Friday, July 15, 2016

The Drive to Utah

July 14, 2016: Crossing through the Navajo Nation.

Yesterday we made the very loooong drive to Midway, Utah. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to get myself ready, load the ice chest, and pack up last minute items. Since Mark had his heart procedure three days earlier and wasn't allowed to lift anything weighing ten pounds or more, Sarah, Dylan, and Jake arrived extra-early (by 4:40) to help load everything into the back of my car. We were on the road a little before 5:30.

We got into Utah around 9:30 (or 10:30 Utah time).

It was exactly 6:30 when we left I-40 and entered the Navajo Reservation, which dominates the whole northeastern corner of Arizona, as well as extending into New Mexico and Utah. The lands of the Navajo Nation are incredibly vast and visually striking. We passed ridges with colorful exposed layers as bright as any found in nearby Painted Desert and distant formations as distinct as those located in nearby Monument Valley.

Mary is behind the wheel, as usual.

Unfortunately, our pictures don't quite capture the beauty we found all around us. Mark handled my camera while I drove, but he isn't really into the whole camera thing like Dylan and me, besides being unfamiliar with my camera. Plus most were taken through my dusty, bug-spattered windshield. And Dylan slept away most of that first leg of our trip, so he missed a ton of gorgeous photo ops.

We stopped for lunch at the Kane Springs Rest Stop south of Moab.

We made two quick stops before we reached the Arizona-Utah border, once for a restroom break and once to fill the tank, but overall it took us three hours to cross the Navajo lands before we reached the state line. That's how huge the reservation is. Even after we'd crossed into Utah, we were still on reservation land until we'd passed through the adorable little town of Bluff, Utah, which is located in some of the most amazingly picturesque territory I've ever seen. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures there or of the nearby, also-very-gorgeous San Juan River.

Sarah hauls some of our lunch supplies to a covered picnic bench,

It was just after 11:00 ( or noon in Utah time) when we came upon a nice little rest stop just south of the town of Moab, Utah. It was surrounded by incredible red rock hills and formations. We decided it would be the perfect place and time for lunch, since it had been six hours since breakfast. I'd prepared a big tuna salad, so we enjoyed tuna on French rolls and the tortilla chips Sarah provided.

Jake and Dylan goof off during lunch.

We were back on the road a little after 11:30 for the very loooong second half of the trip. By now I was very tired and perhaps even a little bit loopy... I took a couple of wrong turns along the way (I knew I was supposed to go right at a fork, but there were a bunch of other possible "forks" until we finally reached the correct one in--wouldn't you know it--South Fork, Utah) but we got right back on track.

Dylan, Jake, and Sarah in South Fork, Utah, filling the tank.

We were also slowed by several batches of road work, one of which halted traffic altogether for about fifteen minutes and then created a log jam of one-lane traffic dominated by slow-moving trucks for a long while before it finally broke up. It was a little after 3:00 (4:00 Utah time) when we reached South Fork and stopped for gas.

Entering Provo, Utah, via University Drive. The Angel Moroni spire
of the beautiful Provo City Center Temple is visible on the left, ahead.
A wedding party was posing for pictures on the front steps as we drove past.

From that point, the drive went fairly quickly. Even with more road work along the way, we only had about 45 minutes of driving left to do. We drove right through the center of Provo, right past the campus of Brigham Young University, and through the middle of gorgeously rugged Provo Canyon, following the small but rushing Provo River.

Lovely historic buildings in Provo, Utah.

One funny little side note: While we drove through Provo, Dylan remembered that one of his best friends, Mary, had grown up in Provo. So he sent her a "Guess where I am" text. Well, guess where she was? She was also in Provo with her family, visiting her old home town!

Deer Creek Reservoir was filled with boats and skiers.

Again, if I hadn't been driving, there would be many pictures of the breathtaking area through Provo Canyon, beside Provo River. Along the sides of the highway, many cars were parked, disgorging people armed with fishing gear, kayaks, and other water-worthy accoutrements. 

Our WorldMark resort in Midway, Utah.

Finally, we came upon the wide blue waters of Deer Creek Reservoir. Mark's eyes lit up and he grabbed the camera without being asked. This is his chosen environment. He loves fishing, boating, skiing (water and snow), and swimming. In fact, he's such a powerful, fearless swimmer that I always thought it was a shame that he never trained for the Olympics. And I'm not even exaggerating.

Here, of course, are the obligatory pictures of our unit.
We'd never stayed at this resort in Midway before, so it's new to us.
Mark looks out the living room window at the golf course below.

As we rounded the far end of Deer Creek Reservoir, we found ourselves in the tiny, picturesque town of Midway, Utah, where our resort for the next five days was located. The town, and our resort, looks very much like a Swiss village. Check-in time is 4:00, and we were there to check in at 4:30. At least, it would have been 4:30 if we were still in Arizona. In Utah, it was 5:30.

The kitchen in our resort condo.

Naturally, our visit coincided with several remodeling projects going on at the resort. For instance, they are repainting the exteriors. In the photo of the resort above, it appears that the brown paint is smeared messily into the white paint, but when we got closer we could see that the white walls were covered with plastic, so the paint job will be perfect when the plastic is pulled away.

The dining area in our unit.

Also, to Mark's dismay, the pool is being redone. I reminded him that he isn't allowed to swim for a week after his procedure anyway, but he insisted that he's fine enough to swim. Since the pool is unavailable, the resort has arranged for guests to have free use of a nearby pool facility with slides and a lazy river. Dylan was excited for that.

The master bedroom, which I shared with Sarah since Chris 
wasn't able to join us. He had to stay behind and work.

For the next hour, we got moved into our "home" for the next five days. Then we finalized our menu and a shopping list. Just after 5:30 ( or 6:30), we headed to Walmart in the neighboring town of Heber to get all the supplies we'd need for our stay. Sarah literally pushed me out of the way at checkout, insisting that she was paying for the groceries since I was paying for all the gas on our trip. She wouldn't take no for an answer. Sweet girl! Finally, we stopped at a KFC/Taco Bell to buy some dinner "to go" and returned to the resort to put away the groceries and eat our meals.

The master bathroom.

By now we were all dragging, exhausted from an early morning and a long day of uncomfortably crunched sitting.  The guys were all asleep before 10:00. Sarah hung in there awhile, watching America's Got Talent on her phone. I tried to stay awake to write this blog, but it just wasn't happening. I was in bed at 10:30. Sarah gave up just a few minutes after I did.

The second bedroom for Dylan and Jake.
Mark used the Murphy bed in the living room.

Thankfully, WorldMark's beds are the most comfortable in the entire hospitality industry. I slept like a baby until 7:30 this morning. But that starts a whole new day and a whole new story...

The guys' bathroom.

Our balcony, outside my bedroom window.

View of the golf course below, from our balcony.

A view of Mark from our balcony!

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