Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

I'm NOT in Europe: Passing Ben Lomond and Having Lunch in Paris...

Salt Lake City is always the “Hometown” and although I’ve not lived there since 1984, it’s still “home” in many ways, and thus hard to leave.  It’s a town that is so familiar I don’t have to think about where I’m going or how to get there.  I got hugs goodbye from the family and headed out and down to US-89, otherwise known as State Street.  This really is my old stomping grounds – the road where we used to cruise up and down during high school, and despite not being named “Main” is truly Salt Lake’s main street.  It heads right through downtown (now being redeveloped for the 3rd time).  Yes there are still signs this is the old road too – small little old-fashioned motels stuck here and there.  I don’t think the folks staying at the “Temple View” are the kind who really want to view the temple.
State heads up to the State Capitol at the top of the hill, where I turned around and looked back over the valley, with the 11,000 foot mountains rising to the east, and the little sprinkle of a storm I’d ridden through as I left Mom’s.   
Then I dropped down behind the city and headed north into Davis County and the string of suburb cities there – Woods Cross, Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington and so on.  All of these towns are places deeply rooted in my past and my family’s past – I worked for radio stations there, my Grandmother was born there, we all spent many happy hours at Lagoon – the big amusement park in Farmington, and I rode the bus or drove through them all many times working at radio stations up in Ogden, the next big city up the old road.

Dominating Ogden as you head out of town on US-89 is a huge mountain – Mount Ben Lomond.  I suppose someone of Scottish descent named it way back when – but it’s a bit of a double name, since “Ben” is “Mountain” in the Scotts language – so in effect we are saying Mount Mountain Lomond – the first “Mount” being redundant.  Sort of like saying “ATM Machine”.  It’s a gorgeous mountain – and rumor has it that an executive of Paramount Pictures back in the 1930s saw it from the window of his train and designed the old Paramount logo from it.
The old road continues up along the foothills of the mountains before turning east at Brigham City and up Sardine Canyon and down into Logan.  I’ve traveled this stretch countless times as well, going up to visit relatives in the Cache Valley.  In Logan, US-91 splits off and goes up into Idaho – where my Mother is from.  I loved going up to visit the relatives on the old farm up in Clifton – sleeping outside in a sleeping bag and looking across the valley at night as a train went by. 
However I stayed on 89 and headed northeast and up towards Bear Lake and into Idaho that way.  I passed a few abandoned homesteads along the way – these kinds of places always look so cool to me, and the fact that they’ve been standing there for years is a testament to the builders.  It’s a shame they ended up being abandoned.  Along the road I passed through Paris, Idaho – which, like Mount Ben Lomond, and Lanark, Idaho were no doubt named by early settlers who must have come from those places.  This Paris however is a mere shadow of the real thing, but it still makes me smile.

Having lunch at a small place in Paris, I happened across a retired couple from New Mexico who were traveling on a pair of BMW touring bikes (which I liken to big sewing machines.)  Like me, they were spending a couple of weeks just wandering about and enjoying the road.  We talked bikes for a bit, and destinations and routes – they were heading up on US 30 through Arco, Idaho and Craters of the Moon, while I was continuing up on US 89 through Jackson and towards Yellowstone. 

The old road now headed over a small mountain range and dropped down into Wyoming and into the Star Valley.  This is a very pretty valley high in Wyoming, and a place with another family connection although it’s distant.  Being of pioneer Mormon stock, I have lots of relatives due to the polygamy that was practiced by the early pioneers.  My great, great, great, Grandfather was a guy named Archibald Gardner.  He had 16 wives – some of which he stashed up here in the Star Valley.  During the 2004 Olympics, you may recall one Rulon Gardner who won the gold medal in wrestling.  When I saw him on the Olympics and they said he was from Afton, I knew he had to be related – he looks like old Archibald.  Well, he’s the obvious local hero – and has a gas station/burger joint/motel in town.  I’m sorry I’d eaten down the road in Paris, otherwise I might have been able to sign “Rulon’s Wall of Fame”. (And he looks a little like my nephew Ben Harmer too...)
After a nice rest at “Gardners”, I hit the road again.  I had to dig out my big leather coat – this far north there’s lots of snow on the hills and it’s much cooler – a blessed relief from the heat of the Arizona desert.  I hoped to be able to make it as far as West Yellowstone, but stopping for gas in Jackson Hole, the attendant – a Harley rider himself – said it would be dangerous due to the migrating deer and elk.  It was only 6pm, but he said that the traffic would be slow and dangerous because of the wildlife, and I’d be better off waiting until the morning.  

So, I checked into a nice Best Western and will get up early and head out.  Sunrise and early morning in park are always wonderful anyway, and I’m looking forward to the ride.  I still hope to hit Seattle by Friday.  I’m getting a bit road weary and anxious for my home and my own bed.

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