May 27th, Salt Lake City and South!
- Train headed for Soldier Summit
After a successful airport extraction and stashing Pam’s paraphenalia we joyously hit the road to Price and petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon.Then it dawns on me it is Friday at 5:00 p.m. on a three-day weekend. Oh my lord, what was I thinking? Traffic is inching along at about ten miles an hour and time is slipping by. We want to get to Price before dark and our thoughts turn to poor Paula. She has to fight this crappy traffic all the way from Logan, well north of Salt Lake City to join us with the Wonder Jeep for our run to the canyons tomorrow.
Still, Pam and I are deliriously happy to be starting out on our vacation. Make that mostly happy. Finally, when I’m ready to get out of the car and slap a few lousy drivers we get to American Fork and I know Spanish Fork is just ahead, along with our turn off the interstate onto highway 89 and south to Price. Bad jokes ensue regarding forks in the road but we make the turn to the two lane and say toodles to the worst of the traffic. Of course I have to pass a few trailers the size of brontosauruses, or is that brontosauri? Who cares, we are headed up to Soldier Summit and Helper and right after that, Price.
The railyard at Soldier Summit, where the helper engines live
We get the Moon Guide out and Navigator Pam satisfies our curiousity. Helper is a railroad town and it got its moniker because of the fact that heavily laden coal trains couldn’t make the pass at Soldier Summit without a helper engine. We get off the highway to drive through Helper because we can and we’re curious.
Mid-century modern, eternally ugly library and auditorium in Helper
Finding the main drag, I am enchanted. There is a big-assed black statue of a miner in front of the really ugly 1940’s style library. The statue is one of those giant tire guys you used to see advertising what else? Tires. I have seen them done up as Paul Bunyan, cowboys, cooks and tire guys, but this one is a coal miner complete with a six foot long pick axe. Photo op!
Giant Miner with Pam, fill in the rest of the caption yourself, preferably with something slightly smutty.
We cruise the rest of the town finding the old Rainbow Bar whose front is covered with cobalt blue glass tiles. Pam takes about 20 shots, and we are both sad that this is Utah and the bar is not open.
Pam trying to get the perfect shot of the blue glass front of the Rainbow
It would be cool to slug down a beer there, but we keep going and find the rest of the town is really rather charming with a lot of empty stores. The guide book tells us the town is trying to reinvent itself and has a lot of art galleries. we’ll be back to investigate the “ghost galleries.”
Beautiful downtown helper with the Fyr Fly
On to Price! We find our motel. Such a deal, I found it on line. I never heard of the National Nine chain before but its clean, simple and the price is right. You know how you can determine you are in a cheap motel? No hairdryer, ever. Luckily, I can stuff my mop into a ponytail and a baseball cap and so can Pam. Pam and I are campers from way back. We are outdoorsy girls with evil senses of humor who don’t mind getting dirty and looking like hell when we go baying after fun.
This is as grubby as Paula ever gets, the jeep gets dirty but not Ms. P.
Then there is Paula. She drives a jeep and she drives it well off road and on. Her jeep is jacked up for off road, it has a winch on one end and a compressor on the other and she knows how to use them. She is a talented artist and photographer and she is passionate about petroglyphs and rock art. She loves to go exploring off road and she doesn’t mind getting dirty, much. Paula loves pink, she’s an adorable blond with nice hair, fingernails, a great tan, and really cute clothes. We know she will be traveling with a hairdryer, make up and product for her own mop. We will probably have to tie her down to convince her this is a NO MAKEUP weekend. This girl who jeeps with a bunch of rough tough guys has never slept in a tent, a fact that just boggles our minds.
Walmart, Price Utah
We settle in at the motel, eat fast food for dinner and consider it heavenly not to cook. Paula arrives and its just like being 17 all over again, clothes and crap everywhere. Pam is getting over sickiness so she passes out early and the last two of the Posse yap all night.
Next morning, we request that the poor housekeepers not even bother with our room, all the 500 pieces from the Mini and Paula’s stuff and us in general. They are so sweet and give us a ton of towels and toilet paper, probably just glad to not have to deal with That Room. We gather ourselves up and make the list of things we need to pick up.
KMart, across from the motel, so handy.
Price has a KMart and a WalMart, and I cannot believe I visited both of them the same day. I took pictures as proof. Hey, I needed a shovel and gloves okay? I have ghost town scrounging plans and this is the best place to top off the supply stash.
Fascinating fact: If you want to go shopping in a store that is EMPTY, go on Sunday. The Mormon folk are spending the day with family and they generally don’t go shopping. It was great, our own ghost towns full of imported from China Crap.
Best instagram shot ever. The ball was there and Walmart was empty. I love this!
I took my all time favorite instagram shot in Walmart. I didn’t stage it either. I saw it and snapped it in situ.
We did Sunday brunch at McDonald’s, Pam and I made a pact to avoid cooking even if it meant junk food. Utah doesn’t have tons of organic stores in small towns, so we’ll take what we get if the price is right. And now, finally to the gas station and jumping off to Nine Mile Canyon!
Next: We find Nine Mile Canyon is 40 Miles of fabulousity and the roughest road ever!