Friday, March 6, 2009

nellie ball

No doubt you noticed that last Saturday I wasn't around. I turned my phone off and went invisible on google chat in an attempt to shrug off the digital world I have become so enmeshed in. It felt like time for me to return to nature. To completely surround myself with vast desert terrain, a place where survival is anything but guaranteed.

I called all my banners to see who would join me, and it turns out only Lee and Scott were hearty enough for this journey. Rugged men, both of them. More rugged than I, in fact. I was never any kind of boy scout at all.

I think Lee and Scott have already blogged about this, so if you're an avid blog reader you'll get three different interpretations of these events. It's up to you to decide which is true.

The day started as any adventure day should. Several hours after sunrise, and at Burger King. I've never noticed but the downtown Burger King is decorated with faded Georgia O'Keefe prints. Weird. I think some Burger King manager must have thought that it would subliminally make people think that eating at Burger King was sexy. Let's see if their subliminal efforts worked. "Whopper." Nope, didn't make me think about sex. Well, no more than usual.

Wait maybe I did that backwards. "Sex." Aha! That made me think of Whoppers. It does work.

We're getting way off track here. Off the road as it were. Here's a picture, taken from a pull off in Spanish Fork Canyon.

A lot of crazy stuff has happened in this very spot. In 1897 noted racing enthusiast Butch Cassidy stole $8000 worth of gold in this area. In 1924 a terrible mine disaster killed all sorts of people. Here's part of the monument to those that gave their lives to the coal.

It's a weird memorial. I cropped out the part sculpture with the screaming, half buried miners. Seriously. It was a little too disturbing.

Bandits? Explosions? Yeah. And this spot still isn't without danger, unless you don't think bottomless pits are dangerous.

We went to gather some coal and half the world disintegrated.

I got myself a chunk of coal, which will come in handy if I need to warm myself during the upcoming great depression.

I wouldn't settle for just any piece of coal. I climbed up there to get it.

We stopped in the town of Helper. I've written about that place before. It's an odd place, because it feels like a ghost town but it's full of people. People in trucks.

The famous Helper Greeny Torch Lady statue. Did you know that there's almost an exact replica of this in New York City.

If you stay at this motel, you'll probably be murdered. That was the impression I got anyway. Also it's name is The Murder Motel.

The goal of this adventure was to drive through Nine Mile Canyon. How long is it?

78 miles. For real. Here's some trivia: why it called Nine Mile Canyon if it's more than nine miles? Nobody knows.

It was going to be a long time before we reconnected with civilization. In case of the worst I was prepared with a spare tire, a few gallons of water, and a case of these:

In a land of amazing rock formations (Utah), Nine Mile Canyon doesn't get a lot of play, but it's not without its own wonderments.

Well hello. Someone hung a dead fox up in front of a Jackson Pollack painting.

Yeah, we were on a dirt road, several miles away from the middle of the nowhere, the air painfully silent, with no other people around. Spooky.

Also spooky, this ranch. No sign of people, and it seems that the cows have taken over. It was like Night of the Living Dead, but with cows.

Amongst the dead trees and dead foxes and dry beds of long dead rivers, we found a dead settlement.

There's something so disquieting about the remains of a house in the wilderness. Someone decided to just up and leave, and no one really cared.

But let us celebrate the living. Like these two hombres who totally conquered that there ridge.

Huh. Scott has a skull on his hoodie. I guess that means we should talk about the dead again. Like the long-vanished Fremont people, who vandalized everything within reach.

Nine Mile Canyon has the largest collection of Indian rock art in the world. A lot of the petroglyphs are over a thousand years old. Wild. Too bad they weren't better artists. What are those supposed to be even? Cows? Goats?


I wondered why a People would choose to live in the middle of nowhere, then realized I was stupid because since they were they were the only people around, wherever they lived was in fact the middle of where. And I can see why this would be a good place. Lots of natural bowls and shelters formed by the sandstone.

This was the most stunning sight in a trip full of stunning sights. The picture doesn't adequately capture it. You round a corner and then whoa! this huge stone amphitheatre is standing before you. Anyway. Check it out yourself. You can find it on mile 62, or hour five.

Scott (geologist) spent most of the time with his head out the window. I was trying to figure out who he reminded me of in this picture and finally it hit me. Ulysses Everett McGill from O Brother Where Art Thou.

Six hours of bad road later we emerged into the "town" of Myton (rhymes with Bryton). This is oil country.

A lot of option after this. We could have driven over to Skinwalker Ranch, headed to Roosevelt to visit Suzanne and Jed, or stopped for a quaint meal in a quaint place. But I was so eager to get back home I didn't even entertain those ideas. I don't think anyone else minded. It took us another two and a half hours to get home, making this the most brutal, endurance-challenging adventure day yet. Not that that's a bad thing.

See you next time.


  1. Totally great. Might I add that Bryton's car chewed up any obstacle that came its way.

  2. When I posted my blog about it, I was like, "Uh-oh. This is B's thing and I think I just stole all of the pictures." I entertained scaling mine back, but it took hours to write, so I didn't.

    Turns out, you take better photographs than I do and you write better blogs about adventures than I do.

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