Wednesday July 14
Salt Lake City
I hate early starts but with Aventours and a country the size of America you had little choice. Today we had breakfast at seven and to compound the misery I was on dishwashing duty with Sharon and Kim. We had great fun but I wasn’t looking forward to eating from those plates later in the day. We were not great dish-washers.
After packing we were on the road once more, heading for Bear Lake in Utah followed by Salt Lake City.
Bear Lake was a magical lunch spot, and mercifully we didn’t need plates. I was beginning to worry about the reaction when we eventually did.
The lake itself was a beautiful turquoise and according to legend a lake monster lurked in its depths. The story originated from a compendium of sightings compiled by Joseph C Rich a leading C19th Mormon who later admitted the stories were false. An untruthful Mormon. Be still my beating heart. Still the story had traction. Other sightings followed, some describing it as a large walrus, others as a prehistoric lizard, and a few describing it as a larger than average carp. We saw nothing – though the last reported sighting was in 2004.
I think we’d have been quite happy spending the entire day at Bear Lake, swimming, diving from rocks, just messing around, but Salt Lake City beckoned.
There we toured the Temple grounds, saw a film on their founding prophet, and were invited to stroke marble-effect pillars made purely from wood. There were better ways to spend an afternoon, but there wasn’t a bar in sight.
Walking around, I felt like an extra in Stepford City – only no one had given me the diazepam. It had to be Valium. It had to be. I couldn’t figure it out. Sunshine and Valium. Everyone seemed so goddamned content with those smug little smiles that told us they knew something we didn’t. Maybe they did. I bought a Mormon bible for a dollar, but was later ripped off 11 dollars buying a T Shirt from a fresh-faced boy - with the smile.
Beneath a late afternoon sun I consumed two milk-shakes and too many ice creams watching people walk by, searching for a break in the wall of contentment.
Tourists may see that in Monmouth today, an alternative Paradise. I love it. But that Wednesday, July 14th I saw it as alien, artificial, and it gave me the creeps.
That night some of the group went bowling but having consumed too many milk products, I stayed in camp and spent the time talking to Evelyn, Daghmar, Sharon and Kim; drank bourbon, swatted mosquitoes. The only other highlight of this day was noting that Ron Tillet didn’t sleep in his tent that night. Can you imagine that? I’d become a canvas-flap-twitcher. I must have been really bored that day. I blame it on the milk.