to Utah. Photos are amazing!

    Thank you for sharing.

    Kathy Brennan

  5. John Garrison, on April 11th, 2024 at 4:58 pm said:

    The west is starkly beautiful! I love the Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho area, especially around Henry’s lake, and the Green River in Utah will take your breath away!

  6. Robin Jones, on April 11th, 2024 at 5:00 pm said:

    What a fabulous trip!!! This area is on my bucket list and has been for several years!!! What an experience and thank you for sharing!!!

  7. Phyllis Y. Nichols, on April 11th, 2024 at 5:20 pm said:

    Now that was an adventure! Loved how you featured the Navaho culture.

  8. Bill Horton, on April 11th, 2024 at 6:16 pm said:

    Utah is one of the most beautiful states I have visited. The national parks are breathtaking and the ski areas are among my favorites. But you are right — the liquor laws need updating.

  9. Steven Frampton, on April 11th, 2024 at 7:11 pm said:

    ha ha – best blog ever. Shame to have two wives and no alcohol

  10. Cynthia Moxley, on April 12th, 2024 at 10:11 am said:

    Kim: Well, we definitely didn’t have that issue! The most strenuous thing we did was ride in an SUV with bad shocks!

    Tissi: We were very glad we had the guides. Not only did they know a lot of things, but they drove so we could gawk! And they took us places that we couldn’t have had access to on our own.

    Kathy: Thanks. It was so very different from our Smoky Mountains. Both are beautiful, of course. Just in different ways.

    John: Might try Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho. Not going back to Utah!

    Robin: It was beautiful, but maybe bring your own wine!

    Phyllis: We learned a lot about the Navajo culture and religion and found it very interesting.

    Bill: Right on!

    Steven: Haha!

  11. Georgiana Vines, on April 13th, 2024 at 11:44 am said:

    I have been to much of the West but not to where the four of you were. The scenery is gorgeous. The food looks fantastic. Great idea to have guides.

  12. Donna, on May 5th, 2024 at 10:22 pm said:

    We have booked 2 weeks in September to visit the Mighty 5 Parks in Utah. We are looking forward to the beauty of the area and some great hikes along the way. Alcohol is not our driving interest. Possibly the wine country is a better fit for you.

  13. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2024 at 10:37 pm said:

    Hey, Donna: Thanks for the helpful advice!

    Actually, alcohol was not our driving interest, either. We just found it irritating that these strange laws kept popping up when we didn’t expect it. And, why?

    Hope you have a great trip. The scenery is beautiful.

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