May 26, 1999

I can't believe I have agreed to this. I am not only leaving California, I am traveling to Utah. I don't travel. Nope. I am also going with a man I have known for, uh, barely six months. We have a ball what ever we do, where ever we go, so why not?

This is the first of the actual travel journals kept on our trips. The notes start out with "3VDD004." My children and I have a game of assigning words to auto license plates, and this one I will remember forever. We had left my dog, Miciah, with David's dogs, Ralf and Annie. We are always joking about how the teen visitor population in his house increases without any warning, and fear the animals will do the same. That plate, I translated, was "Three Very Dear Dogs. Oh, oh. Four." A good omen at the beginning of the trip.

Lunch at Big Daddies, the waitess had some pretty incredible coke bottle eye glasses, making me feel a bit more normal.

That night was spent in Death Valley off onto an empty area, sleeping in the truck bed, the scenery was a brilliant blue sky, a full moon just above the dark blue outline of the surrounding mountains, all the stars you could count and all the Drambuie I could drink, with plastic champagne glasses David brought along. I think I have a romantic on my hands.

The next morning, we packed up and passed a Guard Station to hear we had missed out on the serious flash flood that had taken place within a mile or so of where we spent the night!  We counted our blessings and moved on to pass the Devil's Cornfield and Scotty's Castle. We saw ravens with their tongues hanging, mouths open from the heat at ten in the morning, so we kept moving.  More 'firsts' included the Ubehebe crater, happy cow signs in Nevada, a mirage, crossing a state line, the Goldfield cemetery, wind funnels, and our little black cloud who followed us all the way to Utah from that point. Thundestorms brought us to Rachel where we looked for gas and bought your classic tourist trap alien sighitng coffee mug. Alas, the gas stations were all closed down for repair, and we held our breath until we got to another gas station.

Lunch at R PLace (city?) was right next to the Utah state line and had gambling slot machines at every table.

Our next night was spent at the Cedar City Best Western, and they really do close the sidewalks up in Utah at seven. We ate at the only place open, a Dairy Queen.

The next day brought 75 mph speed limits, the Little Wonder Cafe below the Whimsy Touch shop where I bought a fountain for David. Kmart in Richfield for something or another, and then we hit the San Rafael reef.

David was barely able to get off the freeway and park at a rest stop, Vista view area. He was mesmerized by the sight, complete, total, picture postcard perfect red rock scenery. He stumbled out of the car and walked to the edge in a daze. I was laughing a bit, grabbed the cameras, locked up the truck and joined him. After he was back to normal, he purchased a lovely purple stone necklace for me from one of the vendors. Can you spell spoiled?

We stopped at the Green River grocery store where I spied a post office. I had been looking for more of my favorite pastage stamps, the pink rose heart stamps, and our local post offices had run out completely. Sure enough, they had them.

We spent the night camping is Castle Valley, absolutely breath taking scenery. A bit spooky, all alone amongst these gigantic formations that commanded respect and honour for generation after generation of native Indians in the past. The wind blowing our tent away was almost amusing.  We were in it at the time.

The Colorado River, incredible Lupine and wild Lilac, Moab, coffee at the Eclectic Coffee shop which had a deck so impressive I sketched it out.

Finally, the outskirts of Salt Lake City, and we get just a teensy bit lost. Remember that little black cloud? I was, unfortunately mentioning how I have never really been in any ferocious downpour, we stop at a railroad crossing, and what might you think happens? The cloud, that little cloud became a massive cloud, covered the entire area and simply opened up. Within moments. I didn't know whether to laugh, whimper or just be amazed. I think I did all three.

I met Mormons Kristi, her husband, Jeff, and David's youngest grand daughter, Kimber. We ate at the Irish Camel in Park City, and saw people that strongly resembled Yanni and High Grant. Who knows, I didn't stare, but boy, I wanted to.

Back at Kristi's we are put up for the night in the spare bedroom. I am not sleeping well in a strange bed, let alone a strange house, a stranger city.  Some time after midnight, the sky opened up again, this time with a bit more wrath, thunder and lightning like I have not heard since Mississippi. Being a storm lover, and a smoker, I grab my cigs and tiptoe out the front door to get a better look. I didn't realize the house did not have eaves to stand under.  Nor did I realize that sound, the door's click meant I just got locked out, until I tried to get back in. Omg. OMG. David's truck! Locked up tight. The dog house? That dog does NOT know me, and she is a huge black lab. The bedroom window is a little one, starts way above my head, goes the length of the room and it's only two feet tall. I am soaked, blind, feeling for rocks, anywhere. Out to the street, wading in water. It took about a dozen rocks and fifteen minutes before I heard David wake. I have never lived that one down.

The next day we are off again. Super Target has meticulous shelves. Antelope Island and tee shirts, sailing gulls and pelicans. Somewhere we ate at the Star of India. I am feeling like an old hand with this 'funny food" by now.

The next day brought the salt flats and the Bonneville Speedway. That was a trip. More white sand than I have ever seen. They race cars HERE? Really? Here? No signs, no buildings, nothing but salt?

We ate at the Nevada Hotel, Battle Mountain and the best Bleu Cheese salad. Way out in the middle of absolutely nowhere is a fence, a gate and a sign that says "Please Close the Gate." Okay dokay.

Mill Creek turn off, I take a grand picture of David standing in the window of an old abandond building. He is getting trained on different poses. You can't do staright pictures all the time!

Somewhere in here, I read that there were petroglyphs in the area, sorta. It's off this highway coming up. David says, "Do you want to go see?" I gulp and say, "Sure!" Never done this, either.

We get to a teensy half horse town, locate an open store for water, and ask the clerk if he knows where the petroglyphs are. He says, "nope." but a passing customer does. "Ya take this here road? Go down to where the church burned down. There ya'll see a road on the right, straight as an arraw. Take that road." We thank him, smile politely and get back into the car. Ok, let's give it a go.

Sure enough, there is a big burned spot. Must have been the church. Yup.  A road on the right. Dead straight as an arrow. What he didn't mention is that road goes on and on and on. Over hill, over dale, more and more mountains.  Twisting, turning. An occassional sign informs us that we are in the Toquima National Forest. Okay dokay.

Suddenly, Davids stops the car and says, "I think we are here." I am looking around for signs, not one in sight. We gather cameras, hats, and start walking up a hill. A note for you dating guys: What not to do on your first dates: take her out in the middle of nowhere and say, "Gee, it's so quiet no one would ever know we were here." It did give me reason to pause. Anyway, Sure enough, like he had received devine direction, there is this cave. It is behind chain link fencing, but you have a grand view of a 5000 year old cave, the blacking from years and years of fires, and petroglyphs, everywhere.  I think we used up four rolls of film, and David had to talk me out of climbing that fence. After we got our fill of being totally awed, I mentioned maybe we could camp in the area. David shakes his head, puts his hand on my arm and gently but firmly leads me back to the car, stopping on the way to show me what he had seen on the walk up to the caves. The biggest mountain lion paw marks I have ever seen. Fresh ones. We left.

We passed an outpost for the Pony Express, stopped at Stokely Castle, saw wild horses, ended up for the night in a civilized town, Reno. My first time. Harrahs. Molly's Garden for dinner and drinks, I played Twenty-One, had another drink, got totally lost watching David play Craps, had another drink. I guess David poured me into bed. Cheap date.

June 1st brought Virginina City, charms, coins, lunch at the Nevada Saloon, a tour of the Robert Graves mansion, a sign warning of snow, the Sierras, Caples Lake, and finally our valley floor.

After 2421 miles in six days we came home to a grouchy cat, springy dogs and giant kittens.

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