Falling for Utah

From El Paso, I wound my way up the southwest towards the Utah/Idaho border. The first stop was Tucson, Arizona. I left Texas around 11 o’clock pm, in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. It’s only about a 5 hour drive, and I had an appointment at the local dealership at 7 the next morning. Without any idea what it would cost, I had decided that it was time to get the air conditioning fixed. The price couldn’t possibly be higher than that of my human comfort.

To make a long story short, by 2 o’clock that afternoon I had been to two different repair shops, received three estimates, and realized that the price of rebuilding an air conditioning system could absolutely be higher than that of my human comfort. Even if I had wanted to bite the bullet, it would have taken at least a week to fix, and I didn’t have that kind of time. I gritted my teeth, replied my sunscreen, and drove to meet up with some friends north of the city.

After a lovely evening and night, I left for Utah. Around noon, the familiar delirious heat of the desert had my eyes rolling. Through the haze, I realized that the horizon in front of me had been growing. As a road sign for Flagstaff flew past my open windows, a glimmer of hope slipped itself over the sun in an inverted metaphor. The mountains were ahead. Altitudes mean cooler temperatures, right?

I gunned the beautiful Mercedes-Benz engine that purred agreeably in front of my legs and began the climb. Although some speed adjustment was necessary during the ascent (to keep the engine temperature from overheating), I eventually crested the long hill. The sudden change of scenery was almost lost in the blissfully cool breeze that hit me so unexpectedly that it took my breath away. Choking on the gasp, I impulsively threw my torso out of the window, hooting and pumping my fist. I can’t recall what I shouted into the turbulence, but I can only hope that its grateful echo will bounce through the beautiful mountains that gave me the rarefied air into which I bellowed my delight.

Finally out of the low desert.

The change in conditions did wonders for my mood. I wound through beautiful crags and cliffs with a huge smile on my face. A childhood friend of mine lives in Kanab, just across the Utah border, which is where I stayed for the night. We hiked around a bit, and in the morning, I took a tour of Best Friends Animal Society. It’s a no-kill animal sanctuary and hospital, and a very cool place. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Navajo nation, near the Utah border.

Next stop: Logan, Utah. After settling into a nice (free!) camp site for the weekend, I started a job with the Utah Conservation Corps. It’s a three month position that I was offered several months ago. So far, it’s been great. The work schedule hasn’t been set in stone yet, but it’s likely to require 9-10 days out on a project, with long weekends in between. Not sure what my availability will look like, but I would expect periodic lulls in communication over the next couple of months.

Green Canyon, in Logan. Home!

To paint in broad strokes, the job will generally consist of public/private trail maintenance, habitat restoration, invasive species removal (aka weeding), and improving access to natural areas. Lots of manual labor, and lots of work outdoors. I’m pretty excited.


-Austin

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