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Monday we had a totally awesome unforgettable experience! Daniel took us driving again. I sat on the back seat by myself, leaning over onto a pile of pillows to look out the side windows from a perspective quite different than I’m used to from the driver’s seat. We went past Moab down the canyon on a paved road toward Potash, then up bumpy Long Canyon Road. Soon we encountered snow in shady parts of the road, and Daniel was ready to turn around. But I told him to go for it, as the snow was cold and not too slippery. He did well as we climbed up the canyon, but soon it got too steep for traction.

Daniel driving the van in snow near Canyonlands

So we turned around and headed past Potash, where they have huge evaporation pools for potash and big trucks hauling it out. Daniel had fun sliding sideways in the sand in one place. Further along we followed a canyon rim, looking down to the Colorado River far below. Daniel had been this far previously, but wanted to go further to see where it went.  As we bounced along on the four-wheel-drive road with our two-wheel-drive van, I tried to get a drink out of my water jug, but it splashed all over the place! Daniel had to stop so I could finish my drink. 

Eventually we entered Canyonlands Park boundries and stopped for lunch. We had the whole place to ourselves. It was so peaceful, with rock formations, canyons & cliffs completely surrounding us.

Cliffs along the Shaffer Trail in Canyonlands

As we continued on bumping along up the Shafer Trail, we saw a sign that said "Visitor Center, 5.5 miles."  Maybe this road would take us through to paved roads, and we wouldn't have to backtrack!  But all we could see were sheer cliffs going 1,000 feet straight up to a flat mesa on top.  Was it possible that this bumpy road would get us to the top?  From the bottom, we couldn't see any signs of a road up that cliff.

Adams' van on icy Shaffer Trail

But, since there was still a passable road in front of us, we followed it, and began climbing. We couldn’t see where the road led - only impossible-looking cliffs all around us!

Daniel Adams chaining up on the Shaffer Trail

Soon we came to snow and ice on the road, so Daniel stopped to put on the chains.

Raven watching Daniel at work

A large black raven flew over and perched on the stone cliff nearby, peering curiously at us, making low gurgling noises and seeming to "talk" to us, totally unafraid. In fact, while Diana took pictures of Daniel chaining up, the raven flew down closer onto the road in front of the van to see what was going on. As we continued up the road, it ambled over to the side and watched us go by eyeing us curiously as we drove by.

Snowy Shaffer Trail in Canyonlands - which we just came up!

Each switchback was tight, and by now most of the road was covered with snow, with steep cliffs up one side and drop-offs going down hundreds of feet on the other side. Daniel handled the challenges very well, and never came close to losing control.  The narrow dirt road continued climbing the face of the cliff, with deep water drain humps, which caused the trailer hitch to drag as we drove over them.

Shaffer Trail with snow from canyon rim

The scenery was spectacular as we climbed higher and higher, surrounded by high red sandstone cliffs. We could look down and see the trail zig-zagging back and forth below. We stopped often for pictures. Near the top we followed the very rim of a narrow ledge of cliff faces going straight down hundreds of feet. We stopped to take a picture, and much to our surprise, our raven friend flew up and perched on a rock nearby! He cocked his head and eyed us curiously as Diana took pictures of the scenery, then a closeup of the raven.  It appeared to be totally unafraid.  Daniel commented that maybe it was our guardian angel, visible to us in raven form, to see us safely to the top.

Adams' van at top end of Shaffer Trail in Canyonlands

Soon the road leveled off as we came out on top of the huge mesa and we reached the main paved road. The snow ended, so Daniel removed the chains. Looking back, we saw a sign that said, "WARNING - High clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles only." We’re thankful we made it up those cliffs without any problems!

We stopped at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center and got maps, then continued on paved roads to enjoy a variety of interesting viewpoints and formations. In several places we stopped to look down a thousand feet or more where we had been earlier, and the precarious road we had just come up. It was a thrilling, fun, unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience!  Daniel did really great driving - and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

Raven flying closely alongside our van in Canyonlands

As we drove along the top of the mesa at 30 mph on a straight stretch of paved road, we saw a large black form swoop down and follow along right next to the van - it was our raven friend again! It followed us for a mile or more, flying along at the same speed we were traveling, peering in at us through Daniel's side window. We figured it was either looking for a handout or very curious! Eventually we left it behind and never saw it again, but we really enjoyed having it keep us company!

View from Dead Horse Point in Utah

The scenery was really spectacular, with patches of snow on the ground and highlighting ledges on the sandstone formations. After checking out all the viewpoints, we headed over to Dead Horse Point. Though the sun was shining, temperatures were in the teens. I bundled up good and Daniel pushed me right to the rim, where we could see 1,000 feet down to the dirt road below, then another 1,000 feet to the Colorado River below that.

Late afternoon shadows highlighted cliffs and canyons, but the icy wind didn’t give us much time to take it all in. We appreciated the warm van as Daniel drove us out of the park and back to Moab. We gassed up, cleaned the van at a car wash, then headed back to the school.

Daniel drove about 175 miles that day, and did very well for his fifth time driving. He drove 368 miles total while there. We all agreed that this was one day of quality family time we’ll never ever forget! At the same time I felt a little sad - I’m no longer the only adventurous driver of this van - Daniel’s starting to take over! But we’re glad he’s growing up and becoming a mature, responsible adult in many ways.  However, he still has a lot of "growing up" to do as well!

Diana, Fred & Daniel Adams 2003

We found it hard to leave DayStar last Tuesday - we'd had such a rewarding time with Daniel, school staff & students and the folks from MPI.  But we needed to get back home.  We encountered more snow in Salt Lake City, then freezing fog across the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

We had a close call in the thick fog when a propane truck was passing another truck and they encountered a road crew blocking the right lane - some hard braking and swerving avoided a potentially serious mishap! Temperatures in the Nevada desert were down to 4 degrees - we've rarely EVER seen temperatures that low in out lives.  And the predicted low was 20 below zero that night!  It seemed strange for it to be so cold when the sun was shining and the sky such a deep blue color.  Usually we have our A/C going full blast trying to keep cool enough as we cross these areas in the summer!

Anyway, we're safely home after a very rewarding trip, and are trying to get caught up on things.  Daniel is on a Continental flight at this moment (he just called from Houston), headed for Chiapas in south Mexico to participate on a mission project at Pantepec and visit with childhood friends at Linda Vista, where he grew up.  Then he goes to Belize for another 10 days in March to work with DayStar students & staff remodeling buildings at La Loma Luz Hospital.

So that's what's happening in our lives at the moment.  We appreciate hearing from many of you, and though we don't communicate very often, we do think about you and thank God for such a wonderful variety of friends and family with which to share our lives.

Fred & Diana Adams
Placerville, California

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