I had doubled back to Salina, Utah the night before so as to be within quick striking distance of Mom's Cafe for breakfast, which I had read about in Road Food.
For most of my breakfast, I had the front room of the cafe to myself, complete with a view of its lovely bar.
|Feed a cold, starve a fever...take a mystery virus out for a|
massive breakfast. Mom's in Salina, Utah.
The breakfast itself was nothing exceptional, much as the portions were generous. This extended to a large tumbler of water and my own pot of coffee (I love establishments that meet my need for excessive beverage before I even ask), along with every condiment I could possibly need. Among the latter was a bottle of honey butter, a natural if perhaps artery-clogging marriage of spreads. These to accompany the item for which Mom's is perhaps best known, their scone. Mom's is certainly like no other such bread of which I've partaken, something between a traditional scone and a croissant, with a consistency more of the latter. And with a bit of honey butter, definitely worth the drive back from Gunnison and the night in the Econo Lodge. I am somewhat ashamed to admit I could not finish the scone after consuming all the food that preceded it. Rookie mistake.
On my way back up US-89, I stopped to take a last look at the Casino Star.
Beaux-arts, apparently, though the sinuous window frames struck me as suggestive of Art Nouveau. Whatever the case, I was happy to see the facade in clear daylight. Both its unique face and enduring life have earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
|Bison on the beach at Antelope Island State Park.|
Often have I asked myself, "what price solitude." But never has the answer been gnats.
If you exit Interstate 15 at Layton, north of Salt Lake City and proceed west, you'll find yourself in the midst of Anysuburb, USA: bleak and oppressively generic. Continue on and the traffic begins to thin, the forgettable buildings become less numerous. Then, quite suddenly it seems, civilization - in the best possible way - disappears. You are on a seven-mile causeway into the Great Salt Lake, Farmington Bay to your left, Gilbert to your right. Mountains in the distance and nothing else to see in world until Antelope Island appears before you.
I wanted to see the Great Salt Lake and was happy to find that a state park would take me right out into its midst.
The park is unique in several ways. There is the matter of the location alone. The island itself reminded me of Scotland, an impression that the day's overcast only reinforced. If you can avert your gaze from the massive, snow-cappped mountains east and north, you might think yourself in the Hebrides, looking out across Antelope's rocky topography and the subtle shadings of its scrub vegetation and grasses. Of course, you won't find bison down along the shore of Skye or Islay.
I had been warned. The park's website included an admonishment that the gnats had recently hatched and were going to be a major nuisance until hot weather. But thinking the steady wind my friend and sensing none of pests at the visitor center, I decided to forgo the purchase of a bug jacket. Not ten strides up Buffalo Point, I realized the error of my ways. Chastened by my stupidity, I returned to the visitor center to make the purchase. In its potential for reuse, the bug jacket is probably right up there with a bridesmaid dress (and how many of those do I have in my closet - LOL!), but it was money well spent.
|Gnattily attired: bug jacket selfie.|
With the jacket I was at least able to get in a few miles of hiking along the western shore. For a time I kept the company (from reasonable distance) of a solitary bison. Amazing that just a few miles removed from the sprawl of Salt Lake City I could enjoy such solitude, have the cry, call and squawk of the island's great range birds be the only sound I heard beside my own breathing and the crunch of my hiking shoes on the trail. But after an hour or so, the damned gnats had begun to solve the mystery of the bug jacket. Back to the car and back to civilization.
Thank goodness for satellite radio. Perhaps it is the multi-channel death knell to any sense of regionalism on the airwaves, but any such distinctions were fading anyway. In years past, I did enjoy roaming the a.m. dial to see what sort of local personality could be found. But increasingly, a.m. has become the country's scary id to f.m.'s glib super ego. And f.m. in particular needed and continues to require a kick in the arse. Now all sorts of serendipitous moments of soundtrack are possible. There are still any number of insipid DJ's and plenty of repetition, but by changing channels and playing DJ yourself, there is now a relatively vast library from which to draw.
Pulling out of Zion the day before I heard "Settin' The Woods on Fire" and "Marquee Moon" in short order. Driving to breakfast in a small town Utah, Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place." Approaching the mountains around Provo, a Haydn Symphony. Even the next day, after I crossed the Snake River out of Twin Falls and proceeded into a stretch of bland farmland, I turned Idaho into a cosmopolitan (if personality-disorder-afflicted) radio landscape in which Dave Brubeck, KRS-One and a little Hector Berlioz could be heard within the same few miles.
Back out on I-15, facing three hours to my destination, still feeling weak from whatever virus that was plaguing me and slugging my way through the building rush hour traffic, I was none too excited about life. Then Paul Weller's voice emerged from the ether. "That's Entertainment," one of my favorite songs. And I was slightly rejuvenated. Then as I drove through the rain toward Twin Falls, Idaho, as the traffic thinned and the landscape opened, actual country music. Imagine hearing the Louvin Brothers on the radio. Imagine hearing a solo record from gone-too-soon Ira Louvin.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that in the West one can drive 80 miles per hour with complete impunity. The speed limit signs might as well read "Whatever." Although it was interesting to find out amidst this freewheeling Western attitude to speed limits that consistently driving about 80, I was nearly the fastest driver in three states, very rarely passed. Even wearily, even through the rain, the miles do melt away quickly at such speeds.
I did at least arrive in Twin Falls early enough to secure a room before the evening's screening at their Orpheum Theater and managed to get downtown early enough to roam around a bit. The town center seemed freshened by the rain that had stopped. The trees had begun to bloom. However, the faux-rock about theater entrance did not strike me as a good sign.
I often liken these first-time experiences with theaters to blind dates. I drive into town excited, unsure what to expect. Sometimes it's a beauty; other times not so much (sadly, I always look much the same). My initial impression of The Orpheum was not good. I wasn't sure what the marble in the lobby (repeated in the odd braces beneath the auditorium's side boxes) was all about. And a quick visit to the restroom upstairs revealed a balcony awkwardly converted for that purpose.
I took a seat toward the back of a nearly full auditorium, a lone man amongst all the parents and kids. The proscenium was bracketed by garish columns in partial relief and their was maroon drapery everywhere.
Such disappointment quickly spreads to the day and seeming waste of a journey, which fast spirals into existential crisis. At least for me. What, after all, is the point of driving all this way to see a stupid movie in a badly updated theater? And so on.
For several minutes I sat in such relative crisis. And then, as if on that date and looking at my unfortunate, unfairly judged second, I essentially said, "Well, here we are. Why don't we have a nice dinner, a couple of drinks and enjoy ourselves."
I sat among the lively (mainly the kids, but not entirely) crowd and participated in their exercise in community. What the theater did have going for it was an intimate scale. Even in the back row, I felt close to the screen and most everyone else in attendance. I could well imagine sitting in the Orpheum some cold Idaho Saturday afternoon in the 1920's watching a film or vaudeville show (theaters called Orpheum are a relic of the old Orpheum vaudeville circuit, later subsumed into RKO: Radio-Keith-Orpheum).
The last hurdle was trying to put out of mind the inimitable voice of Bill Scott, who voiced Mr. Peabody on the great Rocky & Bullwinkle television show. That bit of work mainly accomplished, I did at least have in Mr. Peabody and Sherman and much more intelligent film that I (mainly) viewed the night before in Gunnison. I enjoyed the movie right along with everyone else.