As I set out with a full tank of gas from Nephi, Utah on Monday morning I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Not only was the weather perfect, but all in the world I had to do all day was thoroughly enjoy my drive along mile after mile of gorgeous Utah back country. Not too long after I had turned onto Highway 12, I picked a nice pullout where I could engage in a little al fresco noshing. The appetizer I created made me think of my friend Nate who is as big a fan of gustatory empiricism as I: a rectangle of beef steak jerky for a base, a length of mango licorice (twisted festively to enhance the fluting effect) and two roasted almonds, one adorning each end of the licorice cornice. Delicious! In the foreground - evergreens and aspens, some flecked with fall color; in the distance the red and rust and ochre layers of the canyon lands. A cool breeze blew as I spotted a chipmunk scampering hurriedly behind a rock, obviously horrified after stumbling unexpectedly onto my rustic picnic.
As I continued my journey, several fingers of Lake Powell crept in from the west, making the breathtaking views even better. Just as dusk began to settle, I pulled over for one last draught of scenery before I lost the light for the evening. The sunset was awash with pink and lavender, making a gorgeous backdrop for the dramatic and lovely landscape. I paused in the quiet of that remote spot, hearing only the wind and the sound of the quaking leaves it rustled and felt completely and deeply at peace with the world. As the last streaks of color faded, my headlights began to illuminate the tawny grasses of the roadside, bathing everything in a white, otherworldly halogen light.
Not long after dark, I stopped for some dinner at the Old Timer Restaurant in Blanding, Utah. I ordered a ribeye, medium rare with french fries, which happily entitled me to a trip to the typically small town salad bar. Decent salads are what I miss most while I'm on the road, but I managed to make an edible concoction from the pitiful palette of ingredients featuring iceberg lettuce, garish orange French dressing and industrial looking croutons.
When I sat back down at my table, a gentleman sitting in the booth across from mine leaned over and asked in a friendly tone, "Say, are you driving a black sedan?" He and his companion looked to be in their 60s, both of them sporting crowns of wavy silver hair, associated visually by their matching sportswear.
"Why yes, I'm driving a black Cadillac CTS-V. How'dju know?" The old man got a twinkle in his eye and said, "You passed me 3 times! Every time you'd go by, I'd tell my wife here 'That gal sure looks like she's having a good time!'" He proceeded to tease me affectionately about my sassy driving and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We kept talking and eventually got around to exchanging travel tips, which I've found to be absolutely one of the best sources for good information about the road. Another table of gals on the other side my silver haired friends joined in the conversation and I felt the warm glow of creating community on the road. Not what I expected from a city that has the word 'bland' in the name! As a matter of fact, I liked it so well that I decided to hang up my saddle and call it a night there in Blanding.
After I was snuggled down into the sheets, I called Mark to tell him goodnight and articulated a thought I'd been having all day: I sure did feel sorry for anyone who wasn't me that day.