Posts Tagged ‘Utah’
Posted on June 20, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 16: June 19, 2010
Jesser to Roosevelt, Utah
Despite being fairly flat, this proved a tough slog through dryland ranching, oil and gas services country and Ute tribal lands.
John Andersen never figured federal stimulus dollars and tribal housing into his work plan, but if housing is your game these days, prefab is the name. “Absolutely nothing in residential construction is moving, anywhere. If you want work, it’s all about affordable housing,” he said.
Anderson, his daughter Ashleigh and son-in-law Tarry along with friends Merlin and Curtis, are doing finishing work on the installation of a couple of dozen prefab houses the Ute tribal council has purchased – sheet rocking, texturing, fixtures and touch-up paint. They all call Idaho home. For this work in Utah they’ve hauled a couple of trailers over and set up behind the Kody Athletic Club, a gravel parking pad with minimal amenities but the right price.
It is not the lifestyle to which Ashleigh is accustomed. She laughs at the chaos of her life with four men. Her dad gets the tiny bedroom, her husband the couch with the bars that bite into his back. She takes the floor. The bathroom leaves something to be desired for someone who puts some thought into her appearance. But they’ve got work and the right attitude to take care of each other and a stranger across the gravel.
When I pulled into the parking area behind Kody’s, I was pooped. I had come into Roosevelt after a traffic-riddled day on Hwy 40 and was so tired that I stopped at an intersection at a side street, forgot to unclip, and just fell over. Gravity was telling me it was time to stop. I was exhausted, chaffed, badly in need of a shower. A surly cashier at a convenience store pointed me to Kody’s with such insouciance that I wasn’t sure she really understood what I wanted.
I pulled in, couldn’t find anyone official to check with, so set up my tent on a stretch of gravel. Glancing at the neighborhood, it was easy to see that the entire collection of a dozen or so trailers here would cost about as much as just one of the opulent rigs with multiple pop outs, or the deluxe fifth wheels with their satellite dishes I’d seen at Montrose or Dinosaur Monument. Here, there were no hookups, no showers, no bathrooms, just a safe place to park for cheap. People were here to work, not to see the sites. These were mobile homes, not recreation vehicles.
I got my tent nailed into the gravel and went to see the neighborhood. I encountered Curtis, sitting in a plastic chair, holding a bundle of a clean clothes and a towel. His arms and head were coated in white dust. While we talked, Ashleigh and Tarry walked up, fresh showered and smiling.
“Better get over there, she’s just here for 15 minutes,” Ashleigh said. And after the briefest of introductions to me, Ashleigh said to me, “Go! Get your stuff! Tell her you’re will us!”
The shower at Kody’s Athletic Club was crisp, clean and restorative. Kitty the owner was a great exception to the rule of surely, suspicious people in this valley. She’s run the gym for a half dozen years and offers all high school students in the area free membership. “I try to make it easy for them to get in the habit early,” she said. She opens the locker rooms for the sheetrock crew after work because not showering after that work is unthinkable.
The shower brought me back to social, and I spent the most enjoyable night of my trip hearing about Ashleigh and Tarry and their four kids and seven baby burrowing owls, and John’s life as a teacher and coach before he escaped all that to build his dream house on the lake in Idaho. John supervised a hibachi conflagration of chicken and everyone fed the mosquitoes. Way later than my usual bedtime I hunkered down under a bright-as-the-sun spotlight and listened to my other neighbors laugh and talk quietly as upbeat and mellow Mexican pop tunes wafted through the tent.
As quick as a bad day turns good, strangers turn to friends. Thanks gang. I’ll see you down the road.
Posted on June 19, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 15: June 18, 2010
Canyon Pinturado to west gate, Dinosaur National Monument
Oh, this is the part everyone said was boring, boring, but riveting — eyes constantly toggling between looking back to see the next jackass oil field worker bearing down on me, and glancing ahead to see my best exit ramp if I need to bail on the white stripe that serves as my bike lane. Not a bad diversion as I rolled through Rangeley to Dinosaur, then on to Jeser, Utah rolling though high prairie. The high point: remarkable cactus blooms splashing improbable pinks and yellows beneath the sage.
Attention, gentlemen of the oil and gas fields. There are two pedals at your feet. One is the gas. You seem familiar with that. The other is known as the brake. If you sense that you are overtaking a biker at the same time as oncoming traffic, experiment with the brake and let the other car go rather than squeezing yourself between the biker and the car. A flick of the gas pedal and you’ll be right back on pace.
While I have your attention, let’s talk about the lines on the road. The yellow one, if you were to stop and take a look, is just a line. It is not an impenetrable force field, or a virtual wall. You may, if there is no oncoming traffic, cross this line in order to give bikes or pedestrians on the shoulder save passageway. In Colorado, this is actually law, when safe cross the solid line to put three feet between you and a bike. On the other side of your lane is a white line. It too is just paint. It confers no special protections on people traveling to the right of it – it’s not a force field either. Like so many abstractions, these lines are only as powerful as the minds that grasp their meaning. They are special suggestions. Actual common-sense requires that you engage your brain in order to proceed safely for a lifetime on the highway.
Congratulations to the pickup truck drivers of the extensive oil and gas play from the Douglas field through the Rangely field, you are by far the worst drivers I’ve encountered on my trip. The men you will become, the one’s in the RVs, they are a distant second. The men and women with the really tough job, the big rig drivers, they’re pros. They know that avoiding trouble equals saving time in a way that crossing the line just doesn’t. They’re the cream of the crop in today’s poll. To those of you who are exceptions to today’s lousy driver pool: thanks, and teach your brothers well.
The bright spot today: With all the rain, the cactus have burst into bloom and spots of bright pink and light yellow peek out from the sage on the most unlikely hillsides.