Life in the high desert of Utah is harsh and demanding. I woke up one night with the tune “Rawhide” bouncing in my head. There is no phone service. WIFI flickers like a candle. Gas stations serve as grocery stores with the bare necessities at high prices. Silt invades everything each time the wind decides to blow. The environment is majestic but it is also rugged and lacking in comfort! It ages you!
St. George, Utah. A Mormon Stronghold.
Roads leading in and out of the city and in every neighborhood feature a LDS church. And they all look the same. At the center of old St. George is a gleaming white Mormon Temple reaching to the sky. It is a stunning building whose origins began in the 19th century. So far, we have not seen any non-Mormon religious sites in town. A lonely website claims that there is a Catholic and Baptist church somewhere within the borders.
Of course we toured around the Temple and quickly found the colorful and substantial winter residence of Brigham Young nearby.
The more I learn about this very powerful man, the more I understand how he lived as a “king” with great authority over women and men. He led people West from Nauvoo as President of LDS, became governor of Utah, and founded a university in his name. His winter residence compared with other Mormons who barely survived in the desert was a shock!!
Retiring To St. George
Years ago, we think around 1998; we came to play golf in St. George. The courses were the most beautiful that we had seen at the time. Back then; it was a lazy town of about 46,000. We walked everywhere and loved the quiet, clean and wholesome atmosphere. We both said that this would be a good place to retire.
Back to the future of 2017 and the St. George we discovered is gone. Talk to the folks who live there and they will tell you stories. The main city, housed in a valley, is now about 80,000 people with 200,000 in the county. It feels more like Chicago or Los Angeles than the St. George we discovered so long ago. The townies drive at a frantic pace!
St. George built roads leading in all directions and around the buttes that button in the town. They area also constructing retirement homes, rentals, condos, and RV Parks everywhere. We saw construction in every area of the city. They are even knocking down older houses in the central area and replacing them with new ones. Everything looks new. The grocery stories, gas stations, shopping centers, you name it, look new. And as we drove back and forth from Sand Hollow State Park (gorgeous) we saw literally thousands of new homes. So we decided to check out a community offering retirement homes. After all, if all of these people are moving to St. George, there must be a reason.
A retirement resort advertised houses in the $200,000 range. So we thought that sounded good. When we arrived we toured some models. All of the homes are built on concrete slabs. There is only about two feet of space between houses and four feet in the back yard, usually with a four-foot concrete fence. We asked about lots. Oh, if you want a larger lot the price could go up another $100,000. How about a view other than the window of a neighbor? Oh that would cost you also? They told us that the houses we toured were upgrades but the bathrooms had plastic inserts in the tub area, single-pane windows, and non-quartz or marble counters. After a few questions, Tom deduced that for a 2,000 square foot home, it would cost us at least $600K and that is still with a four-foot backyard. That was way too pricey for us! But Californians, as they told us, think they are bargains.
Bryce Canyon National Park and Capital Reef National Park
Winds were howling around 40 mph and the temperature dipped to 29 degrees with rain on the days we visited Bryce. It is still a beautiful site! To find some peace and quiet we hiked the rim because of the hoards of people. Again, it is not high season but every shuttle, every parking space; everything was over run with people. Our campground was not full probably because of the cold weather. We saw many, many busloads of people. There was no room in the visitor center.
Capital Reef was a visual Makkah (Mecca). We came over a hill on highway Utah 24 and right in front of us were these gorgeous buttes. I thought they looked like the Valley of the Kings or Abu Simbel in Egypt. This park is a visual feast! While hiking Tom noticed that one of the buttes was actually named “Egypt.” So I wasn’t the only one who noticed the similarities. As we left the park, every parking space in and around the visitor center was taken with quite a few people circling as they waited for a space to park. We were happy to get back on the road!
We don’t remember visiting Capital Reef. It became a park in 1971 and perhaps we missed the road to it or we took another route to Moab. It was a mistake.
As we tooled down U24 toward Moab from Capital Reef, we could hardly believe our eyes. This byway was certainly created for the mighty gods. We could not take our eyes off the scenery. The rocks were yellow, gold, and grey, blue, white, red, orange–you name it! Even if you had a psychedelic brain, you could not imagine the formations or color schemes. Go East on U24!!!
Moab (Coming soon!)
Today we are in Moab and the line to enter Arches National Park was a mile long. From where are all of these people coming? I guess they are not on airplanes?
If you are reading the posts, I gratefully thank you!
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge
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