Alternative title: Making Peace with Utah.
With only forty-five minutes of sleep at four o'clock in the morning on the side of the road somewhere near San Jon, New Mexico (you can bet your butt I was not sleeping in a hooker hotel again), then visiting several beautiful spots throughout northern New Mexico, I popped open another ice cold Dr Pepper and began the drive down several back roads up to Cortez, Colorado from Farmington.
I'd forgotten how gorgeous Cortez is during the summer. Well really, it's beautiful anytime of the year. The first time I'd been through Cortez was nearly ten years ago while my husband and I were still dating. The drive was absolutely stunning as we drove higher and higher in elevation through beautiful southern Colorado country. Once in Cortez we drove the forty-something miles to the Utah/Colorado border on a stretch of highway that used to be called 666.
Fifteen minutes later we were in Monticello, Utah.
Utah culture is alien to me in many ways, however breathtaking scenery definitely makes up for any foreign differences we may have. Being a Mormon, you'd think I'd understand Latter-day Saint culture out west, but as a young mother and newlywed I felt isolated--like I didn't fit in with the perfect mommy Mormons that loved their kids nor the judgmental I-Hate-All-Mormons types either. In my younger years (and bad case of undiagnosed post-partum depression) I only saw those two sides, so I was happy when a job opportunity came to Texas for my husband and we moved away after we lived one lonely year (for me anyway--he had his family) in Utah.
Something this year was different though--this year I didn't really care what others thought of my willingness to conform. Perhaps that comes with age. I was going to completely be me: funny, outgoing, honest, polite, full of all y'all's, aint's, and fixin to's. And if I kissed grandpa on the lips and hugged his neck, then let it be so. Besides he might slip me a $20 if I do. So there in Monticello, Utah I made peace with Utah culture and the stupid little religion clashes that occur on both sides and everywhere in between and set my sights on Price and a good vacation with my in-laws. If that's even possible.
Well fine, my highway hypnotized mind really wanted to camp somewhere near Monticello, but my husband was excited to be home. So we continued north on Highway 191 to the interstate, stopping just south of Hole in the Rock for photographs and then at the rest stop for a lunch break and walk with the family. And I found wild mulberries to boot.
One of my funniest memories is when we owned a red spaceship-looking 1991 Pontiac Transport van several years ago. It was the first vehicle my husband and I had bought together (wow), but even though I laugh at our car buying decisions now it was a whole heck of a lot better than my husband's 1990 Toyota pickup that had a problem with its timing chain and so wouldn't travel faster than 20 mph nor up a 3 percent grade. Basically, we were once stuck in our town of Hanna, Wyoming because we couldn't make it up the ONLY paved road that got us in or out of there.
Well, in the red van a few years ago we had traveled down to Moab to meet my family and on the way back to Price where we were living at the time our gas was getting very low. My husband thought we could make it to the abandoned gas station off Highway 6 to fill up. You read that right--abandoned. We argued over whether it was actually vacant or not as he drove on through Green River. We ended up making it further than I thought we would--all the way to the last hill before Sunnyside. On the top of that hill, we ran completely out of gas. God must have been with us that day, because we coasted all the way to the gas station from there.
However, God was not with us the very. next. year. when my husband made the same mistake and had to call his grandmother to bring us some gas from the farm. You'd think he would learn his lesson.
Thank goodness for handy dandy gas gauges today that tell you how many miles you have left to fill up like in the 2010 Chevy Traverse we were driving. We filled up in Farmington, New Mexico and made it to Price, and still had almost 200 miles to spare.
It was a great thing we were able to save money on gasoline, because our first stop in Price was the carwash by the Walmart--can't let Grandpa see our borrowed ride with bug splatters and New Mexico dirt now could we? By eight-thirty that evening, we were finally home.
Don't forget to read The Places We'll Go With Chevy Part One, the prelude to this post. Review coming soon.
Disclosure: Chevy sponsored our family vacation/road trip with a 2010 Chevy Traverse. Go check it out!