Monday, July 16, 2007

Cedar City to Salt Lake City (Road trip part II)

The man with the assault rifle (see previous post) was noneother than my longtime partner in crime, Bradley Russel Swenson. Brad and I met in college and since then have been on many different adventures together around the globe. Last year Brad lived in the Nehemiah House with me and worked with me in the youth group. At the end of last summer he moved out to Utah with his family (his parents and sister and two brothers with their wives and kids - each brother just has one wife - just thought I would clarify) in a migration akin to the pioneer days. They set up their homestead in Cedar City and have begun to set down roots in the community. This isn't so easy when you are a perceived wacko from California in the center of the polygamist center of Utah. This area of Utah is not only heavily Mormon, but it is also a haven for off-shoot cults of Mormonism. You can't get much weirder than being from a cult that is an off-shoot of a cult. And the Swenson's have found themselves right in the middle of it. Anyways, Brad met us at his brother's house, where he was house sitting, and the gun was his brother's. Apparently his brother is really getting into the whole frontier, cowboy motif.

The next morning we met Brad's girlfriend Megan, who was visiting from Florida and was staying at Brad's other brother's house. After a delicious breakfast, we packed in the car and drove to Zion National Park. Going from Los Angeles to Vegas to Zion was like going from the dark side of the moon to the center of the sun. coming from a city of 12 million people, 20 million cars, a couple hundred half-dead trees and a globzillion particles of polluted air to the majesty and beauty God's creation in Zion National Park with it's steep red-rock cliff faces and fertile valley's was almost too much for my city - numbed senses to take. Once at the park, we went on a hike called "the Narrows." The "trail" consists of the Virgin River, which can get to chest high in some places. The river flows through a steep and narrow canyon - hence the name "Narrows". Think the Siq with water for those of you who have been to Petra. Needless to say (but I will anyways) we had a blast. Our hike was not without a few hair raising brushes with death...ok there was only really one dangerous part and it wasn't really death defying...more like anklesprain risking...but still. I realized on this hike that years of school and hours spent in front of my computer have had a very wussyfing effect on me. Gotta do something about that.
After a long day of hiking we met the Swenson clan for some savory carne asada. This was a real blessing. Their whole family getting together and investing their lives in each other and the community for the cause of Christ set off a holy glow that still warms me as I write this. Being an only child and growing up far away from extended family has given me a unique appreciation of family fellowship. When that kind of fellowship is sanctified, directed, unified and empowered by the love from and for Christ, there are few things on earth as beautiful.

The next morning we said goodbye to the Swensons and headed north to Salt Lake City by way of a little detour to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is another example of the mind-blowing beauty that only my DAD can cook up. To think that this kind of beauty still exists after years of erosion and human abuse. I can't wait to get to heaven.

After Bryce Canyon, we headed for Salt Lake City. Taking Charles Kuralt's advice that, "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything" we decided to take backroads instead of I-15. This added time to our trip but it also rewarded us with unexpected treats and rarely seen parts of Utah. A highlight of the trip was stopping at Big Rock Candy Mountain. Ever since the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where art Thou?" came out one of my favorite folk songs has been "Big Rock Candy Mountain". I have no idea whether this Big Rock Candy Mountain has anything to do with the song but that wasn't going to stop Sarah and I from dancing a little jig underneath it's sign. We also spent some time watching the swallows come and go from their mud nests underneath the eaves of the Big Rock Candy Mountain Gas Station and Souvenir Shop. As I explained to Brad the day before, Sarah is into birds...and I'm into Sarah...therefore I am into birds.
We arrived in Salt Lake City around 6pm that evening and checked into our hotel. What happened that night will have to wait until next time.
Sorry for the "and then we did this...and then we did that..." nature of this post. I don't have the time to journal and blog and I want to remember what we did so you guys get to read more detail here than you probably care too. So I understand if you just skip or skim these posts. If you have read every detail of this with unabated excitement, it probably means that your standard for literature is very low or and/or you have way too much time on your hands and you should be spending your time more wisely. So close that computer up and go tell somebody about Jesus!

Christ is all

Next Episode: Mormon stand-up comedians, a dude named Moroni and even more polygamy!

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