After a short drive, we arrived in Monument Valley, spending the day in the Tribal Park, the only place to see the buttes, mesas, and spires closer up. We took the 4 mile hike around the Mittens buttes in the morning and drove the 17 mile scenic route in the afternoon. We decided to book a surprisingly cheap campsite for the night with a phenomenal view; as luck would have it (fortuna imperatrix mundi!), we were just in time for the full moon which would be rising as the sun set. Photographers set up their equipment all in a row in the nearby parking lot to catch the moonrise.
Then up to Moab, a good base from which to explore the surrounding parks. We were forced to camp in the overflow area the first night, but got a beautiful, quiet, and private site for the rest of the week right by the river. We even put up our hammock! From there, we made multiple trips into Arches National Park and one into Canyonlands a bit farther out.
Unlike the bridges, arches are formed in a different rock layer and do not span riverbeds. Rain and flash floods create crevasses and pools, which slowly eat their way through the rock; giant slabs slide off and the lower, more fragile layers erode, sometime creating arches. The common semi-circular pattern is present in practically every cliff face from the corresponding layer.
We spent a lot of time relaxing at our campsite, too; in the mornings, we'd watch the robin fight a big blue jay of some sort to keep it out of its nest; in the afternoon, lizards would crawl into the small of our backs or behind our knees to get into our shade; in the evening, wild turkeys came by once, and we'd watch the bats twirling overhead; and when the stars came out, we'd try to spot a few shooting ones then get into bed just as our three black widow neighbours emerged from their picnic table lair.