Last Friday I had to go out to Roosevelt to attend an instructor conference for the USU Extension. Since I had to teach my 1010 satellite course the night before (from 8-10:30), I had the option of starting my 2 1/2 hour voyage at 11pm Thursday or at 5:30am Friday morning.
I opted for Friday.
It may have been due to Daylight Savings, but when I left Friday morning, it was still quite dark outside. As in, "anyone else you see walking around at this hour is a criminal" dark. At least that's what I thought. As I drove past my gym, I saw dozens of cars in the parking lot. Dozens.
These people have a problem.
I had a problem, too. I had to drive out into the middle of Eastern Utah by 8:30am in time to skip the complimentary continental breakfast and slip in for the formal opening ceremonies.
Roosevelt, man...Friggin' Roosevelt.
In order to create a proper meditative mood, I opted to play my "slow-down soul" playlist on my iPod, featuring grooves from Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding. Not exactly "Utah Road Trip" music, but I've never been too big on slavishly playing music that fit the area I was driving through. As a kid, my parent's would play Simon and Garfunkel on our trips to Yellowstone, which seemed completely rational to me until I realized that Paul and Art were writing and recording all that stuff in Greenwich Village, New York. Oh well.
Eventually I made it out of the Salt Lake Valley and up past Parley's Summit on I-80, still with black, star-studded skies above me. I turned off onto Highway 40, which would account for 114 of the 151 total one-way journey (according to mapquest). As I curved past Heber City and began to head due east, I realized that I might be in for a nice sunrise.
So I made the most of it.
I had already passed a pair of formal "viewing areas" before the sun began to emerge, but as the morning drew on, I still got some progressively better shots.
But the shots really got good right as I hit Starvation Reservoir. Can't really tell you where Starvation Reservoir is, other than to say if you get on Highway 40 and drive past Heber City, eventually you'll find it.
Shortly past Starvation, I hit Duchesne*, and realized just how far I would have had to drive to take up my last band offer. A student in one of my composition classes last year told me his band was looking for a new drummer. Thing is, this student's band worked the Uinta Basin bar circuit, mostly in the Duchesne area. I was intrigued by the notion of hitting the Utah equivalent of the Chitlin' Circuit of the deep south, but I would have had to get paid like the Stones to match the travel costs.
By this time the sun was up, and directly in my face, so I just pushed on to Roosevelt and zoned through six-seven hours worth of presentations, panel discussions, and academic banter, nicely split by a catered dutch oven lunch that featured six cobbler options for dessert.
I shouldn't have left my camera in the car.
By 3:45pm, I was back out on the road home, this time paying considerably less attention to the scenic grandeur around me, and considerably more attention to the slowpokes that had crowded up the two-lane highway in the meantime. But once I got past Duchesne again, I started to notice some more picturesque venues, and so I pulled off into a muddy viewing area near a reservoir that was still frozen over, and sacrificed my "good shoes" in order to grab some photos of the mountains, the frozen tundra...and a corn dog.
The black spot on the left side of the photo is a bird. Or Robert Redford.
So am I a morning person now? Wholly converted with the new motivation to rise early and take advantage of the natural beauties of daybreak, grateful for the wonderful state of my nativity?
Nope. But at least I feel better about driving to Roosevelt at 5:30 in the morning.
*Pronounced "Doo-SHANE", as in, "Hey Vinnie, take this .45 out behind the pizzeria and do Shane."