Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 247 Road Trip - Week 1

Temperature is 96 degrees. We are in the middle of the desert just outside of St George, Utah. A home exchange is providing us lodging for 6 days - and it is beautiful. Kayenta is an artistic, ecological and privileged desert community. There are no electrical or phone wires, there are no mailboxes sitting by driveways, there are no outdoor lights allowed at night. The houses sit on what seems like acreages and all the color of the surrounding earth - brown and sand combinations. They are all rectangular and low to the ground. They are very hard to see. The low desert plants are abundant and tend to hide the low slung adobe houses. We are staying in a guest house. It is small and very well done. We feel very lucky.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

It has been one week since we launch ourselves on this road trip. we wanted to take our time and travel not just drive somewhere. Day before yesterday we drove 110 miles. That was a good day. We have taken time to bike every day.

Each day includes espresso. Say what you want about this country but we have made huge strides in our coffee delivery system over the last 10 to 20 years. We have found espresso in the most out-of-the-way places. Like Torrey and Pataguitch, Utah. I mean really good shots. Keeps us going.

Our first day saw us driving through the edge of Seattle to deliver a painting of Brenda's to an art show that will start when we are on our trip. Then we drove over Snoquami Pass for a great lunch at the Dokota Cafe in Ellensburg, Washington.

The evening found us in Walla Walla. It is the home of beautiful Whitman College; a very good school in a picturesque American town. I have a special fondness for this town and school since they selected me for a special teaching award when I was a teacher in Anchorage. They flew Brenda and I down here one time and I donned a robe and sat on stage with Representative Patsy Mink from Hawaii who was the guest speaker. It seemed so crazy at the time but it was nice of them to institute a process of recognition.

An early morning bike ride around town and Tai Chi started the following day. We took all of these little country roads south and east towards Boise, Idaho. We saw small deserted towns, abandoned farm machinery, fields of yellow and gold grain ready to be harvested, beautiful streams and unending horizons of blue.

We listen to no news and no music. We talk. Or, listen to Kabloona an audio book about a French anthropologist living for one year with Arctic Eskimos. It has our rapt attention.  In the evenings we are each reading Jon Krakhauer's book, Under the Banner of Heaven: a Story of Violent Faith. It is an investigation of the Mormon religion and deals with much of the country we will be passing through. So far it exceeds our wildest expectations. We also bought the Moon Guides for Utah and for Arizona. All books are electronic. They don't take up much space.

Boise offered us a super Mexican restaurant and beautiful lodging right down town and superb biking on their river trail. They have really done a job in creating this system of park and bike trails.

I just looked up from my keyboard and noticed that I am sitting right next to this huge bolder which is in the middle of this coffee shop. It probably rises 10 feet in the air and is that big around. It is the same color as all of the land and rocks outside. I guess I am so use to the color that I never even noticed it. The architect had three stones lifted in and then concreted together before they put on the roof. They did a great job and it appears to be just one large bolder. The shop is circular with stone floors; the walls are the same color as the desert. Beautiful place. Plus it is air-conditioned. It is busy and all of the other customers are older retired people. Hummm

After Boise our next stop was Salt Lake City. We tried to stay off the Interstate. When we were on the small roads it was beautiful country. We followed the contours of the land, the roads ran along the ridges and then would dip down into the irrigated, green river valleys. We loved the drive. It was slow but enjoyable. Eventually we had to take the Interstate where speed became the dominate factor.

We had a home exchange in Salt Lake located right downtown;  a condo done in a modern white and black motif; very comfortable. We loved the location which allowed us to never touch the car.

After the obligatory visit to the Mormon Temple  Square and being amazed at the place we came to appreciate the rest of the city. Our favorite day was a long bike ride in some beautiful neighborhoods and then down through City Creek Canyon. The city looked prosperous and orderly. The architectually award winning city library received two visits. It is beautifully done. It is similar to that of the Vancouver, B.C. library only more expansive. The architect had more room to express his concept and dreams in Salt Lake. It is worth a stop sometime if your ever through that way. I would suggest allowing at least an hour to walk around inside and out.

The first week ended with a bike ride into Capitol Reef National Park. It was one of my favorite rides of all time. We drove to the end of the scenic road and then jumped on our bikes for a ride down the extended rough, gravel road. The canyon walls rose up and dwarfed us. The silence was unimaginable. The beauty of a road trip settled around me.

This is Retirement Talk. 





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