Every summer Ted makes a trip to Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer trade show to view the world's coolest outdoor gear and acquire some to sell in the Mountain Shop in Yosemite. Last couple of years I've tagged along, but this year though my presence was required in Utah, my attention was directed to a loftier goal: emptying the storage unit we'd been keeping in Utah since I'd moved away in the spring of 2010. The best part of this plan was that we would be able to visit with our friend Bonnie in Springdale. After some tricky logistics got me, Ted, and our cargo trailer to Utah via Las Vegas, we were able to spend a weekend with Bonnie and various members of the Suerig clan, including her dog Scooby Doo (a mixed breed rescue dog, Ted referred to Scooby's pedigree as "Desert Husky").
We stayed with Bonnie in her home just yards from the entrance to Zion National Park amidst her hollyhock garden and flocks of hummingbirds. We ate pizza from the Flying Monkey (the excellent Pizza Lasagna involving fennel sausage - yum!), went tubing on the Virgin River and cooked up some Mexican food for Bonnie and her daughter Tiffany (seafood tostadas, grilled parmesan corn and watermelon salad). Bonnie's granddaughter Ginger (Tiffany's daughter) had just turned nine years old, so I also attended Ginger's birthday party involving a giant water slide and many sugar-laden treats. We took a spin through Rockville, trying to see our ex-landlords (and friends) Dan and Aleen, but we only caught a glimpse of our old pal Cactus the Burro who seemed to have a new friend in his reconfigured pasture.
After all the weekend fun, we made our way to Hurricane and our storage unit (Parker Storage - a highly recommended great deal for my Utah friends) and not too many snafus later had loaded up our cargo trailer (mysteriously less full than when we unloaded initially in a bending-the-laws-of-physics kind of way). Those snafus? Ted didn't bring the padlock key, Michelle didn't bring the padlock key, bought bolt cutters to cut the lock, lock is the type that can't be cut by bolt cutters, needed a locksmith, called Beth in California to look up Hurricane locksmiths on the web, left messages for various locksmiths, found a locksmith that showed up in 20 minutes and cut the lock off with something high tech for $60 (NOT a snafu!), returned the bolt cutters unused. Whew! After uploading our stuff, we decided to drive to Vegas that evening to cut some time off the long trailer-towing trip ahead of us. The only way our Springdale sojourn could have been better is if our friend Hans had been there. Bonnie's husband, and our dear friend, had passed away earlier this year and we miss him. We thanked Bonnie for her wonderful hospitality and headed into Nevada to stay at our old stand-by: the Las Vegas Super 8 at Ellis Island Casino. We drank the tasty $1.75 micro-brewed beer and lost some money at blackjack. The hotel is being remodeled and the casino is still the best casual hangout in town. They were having a Hatch Chile Roast on August 20th that I was sorry to miss.
Bright and early the next morning we headed for Yosemite. Driving across Nevada is one of my very favorite things to do. Why? Because I am the Road Trip Queen and the Nevada highways are always empty, and because the scenery in Nevada is ever entertaining. The road signs in Nevada never fail to get you thinking.
We stopped for lunch in the town of Beatty, a gateway town for Death Valley National Park where brothels abide that's geographically and perhaps uncomfortably close to where they used to test atomic bombs in the Nevada desert. I wanted to check out the Happy Burro Chili & Beer since I had bypassed it so many times traveling through Beatty, and anything with beer is good for Ted. The Happy Burro is the kind of place you hope to find on a road trip boasting an outdoor deck where the friendly locals hang out, an unfriendly dog and the most disgustingly delicious road food ever: chili dogs, chili burgers and PBR served in a Mason jar. Road trip bliss.
We passed through Fish Lake Valley and the tiny hamlet of Dyer, NV before entering California. The Esmeralda Market in Dyer holds a special place in my heart as it saved me from running out of gas in the true middle of nowhere on a previous road trip. Curiously, we noticed an abundance of tomato juice drinks in the cooler at the market (at least 6 different kinds) and I surmised that they must like their Bloody Marys in Dyer. The market is another road trip classic: well-stocked with drinks and food, two gas pumps out front and a snack bar. You're lucky to find this place as you pass through the Nevada desert.
The Flying Monkey Wood Fire Kitchen: Junk in the Trunk!
Las Vegas Super 8: Junk-O-Rama
Ellis Island Casino and Brewery: Junk in the Trunk!
Happy Burro Chili & Beer: Junk in the Trunk!
Esmeralda Market: Junk-O-Rama