Thursday, March 20, 2008

Utah Lake, Post Provo and Moab: on the trail of the outlaws

dateline: Farmington

Alice writes: Utah Lake is in real trouble. Some of you may be familiar with Chip Lord's Canaries on the Rim, referred to me by the late Jo Hansen, the San Francisco environmentalist artist. Lord lived in western Utah and became a local environm
ental/political activist. Lara told me about June sucker fish and how this indigenous species is endangered due to sportfish stocking and pollution. So here's a link to her friend's site and a photo of the lake.

Lara's Aunt Bonnie's florist shop in Provo--beautiful flowers and very cool clothes, too. The house is 106 years old and in beautifully cared for condition.

In honor of our travels, here's a poem written by Christian's father, the late Thomas Asplund


It is pinched now, like any epic brought to line and page.
Pressed like flowers n a book is the land. The stingy pines,
The dry mountains, the creeks, the desperate sage
Are marks and scratches in a map with interstates and highway signs.
One-quarter inch equals each mile of blessed Zion wide—
Of love and hate between sons and brothers; of hope and dread;
Of charity and sin, trusting time's vast capacity to hide
In ink and ledgers; waiting there for the anxious pilgrim to read
The secret signs and markings—the promises of a promised land
Vernal, Fairview, Pleasant Grove.
Richfield, Fruitland, Bountiful;
Eden, Garland, Sunnyside.
And hear hidden music to soothe hurt hope
Tooele, Payson, Kamas;
Manti, Parowan.
There, too, the tales of will and power told by men
Who chose to mark the map
Heber, Murray, Hyrum, Hinckley.
Woodruff and Brigham City.
But somewhere near the edge of myths, reminders
Small of second sons and lost prayers still linger
Sandy, Thistle and Hurricane, Sulphurdale, Salina
Faust and Thermo. Muddy Creek and Dirty Devil.

--C. Thomas Asplund

Lon's (barbecue place) where Eva, Lara and Christian's eldest daughter works. So Lara had her honors seminar students over: they are writing about food; naturally they had to make some. This was one delicious potluck: Lara made tacos and guacamole; I made more Korean pancakes, but there was gnocci with cream/tomato sauce, Polish soup, asian dumplings, spring rolls, lots of labor intensive hand made food. The little boy, Moses, (he's 3) who gets up in the morning calling in the sweetest voice imaginable, "Mommy, get me out [of the crib]" had gone to bed, but I got to hang out with Lula (who's 10) and Cecily (who's 5, I think). Cecily played with polly pockets and checked me out, but Lula asked me to show her how to make folded paper cranes. She's really patient and careful--we were using tiny sheets of paper. Then they were ok with watching Korean drama. The little girls and I watched Dae Jang Geum, the historical fiction/ drama about the real woman doctor to the 15th century Korean king.

I chose the part of the story when Suh Jang Geum is a girl, just goes into the palace to go to school and learns to cook and how she gets in trouble, sometimes with the other girls. Lula and Cecily were right there with me on it, though I did read the subtitles to them. Lula was in Seattle as a small child and I remember clearly what a happy kid she was, so cheerful about doing anything her much older sisters were doing.
We left Wednesday morning, hoping to evade a snow storm coming to Provo and drove through Soldier pass to get to Moab. This is clearly a railroad route (see picture), and once past the summit, Alice felt so much better--must have been getting away from the pollen. This still continues and it's a great feeling. In Moab we had a terrific meal (see odaraia's review of the Desert Bistro on Trip Advisor) of antelope, elk tamale and mushroom risotto, and I picked up a book I'd long been interested in, Paul Shepard's Coming Home to the Pleistocene. There is a lot of red rock around Moab, and I hope what I collected can be ground into pigment--it's a beautiful color (hence, colorado) if not transparent.

Jim: On Tuesday night, Christian and I cruised Provo, riding high up the mountainside to a popular outlook with the whole Utah Valley below us--a beautiful night view to complement that of our morning hike. Then, down to the valley below for ribs and brisket at Lon's and watching Eva at work. Always good conversation with Christian, on music, history, much else--he is a friend I have missed a lot since he moved from Seattle. It was good to make friends with the younger children, too, and to spend time with Lara.
On Wednesday, we took the back road over the Wasatch Mountains through Price, a favorite route of outlaws, on down to Moab, where Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch had a Robbers' Roost hideout. The striking landscape, along with knowing that uranium was heavily mined in this area after WWII, brought to mind the 1950's-era sci-fi movies with radioactive creatures growing to monstrous size crawling over ridges and mesas to terrorize the populace, which I had watched with such penetrating interest.

Moab was jammed with jeepers, come for the annual off-road booster extravaganza. A grand sight of the American West, though kind of duded up. We saw at least one amazingly large arch in the red rock, and passed through legendary canyonlands into Colorado, where an Officer Davis gave Alice a "courtesy warning" for exceeding the speed limit. It is now a keepsake from the trip. We had a brief look at Mesa Verde National Park, but pushed on, turning south just shy of Durango.
The afternoon skylines in New Mexico reminded me of DH Lawrence's time here, with very long vistas and pastels. We found our way to Sarah and Tory's beautiful home atop a mesa, with views in every direction, including Angel Peak and Ship Rock--clearly visible from 20 miles away. Even with the full moon rising at sunset, stars were all over. In overcast and lit up Seattle, we neglect the heavens. This is Indian Country, and we look forward to exploring.
After a delicious meal of brisket which had marinated for two days, it was so to bed, with the certainty that we are closer than ever before to a free-range tarantula.


The Fam said...

This is just a great travelogue. It's making me itchy to get on the road. FYI, one of the big reasons the june sucker is endangered is because the lack was stocked with non-native fish years agon. The june sucker is the only indigenous fish in the lake. Glad to hear your allergies are better.

cats&dog said...

Dear Alice and Jim,

Don't forget to say "Hi" to Sarah from Joan Stuart Ross!
Your trip sounds and looks great--trip's timing is perfect. Sans allergies, maybe the SW is a place to think about living for life's new phase!

XXJoan Stuart Ross