Posted by: chptr37 | 04/04/2009

Pg. 3: Utah to Arizona


In front of the Virgin Jail in Virgin, Utah. No, they wouldn’t let me in. Yes, I will change my clothes at some point.



  • Miles Today: 444
  • Miles Total: 1500
  • From/To: St. George, Utah to Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Soundtrack: Alabama 3. Every song of theirs that I own. Which is a lot.
  • Worst Thing: Not knowing what time it is, having lost an hour entering Utah and gained it back entering Arizona.
  • Best Thing: A grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough and sweet-potato fries from a hole-in-the-wall cafe in Flagstaff.
  • Quote of the Day: “You’re driving from where to where?” Incredulous pause. “I would never, ever want to do that.”


The morning started with sun and Starbucks and sweat and a free breakfast of eggs and sausage (which, yes, I dipped in maple syrup, as I always do. The sausage, not the eggs. Go ahead and gag.). By noon, it was snow, the town of Virgin, Utah (where I want to live some day, just to have that on my return address) and Zion National Park. After that, it was the Arizona border, the Grand Canyon and, finally Flagstaff where there was food and a place to lay my head.


Entering Zion National Park in Utah.

It seems to me there are two ways of traveling: the immersion method and the flea method. I like the immersion method, typically. Go somewhere. Stay there for as long as you can. Learn the language by being thrown into conversations where you basically have to answer. Get a semi-real glimpse of the people and the culture by watching it move around you while you stand still. That’s, I’m guessing, what Scotland will be like. Six months in a new culture with new people, soaking it all in by osmosis. I hope to have a new language (knee trembler, anyone? Which I learned from my Scottish friend, Nikki), a new perspective and a Scottish accent by the time I return.

This trip? This trip is the flea method (also known in some parts of the world as the pixie method), bouncing from one thing to the next, getting a fleeting taste of each thing before moving on to the next. There’s something to be said for traveling via hop-skip-and-jump: You get to see a great deal of the world. If you’re a ‘list-checker,” you can check various items off your wanna-do list. And you can get a feel for the places you might want to come back to, and visit in a more in-depth way next time.

For example, I’d come and see the Grand Canyon again. Not from the top this time, but from below. On a white-water rafting trip, say. Or on horseback. I’d come and stay for a week or more. Suck up the too-thin air until it felt like I could actually breathe in it. Get used to being coated in dust. Let my hair soften and lighten in the slanted sun. I’d burn and peel and burn again. I’d learn the language of dinosaurs and early man. Discover how to climb rock-faces and how to carve petroglyphs that looked nothing like my name. I’d learn how to be alone. How to be together. How to stand still.

Far and fast, s.


More from Zion, because the Grand Canyon ones didn’t turn out very good. Blame it on the light and the exhaustion.


“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” ~ Henry Miller


  1. I hope you got a chance to visit Sedona, AZ. It’s only 45 minutes from Flag and very beautiful….

  2. I *heart* you on your trip!

    I drove from Tampa FL to Anchorage, Alaska, when I was 20 and bored and looking for change. Road trips can be a fantastic “place” to really be in your own head for long periods of time. For some folks, that’s an unhappy place to be. For writers? I’m thinking it’s a good place to be.

    Hoping your trip inspires your creativity and life and soul! I’ll keep checking in to see how it’s going…

    Travel safely and creatively,

  3. God, did you take those pictures?? They’re beautiful!
    About 500,000 years ago I used to hitch back and forth across the country, an enlistee in the Army of Long-haired Hippie Wierdos. I remember the bus station in Toledo, the campus at Madison, Thunder Bay, MN, freezing my ass off camping on July 4th, and feeling like a Stranger in an Even Stranger land in the Haight. Wish I’d seen Bryce, instead. Got room in your trunk for a 60-year old nurse, writer, grand-dad, closet hippie?

  4. May I add, also near Sedona is the former mining town of Jerome. Has some shops and a few places to eat and I remember from my last visit a Bed and Breakfast. This was almost ten years ago and did not stay at a hotel but it was a nice day trip anyway.

  5. Crystal: Damn. I didn’t make it that far, although I’ve heard it’s amazing. I would have raised a glass to you while you were back in Portland!

    Vincent: I miss you like a mo-fo! I feel out of touch with your writing and all of that good stuff. I hope it’s going well. Creative and safe. I got it. I’ll do my best!

    TS: -waves- I did take them (well, not the one of me, of course!), but thanks. But again — it’s all about the camera 🙂 I wish you were here. I don’t have a trunk, but I do have stadium seating in my adorable little Honda Element. Just stick up your thumb ala Tom Robbins and I’ll pick you up!

    Stacy: Okay, now I’m really sad I didn’t make it to Sedona. I’ll have to come back for sure. Despite the fact that I’m very much a water creature, I’m falling in love with the desert at the moment. There must be a reason that word is spelled so closely with ‘dessert.’

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