Thanksgiving Dash


Hey all!  I didn’t know what else to call it, so thought that title described our recent trip to Utah perfectly.  I bought a used Honda CT-90 on/off road motorcycle for Cheryl, and decided to run up there and pick it up.  Cheryl and I haven’t gotten away for more than a couple weekends since we moved in with Mom two years ago.  It was exactly two years ago that we took our long road-trip across the United States to see family and to pickup a trailer we bought in Georgia to help us move to California.  So, Cheryl was up for it, we hopped in the car and left at 9p Thursday night after Thanksgiving dinner.

We drove all night up to Green River (Eastern Utah).  I am well familiar with that town, having driven through it many times, and in fact, starting a rafting trip down the Green River from the Campground in town.  That was a pretty amazing trip, but entirely another story!  So, Cheryl and I got there with almost an hour to spare which was pretty crazy, because we both forgot about the time change driving to Utah (we lost an hour going that direction) so there wasn’t much slack left in our schedule.  No worries, we made it with some cushion.  We ate breakfast at the Subway there on the Western edge of town, at the Chevron Gas Station, and I made sure to get gas first too, and then the guy showed up with the motorcycle.

We tested the bike out in the parking lot, there wasn’t any gas in it, he had drained the tank for us so we could load the bike in the back of our Tahoe, so we could only cruise around the parking lot a couple times before it died completely.  Then, we put the handlebars down, lifted the bike up and stood it up in the back of the car, and secured it with tie-downs.  We packed our stuff back inside, food, clothes, jackets, tool-box, all the stuff you take with you if you’re driving in the Winter time more than 100 miles that is (I’m a Boy Scout, remember – always prepared!), and we took off headed back Westwards.

We drove just a couple hours to Richfield, Utah, when we were nearly falling asleep (it was noon, and we’d both been awake for over 30 hours straight) so we found a hotel downtown and pulled in and took a nap.  Then, we went out exploring the quaint little town of Richfield.  We started with the IFA (Intermountain Farmer’s Association) where we found feed, clothes, boots, hats, fencing, horseshoes, toys and food to name just a few of the items!  What a fun place!  They had the coolest little 16″ sidewalk bikes for kids, all done up in John Deere fashion, complete with decals – and a hand brake!  Too cool!

We got some of the strangest looks at the IFA, they knew we weren’t from around there, me with my ponytail, I always stand out I guess.  But it was fun checking the place out.  We went from there and parked downtown.  We walked around there, checked out the local furniture store, a shoe store and a couple other places.  The furniture store was quite something as well.  Being the day after Thanksgiving, they were setting up for Christmas.  There were all kinds of fun furniture, including new mattresses in their connected store next door.  Cheryl thought that was a real community builder type thing that they had good quality local made (Salt Lake City) mattresses for sale, and that they sold them for decent prices compared to the National Brands.  There were signs and frames and mirrors, and all kinds of fun decorative type things for the home, with quotes of all types on them.  There was some “Modern” art too, I saw a Rolling Stones album (the disc only) heated and shaped like a tulip (good use for that album I thought).  There were also some fun artsy items made in the USA!  We bought one for Mom and then went next door to the “Diner” for dinner.

The Diner next door, the “Little Wonder Cafe” was just a wonderful family oriented place.  Interesting since it had been there since 1929 virtually unchanged.  We love diners, and small towns, it’s always refreshing to eat in a small place where service is everything.  The meal was cheap, we both got the “Specials” (only $5.99 for a Chicken-Fried steak – one of my favorites!).  We chatted, and we asked the gal serving us if she was from around there, yes, she grew up in that small town.  We assured her she was very fortunate to live in such a wonderful, quiet town.  I told her that I grew up in Los Angeles, the armpit of society.  LA is such a cess-pool I told her, I hate it and I never wanted to come back here.  But, of course, the Lord had other plans for us.  We came back to live with my mother, my (now) 85 year old mother and help take care of her.  Sometimes that’s pretty easy, other times…

We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner.  We even considered going to the Cinema in downtown Richfield, they were playing Breaking Dawn – Part 2 though, neither of us is very interested in that kind of movie.  We don’t go in for the modern thrillers about Vampires and Werewolves and such.  Very sick stuff in my opinion, but then, I’m turning into an old fuddy aren’t I?  I read my Bible every day and I’ve been almost 30 years without any alcohol or illegal substances in my body, so I guess that makes me some kind of weirdo according to today’s standards doesn’t it?  All I can say about that is that God gave me a different “Take” on life than most folks I guess.  I didn’t really get sober willingly to begin with, but I did stay sober once I got started.  I’ve never figured out exactly why, I tell folks it was a gift from the Lord, because there sure hasn’t been much about me to do with all of it!

Anyhow, we loved Richfield, it seemed to be a thriving community.  The rest of Utah was pretty dismal by comparison.  There were some vacant businesses downtown, some that had gone out of business recently.  It’s like pretty much everywhere I suppose.  The most stark was the restaurant across the street in the old Bank Building.  Our waitress told us about how these folks moved into town, and leased the Bank building, and then decided to open a Haute’ Cuisine Restaurant in this small town.  They charged exorbitant prices and really never made it.  So, after a couple months she said they switched over to being a sandwich shop or some such, with an order counter and all!  Talk about an identity crisis!  Somebody had a good idea, to open a restaurant, but they had no idea what they were doing it sounded like.  Big city folks move into a small town and try to build a business like you would in the big city, doomed to failure from the get-go I would say.

Several others were closed permanently, but things didn’t look too bleak in Richfield.  We left there the next morning after breakfast at the Hotel, about 8:15a we were outta there and on the road headed Westwards, and then Southwards on US-89 towards the “Junction” where you can catch the road up to the East Entrance to Zion National Park.  I wanted to take Cheryl through Zion again, it’s so pretty, and it started out to be a picture perfect day.  Either we left too early though, or small-town America is hurting worse than we thought.  We passed through town after town on Hwy. 89 and they were not deserted, but nearly so.  Granted it was early on Saturday morning, but nothing was open in any of the small towns.  The diners even appeared to be closed.  Occasionally there would be a gas station that was open.  But we passed a KOA that was closed!  That’s hurting!  All the little shops, the antique dealers, the tire places, everything was closed until we got near to Mt. Carmel Junction.

We finally stopped in the town of Orderville, because we saw 3 rock shops all open in the same little stretch of highway.  That’s for us!  We parked and went into the first shop – mistake!  The guy running the place was rude to Cheryl, stared at her she said, he said a couple things to me, but not much.  He wasn’t friendly, or genuine I guess you’d say.  So, we spent less than $10 and went across the street.  The guy there was running “The Rock Stop.”  You gotta understand, we’d driven by this place before and not stopped, it’s shaped like the Flintstone’s house, with a Flintstone’s cruiser parked out front.  There used to be Dinosaurs there, he still has a small one that we called “Dino” of course, but the others that were made by the guy who built the place (a long time ago we gathered, like 40-50 years ago?) were sold some time ago to the town up by Dinosaur, Colorado.  The town of Vernal (Utah) is the closest to the Dinosaur location, and they bought all those wood-frame fiberglass dinosaurs the guy built some years back.  He showed us the notebook that had all the “Progress” pictures of the Dinosaur statues under construction.

We chatted with him for some time, he was very friendly and informative.  He even told us where we could go collecting geodes if we wanted, and we took him up on it!  We spent nearly an hour there, Cheryl had him make a Latte’ for her, and believe it or not, all he had was skim milk, and Cheryl drank it and didn’t have any side-effects like she normally does from drinking milk products!  Everything just “Worked” from that point on that day (Saturday).  We bought several specimens, and chatted about what minerals and other fossils and such that you could find in Utah.  He showed us a couple that his wife found.  Those were Septarian Geodes, named for the layer of sediment they are found in (of course) but formed in a unique fashion.  He had several “Unique” type pieces that he told us about, and the ones he showed us that his wife found were amazing!

He showed us one that was broken and cracked, and very poor looking overall from a quick inspection.  His wife had taken it and was keeping it no matter what she said, she showed him:  There was a tiny horse-shoe crab fossil in the geode neatly exposed in the cracking on one side.  He gasped when he saw that and realized he would have just discarded that specimen!  She had another one that had a complete fossil, but only partly exposed to start.  She hit it with a chisel and hammer, and it divided – perfectly he showed us!  He said if he had hit that sucker with a hammer it would have shattered for sure!  But her perfect touch left a beautiful preserved fossil exposed now for all to see in its glory.  The fossil was an Ammonite, the segmented body form being perfectly preserved inside the Geode he showed us.

Anyhow, that stop started the “Highlight” portion of the day as I said, it only got better from there.  The weather was perfect and warm already by that point.  We drove down the highway 3 more miles to the turnoff he suggested for us, and we took off up this winding, narrow jeep track that took us through brush, steep inclines, washes, and cow pasture up to high meadows where there were deer everywhere and evidence of all kinds of interesting activity.  We never, unfortunately found the place where the Septarian Geodes could be found, but we did have a good time tooling down the 4×4 road!  We spent about an hour and a half cruising around there just stopping every now and then to explore by foot and pick up a few specimens.  We did come back with a couple small Desert Rose (Gypsum) specimens, and a few other nice rocks for the garden.

We bounced around pretty good on that road, it was rocky and steep, and our Maxi (Tahoe) did great.  It’s been a long time since we did any 4-wheeling – it was a lot of fun!  We did eventually make it back to the highway and started up the road to the East Entrance of Zion.  It was such a beautiful day, I was determined not to be in a hurry, so I was doing the speed limit nearly all the way, maybe sometimes just a little over, but we got passed by this one Tourist Bus, we both just shook our heads in wonder, what in the heck was that guy’s hurry on such a beautiful day?  Once we got to the Park, we paid our entrance fee and then drove slowly down the road from the top (the East Entrance is just about the highest road in the park) and wound around past all the beautiful formations and vistas.  Cheryl was snapping pictures left and right.  She must have taken 100 pictures just in that 20 minute drive from the entrance down to the floor of the canyon.

It was such a picture perfect day too!  And I had this Mercedes on my tail the whole way like I wasn’t driving fast enough (speed-limit only, remember?).  Much of the time there were vehicles in front of us going slower than the speed limit, and I kept thinking to myself – can this guy behind me be totally unaffected by the beauty around us?  Cheryl was just praising God for such marvelous beauty!  I was mostly driving but I got to look out every now and then.  We only had about an hour to spare in the schedule if we wanted to make it home that night, so I kept moving slowly along until we crossed the river at the bottom and I finally pulled over so we could just pause and take it all in from the bottom.  We stopped long enough to get a couple pictures with us in them, and moved on to the Visitor Center down the road.  We stopped and ate lunch there, and started to check out the “Human History” Museum, but decided we better not, since neither of us was up for the “National Geographic” view on human “Evolution” on such a perfect day!

We drove on from there and stopped in the town just outside the South Entrance to Zion (Springdale) and had a nice break and some shopping in that town too.  We stopped and shopped in one little “Indian Village” store that had all kinds of wonderful art and such at 50-60% off (clearance after Thanksgiving!)!  We bought several items in there, including a pair of Butterfly earrings for Cheryl made from Sterling, and several bits of various semi-precious stones.  We got a Native hand-made candle vase to add to our collection of art, and Cheryl bought a bunch of stuff to give to friends for Christmas.  We left there at about 2p heading for St. George.  It was time to “Get gas and get home” unfortunately.  End of a long day, with 6 hours driving still ahead.  It turned out to be a lot more driving than that unfortunately!

We made it to St. George, got on the I-15 South and were heading to Las Vegas.  We didn’t see much traffic until after Vegas though.  Just on the other side of Vegas, the traffic started building.  We wondered why so many folks were traveling on a Saturday night like we were – away from Vegas and headed towards Los Angeles?  We still don’t know, but eventually, in about the third backup, we decided to stop in Baker for dinner and see if the traffic wouldn’t subside some.  We stopped and ate at Carl’s Jr., and did some “People watching” as well.  There were two large families in there, one had three girls and a boy, and the other had 4 girls and a boy!  Those parents had their hands full for sure!  I gave a $Trillion$ to one dad, told him his family was precious, he should be sure to give them plenty of what’s on the back of the $Trillion$.  I told him it was a Gospel tract, and that he could read it when he had time.  They obviously were quite busy with those kids!

By then, it was nearing 8:30p and we were already overdue getting home (on my original schedule) and it was at least 3 hours to home, and the traffic going up the hill towards Barstow didn’t look like it was diminishing at all.  I asked the gal at the counter if she knew how long it would take to go down one of the side roads and get to Highway 40.  She said an hour, so we took it!  That hour out of the way probably saved us 2 hours fighting traffic.  But still, we didn’t get to Barstow for 2 hours, that was after 10p, and then it was 90 minutes from there into town and home.  Long drive!  We drove 1,500 miles in 50 hours roughly.  But boy oh boy was it fun!

We love road trips!  And we got us, and Cheryl’s new motorcycle home in one piece.  Or three pieces, or four depending on your point of view.  =)

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