“This is a beautiful road but I’m getting tired of driving on it,” I said to Magellan, who was the one at the wheel. It was the fourth time we’d driven it in 18 hours.
When we booked a B&B in Castle Valley, Utah, we weren’t concerned that it was 35 kilometres from Moab. Highway 128 looked like a good paved road. It follows the Colorado River almost all the way and therein lies the problem.
Hundreds of people camp alongside the river. Hundreds more take to the river in kayaks and canoes. Hundreds more mountain bike up here. Hundreds (well maybe not quite) of tour companies run land and water trips in the area. Then there’s the horseback-riding resort, a popular restaurant… Plus we’d arrived on a Saturday afternoon. In April, during spring break.
“Let’s book some place in town for tonight,” I said as we followed a truck, its trailer swaying a load of kayaks.
We were hoping to search for accommodation over a sandwich at Love Muffin Café. As we drove up, I was surprised there wasn’t a line-up as the place is renowned for its food. “Sold Out” read the sign on the door at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Over tacos nearby at Fiesta Mexican, we realized that finding last-minute accommodation in Moab (population ~5,000) wasn’t going to be easy. Then, pages into a Google search, we found an article in the Moab Times about the grand opening of Tangren House.
The house, built in 1914, had been in the Tangren family since the early 1950s but had fallen into disrepair. Three of the Tangren siblings had spent five years renovating it, doing most of the work themselves, including adding a second story and five bathrooms and redoing all of the plumbing and wiring. Russell and Brent and their sister Monette Tangren Clark began operating the place as five guestrooms (or as an entire house) in July 2015. And they’re doing a fine job.
A trip to Moab Lodging Vacation Rentals to complete the paperwork was a small annoyance that dissolved into wrinkled smiles when Monette met us at the house after lunch so we could check in early and hike to Delicate Arch.
Lovingly restored doesn’t begin to describe how gorgeous this place is. Take a look…
“What would you like for breakfast?” Monette asked. “And what time would you like me to come over tomorrow morning to prepare it?”
“We want to get an early start so don’t worry about breakfast for us,” Magellan said. “If there’s coffee, we’ll be fine.”
“Oh no,” she said. “That won’t do. I’ll bring over some yogurt and fruit and muffins later this afternoon and leave them in the fridge for you.” Half an hour later on the road to Arches National Park, she called. “Would you prefer blueberry or chocolate-chip muffins?”
Darkness had fallen by the time we returned but the warm glow of the dining room light welcomed us in.
You’re probably wondering (as we did) how it works when five rooms of a house are rented out to five different parties. The Tangrens have an exterior door code, which we were given when we completed the paperwork. The note waiting for us from Monette explains how it works.
Welcome! Your to go Breakfasts are in guest fridge in dining room & bananas are above on counter—all are in bags w/your name on them.Please call if you have any questions o problems here at the Inn this evening. Your door is coded to last 4 digits of your cell phone #. Thanks, Monette Clark
You can imagine our elation when we returned after dinner and saw Monette’s second note.
You are the only guests at the Inn tonite. Please turn off Dining Rm Light when you retire. Thanks.
Each of the rooms is named after an early settlement in the area. We laid our heads to rest on a gorgeous bed in Sego Room 2, named for a ghost town where, back in the 1890s, a rancher/farmer discovered a large coal seam.
Images of the yellow kitchen, spiral staircase, grandfather clock and dark-blue claw-foot tub alight into my mind quite often, sparked by tangential associations. Like thinking of a friend who loves the colour yellow. Or noticing the glow of a dining room late at night. Or eating a blueberry muffin. There’s something special going on at Tangren House. I call it placefulness.
Get there early if you want lunch at the Love Muffin Cafe.
Here’s the Moab Times article about Tangren House.
Monette suggested Sabaku Sushi as a dinner possibility. Sushi, in the desert? How can this be good, we wondered. It was excellent. They fly their fish in from Hawaii and the two main chefs have more than 25 years of combined sushi experience.
Sego, the ghost town our bedroom was named after.
You can no longer rent a room in Tangren House—you have to book the entire property. But, that may change. Monette says the house is for sale so who knows what the new owners may do. Have a look if you’re planning a trip to Moab.