Just how did they “discover Utah”?

I had alluded to the fact that “the gals”, without Shari were somewhat familiar with SW Utah. What I hadn’t really said was… they’d made more than one trip to the area. So you really understand, let’s follow their trail over the past couple of years.

In November 2003, with Bev recovering from her bout with cancer (and her hair returning with lots of curls)… Mom, Bev and Cindy had flown to Vegas for a “mini-vacation”. Two days later, Barb drove over and picked them up to stay in Hurricane (just SE of St George).

They figured with Bev retired and on disability, if they were ever to take a vacation… this was the time.

Using Barb’s as a base, they explored the vastness of Southern Utah, even taking time to visit Zion National Park and the Pahrea Movie Set.

Now Cindy, who’s a true flatlander, was absolutely enchanted and fascinated by the mountains. The biggest “mountains” she’d seen were the rolling hills of Ohio. I can only imagine she was like a little kid on the airplane, oohing and aww-ing at the new sites.

Since she’d only ever seen black asphalt or concrete roads, the red rock asphalt paving was a real surprise, too.

From Barb’s place, they ranged about 120 miles or so, and found themselves thoroughly enjoying the scenery, the weather and the people. While sight-seeing, they picked up the “Pioneer Shopper” and soon discovered that land was cheap, really cheap in SW Utah. Had they wanted, there was land available in Hamlin Valley for $100 an acre. Only one minor detail, you’d be living “off grid”, and they weren’t sure they were ready for that.

The second trip, made just two months later at the end of the year was a real house-hunting adventure. Carefully avoiding snowstorms, they drove from Port Clinton to Hurricane, so they’d have their own truck as they looked at a number of properties.

You see, upon returning home, they longed for a change of scenery… permanently.

They found a place to look at in Enterprise. That’s about 37 miles north of St. George. Surprise! Here they’d driven nearly 2000 miles to see a house, and it had gone “under contract” just hours before they arrived.

Now what to do? Look at other options!

They found a place in Hamilton Fort (just south of Cedar City) that looked real promising. It had 20 acres and manufactured house with a log exterior. What a beauty, they thought.

Thinking there would be no problem selling their lovely property on the island, they made an offer… probably not the best decision they’d make on this adventure.

Now, this was December 2003 and into January 2004, a rather dicey time to be driving across country, especially from Southern Utah northeast to Ohio. In their new Chevy Avalanche, they felt pretty secure, so racing a major winter storm wouldn’t really be a problem… but wait! The weather forecast was “snow flurries”… at least for the next couple of days.

They’d neglected to inquire about going into 4WD “on the fly”. Having graduated from a Silverado to the Avalanche, they kind of took the 4WD thing for granted. As the snow began to cover the road, and previous tire tracks were being blown away, Cindy reluctantly called the dealership (in Ohio) to ask about putting the Avalanche into 4WD.

Steve their salesman’s first comment was “Utah! What the hell you doing in Utah?” No time to answer that…

“How do I put this thing in 4WD? Can I be moving? If so, how fast?” Cindy inquired.

Laughing, Steve replied, “How fast are you going? See that knob on the dash? If you’re not going more than 55, turn it to 4WD.”

Before you think… silly girls, why not read the owner’s manual? The did… and that part wasn’t explained.

They’d hit snow just north of Cedar City, and would be in 4WD the rest of the way home.

At about Vail, they were caught in an incredible traffic jam. Seems there had been a real avalanche, as in tons of snow across the westbound lanes of I-70.

So they sat, and from time-to-time, inched their way to the Eisenhower Tunnel, a distance of some 48 miles. To make matters worse, by the time they got to Denver, they were battling freezing rain.

No time for delays, they were attempting to drive straight through to Port Clinton, Ohio as Cindy had to get back to work.

Shortly passed Denver, they decided to spend the night in Limon, hoping for better traveling during daylight hours.

Fortunately, once they cleared Colorado and raced through Nebraska, they’d outrun the storm. Well, kinda sorta.

You see, the ferry boats stopped running the day BEFORE they got home. This was one of those lucky winters where Lake Erie had yet to freeze, so there was still limited ferry service. Knowing this, they drove straight to Sandusky where they’d now fly to the island, leaving their Avalanche on the mainland. No problem, as that’s something islanders did all the time.

Home safe and sound, they set about putting their home on the market.

But first, remember that storm they outraced? Well, it caught up with them , and solidified the idea that living with “little or no snow” would be a wonderful idea.

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