DAY NINE-- Salt Lake City Again

Paul Safford is attempting to bike across America to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project and the University of Utah's Physician Assistant Program.  Photo courtesy: Bicycle Across America
Paul Safford is attempting to bike across America to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project and the University of Utah's Physician Assistant Program. Photo courtesy: Bicycle Across America(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 16, 2019 at 12:22 AM EDT
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This is my personal blog, and is NOT a news story. As such, it is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the station, my family nor anyone else.

DAY NINE—Salt Lake City

Our last day on the trip sees us rise in Bryce Canyon, and motor only a few miles the Bryce Canyon Animal Museum. This large building just outside the city of Bryce contains hundreds of stuffed animals in natural settings, dioramas and displays. There are thousands of fish, butterflies, beasts, mammals, sheep, deer, prairie dogs… You name it, it’s been mounted and positioned for your viewing. The owner is a world class hunter and wildlife expert who’s displays have been awarded time and time again.

Even more, outside is a pen where live Fallow Deer are being raised, along with chickens amid antique farming implements displays. There’s also a lush garden with a row of Hollyhock plants, that until last week, were in full bloom. Now, they are about half as full and lovely before the first frost killed half the flowers. We ask if we can harvest some of the seeds for the pink, white, red, purple and mixed plants, and he agrees. So several of us have handfuls of seeds to carry home with us.

This is also the day that the third HDMI cable fails, preventing a full charge to each device: camera, laptop, phone, etc. Rather that stop to buy yet another, I rotate the charging between phones in an effort to make certain I have a camera for Facebook live shots, emergency communication and pictures, as well as an opportunity to finish this blog. It will work well enough to get me home tomorrow.

We stop about halfway to Salt Lake City for a quick bite at Carl Junior’s and I discover how very hungry I am. After chatting with others while in line, I discover that I am not ready to order when the clerk is.

Impulsively, I order the guacamole burger combo and immediate regret it. It is the largest and most expensive item on the menu, but I resolve not to drink a pop and try to reduce the expense. No dice. The combo order has been entered.

When it comes, I remove a few items from the huge burger (onions) and chow down. I just barely get it finished when I hear the clerk walking through the tables looking for “Order #42”. They’ve already retrieved my table tent , so I know that it can’t be my order, but I uncover my receipt, and discover that I was #42. I run my receipt over to the clerk and tell him that it’s not my order, but that I was #42 before they must have re-issued the table tent to someone else. But no one claims it.

As we finish and are leaving, I ask the manager if they ever found the missing #42. No, she says, but it was a really good burger too. Suspicious, I ask what it was.. A .guacamole burger combo. Now I am convinced that it was my order, and that someone in back either failed to clear the order when made, or got confused and made another. I wasn’t THAT hungry! I just hope my credit card didn’t take two hits!

We resume our travel to SLC, and as we approach up I-15, I begin to scan the Wasatch Mountains, searching for the pass where I-80 comes down out of the mountains. Several times I think I spot the place, but I am not sure. So much has changed in 30 years, including express lanes on ten lane divided highways, light rail and building construction in the valley. The bypass loop has been finished, and other things confuse my memory.

Our old apartment was exactly next to where the expressway came out of the pass, 30 years ago. I remember how irritating it was for my parents to drive around the MSU campus and point out where they had lived in the dorms 25 years before. So I try to resist pointing out the spot, but my wife and I give into temptation. I make several errors in identifying the wrong pass as we drive northward, but explain to people it’s where I-80 leaves Colorado and enters the valley. Immediately, I recognize my mistake. It’s WYOMING, not Colorado, but no one calls me on it. I realize I am tired and nobody cares, so I let it drop.

We check into our Marriott hotel and take a break, showering and dressing for our farewell banquet at a restaurant nearby. We motor the five blocks and enjoy a fabulous meal of steak, potatoes, asparagus, and cheese cake that can’t be beat. It’s noisy, but I attempt my final Facebook live update.

We return to the hotel and gather in a meeting room for last minute announcements, some gag and sincere gift exchanges, a verbal summary of our trip that really is quite good, and in announcement of next year’s trip destination.

Now, I haven’t been asked to lead next year, but the Southern California Dreaming trip is set for Oct. 3-11th. I don’t know what this means, because usually I am involved in the planning and selection of the trip. But I give it the best pitch that I can, and urge our travelers to consider it.

Several have lobbied me during this trip to plan a Scotland and Northern Ireland trip next year, in part because of the interest generated by the Outlander series of books and TV series. My wife is eager and I’m willing to go, if there is enough interest to fill the trip…. And of course, permission from the TV Station. So I promise them that I will inquire, and that they should review their destinations of choice… and to add it to the evaluation form survey of this journey. That carries a lot of weight with Holiday Vacations' planning.

It’s the end of a long tiring journey through the canyon-lands, with hundreds of rock formations, great food, interesting challenges, and forming new friends. In some ways, we don’t want it to end, but we also want to get home to friends, family, work and other responsibilities. We adjourn to our rooms to pack and turn in.

Tomorrow, we rise early to catch our flight out to Atlanta and then to Pittsburgh and the 3 hour motor coach ride home. It promises to be another adventurous day.

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