Greetings from the Mormon homeland. I haven’t been this far off the grid since before I owned my first cell phone. I rarely get a signal here and there are precious few places to get internet. But don’t confuse Mormons with Mennonites. It’s the result of being in such unpopulated and mountainous areas, not because the populace shuns technology.
I once spent a month sailing from Hawaii to Vancouver Island as crew on a boat. One of the other three crew members was a Mormon. Not only did he have unrestricted access to my impressionable young mind for potential conversion, I had unlimited access to grilling him about the doctrines of his religion. I noticed that he didn’t drink coffee (Mormons are forbidden to consume any mind-altering substances) but he did drink Coke in generous quantities. I asked him why he couldn’t drink coffee but was allowed to drink Coke. His answer left me with no place to start any kind of logical discussion: “because Coke hadn’t been invented yet when the Book of Mormon was written”. I relayed this story to my husband Jan as we drove toward Salt Lake City, and he said “I guess there aren’t many Starbucks in Utah then.” He couldn’t have been more right. We haven’t seen a single one in almost two weeks in Utah.
What there is in Utah in great quantity is scenery that would make anyone feel spiritual, if not actually religious. There are no words to describe the scale of the geological monuments here, and photos don’t do it justice, though I have included a few in today’s post anyway. Perhaps it’s just a teensy bit ironic that in a state where you are constantly reminded of how insignificant a human life is compared to geological time, there are billboards asking us to ban evolution, with red lines through illustrations of apes turning into humans. We’ve learned that Utah’s unofficial second language is German. There are very few Mexicans in the state (Mormons, with their large families and work ethic, apparently just do everything for themselves), so Spanish translations telling you not to throw garbage in the toilet in restrooms are nonexistent. But when we stopped in Moab for gas, food and alcohol (you really have to plan that one in Utah), we were in the minority speaking English in the stores, and surrounded by German tourists. The third language of Utah would have to be French. We’ve heard quite a bit of that here. And despite my lack of desire to set eyes on members of the genus equus while on this holiday, we have seen plenty of those too – mostly of the scrappy cow pony type. I noticed a sign outside the community arena in Moab declaring it to be temporarily closed, presumably due to EHV-1.
Chorizo has not loved Utah all the time. There aren’t enough beaches, he has to stay off trails and on leash in National Parks, and he keeps picking up nasty little thorns in his paws that I have to pick out with tweezers using a head lamp and reading glasses to find the little bastards. He is very much looking forward to arriving at Lake Tahoe tomorrow. The van is chugging along, with a few mystery sounds and fluid leaks to keep us on our toes and off the real 4×4 tracks where rescue is unlikely should we break down. Soon we will be in Napa and Sonoma, facing the dilemma of too many wine choices, instead of drinking 3.2% beer and wishing we could find a bloody liquor store. We came to Utah looking for sunshine and scenery though, and we have not been disappointed, not one little bit.
One thing we learned about non-Mormon Utahns was that they were very anxious to make us aware that they were not Mormons – this fellow, who has been living in a beaten up old camper for four years in a dusty campsite and definitely spending too much time in his own company, took this a bit far. He declared the Mormons a Satanic cult and Joseph Smith a male whore.
This was the day I said “we came here to escape the F***ing rain and now I wish it would F***ing rain”. Fifty mile an hour sustained winds in the desert mean only one thing. Sand in every orifice.
Here is the exact same view as the photo above, taken the morning after the wind finally died during the night.
And here are a few shots to make you realize that Utah needs to be on your to-do list: