Thursday, April 3, 2008

Escalante, renegades and back to the northwest in Boise

dateline: Hood River
Leaving the Grand Canyon, we faced our longest day's drive, which took us in and out of Arizona and Utah, all the way to Provo. We took highway 89 and drove to Cameron, stopping for one last look at the canyon. [Photo to the left is of the storm we saw on Sunday.] In Cameron, we stopped at a supermarket and saw a truck with a very calm and cute poolie type dog sitting in the passenger seat. In sparkle contact paper was stuck above the door, "Moses." On the driver's side, the same paper revealed, "Red." Passing through more Navajo country, we took the low road twice to avoid mountainous roads and recent snows. This meant bypassing the northern part of the Kaibab Natl Forest, where the squirrels are, and also skipping a drive through Zion National Park. However, we saw a lot of beautiful country, with many striking rock formations, and had a good look at what is left of Glen Canyon after the dam was built. Apparently, parts of that storied canyon are reappearing due to the protracted drought in the southwest. What we saw was as unique in its way as the Grand Canyon.

Stopping in Page (AZ) for freshly made sandwiches and coffee at Bean's Gourmet Coffee House on Navajo Drive in a shopping center, we met the proprietor, a nice AA lady, then proceeded along the Arizona-Utah border. [Right, see a view near Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.] This route not only took us through the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation, back and forth across the state lines, but also through communities where polygamy is still practiced by renegade "Mormons". This practice seems far from the early welfare state vision of community from the early settlers, but more of a personal cult practice which sexually abuses and economically exploits teenage women. Lara told us to look for compounds and buildings which were in a state of incompletion (to avoid paying taxes), and Christian identified border towns such as Fredonia as places where these practices persist. (The Marx brothers would find this name ironic.) Prairie Dog Pottery in Fredonia bore the sign, "not made in China." Hurricane bills itself as "a gateway to the parks," but La Verkin takes the cake: a sign self described, " voted out of UN 2001, voted out of US 2006." Other signs in town complained about paying taxes; but there were a few properties which looked very prosperous, in a contractor's dream kind of way. Most of the town was rather modest.

At last, fueled by more sauropod gas in Kanab, which serves travelers both to Zion and the Grand Canyon with sporting goods, natural foods stores and espresso, we reached the interstate,
and as night came on, drove quickly through a good part of Utah to Provo. We passed the town of Fillmore, in Millard County, where in the early 1850's, the territorial capital was established, and part of a proposed large Moorish building was put up as a statehouse. US president Millard Fillmore had been an early supporter for Utah (Deseret) statehood, but his failure to win a second term halted that effort. Nevertheless, he is remembered fondly in Utah. --Guess the legislative chamber was the first "Fillmore Auditorium!"
Next morning, we met up with Christian for breakfast at our hotel and chatted for a couple of hours, dropping him off at the university pool midday swim, therapeutic for his back. It had snowed in Utah on Sunday, just as it had in the canyon, but much more heavily. It was cold, and the snow put a stop to spring (and the pollen). Then, coffee at the Provo Juice and Java [to the left], and headed north past the Great Salt Lake. We stopped to get sandwiches in Salt Lake City, and ate them at a rest stop near Ogden. Jim felt tired all day, so Alice drove most of the time across Idaho, along the Snake River. [Here's a shot of some device used to assist planes for navigation, similar to the one on Sarah's and Tory's mesa.] We headed directly for dinner at Cafe de Paris in downtown Boise, one of several places recommended by Lara's sister, and definitely gave satisfaction, with food carefully and deliciously prepared. Especially interesting was the vegetable accompaniment to our dinner, a mixture of beets and mushrooms--very tasty and creative. We enjoyed breakfast at another recommended place, Goldie's, which was the kind of cafe we had hoped to find all over the southwest, but didn't until this point. Here, we had REAL Idaho red potatoes, creamy and delicious, not the frozen stuff we had encountered 8 years ago in Pocatello. We knew we were back in the northwest!

Here's a relief sculpture in downtown Boise, depicting the Snake River. It's not possible to see, but there is neon at night within the riparian zone. Driving from Boise, we ran into some major construction between Boise and Nampa. This area is growing, one of three areas in Idaho growing (the other two are Twin Falls and Coeur d'Alene). We didn't run into any politicians, neither Larry Craig nor his [Democratic? Green?] replacement. We continued to Baker City where we found Charley's ice cream shoppe which served Blue Bunny ice cream!! Its merits are that it doesn't have those wood fiber additives: it's not so eggy and has fruit in it. Alice liked it, even if it's not organic. We took a short (10 miles loop) detour to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It was really quite well done and had a terrific chronology. Alice had been reading a history of early US banking issues, especially surrounding the relationship between counterfeiting and capitalism. The date, 1837, a time of financial depression, marked the beginning of the move west as many folks were destitute. This date was highlighted in both the book and the Center's chronology. Here's a picture of the life sized wagon models on a short trail from the parking lot.
Next: Columbia River gorge and home!

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