The Big Drive

Day 3 - Twin Falls to Provo, Utah


Twin Falls, Idaho - Manure. The ripe, reeking, putridly pungent smell of shit starts my Wednesday morning. The sewer plant, I'm later told. 8:30 a.m. Drive the three miles into town to see what those road signs were referring to last night. "Scenic overlook" and "Geological formation" they said. A canyon, it turns out. Snake River Canyon, a 500-foot, "Holy Crap!"-inducing gorge that's also spanned by the longest span bridge in the West. (Or so says the postcard I bought.) I take pictures from both sides, as well as from atop the bridge. (And even immediately under it, for maximum "arty" effect.) Visit the visitor's center, where I learn that I-93 into Montana is closed, due to wildfires. Rats, I'm going in the other direction. Inside the center are maps of the US, Europe, and the entire World, with accompanying push pins prompting "where is your home town?" I poke a red dot into Raleigh.
 

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Post Office, next, to mail myself used film and unneeded Hawaiian shirts. (Not comfortable for driving.) Grab a Diet Coke at a Jack in the Box. Ozzy Osbourne is playing in the near-distance. Probably in that red, raised, Dodge pick-up with the redneck. The counter clerk is friendly. However, and as in both Seattle and Raleigh, she cannot fulfill my answer to "anything else today?" (My standard response: "Can I have a million dollars, please?")
 

Tom Jones on the radio, bellowing "Without Love (I Have Nothing)." Ain't that the truth.

Stop At Mall - That's across the street from the visitor's center that's at the edge of the gorge that nature built. Engage in fruitless (but exercise-inducing) search for a fanny pack. (The latter needed after abandoning my long shorts, that have pockets, for my short shorts, that don't.) Spot the first smoke plume at 11:15 a.m., as I'm attempting to leave town. Turn around. Head south. Due south. Bank clock says 92 degrees. Feels hotter. Drive in straight-assed lines for miles, on back road farm roads. Don't find any fires, but see some awfully beautiful farm land. Spot a second plume. Drive that way. All told, forty-five minutes are wasted, from chasing the smoke from... farmers burning off their fields. Duh. At least my trek takes me eastward, so I don't have to backtrack. Once back on Interstate, see sign for "Idaho Agronomics." Do you suppose they practice ergonomic agronomics? 

"Play That Funky Music" on the radio. I drum on the dashboard, missing my kit.

Miss Seeing Movies, As Well - Caught two in Seattle and that's probably it. Too busy trying to find Target stores. Ha ha. I have had success, however, keeping up with other biz. Such as checking both local and national news on the WRAL and CNN sites. Plus other ritually visited sites for movie news, entertainment headlines, heavy-metal happenings, and die-cast fire truck collecting talk. Even took along a list of writing ideas, one of which is an essay on favorite (and useful) music sites. That would include icemagazine.com (for release dates), cdnow.com and cdworld.com (for ordering or music samples), hardradio.com (for all things metal), allmusic.com (The All Music Guide, for biographies, discographies, and reviews), and ubl.com (The Ultimate Band List, for both fan and official artist sites). Maybe I'll get around to writing it. 

Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on the radio. Excepts from their album "Sailing," easily the most mellow of the Kunzel canon.

And - It beats hearing the morning's only interesting talk host, Rush Limbaugh, rant yet again about Al Gore's running mate. (If I prefer to build things without instructions, does that make me anti-schematic?) Later, the local talk shows will be discussing logging and the clearing of forests and how the gov'ment's policy about both has contributed to this year's fire season. ('Tis popular both on the editorial and call-in front.) Still not seeing much Big Smoke. Nor many fire units, save the occasional "brush truck" traveling on the Interstate. Back to Kunzy. Come to think of it, the Pops haven't made a memorable album in a while. Recent movie scores-- yawn-- and a disc of recent Broadway fare comes to mind. 

True story: Mr. K. once conducted the North Carolina Symphony for a Halloween concert. The musicians were in costume, as was the Maestro, dressed as the Devil and raised via mechanical platform from the bowels of Hell (actually the orchestra pit). See telarc.com for information on Kunzel's complete catalog.

"Mississippi Queen" by Mountain on the radio. The late Sam Kinison covered this once, rewriting the lyrics to slam Jessica Hahn. Remember her?
 
Western, Idaho - Still flat as all get-out. Some mountains rising to the east, though. 1:35 p.m. Spot a blackened, fake aircraft fuselage at the (smaller-sized) Pocatello airport. Exit, examine, and photograph that and the other training aids there, including six derailed railroad cars (to simulate a... derailment) and the remains of a crashed crop-duster. (The largest of the pieces has a cockpit plus one wing.) I also visit the airport's fire station-- a quiet facility with only one firefighter and three pieces of equipment: an Oshkosh 4x4 crash truck, an older Walters crash truck (for reserve), and an antique Seagrave "service truck" (e.g. a ladder truck that only carries ground ladders) in storage. One short chat slash photo shoot later and I'm back on the freeway, though no longer on I-84. Seems I missed my turn some miles back. Instead, I'll be reaching Utah via I-86 to I-15. Oh well. Only 20 or 30 miles more.

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Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" on the radio. Wish I could play drums as good as Alex Van Halen.

Pass Idaho State University - Bigger, closer mountains before me. See delivery truck for a "Dutch Oven" bakery. Hilarious. The term is also slang for, ah, bed-based flatulence accompanied by the pulling of sheets over someone's head. (Kids, don't try this at home!) 3:08. The town of Malad, for gas, a car wash (so sue me), and an order of fries (plus Diet Coke and two fried chicken pressings) at Burger King. Also parked at the service station is a tour bus with a "World Championship Wrestling" logo. I look around. No Rick Flairs in sight. Shoot. Resume riding. Fiddle with radio. Discover that the "fader" controls are off balance. Maybe that explains the crappy sound of the previous portable CD player. Hmmmm. Maybe have to purchase another to test further... By late afternoon, I'm passing through a wide mountain pass. The hills are brown with bits of green; the valley is both brighter and greener, with farmland in spots. Hazy, in the distance, and with whipped-cream fluffy clouds overhead. 

Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance?" on the radio. The quintessential country waltz and a damn pretty one at that. I choose not to think of everyone I've held close while dancing to that song.
 
Still Seeing Burned Patches Along The Freeway - And the occasional smoke puff. 4:00. Might be in Utah. Heavy (but not dense) smoke ahead. A wild fire, at least? Miles go by. Nope, just one more field being burned off. Didja hear about the guy who took a job at the produce counter? He did it for the celery. 4:14. Finally return to I-84 and am now heading directly toward the mountains. Pass Brigham City, Utah, later. The town is flat, stretched along the base of some mountain, and can be seen entirely from the Interstate. Cool.
 
Arrive in Ogden around 5:30 and immediately spot a construction accident-- an enormous "scraper" has just become stuck downtown. Not only is the earthmover tilted at a precarious 45 degree angle, it's also tipped toward four lanes of busy traffic. Needless to say, I stay for more than a few minutes. With camera in hand.
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Burl Ives' "A Little Bitty Tear" on the radio. His first country recording. Wish he had better compilation albums available.

Forty, Maybe Fifty Minutes Later, I Leave - And just as the first of two heavy wreckers arrives. (They'll be used as counter-balances, while the scraper operator "floors it.") Head to my original Ogden destination, Historic 25th Street. Old buildings galore, all absolutely picturesque. Most of the shops are closed, but that's okay. I don't have time. Union Station is there, too. Looks restored and has a couple steam locomotives outside, or a quick glance assesses. Happen upon the Ogden Public Safety Center -- a sprawling, shiny fire 'n' police facility. Shoot a couple exteriors and then head to the lobby, where a number of display cases display antique items, mostly fire-related. Back outside to the apparatus bays. I go around back, to shoot into the open rear doors. One pumper, one "tiller," one chief's car, one paramedic unit, three ambulances, and single-axle equipment trailer. 6:37 when I leave. 

The Scorpions' "Big City Nights" on the radio. Theirs was one of the first metal albums I ever owned. Along with ones from Judas Priest, Motley Crue, and Quiet Riot.

Checking My Trip-Tik - I discover 90 miles that I don't need to drive. Excellent. Now approaching Salt Lake. Hill Air Force Base to my left. Are those concrete bunkers missile silos? Oh, to have another day around here... 7:20 p.m. and my glasses have broken. And on the side of the nose bridge, so they can't be taped. Try Super Glue. Doesn't work. The contact point's too small. (Successfully glued the Centerville Target's electronics counter's scissors, however. That's where they break, where I've stopped to call my cousin Kathi who lives down the road.) What does work, at least as a temporary fix, is that tacky, picture-hanging stuff. Perfect. Of course, it does look like a wad of yellow chewing gum stuck above my nose... Salt Lake City comes and goes, passed because of today's trifecta of oops: stupidly chasing smoke in Twin Falls, taking the wrong Interstate later, and having my glasses break. Oh well. 

Grand Funk Railroad's cover of Little Eva's "Loco-motion" on the radio. Never listened to them in their heyday. Curious, I bought a compilation a couple months ago. Still evaluating.

Cool Petroleum Complex To The Right - Smells like natural gas. A mile past that, and also to the right, is what looks like an airport control tower. Is an airfield near? Lots of construction here, as in Idaho. Work zones suck. Passing the city, I observe a very attractive cityscape. Skyscrapers rising from the base of the hills; the State Capitol dome rising, in turn, above them. Will have to visit some day. Rearview mirror shows wad of yellow chewing gum above my nose. Can I disguise it? Signs for Las Vegas, just by following I-5. Must resist urge... Road construction continues. Back and forth, between concrete barriers. Annoying, but kinda fun. Like a giant Hot Wheels set. Good thing I can see well-enough, should I experience a Catastrophic Chewing Gum Failure (CCGF). Billboard for Thomasville furniture. Where my sister works. (In Winston-Salem, that is.) 

Aerosmith on the radio. "Dream On," one of the first songs I ever learned to play on the drums. Yeah, maybe you do have to lose to know.

Snow-Capped Mountains! Wohoo! - Getting dark, though, making the hilly haze even harder to see through. Do more thinking. You know, this is a tough trip to misbehave on, because I'd have to write about it. Which, in turn, might piss somebody else off. Now passing through Salt Lake. This is clearly my kind of town. Mall after mall right off the highway; hundreds of recognizable, brand-name places to eat; recurring Target, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart stores. Even an outlet mall! (Eh, I guess it's my Minnesota upbringing. You know, learning to love indoor activities during the winter months.) Haven't been haunted by cops on this trip, I note. Guess 'cause I'm not speeding, much, 'cause I'm not really in a hurry. (Must experience each mile as it happens! No fair rushing!) Pass a prison on the right. Huge prison, actually, seeming to stretch a mile. Sun-setting scenery getting gorgeous-er and gorgeous-er. To my left and as far as I can see, a string of Burlington-Northern hopper cars, on railroad tracks running parallel to the freeway. Neat. 

Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop The Rain?" on the radio. I've been "playing along" to Creedence of late. Good drumming music

Provo In Another 20 Miles - That's where Cousin Kathi lives. Big body of water on right. Great Salt Lake? And, more importantly, do people go saline on the Great Salt Lake? Another industrial complex on the right. Do you suppose I'll have a nightmare tonight about a giant yellow bug on my nose? Should make fast-food ordering far more interesting. Exit at 275 to something called "800." Street name? Highway number? Turn left, heading east and right into a well-stocked suburban area. (Shops, stores, places to buy things, etc.) Continue for four miles and turn left, toward Provo Canyon. Drive into Provo Canyon. Yet another adjective-inducing sight. Kathi's log cabin is somewhere down there, past the various parks, trails, and waterfalls. Look up and see people hiking on the mountainside. And its nearly dark! 

The Rolling Stones "Paint it Black," the only song of theirs I really like. Have a kickin' orchestral version from the London Symphony Orchestra at home.

Five Miles Into The Canyon - I turn onto her "street." But not before spotting a sign saying "Warning: Fire Traffic." (Kathi later informs that bucket-toting helicopters have been flying overhead of late!) Go past the park that's right off the road and drive into an entire subdivision of log homes! Kathi's, of course, is the coolest. I get the guided tour of all rooms and all floors, plus the building history of "Moosewood Lodge." (Her name.) Such as how Kathi caulked the logs herself, both interior and exterior. (She performed 1400 hours of labor overall!) Or the stories behind the various moose decorations. Or how she's adapting to life in Utah versus Southern California, where she recently moved from. Snap a roll, chat some more, accept an invitation to spend the night, chat some more, start a load of laundry, chat some more, and begin writing. Can't wait to see what this place looks like in the morning!
 

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Total mileage today: 300-something 

Total mileage total: 1100 or so 

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


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