I was pleased to discover that Steamboat Springs is a foodie town, and my options Wednesday morning for breakfast were generous. I chose a cafe that was renowned for their incredible cinnamon rolls, yeasty confections that rivaled the immensity of the dog-head-sized beetles I had seen the day before. When the freshly baked roll was set in front of me it was warm from the oven and smothered in a delicious orange peel flecked vanilla butter cream icing. Coupled with a side order of nice thick sliced bacon, a bowl of green chili cheese grits, and a mug of excellent coffee, I easily reached the wonderful state of breakfast nirvana.
After putting a sizable dent in my cinnamon roll and finishing as much of my breakfast as I was able, I began my day's trek westward along a sparsely populated highway that had me exit Colorado into Utah through a tiny town called Dinosaur.

My expectations were that Dinosaur kitsch would be abundant, but the sad little town boasted only two bedraggled old plaster beasts that had seen much better days, penned in tiny corrals that were sprouting peeling paint and encircled with weeds. Even if they were located conveniently at the corner of Brontosaurus and Stegosaurus they made a pretty poor showing, I must say. The only other dinosaur themed item I could find in town was an ancient painting decorating the side of a minuscule restaurant, but the portrait of family dining did manage to make me smile.

Quite honestly, I left Dinosaur a disappointed woman. Where was the cleverly named cafe that served a special dinosaur dish? Where were the giant plaster mascots? Why the good people of Iraan, Texas managed to whip some up for their park, for crying out loud - what's so hard about buying some chicken wire and mixing up some cement?!

Well off to Vernal, Utah, then - 33 miles distant - a city I knew absolutely nothing about. Imagine my surprise when I arrived in town and sitting there in a patch of carefully sculpted evergreens was the dinosaur of my dreams! An enormous flirty pink Brontosaurus with a perky tail, well over three stories high! Now THIS was a dinosaur town. As I drove down the main highway, I spotted a huge new expensive Dinosaur Center along with... you're not going to believe this... another giant dinosaur who was busy having a cookout and sporting a jaunty hat!
As I cruised down the main boulevard in Vernal and marvelled at all the dinosaur flavored signage, the idea for a screenplay began to formulate in my mind: two towns, 33 miles apart, each vying desperately for the Dinosaur crown. They compete vociferously, trying to win the hearts and dollars of frolicksome tourists, each claiming to be the Dinosaur Dominator. I think Act II would involve the hiring of some sort of redneck samurai to protect each village, with the obvious conclusion presenting itself in Act III - the cranky people of Dinosaur, Colorado give up in defeat and dishonor living in poverty and shame. I'll be sure and let all of you know when the movie version comes out.

I left Vernal behind, having had my sense of the outlandish restored and continued on toward Logan, Utah - just a little over an hour north of Salt Lake City. My friend Bruce Christiansen lives there and the other half of the reason I was making this road trip was to go and see the house he's building for his brother Lance. I've talked about it with him endlessly since I'm so fascinated with how things are built, and I've been keeping up with the progress via pictures he's posted on the web, but I really wanted to see it in person and watch one of the many concrete pours that will form the exterior walls of the house. I planned to stay several days and find some way to help so I could watch the goings-on.

Shortly after I passed north of Salt Lake City and into Ogden, I made a stop at one of my very favorite salvage yard/doodad stores: Smith and Edwards. A huge billboard on I-15 announces "Whatever you want, we've got it - if you can find it." And they aren't kidding. The store itself is well organized and full of irresistable bargains, but it's the outside that makes me salivate: a couple of football fields worth of rusty/dusty old junk, heaped in boxes and shelves and carts, calling out to be poked through and appreciated. A good number of the things I run across are cryptic, their function a mystery to me, their form an intriguing invitation. Last time I visited I bought several two foot M1 shell casings (the kind shot from an Abrams tank) and a box of some beautiful dummy amunition that looks like little aluminum rockets. You just never know what you'll find at Smith and Edwards and it's always a treat.
I walked out to the beautiful old WWII era rail car that I know sits on the grounds to take a few pictures. Nate had told me many years ago that the car had been brought back from the European theater after the end of the war. The windows all have metal liners lacking glass and are covered with heavy wire mesh to prevent damage from flying shrapnel and allow the car to travel in a blackout condition. Over the decades, the car has oxidized into a gorgeous pallet of oranges and browns and greens, and on this visit massive mounds of military helmets had appeared in great drifts around the base of the car. You really just never know what you're going to find out there - tray-zhurs abound.

I didn't find anything this trip I couldn't live without, but it's always a fascinating stop and one I'll make anytime I'm within a 100 mile radius!

I resumed my journey toward Logan, pressing on so as to be able to meet my friend Stuart Smith for dinner. When I arrived in Logan, I drove out to Bruce's work site to collect him so he could join us as well. By the time evening had rolled around, we all met, along with Bruce's friend Elin, at Logan's home of Asian food finery - the Mandarin. Two hours passed before any of us had realized it, and we parted company after reciting our ridiculous fortunes aloud. Bruce had arranged for me to stay at his parents home, so we headed back there where I was greeted warmly. As glad as I was to see Pat and Judy and Bruce, it wasn't long until I was ready for bed and subsequently in it.

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