“I need a vacation.”

“Ok.”

“Let’s do a road trip. We can spend time together, I can scout for my hunting trip, and we can get up close and personal to nature.”

“Cool. I’m in!”

Done.

The Virgin River Gorge in Arizona back to Nevada
The Virgin River Gorge in Arizona back to Nevada

That was more or less the conversation that The Wineaux Guy™ and I had as he (easily) talked me into going with him to Southern Utah. He had been fortunate enough to have been awarded a license for hunting in late September and wanted to do a pre-scouting trip before he and his hunting partner do a “real” scouting trip in early September.

Since he hasn’t taken a “real” vacation in at least seven years, he felt antsy anyway and wanted to get away from Southern California. I was supposed to go with him to attend a family reunion in Arizona at that time, but that’s when Mom, The Tough Old Broad™ had her accident and I couldn’t leave to accompany him. She’s still doing well, by the way.

He drove into Vegas on Tuesday, and by 0’dark thirty on Wednesday, we were on the road to Southern Utah.

About Utah

I was going to write a lot of stuff about Utah, but I found this amazingly hilarious video instead that also has some real information about the state that may interest you.

Getting to Southern Utah from Southern Nevada is easy. Take the I15 North and you’ll be in Utah in about 90 minutes or so. The drive is fairly mundane unless you can go through the NW corner of Arizona very early in the morning or during sunset and see the beauty that is the Virgin River Gorge. Even so, it’s stunning even in broad daylight.

It recently occurred to me that I’ve actually spent most of my life living in the desert. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, but that’s a small part of my life now. From California to Nevada, with Utah being one of my favorite visiting spots, the Mojave has been my home for decades.

After passing through the gorge, you find yourself arriving in St. George, the closest Utah city to Vegas. It’s still in the Mojave Desert, but being further north and east, it’s a bit greener than the desert around Las Vegas. After we arrived in St. George, we stopped at a cute restaurant (whose name, unfortunately, eludes me) and started our day with a hearty breakfast. And coffee.

After breakfast, we took off immediately to explore. We did not have a room reservation because we’d decided to play it by ear. The Wineaux Guy™ had driven in with his 6-speed 4WD Toyota which allowed us to explore places that would have destroyed my Chrysler.

Map of Southern Utah

Driving along the I15

We took off going north on the I15 and drove past Washington and Verkin before we took a random exit to explore and drive through the small (very small) town of Leeds. Quaint, in a good way.

If Utah allowed wine shipments, I would seriously entertain moving there. Unfortunately, many of their alcohol laws give the impression that they left Prohibition behind reluctantly and are making up for its absence with rather odious laws. Which, coming from a place like Las Vegas (Sin City, duh), is simply a deal breaker.

But I digress.

It recently occurred to me that I’ve actually spent most of my life living in the desert. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, but that’s a small, distant part of my life now. From California to Nevada, with Utah being one of my favorite visiting spots, the Mojave Desert has been my home for decades.

So driving through the “wilds” of Utah once again gave me an appreciation of the diversity and beauty of the desert.

Middle of Nowhere with the 4WD!
Middle of Nowhere with the 4WD!

What is unusual about this year is that the desert was truly awash in water. Las Vegas has a ridiculously low annual amount of water, which is 4.5 inches annually. We had reached that by the end of April, with May and the early part of June still showing record amounts of precipitation. In other words, we have surpassed our annual amount of rainfall and if we don’t get another drop, we’re still pretty good. And monsoon season is just a month away!

Some of the rainfall apparently came into Utah as well. As The Wineaux Guy™ and I explored the backcountry, we came upon everything from rivulets to creeks to roaring dam spillways. There was moisture everywhere!

 

There are a few things I want to showcase about our trip.

Veyo

Veyo is a small town that is nestled in the middle of a circle of extinct volcanos. Really! And how small is it? Less than 500. And yes, it’s quaint! And it’s the home of one of the best pie restaurants ever!

Pine Valley

Who knew that we’d find paradise in the mountains above the desert in Utah? Pine Valley is a gorgeous little town that looks as if it had been picked up out of the middle of New England and deposited in Utah. It’s a trip up the 18 – after which I don’t know how we got there since I was simply enjoying the view – and is breathtaking.

It has a few attractions, and one of the most interesting was the Hoy Insect Museum. Curated by William Hoy, a retired entomologist, the museum is actually a very small “tiny house” sized building that’s owned by the Smithsonian Institution. If you’re ever in the area – okay, not that you can’t be there without planning – be sure to sign the guest book. Once it’s full, the museum will be granted a larger building so that more of the hidden collection can be displayed.  I’m not afraid of insects, but to be frank, if any of those insects were to land on my, I’d probably make the fact that I put on clean underwear moot.

I realize that I can’t put five days of fun into one post, so instead, I’m going to share the photos. Even then, there were times when I totally forgot to take photos because we were either having so much fun or I was so entranced that I simply forgot.

That said, I encourage anyone to take a trip to Southern Utah. While we limited ourselves to the immediate St. George area and its environs, we have visited Zion National Park, Brian Head, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and others. It’s simply a beautiful state! Except for the wine thing.

The Utah Gallery!

These are in no particular order. I was enjoying The Wineaux Guy’s company and the beauty of Utah too much to keep notes. It’s all up here (see finger point to head) and here (see finger pointing to heart). Oh! And wherever you see MoW, it means Middle of Nowhere. Another reason why I didn’t keep track because I didn’t know where we were!

 

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