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Excerpts of Utah Travel Diary
State 17 - UTAH 9 NOV 98 - 13 NOV 98


The "Lake" effect

Originally we were to hit Wyoming yesterday but while en route -- literally in the truck with trailer in tow -- we heard from people at rest stops, and confirmed later on from radio forecasts, that the state is being hit with heavy snowstorms and high winds, so we immediately detour south to Utah instead. The plan is to tour Salt Lake City then go even further south to Arches National Park for the rest of the week. It should be warmer there and less likely to snow, we hope. (Harvey is a fair-weather-friend and our closets contains only fair weather clothes.) But we awake today to find snow. Only an inch or so. The roads are clear while the mountain-lined city is encased in a beautiful dusting of feathery white. The Great Salt Lake itself is positively stunning in it's liquid pewter reflection of the snow white mountains surrounding it. The Capitol, high on a hill, stands out majestically over the city against a backdrop of white mountains. Very pristine and peaceful. After the Capitol, we head out to Temple Square to see the Mormon tabernacle and temples. Holiday lights, fresh cut pine trees and decorations are going up around us as we walk the square. The sights and smells bring a holiday excitement to this walled block of churches and religious icons. Soon it starts to snow. But the snow is not like anywhere else, due to the "Lake effect." In other words, the salt from the Salt Lake, makes the snow come down, not in flakes, but in little, lightweight snowballs, tiny like a Barbie-doll snowball, but light as Styrofoam. A woman with naturally curly hair walks in front of us and the Styrofoam snowballs fall on her head, collecting and staying in her hair as though she were wearing a hairnet with little pearls sewn in. Oh what fun. At the North Visitor's Center in Temple Square there are murals of scenes from the Old Testament on the ground floor, then you walk up a spiraling walkway and follow the mural of a celestial sky into a heavenly blue room in which a white statue of Jesus with a recorded voice-over welcomes you. The walk around the second floor shows murals depicting scenes from the New Testament. I guess the symbolism is that the Old Testament is the groundwork, leading to Christ the Savior, The Way to heaven.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Arrived in Moab yesterday. Left the snow scenes of Salt Lake City and in six hours arrived in this dry land of hot sun, buff colored buttes and red, crusty earth. Go to bed feeling safe from snowstorms. This morning, however, we pull up the shades and discover -- snow! About six inches accumulated last night. So much for climbing around Arches National Park today. I make hot coffee and decide to throw cinnamon in among the grounds. (A while back, Ken bought me some cinnamon in bulk. But rather than the half-ounce I usually buy, he picked up about half a pound. Cinnamon dominates the cabinets. So I'm trying to use it as much as possible.) Don't normally drink coffee, so the aroma of the coffee and cinnamon brewing as we sit in this landscape of juniper trees, snow covered, salmon colored buttes (that look like candied yams with a scoop of marshmallow on top), gives us a strong feeling of Christmas. So we decide to put on some Christmas music. Coffee, carols, cinnamon . . . sure feels like the holidays. Can't do any hiking. Can't get phone service to hook up to the Internet. Can't do any postcards today. So decide to stay in and play games. Let it snow . . .

Fashion senseless. . .

Just finished reading "The Oregon Trail" by Francis Parkman. It was written in 1848 about his trip along the Oregon Trail the summer of 1846. A young, wealthy man from Boston, and a recent Harvard graduate, he decided to see why people were emigrating West in such huge numbers, against such low odds for success. After only two months on the trail he reports that his clothes had been reduced to rags. Had to buy buckskin clothes at forts and trading posts. While reading this I marvel at how quickly his clothes deteriorated. But now I see that my own clothes are also wearing. This is a new phenomenon for me. Devoted fashion follower that I had always been, my clothes fell out of fashion and got tossed out long before they ever wore out. But on this trip, with just a 13-inch closet, I have very few items of clothing, and with constant wear and perpetual use of industrial-strength laundromats, the fabric is worn thin, seams are fraying, and holes are appearing in the most unfortunate places. Don't know how long the clothes will last. In a way, having just a few articles of clothing has been fun, taxing my creativity as I try to put together outfits that I never would have matched up before. Colors and combinations that I never would have dreamed of matching look pretty darned good. Of course we don't have a full-length mirror, so perhaps things don't look as good as I fancy. In fact, sometimes I enter public restrooms where there are full-length mirrors and I see the reflection of an utterly ridiculous woman staring back at me.

Ruby on the Silver Screen?

At Canyonlands National Park today, the police stopped us. Made us wait in the truck a long time, guessing what was going on as we watched a hubbub around us of workers and industrial equipment sitting idle. It took a while before Ken said, "I think they're filming a movie." Sure enough it was a movie crew filming a road scene. The movie is called "Chill Factor." Will be out next year. We'll have to see if Ruby is in the background, waiting to get back to her tour.

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