But today, being the first Sunday of the month, means it's "Fast Sunday", a day on which people here in Mormonland refrain from eating or drinking from the time they go to bed Saturday night until they finish church on Sunday. "Fasting" is obviously not in my vocabulary. So this morning, knowing there would be no Mom-cooked breakfast and as they headed off to church in search of heaven and eternal salvation, I hopped on Angus for my own version of heaven -- breakfast at the venerable and ancient Silver Fork Lodge, high in the Wasatch Mountains, up "MY" canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon east of Salt Lake City. (If you want to know why it's MY canyon, you can read my post about BCC I wrote back in 2010 http://grgardner.livejournal.com/46526.html )
There was already a small crowd eating when I pulled into the parking lot, but I got a nice table outside on the back patio where I could look up at my mountains through the aspen trees, hear the creek burbling down the canyon off the patio, smell the coffee and bacon cooking and enjoy the crisp clean mountain air. Breakfast was a short-stack of their famous sourdough pancakes (from a 50 year old sourdough starter), hashbrowns with cheese and salsa, coffee and ice tea to wash down my bakers-dozen morning vitamin, blood pressure, and cholesterol pill cocktail.
But the morning crowd of Prius driving gentile (non-Mormon) yuppie hikers headed up MY canyon started to fill up the waiting area so I decided I'd better make room for them and ambled back out to Angus and headed further up BCC, past the ski resorts -- Solitude and Brighton, around the cirque loop and here I had to make a decision: Ride back down the canyon and home and Mom's post church Sunday dinner, which today would be parmesan fried chicken, fresh Utah corn on the cob, and a huge pan of Funeral Potatoes, or keep riding for a bit. And since Mormon services last an interminable three hours, I knew I had some time to kill in the church of the canyon so I decided to head on up and over Guardsman Pass and down into Park City. Swinging back onto the road down I turned and climbed up to Guardsman -- stopping for one last look down MY canyon towards the Salt Lake Valley.
Alas, there were a lot of changes -- sadly none for the better, and all having to do with the influx of people moving to Utah in the years since I left. I guess its true, you can never go home again. In Kamas there was a sign for UT-150 and Mirror Lake, high in the Uinta Mountains. The sign said 43 miles. I said, "what the heck". I turned off and headed into the Uinta's, curving and turning along the upper Provo River, higher and higher, past campgrounds I'd stayed at as a kid with my family, where I'd learned to ride a motorcycle for the first time back when I was 12 or so.
The road climbs and twists up towards Bald Mountain Pass, a serene spot in the Uintas that was one of the last places I visited before I left Utah back in 1984 and headed to Phoenix. I wanted to do a panoramic picture at sunrise and sunset of one of the places I loved and to remind me of home when I left. I got up before dawn one morning and drove up to do my sunrise panorama at the top of Bald Mountain Pass, facing West down the Provo River and towards the Wasatch.
By now the folks were headed home from church, but I wasn't ready to head back. A quick text to Mom saying "Its too nice to quit riding, so eat without me, sorry" and I was on my way. Bald Mountain Pass is at an elevation of 10,700 feet, on one side the water flows down towards the Provo River, into Utah Lake, then up the Jordan River to the Great Salt Lake where it eventually evaporates. On the other side, the water runs down the Duchesne River, which flows into the Green, which flows into the Colorado and eventually all the way to the Pacific. Or perhaps it ends in my faucet in the Desert, as the water that I get at my home is pumped out of an underground aquifer that is fed by water from the Colorado River Aqueduct, an engineering marvel that pumps water from the Colorado River, across the Mojave desert to provide drinking water to Southern California. The desert communities get a share of this water which flows out of the aqueduct a few miles from my house into giant percolation ponds that replenish the underground aquifer under the Coachella Valley. It's nice, and a bit touching, to think that the water I drink at one time started as snowmelt high in the mountains of my homeland somewhere near this spot.
I rumbled into the driveway about three hours past dinner time -- some 250 miles under my feet, my face and arms sunburned. The folks are on the couch watching TV and there's a plate of chicken, funeral potatoes, and fresh corn waiting for me on the dining room table. Having not eaten since my breakfast at Silver Fork, I too break my Fast Sunday fast, having found my own personal salvation on Angus riding the roads of my youth in the Wasatch and Uintas. Faithful Mormons hope that their efforts will lead them when they die to the Celestial Kingdom. Me, I've found my Celestial Kingdom here on earth -- high in these mountains where I grew up. When I die, THIS is where I want to come. I hope I do.