The Scooter of Doom

A village in Ooh-Tah
Where the roofs are thatched with gold
If I could let myself believe
I know just where I’d be
Right on the next bus to paradise
Sal Tlay Ka Siti
— The Book of Mormon (the musical)

This morning, when I told Yvonne that I was going to put my hearing aids in, she said, “Huh?” and guffawed loudly when I repeated myself. She has pulled that little gag on me countless times, and I’ve fallen for it every single time.

The view from our hotel room patio in Springdale, Utah

But now that they are in my ears, I can hear the chirping of canyon wrens and the soft rush of the river, yards from my Adirondack chair near Zion National Park. We’ve been on the road for eight days now and have visited all five National Parks in southern Utah. I’ll get to the parks in my next post.

We spent our first night in Salt Lake City. It was a scream—literally.

The Mormon Tabernacle, also called the Salt Lake Tabernacle

It began calmly enough. After checking in at our AirBnB, we took a long, evening walk to see Temple Square, the beating heart of Mormonism. At the visitor center we learned about Brigham Young and his divinely-inspired vision of an enormous temple right there in the middle of nowhere. Amazingly friendly and eager volunteers offered to answer our questions, and politely backed away when we had none. We were impressed with a three-foot-high dollhouse version of the temple, with cutaways revealing the secret chambers within. The real temple, now called the Mormon Tabernacle, is closed to non-believers.

After a late dinner, we rented a Lime scooter for the dark, two-mile trip back to our room. We shared a single scooter, me driving and both of us balanced precariously on its four-inch wide base(warning: this is against the rules).

It seemed like a good idea at the outset, but Yvonne quickly found herself terrified beyond terror. I couldn’t see her face, but she has assured me that Munch’s “The Scream” was joyful in comparison. Yvonne’s hands gripped the backs of mine so tightly that my hands cramped. I could barely control our speed and direction.

Every turn or minor obstacle caused an eardrum-piercing shout of “CAREFUL!!” or sometimes a wordless, blood-curdling shriek. I wished I’d left my hearing aids in my suitcase. Yvonne synchronized her screams to body motion, jerking this way and that to avoid perceived mortal dangers. Her thrashing often threw our balance off and once we nearly crashed into a tree.

Between the chaos, frequent stops for traffic lights, and two-way berating, what should have been a fifteen-minute trip stretched into forty. We still had over a half mile to go when Yvonne had had enough. She insisted that we ditch the Lime and walk, which we did.

Next time, we’ll splurge and rent two scooters.

Author’s note: My lovely, normally-adventurous, good-humored wife approved this post.

I Can See Russia From My Veranda!

I am not really a cruise vacation sort of person. I prefer to spend enough time in foreign ports to get a feel for places, to experience life there even if I’m not actually living the way the locals live. But the cruise I’m on right now is really, really good and I can finally appreciate why some people make cruising their first choice for travel. Of course, it depends on the ship. Continue reading “I Can See Russia From My Veranda!”

A Tourist In My Own Back Yard

West Marin

Ask most anyone, anywhere, about a local tourist destination or activity, and there’s a good chance that they haven’t seen or done it. I’m no different. Have I driven down Lombard Street, the Crookedest Street In The World? Ridden the Napa Wine Train? Visited the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park? Ridden a Segway along the San Francisco Marina? No, no, no, and no. Continue reading “A Tourist In My Own Back Yard”