Birthday Road Trip: 2014 Edition

It wasn’t going to be very adventurous this year. Not compared to last year’s road trip. But I was excited for a low-key vacation.

For Christmas, my older sister MZ and her daughter Lyn gave my little sister NJ and me tickets to see the traveling Broadway production of Wicked when it came to Salt Lake. We were excited – even though Lyn complained we weren’t “excited enough” on Christmas morning. To be fair, what we were looking at were receipt printouts since the tickets wouldn’t be available till later. It took a moment or two to register.

The date of the play? August 2.   That takes care of my annual birthday road trip. I was heading to Salt Lake (and very happy about it, I might add). But what to do for the rest of the week? Because, as you may know if you are a faithful reader of this little blog, I don’t celebrate birthdays – I celebrate birthweeks. According to me, August 5 should be a national holiday. A day for barbecuing and relaxing. And it takes a whole week for me to fully enjoy the event.

But I digress.

It took me awhile to decide what to do with the rest of my week but I finally opted to head to St. George. There is an outdoor amphitheater there called Tuacahn that was playing a production of The Little Mermaid. I hesitated at first. I’ve been to Tuacahn twice before – once for my birthday. Let’s just sum up by saying it gets quite toasty in St. George especially in August. The last time I was there that time of year I thought I was going to end up a puddle of sweat in the seat.

It was a dilemma. The play looked cute but could I handle the extreme heat?

I couldn’t change the date of my birthday. Technically, I could change the date of the road trip but that defeats the whole purpose of a birthday road trip. I mean, who wants to say, “This is my birthday road trip…but it was last month.” It just sounds weird, doesn’t it?

So, St. George it was for my birthday. But I was prepared. I knew what to expect. I could plan accordingly.

After a long night at the ER with my dad, I set off on Friday for my week-long adventure. I always have this secret hope to have some kind of life altering experience and my ship will come in. It never has. I think my ship has been hijacked by Somali Pirates.

At any rate, I left Friday afternoon ready for an adventure that was going to consist of two plays, lunch with an old friend, time with my sisters and niece, and not one single thought of work. I was pumped.

I arrived to MZ’s place Friday afternoon exhausted. That’s what about 4 hours of sleep and a night of high anxiety will do for you.

My next scheduled “have to” event was Saturday night’s play at the Capitol Theater. It was my intent to sleep a lot between Friday evening and Saturday evening. But I shared a room with NJ and her alarm went off at 8:00am. Who sets an alarm for Saturday morning? 8:00am Saturday morning should not exist. Especially on vacation!

It was a rather lazy Saturday though. MZ, NJ, and I went shopping in the afternoon. I just purchased some pricey new glasses from my optometrist and wanted a second pair – prescription sunglasses. We went to a place that specialized in eyeglasses. The name Eyeglass World tipped us off of this point. I made my sisters spend over an hour in the store picking out frames.

The tech who helped us out assured us the glasses would be ready by Monday. “Perfect,” I said. “We are leaving town on Tuesday and I need them then.” She told me they’d call when they were ready or to come in after 3:30.

Great day! So far this vacation was proving to be productive.

The next thing I needed was shoes. A nice pair of vacation sandals so that I didn’t have to wear my tennis shoes with my shorts. In all of my vacation photos, I happen to have this one favorite outfit I wear (it makes it very hard to determine which vacation I’m actually looking at and reminiscing about). I always have tennis shoes on. Every picture I look at I cringe.

Not this year.

We headed to a shoe store. While en route, we were passed by several police cars. “Maybe they are heading to my place,” MZ joked. She then explained the other day she saw a fire truck speeding down the road and thought the same thing. When she arrived home, the fire truck was parked in front of her house.

We laughed.

It took some time at the shoe store but I finally found a pair of sandals that might do. It only took about an hour. Hey, I’m used to shopping at Payless Shoes with a very small section of my size. I never had so many options before.

We headed back to MZ’s place and as we approached the turn we saw a police car in front of the intersection. When we turned onto her cul-de-sac we saw a local news van and more police cars. It wasn’t just the police, the SWAT team was there and a K-9 unit. We went into her house (because nobody stopped us) and peeked out her windows. This is when dad would have been handy to have around because he would have gone out to ask what was going on. I’ll admit it. We were too chicken.

Parked in front when we returned home.  Nice.

Parked in front when we returned home. Nice.

There were a few cars, I tell you,

There were a few cars, I tell you,

This is my favorite shot.  It makes me giggle.

This is my favorite shot. It makes me giggle.

I whipped out my camera too late!  I missed the guns and dogs.  Dangme!

I whipped out my camera too late! I missed the guns and dogs. Dangme!

What we saw were big guns, bullet proof vests, a K-9 officer going to the house across the street, people talking to some officers on a lawn down the street, and a lot of communicating on radios. We watched as they left the area one by one. But had no idea as to the why.

Once the excitement died down considerably, we went to Olive Garden for dinner. I kept checking the local news station website to see if I could find out anything. I finally did. A fugitive had eluded police and escaped on foot into the cul-de-sac. How could the police lose him in there? Whatever the answer might be was not comforting.

No matter!

NJ and I had to get ready for our play that night. We decided to take public transit downtown. Salt Lake’s light rail, Trax. MZ looked up the schedule and told us the last train would leave at 11:13. We should have plenty of time to catch it after the play.

The trip downtown was uneventful. We got off at the right stop and walked to the crowded theater.

NJ on our way to Wicked

NJ on our way to Wicked

The play was wonderful. I had listened to the story on CD during my road trip last year so I was familiar with the basic gist. But I liked the play even better (a happier ending after all). NJ and I had a great time.

After the play I noticed the crowd of people heading toward the Trax station. “Since we are between stations, let’s go to the one right above it,” I said to NJ, “that way it won’t be so crowded.”

We walked to the station and witnessed some of Salt Lake’s nightlife. There are those who make fun of it for being so tame but for us proudly sheltered girls, it was wild enough.

Just as we approached the intersection to the station, we saw our train depart. “No worries,” I said. “There will be one more.” We crossed the street to the station and saw that another train departed in 2 minutes according to the schedule. But after we sat down that schedule changed. The next train heading in the direction we needed would be in 15 minutes. And it wasn’t going all the way down the line like we needed it to.

“That’s odd,” I said. “Maybe we have to take that one and then transfer to one heading farther south.”

We waited. But I kept looking at the schedule. Every time I looked it said the same thing. The next train would stop at the Salt Lake Central station. Salt Lake Central was about 50 blocks north of where our car was parked. No, surely this would work out. They wouldn’t leave us stranded, would they?

The train came and we boarded. There was already somebody on it. “I’m going to be sick,” he mumbled and then proved it. We decided to move to the other side of the car. A couple got on and the train started.

“We are not doing this right now,” a woman cried behind me. I turned to see what was going on and realized the couple was breaking up. Right then. 11:30 at night. On the train. I turned and faced the front. ‘Well, this just got awkward,’ I thought. NJ and I tried to not make eye contact with each other. Do we make small talk? Do we let them have their moment?

Eavesdropping is rude but if you’re going to be so personal in public then you have to expect it right? It seems he was tired of coming home to someone “crying every day.” I can’t say I blame her. I mean, if you’re willing to break up with somebody on the streets of Salt Lake I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say you’re probably not that nice. Go ahead and cry lady!

At the next stop, the train picked up a couple of savvy passengers. “This is only going to Salt Lake Central,” she complained. “They should warn us this isn’t a complete route.”

So this is going to dump us off and leave us stranded? I probably should have called for help then but I kept thinking, ‘No way.’

Yes way. Everyone was kicked off the train at Salt Lake Central. Not just from our train either. All trains end at this stop. And every person that was kicked off seemed as surprised as we were. I called Lyn because I figured she would be up. She said she’d come and get us. We waited on the bench in the dark and saw a female passenger in bigger trouble than us. She had no one to call. The Trax employee tried to be helpful as she described her situation in a panicked voice. But she got a ride quicker than we did.

Stranded in SL at 11:30 Saturday night.  No worries.

Stranded in SL at 11:30 Saturday night. No worries.

Lyn picked us up and took us to our car.

That was probably the most adventurous day.

Sunday we went to church and slept.

Monday I went out to eat with my friend and dropped something off for Lyn at work.

at Sean's Smokehouse in Saratoga Springs, UT... I thought my 2nd Amendment girls would dig this... they did

at Sean’s Smokehouse in Saratoga Springs, UT… I thought my 2nd Amendment girls would dig this… they did

She in turn, treated me to some dessert. I also went to pick up my glasses but found out they broke the lens while cutting it and didn’t have another lens in my prescription available. Of course not. It would take 4-5 days to order another pair. I just got my money back.

My sister's backyard... with no fugitive

My sister’s backyard… with no fugitive

Monday night there was a wonderful rainstorm.  I hoped it would get all that rain out of its system then and not have any the next night.

On Tuesday, MZ, NJ, and I went to St. George. I have to say, I was a little worried with the amount of adventure already of what would happen to us. But we had a good trip and the play was worth it. The weather turned out to be a cool 93 degrees – with no rain. It rained the night before (down poured in SL) and the following night but not our night. Our night was rather perfect.

Tuacahn 2014

Tuacahn 2014

MZ... she's not gonna like this one.  Maybe she won't notice?

MZ… she’s not gonna like this one. Maybe she won’t notice?

at Tuacahn

at Tuacahn

A selfie of sisters

A selfie of sisters

Not bad seats

Not bad seats

The next morning I attended the temple before we headed back.

Saint George, Utah temple

Saint George, Utah temple

Saint George, Utah Temple and I walked all the way around it...

Saint George, Utah Temple and I walked all the way around it…

Saint George, Utah temple The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Saint George, Utah temple
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Saint George, Utah temple ck-sdays.com

Saint George, Utah temple
ck-sdays.com

Saint George, Utah temple

Saint George, Utah temple

Saint George, Utah temple... from every imaginable angle.

Saint George, Utah temple… from every imaginable angle.

That night we went to a movie with Lyn. The one about James Brown. It was kinda long but good. The whole movie I was convinced a certain actor was in it. After the movie I found out I was wrong but I didn’t go down without a fight. Nope. No matter how much I thought it was him, it wasn’t.

The next day, NJ and I took the train down to Thanksgiving Point and had lunch with Lyn. Afterward, we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Now that one was worth the price of admission.

NJ and me at Thanksgiving Point, Utah.  Not sure why we look like that...

NJ and me at Thanksgiving Point, Utah. Not sure why we look like that…

That afternoon we saw another police brouhaha down the street. A couple of police cars, a couple of guys in handcuffs… We decided it was time for MZ to move. Like sooner rather than later.

That night, Lyn and I went to get some fried ice-cream just because I haven’t had any before. Now I can say I have. There were more cops that came into the restaurant. Should I feel safe with all these law enforcement personnel around? Because I have to say, it kind of had the opposite effect on me.

Friday morning I unwillingly returned home. Dressed in my Little Mermaid souvenir shirt. I stopped at a gas station in Evanston and pulled up next to a couple either heading or coming from Sturgis. They were both dressed head to toe in leather garb. I looked down at my shirt and decided that was probably going to be the last time I wore it in public.

I bought a sandwich from Subway and went to the rest stop to watch the bison. That’s not a metaphor. It’s literal. There’s a herd of bison nearby.

They weren't there at first and then right when I was getting ready to leave - they decided to say hello.  Typical bison.

They weren’t there at first and then right when I was getting ready to leave – they decided to say hello. Typical bison.

Those irrestible Wyoming bison

Those irresistible Wyoming bison

I looked at the time. It looked like my ship was going to be delayed another year.

At least, I have something to blog about.

Final tally for the road trip.  Mileage wise it looks more like a weekend trip.

Final tally for the road trip. Mileage wise it looks more like a weekend trip.

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2 thoughts on “Birthday Road Trip: 2014 Edition

  1. You had quite an adventure, and met some interesting characters and situations along the way! You could turn some of those characters and situations into short stories or dare I say it – a novel! 🙂

    Those crickets do sound quite loud! I always used to find the sound of crickets quite creepy, I’ve never been keen on the sound of insects. But it doesn’t bother me so much these days. Not that we have many in England! Although I can remember a hot summer evening about 10 years ago, every bush in every garden as I walked one street I could hear that unmistakable sound of crickets. It has been the only time in my life I have heard them. Must have been a mini plague of crickets hit that street! They are very small in the UK, so don’t make a lot of noise, and generally we refer to them as grass hoppers, although more people call them crickets today. My friend who is originally from Pasadena says she really misses falling asleep to the sound of crickets. I can’t imagine what that must be like. Could be quite soothing – if not too loud!

    And the rain – it always has to rain on holidays. I thought that was just a British problem, but obviously not! 😉

  2. I used to live in Utah and got quite used to the crickets. I remember one time my brother came for a visit and made a comment how loud they were and I replied with a “Huh? What crickets?” But now that I’ve been gone for 10 years… NOW I understand 🙂 Kinda creepy. I remember for my road trip last year I was in the middle of Missouri with nothing but the crickets’ cousin chirping and me. A bit unsettling 🙂
    We have been getting rain this month! Even up here in Wyoming. It’s quite unusual. In fact, it rained all day today. I guess it’s okay now, I have nowhere I need to be – and we could sure use the moisture so let it rain! (Especially since it was nice enough to take the day off during our outdoor play) 😀

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