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Friday, June 24, 2011

Wild West Adventure Day 5...The Bear Lake Incident

Day 5: This post is a bit of a digression from my wild west travelogue. Today I thought I'd share a personal side story from our road trip adventure  It's about taking short cuts or taking time to smell the flowers. First off, let me say that my husband, J.B., and I have been married for 40 years so we've pretty much figured out how to get along with each other by now. However, during our day to day lives at home, I'll admit we occasionally bicker and disagree. But a curious thing happens whenever we travel together. We get along perfectly. We like the same things and we always agree about where to travel, what places to sightsee and so forth. We never argue when we're on a trip...whether it's to Europe, Tahiti, Hawaii, or the Grand Tetons. I've often said to J.B. that if we spent our lives doing nothing but traveling...we'd have the perfect marriage.

Day Five started off with a plan to drive from the Grand Tetons in northern Wyoming to Zion National Park in southern Utah near the Nevada border. A distance of over 600 miles. Around 1:00, we looked for a place to stop for lunch in the little burg of Montpelier, Idaho. The weather had turned surprisingly hot and the temps were in the high eighties. On our map, I noticed that there was a lake nearby and I suggested we take time for a cooling lakeside picnic. From the image on the map, the lake, which is called Bear Lake, looked like the ideal spot. I'm thinking...relaxing lunch, picnic tables, shade trees, water view. Nice.

We stopped at a small grocery store in town and purchased sandwich fixings: some good bread, Swiss cheese, lean turkey slices, a couple fresh peaches and a jar of mustard for spice.  After we got back in the car, J.B. decided he wanted to take a short cut since we had such a long way to drive. However, the short cut did not pass by Bear Lake where I had been envisioning our lovely picnic. I finally persuaded him that it would be good for us to stop and rest, enjoy a relaxing meal by a refreshing lake and get re-energized for the rest of our long day's journey. Begrudgingly he headed toward Bear Lake.

Forty miles later...we finally found Bear Lake. Turned out it was much farther than it appeared on the map. And it was huge! We pulled into a beach area and looked around. There were no picnic tables, no grass, tall weeds obscured the shoreline and saddest of all...there was not a single shade tree anywhere. The entire area all along Bear Lake is nearly devoid of trees. Just a barren, blisteringly hot valley. By this time, it was getting incredibly warm, the sun burned mercilessly and there wasn't a hint of a breeze (who knew it got this hot in Idaho!)  J.B. was steaming because I derailed his precious short cut and I was upset because my relaxing little picnic turned into a swelterama drama.

We parked the car, cranked up the A/C and I made sandwiches for us. JB dribbled mustard all over the steering wheel and I almost choked on the peach pit. As if on cue, the wind picked up and blew sand everywhere. We both cursed Bear Lake. So much for relaxing and unwinding. Life isn't always the picnic you want it to be. We finally got underway again but to get back on the right road, we found ourselves driving the entire length of Bear Lake...which we discovered was so large that it flows through two states: Idaho and Utah. By this time we were two hours behind schedule, stressed out, cranky and fuming about the Bear Lake fiasco. So we decided to spend the night in Provo, Utah and not drive the entire way to Zion.

300 miles later, as we we neared Salt Lake City and Provo, we were able to chuckle about that blasted Bear Lake. The scenery had changed from bland and barren to bold and beautiful with canyons, gorges and amazing mountain lakes which lifted our spirits tremendously. Once we arrived in Provo, home of Brigham Young University, we couldn't help but notice how clean and fresh and pretty the city looks. Actor Robert Redford founded Sundance Institute near there. He owns a popular resort there and lives on a ranch nearby. After checking into a motel, we were bringing our bags inside, when we saw a terrifying sight in the parking lot....a very large truck emblazoned on the side with the words: Bomb Squad. That's Bomb Squad as in: "There's an explosive device in the building and we're here to find it or you'll all be blown to smithereens".

"Oh my God!" we thought. First a crappy picnic and now the motel's about to blow up! Could it get any worse? Luckily, there was no bomb in the motel. Turns out that several of the bomb squad guys were having dinner at the motel restaurant. Whew...crisis averted. As for J.B. and me...we're still cruising on down the highway...side by side in the front seat...listening to Sirius radio...golden oldies. Still enjoying each others' company and planning our next excursion. J.B says: "In the future, we're going to do fewer picnics and take more short cuts." I reply with a sweet smile: "Whatever you say, dear...whatever you say."
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Bretthead said...

I love roadtrips. Zion has the most awesome hike I have ever taken (and I live in Colorado). We hiked up the Virgin River. You can't do it if there is a chance of rain - the flash floods would get. You are in water from ankle deep to waist deep nearly the whole time with narrow canyon walls towering above. It was awesome.

layana koh lanta said...

That sounds like an interesting day indeed. I am sorry what happened to your Bear Lake picnic. Unexpected things like these are really hard to avoid in adventure trips. It is still a memorable experience at least.

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