Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day 21

Location: Kanab, Utah

Total miles traveled: 8,397

I got on the road shortly after 9 this morning and headed southwest towards the Grand Canyon. I would only be able to see the Northern Rim...even though the more popular Southern Rim is only separated from the Northern Rim by 11 miles (as the crow flies), driving the way around is about 215.

Although it was a little hazy at the Grand Canyon, I was still able to get some great views from the Northern Rim:

I hiked a little ways down inside the canyon...I didn't do it for too long as I was becoming more and more nauseous on the way down. You see, mules share the same trails into the canyon as hikers, so the trails are full of messy mule poop and the smell is awful.

Despite the smell, I was able to get some good looks at the inside of the canyon from walking down a bit:

I got back on the road shortly before sunset, heading back the way I came into Utah. My next stop will be Zion National Park which is near the SW corner of Utah...from there, I'll probably head towards Bryce Canyon.

I learned this evening that I'll have to be back home by the 1st, so I don't have a lot of time, but I should still be able to see all the destinations I had originally planned on visiting.

Gotta find a place to sleep now. Goodnight, everyone.


The journey continued (approximately)

Day 20

Location: near Nephi, Utah

Total miles traveled: 8,000 (exactly)

I woke up early and was able to catch sunrise on the Grand Teton mountain range. Though I had seen mountains earlier in the trip, the size of the Tetons, along with their location near water (Jackson Lake and the Snake River) made them quite enjoyable to view, especially as the sun was coming up.

And here was a sign in the park you don't see back home in JC:

Unfortunately, I did not see any moose.

Anyhow, I continued in a southeast direction into Idaho. I previously did drive through Northern Idaho when I was heading towards Glacier National Park, but now I was planning to spend a little time there.

I headed in the direction of a little city near the border of Idaho and Utah called Preston. On the way to Preston, I drove through Soda Springs, Idaho. You might remember this was a famous stop on the Oregon Trail (I only remember that because of the computer game - I still remember the graphic the game would show when you arrived there). And then I drove through the town of Grace, and I noticed the marquee at the high school:

I had no idea steer wrestling was a high school sport.

I continued on towards Preston. Some of you may be familiar with this city...first I'll show you a picture and then maybe you'll know what place it is...

Recognize this place? Notice the tetherball poll on the left.

Any idea?

It's Napoleon Dynamite country. Preston is where the movie was filmed and it's where the director and star grew up. I'm a big fan of the movie, and since I knew I'd be in the area I planned on stopping and seeing what this place was like. I like small towns, too, and that's the impression I had of this place when I saw the movie.

It not as small as I thought, but certainly not a big place by any means. Maybe something comparable to Norwich, NY. I stopped at a "Big J's" ice cream shop (not the one from the film where Kip and Uncle Rico hang out) and I purchased a "Sweet Map of Napoleon's Preston." The map told you where film locations were (about 12 in total), so I thought I'd go see the playground (above). The map also listed the homes that were used in the film, but I chose not to see those as the people who live there are probably annoyed enough with visitors gawking at their houses. I decided I'd rather walk down the main road in Preston (State St) and see some of the businesses that were in one way or another a part of the film.

Before I get into detail here I apologize to those who never saw the film or don't care for it. But I promise not to get into too many specifics here.

So on State St. I walked by King's (the all-purpose store where Uncle Rico scolds Napoleon for wanting to purchase a variety pack of something). I also walked by the "Cuttin Corral," - a barber shop not featured in the film, but mentioned by the main character.

Naturally, these businesses, and others along State St. are still using the film as a promotional tool even though it's over a year old. They're all selling T-shirts, posters, etc...and it works, as the town gets a number of visitors solely because of the film.

The last stop I made was at this thrift store called Deseret Industries. In the film, the main character shops here for the horrendous suit he wears to a school dance, and he also purchases a a VHS tape called "D-Kwon's Dance Grooves" here, as well. In the movie you can see the random junk that is on the shelves of this store, and I got to witness it first hand...I doubt the movie had to adjust the store in any way to make it appear strange. I'll describe just the "electronics" section for you to illustrate - on one shelf you would see a remote control, an old alarm clock, a transistor radio, two old Nokia cell phones, an original Nintendo (without wires or controllers), and one of those spotlights you can use for looking inside your car hood at night (without a bulb, of course).

The store also sold used clothes you remember those shirts you'd have to wear in scouts that showed your patches, name, and troop number? I noticed one of these shirts was on sale.

Most of the items in the store were priced between $1 - $3. So naturally, I purchased a lot of crap...bought some books, some records, some hats, and some electronic stuff - I ended up getting $35 worth of merchandise, some of which wasn't total junk.. The biggest expense was an 8-CD collection of classical music, which was surprisingly still wrapped in plastic.

Needless to say, I am no longer concerned with finding gifts to bring back home to the family...haha. I almost bought Brendan an old trophy that was for sale - "Dance Extravaganza - 1995."

Anyhow, I had a good time in Preston...not so much because Napoleon Dynamite was filmed there, but because it was a quaint little town. It actually seems like a pretty nice place to live.

I got back on the road eventually and headed South into Utah. I arrived at Salt Lake City around 9pm and I thought I'd relax for a bit, so if I could find a movie theatre, I'd stop and see a recent release. Fortunately, there was a "Cinemark" right off of the Interstate, so I parked there and bought a ticket for "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" as it was the only movie I wouldn't have to wait a long time to see.

The movie was pretty good...a lot funnier than I expected, and it was nice to sit in the AC and relax in a near-empty theatre.

After the movie I got back on the road, but didn't make it too far as it was late and I was pretty tired. I stopped at a "Flying J's" travel plaza for the night. Tomorrow (the 21st) I'll continue south through Utah into Arizona to see the Grand Canyon (which is in the NW portion of the state). After that, the rest of my traveling for the duration of the trip will never be any further south, as I'll head in a NE direction as I visit some national parks in Utah and Colorado, visit a friend in Boulder, and then drive up to South Dakota.

I'm aiming to be back home by the 5th...I have a lot to see in a small amount of time, but I think it'll be doable. It's unfortunate I don't get to spend a lot of time in any one place, but I think this way I'll certainly know what places will be worth visiting again, and for longer durations, in the future.

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