Sunday, March 22, 2015

Travels with Krispy and Noddy (And Karen!), Day 2: The Long Way Across Utah!

Day 2: Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Up at 5am - no, it's 6am. Stupid daylight savings time. Newsflash, America: The cows don’t give a pasture pastry what the clock says. Putting the entire country through mild jet lag for a week is not helping anyones - or anythings - productivity.

But, whatever (whenever) I am up and at my favorite place in Vegas - the last spot at a busy blackjack table. The three people to my right have been up all night, drinking and smoking like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow (except for their bank accounts), and its here, now. 

Roy and Daisy and Jennifer are proclaiming after every losing hand that “this ish the lash hand for meesh.” But win or lose their stupid hands keep putting more chips in the circle and pulling more cash from their slim wallets.

Their stupid heads don’t know what their stupid bodies are doing and so the cycle continues on, like a perpetual inebriation machine. Their only concession to the hour (5am? 6am?) is their choice of drink. They are all downing a steady stream of “Corpse Revivers”, a ‘hangover cure’ that is made with triple sec.

The route for Day 2 (Screenshot from Google Maps)
They smell like they all ate a big plate of orange peels, pooped out the remains, and stuck this in their armpits for several hours.

When the latest round of Corpse Revivers arrived (and I learned of the contents of said drink) I remarked that Roy and Daisy and Jennifer were now the Triple Sec Set. They LOVED this name, and when any one of them won a hand (rarely) they all exclaimed “We’re the Triple Sec Set!” 

But, since they had been drinking cleaning products all night, it very quickly sounded like they were saying  “We’re the Triple Shits!”

And I would watch Rosa, our dealer, each time they yelled this. And each time her jaw would twitch frantically. And once she glanced at me in mock anger, as if to say “You did that on purpose.”

Which, I did.

Sadly though, that was the only fun I had at this table. Like last night I was breaking even on the even bets, but losing big on all of the splits and double downs, when the odds were much more in my favor. It was uncanny.

Sorry; this sign says "Ender" to me.
And I don't want to eat at a restaurant that
serves nothing but Last Meals.
I was losing my gambling money, which is what its for, but I wasn’t having any fun in the process, which is what I am against. So after one split where I had a 20 and a 19 showing and the dealer drew a 21 on five cards - the entire table rose as one and left Rosa staring forlornly at nothing. 

Thank you for the Solidarity, gang. Triple Shits for life!

Quest for 1/2+1/2

Speaking of Reviving Corpses, on my way back to the room I got a text from Admiral Karen asking me to pick up some cream for her tea. So I troop back down to the casino floor and see that the corner Starbucks is jammed at this hour (6am? 7am?) of the morning.

Corner. Pyramid. Hmmm. I cruise over to the next point on the square, and sure enough there is a Starbucks here on this corner too. In fact, there are four Starbucks on the massive casino floor - and they are all swamped with Sunday morning check-outers.

Hmmm. But wait - like invoking Spirit into Sacred Space, there is a fifth point, and its in the center. Above the casino floor, on the mezzanine level (where the Bodies and Titanic shows are), is a food court. And there is ANOTHER Starbucks there. Ha-ha!

So I head that way. And there is no one in line. Yay! But wait, there is also a
"I'm (not) Lovin it!"
McDonald’s here, and I could go for something artificial and low fiber right now. So I wait in that line, order my EggMcCompost and ask for some cream to go. I am then directed to the nearby condiment station, which has a pitcher of 1/2+1/2 and some thimble sized dixie cups to put it in.

Ah, no. I have about a 1/2 mile of broken field walking ahead of me (The Triple Shits were not the only all-nighters now currently on the prowlsh), and this pinkie condom of milk is not going to survive the journey.

So I took it across the food court to the Starbucks, explained my need, showed them the Barbie bucket and said “I think you can do better.” The barista laughed heartily, poured me a full cup of cream and put it in a large cup with a tight lid.

The Admiral was grateful and we were soon on our way.

Across Nevada & Utah & Rohan

But not with any great haste.

It was RACE DAY (SundaySUNDAYsunday!), at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and so there was no speed out that way. A bazillion vehicles, mostly trucks, all of them American Made (grunt, snort), were clogging up our Interstate Highway. I had plenty of time to eat - and regret - my EggMcCompost breakfast.

Once the Amuuuricans had all exited though, it was all smooth, high-speed roadtrippin’. No cares, no worries, no speed limits! Just hanging with this lively pack of cars, heeding the call of the open road, hearing nothing but the intoxicating siren song of the - 
Sigh. I guess Nevada needs the money nowadays.

No. Wait. That really is a siren.

Oh, Pasture pastry.

Officer Friendly busted me for doing 87 in a 75 zone, which is quota-making Justice at its best. Good thing I had left the blackjack table before I lost the rest of my gambling money. Thank you, Triple Shits!

Crossing into Utah was extremely confusing, but only in the 4th dimension. We were now in Mountain Time, meaning we had gained another hour, the second of the day. 

The Minivan clock said 9am, my lego wristwatch said 10am, and my iPhone said 11am.

We ejected the CD to see if the Sirius radio could help us, but it just played us Traffic's "Low Spark of High-Heeled boys", Lola, and the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes". Sigh.

Hey, Snow!
The one thing we didn't really pack in our spacious minivan was food. Aside from 8 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and a little ice chest full of sodas we didn't have much on us.

And between St. George and Green River, which is the entire lengthwiseness of Utah, there aint a whole lot of vittleage for the lunching. At 1pm (2pm? 3pm?) we ended up in Richfield, a town most notable for being exactly halfway between Los Angeles and Denver.

We supped at Dickeys BBQ Pit while listening to Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses", which was entertaining only for the reason that it was not played by Traffic, the Kinks, or appeared on "Who's Next".

Spotted Wolf Canyon
But even those oft repeating musical charms were taken away from us as we continued due East, and the connectivity dots on our phones slowly dissolved into nothingness. 

Luckily we had the scenery to distract us from our lack of Candy Crush games. This region of Utah is known as Panaromaland, and they aint kidding. We were in the Mile High Plains, snow drifts all around and majestic peaks ringing each ethereal valley.

Roadtrip through Rohan!

We stopped at several scenic outlooks, but it was too cold to break out the mitts and play catch. So we just stared at the Nature.

All of this beauteousness climaxed with the Spotted Wolf Canyon of the San Rafael Swell. This was a historic "Nuh-uh" spot for missionaries and settlers who were migrating East to West. The natural split between the two ridges was so narrow that one of the I-70 advance engineers said he could reach out and touch both sides with his hands.

The smart, safe thing to do was to cut 20 miles north and bypass the whole area. But the Interstate Highway commission had way too much money, hubris and dynamite to mess with Logic.

Ka-BLAM!

And now, somehow, the I-70 winds its way down the Swell, like the splayed, sparking fuse of a bomb, and just barely manages to squeeze all four lanes through the mouth of the canyon.

Part of the 'trail' to the Photo Spot.
We pulled off at the scenic overlook before the Bobsled Run, and hey - there’s a high, narrow precarious ridge-top path out to the perfect photo spot.

This path had more missing parts than a Hillbilly's smile, and even Admiral Karen, my goaty Capricorn, balked and wouldn't attempt it.

But my 10 year old brain was all over it! Just a hop, skip and an Oh-My-God and I was there. Out on the edge there was an entire class of high school Geology buffs getting a load of real-time info from a very cool teacher. 

Geology in Central Utah is kind of an inescapable subject.

Moabian Dinner Odyssey

Soon we had turned onto Highway 191 for the short jaunt South, past Arches National Park, to Moab, our destination for day 2.

We ejected the Beatles CD as we rode into town, and caught the tail end of "Lola" and then "Who Are You". Aaaah, back in range of the Earth's satellites. All is well. 

The San Rafael Swell is beautiful, even from far
above. (Screenshot from Google Maps.)
Our motel for Sunday night was the "Inca Inn", which I chose not for its amenities (minimal), its price (standard), or its location (Moab is basically one street wide. Everything is on the Highway). No, I chose the Inca Inn because its Trip Advisor rating was off the charts and it had a Theme.

No, not the Inca Empire - whatever gave you that idea? The Northern edge of that territory was 3,300 miles (and 550 years) away. The gimmick of the Inca Inn was that it catered to the Mountain Biking crowd. So it was a fun place, full of people with big calves, skinny butts, and musical accents.

Tired of the car we decided to walk to dinner, and took the advice of the helpful front desk clerk. Our destination was The Broken Oar, which specialized in putting Sweet Potato Fries on everything it made, including using them as
Pretty much everything you need to know.
swizzle sticks in their cocktails.

But alas, The Broken Oar only made for us a Broken Dream: Empty parking lot and locked door, at 7pm on a Sunday night. We consulted our pocket GPS machines and continued on down Main Street to Eklectica, one of those Hippie diners in old Victorian Houses, which seem to specialize in putting house flies on everything it made.

Hmmmm. That one is closed too. We continue tottering down the Highway during the dinner hour in a tourist town, and nothing is open.

We finally realize that of all the criteria built into online maps, the one factor not factored in was whether the owners of the restaurants were Mormon.

Its the little details that make the Inca Inn so cool.
And the Latter Day Aints have a nasty habit of closing their businesses on Sundays, as part of the general Outreach Program for their religion, which is known colloquially as "Fuck. You."

We backstagger to the Northern Outpost of an Ancient South American Defunct Empire, and the now totally embarrassed Front Desk Clerk frantically looks up dozens of restaurants online and finds a good one that is guaranteed to be owned by a "Less Active", and hence ready to accept our disposable income. 

Beyond the packed parking lot and unlocked door, the Moab Brewery was a mixed bag. My namesake steak entree with all the sides came with the entree but none of the sides, and Karen's tilapia spinach salad was an engineering marvel on par with the Interstate around Spotted Wolf Canyon.
Recycling - in Utah! in 3 languages!

On a medium sized oblong plate was a whopping 4 cups of spinach. Under this mass on one side was a quarter of an onion, grilled intact, and on the other side, a glop of blackberry vinaigrette. 

Precariously perched on top of this teetering tower of oddball salad was an excellent tilapia filet, which was flanked on either side by large cubes of cornbread, because of course - wait. What?

It was like Karen’s entree came with all of the side dishes that mine did not.

More than making up for all of this weirdness though was a pair of homemade rootbeer floats. Mmmmm…….what were my problems again?

We listened to the middle passage of “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” on the way back to our Nowhere Close to being Historically or Geographically
Nothing fancy, but everything done right.
Accurate motel. On the way, as we turned over the 500th mile of this long day, one of us (and it wasn’t me) was heard to exclaim: “I don't mind if people drive like idiots, as long as they do so behind me!!”

We were sacked out by 9pm, which should have felt like 7pm, but because of the exertion and elevation we had no problzzzzzzzz……

The morrow would bring our first break, via our first National Park.

Let's go there now, SHALL WE?

Angus McMahan
@Angus McMahan

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