It seems like we've done a lot of travelling on this trip home. LE's been to San Francisco, Seattle, and most recently, Las Vegas and Utah, where we spent a week with my aunt and her family. This was, for me, my first time in Utah. I honestly never had any desire to go there before. My parents and brother once drove through Utah on a road trip from Oregon to Colorado. They said they stopped at a McDonald's for coffee, which, Utah being Mormon country, they of course didn't have. Apparently the cashier said in surprise, "You know, you're the second people who've asked for that today." So based on that, I decided Utah was not for me.
Utah is also funny about alcohol. We stopped at a Nevada border town to pick up a stash for my cousin who goes to college in Cedar City, Utah. Technically, we smuggled to alcohol into Utah, since all alcohol in Utah is supposed to have some special stamp to make it legal. They do have alcohol in Utah, though I guess it's expensive and perhaps hard to find. All the beer, I'm told, is 3% alcohol. And supposedly it's forbidden to have alcohol, even in your own house, within 70 miles of a Mormon temple.
Cedar City, Utah is like the prototype I have in my mind of "An American City." An old-fashioned Main Street. Wide, tree-lined residential streets. Brick houses and tidy lawns. A big open park. A town hall with columns in front. People who are just as gosh-darned nice as can be. Out at my cousin's house, which is in a new development, there was a dead end at the end of her street. Beyond the dead end was nothing. The end of the world. Just yellow dirt and stones and sagebrush and flat ground until the blue mountains beyond. Very beautiful but very eerie, the sudden shift from manicured green lawns to nothingness. And stupid me for not taking a picture.
They had coffee in Cedar City. Folger's, I'm pretty sure. And I'm pretty sure they slipped us decaf. I remembered how, growing up in Reno, we used to always make fun of the Mormon kids who had to drink caffeine-free Coke. Honestly, I just don't get religions that go out of their way to ban a bunch of stuff. Usually fun stuff. Or good-tasting stuff. Or sublime stuff like wine and coffee. You'd think God would have better things to worry about. But maybe not.
Near Cedar City, up in the mountains in an aspen forest was my aunt and uncle's family cabin. They've been working on it for years, and it's a wonderful, cozy place to escape the world. I took LE out our first night there to see the stars. I'm pretty sure it was the first time he's properly seen stars, and I think he was impressed. The cabin, however, had one of the most terrifying things I've yet to be confronted with as the mother of a toddler-- a wood stove, which was the heat source for the house. Now, I know that many generations of children somehow survived the presence of wood stoves in even more cramped quarters than this (hell, many children in Turkey are still not being killed or maimed by them), but I swear that thing took about twenty years off my life. We got LE turned off the idea of touching the wood stove with a combination of telling him it was dangerous and yucky (he hates yucky more than dangerous, and still won't go down a slide that had a big bird poop on it one morning three weeks ago because I mentioned the poop was yucky), but there were several times he almost fell into the thing when it was lit.
LE's first nature walk was less than stellar. We left the path and had a good look at stuff under some tree bark and that was okay. But we continued off the path into grass that was about as tall as LE. A spear of grass poked him right in the eye and that was the end of that.
Our second day there, we went on a long drive through the mountains. I grew up in mountain desert country so when I go back to it, I'm often either unimpressed or filled with some sort of nostalgic longing. But this part of Southern Utah was like nothing I've ever seen before.
I'll leave you with those. More on the Great American Southwest in a later post.