Girl Trip: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly?

Last weekend I went on a “girls’ trip.”  My cousins and I talked about it for about six months, and finally we set a date and off we went.  Janine and Lisa are sisters and my cousins.  Our dads were brothers.  We wanted to go to Salt Lake City to visit our aunt, and also visit with their brother’s family who had been transferred there four years ago. 

The plan was to leave on a Thursday morning and return on Sunday.  Janine is a high school math teacher, and she was finished with her school year.  Lisa had to take a couple days vacation from her job.  The date was set, family in Salt Lake notified, and we were ready to head out.

The good news, at least for me, was that Lisa’s early morning dentist appointment had been canceled, and we could get on the road that much earlier.  On the other hand, the car that had the oil change and bathed the day before, displayed a leak as I pulled out of the driveway.  Pulling back into the garage, I had to unload my luggage, and move to the car that I had not planned to take on the trip.  I drove the one hour drive from my home just southeast of the Phoenix area to the northwest side of the Phoenix area to pick up my two cousins.

Off we were for a 10-hour drive to Salt Lake City.  We were ready for the adventure.  Northern Arizona and southern Utah, are not metropolitan areas.  Northern Arizona is miles of desert and unusual rock formations.  Southern Utah has similar rock formations, but is much greener than Arizona.  Cities are few and far between.  We rolled into our AirBnB in Salt Lake City around 9:30 p.m.  We were in an area near Liberty Park, also known as 9th and 9th.  It is a diverse area compared to other neighborhoods in Salt Lake City.  There are a number of little trendy restaurants.  

The roads were windy. (Marble Canyon)
We drove between the rocks! (Marble Canyon)
Page, Arizona
Page, Arizona
Grand Staircase-Escalanta National Monument
Kanab, Utah

Friday afternoon we headed to Lehi to visit our aunt and uncle.  It was a delightful afternoon.  My aunt is about 11 years older than I am.  Do the math—I’m 73!  She is starting to have serious health issues, so this visit was very special.  

Visiting family in Lehi, Utah

That evening we met up with Brian and his family at a restaurant called Traditions.  Its menu was traditional food with a small twist.  All the food was delicious.  

Dinner with more family n Salt Lake City

Saturday was our day to to see Salt Lake, or what few things we had time to see.  Of course, we wanted to see Temple Square where it is the main event for those who belong to the LDS, commonly known as the Mormon church.  The temple was not visible.   They are reinforcing the structure to be earthquake proof, and it is completely covered in scaffolding.  The tabernacle was open and a bell choir was practicing.  We also went into the assembly hall.

The fountains at the shopping mall across from Temple Square.
The Temple all covered with scaffolding. The dome on the left is the Tabernacle.
Inside the Tabernacle. The bell choir is practicing. You can see the huge are in from for the choir.
The architecture on the Assembly Hall is beautiful.

Being in a Mormon dominated city had its challenges.  I do my best to stay away from soft drinks, and as we went to have have lunch a nice cold refreshing glass of ice tea is what I usually order.  Not so fast in Salt Lake City.  The restaurants we attended do no offer iced tea.  I don’t really understand.  Some say it’s because the Mormon church does not approve of the use of caffeine, but Coke and Pepsi products are available everywhere and they have caffeine. Then I went online to see why they could drink soda but not coffee or tea.  I thought it had to do with caffeine although some websites said it was because of caffeine. Other places I read, said it was not the caffeine that was the issue, but hot drink.  Mormons are not supposed to drink “hot drinks” according to on their scriptures.  Sorry.  It’s so confusing.  They can drink hot chocolate, but not coffee or tea.  They can drink cold Coca Cola but not iced tea or iced coffee.  I don’t drink caffeine after about 2:00 p.m., because it has been known to keep me from sleeping at night.  I think that iced tea is much healthier than cola products, but I don’t make the rules for the state of Utah.

After our short visit to Temple Square, we made our way to the the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.  Now that was well worth the trip.  I am not usually an aquarium person.  I have always thought you see one fish, you have seen them all!  This aquarium, though, had my attention. I found the colors of the fish fascinating.  Also the strangeness of what lives around the fish.  It was all so fascinating and weird.

The View from the aquarium.
Yes, it’s a Piranha!
This little fellow came swimming toward me with a big smile on its face!
The Jellyfish are so pretty, and also so creepy!
The family together at the aquarium.
If you listen, you hear a little girl say, “It’s an anemone!” Did anyone know what that was before the movie, “Finding Nemo”?

We ended the day at Brian and Diane’s home.  Seeing Diane’s quilting spaces puts my little quilt space to shame.  She has her fabric organized, and my desire to shop her stuff was a bit overwhelming, but I restrained myself, especially since she is not a retailer.

Early Sunday morning, after having two wonderful days visiting with family, we were on the road again.  We stopped for lunch at a Subway shop in southern Utah.  Guess what they didn’t have sitting next to their soda machine?  You guess it—no iced tea!  I can do caffeine early in the day, so a diet soda would have to do.  

Our goal was to get to Flagstaff for an early dinner and then on to our homes.  I turned the driving over to Lisa as we crossed the border from Utah into Arizona.  There was a notice on our Apple Maps that told us we needed to take an alternate route, which would have taken us way out of the way, having us head toward Payson, and down to northeastern Phoenix.  Apple Maps have done weird things in the past, so we stayed on our tried and true route, State Highway 89 to Flagstaff, connecting with State Highway 17 into Phoenix.

Janine was feeling a little car sick as we meandered the winding roads.  She asked to sit up front for a bit, and I was glad to accommodate by trading seats with her.  Lisa pulled the car over on a wide spot along the highway.  The wind was brisk.  Actually, brisk is an understatement.  It was so strong, both of us had trouble opening our car doors.  Once opened, the wind wanted to shove the door closed.  We had to hold tight to keep the door opened until all limbs were safely inside the car.  Little did we know this was a warning sign for what was to come.

We continued south on Highway 89, and just as we approached a few miles north of Flagstaff, vehicles were coming to a screeching halt.  We saw cars and semis turning around and heading north. What did this mean?  We spotted a man in the highway in a yellow safety jacket walking from car to car.  When he got to us, we were informed that the highway was close due to a wildfire just north of the Flagstaff city limits.  We are required to turn around and find another route.

I asked the gentleman how we are to get to Phoenix, our final destination.  His reply, “Go to the Grand Canyon.”  Fortunately, only a few weeks before Dennis and I had traveled to this farthest southeast entrance to the park, so I knew where we would be turning off.

The man in the yellow safety vest two cars in front of us who will tell us to turn around.
The best shot I could get as we turned around to go back north to the Grand Canyon. That is smoke in the sky.

As we pulled up to the entrance gates to the park, there was no one to take our fee for entering the park.  We drove through, and then went to the first parking lot.  If we are being rerouted by the state of Arizona to go through the Grand Canyon, we may as well stop and take a look.  We didn’t want to spend a lot of time there, as we knew our trip had now extended a few hours longer than anticipated.

It was surprising how full the parking lot was at 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday.  I think all these folks were people rerouted out of Flagstaff.

There it is! The Grand Canyon!
The wind was blowing so hard that my hair was wrapping around my head!

I took over the driving and headed west until we found the southern entrance of the park.  For us, it was the southern exit of the park.  We stayed on that road until we hit Interstate 40 just west of Flagstaff.  We headed east to Flagstaff and then south on Highway 17.

The wildfire had started on the mountain know as the Snowbowl.  This is the skiing destination in Flagstaff.  A homeless man (who owned a truck) was camped out in the area.  Saturday (the day before the wildfire) he stopped and took a bowel movement in the woods.  He used toilet paper to wipe.  Unlike what boy scouts are taught to bury their poop, he chose to burn the toilet paper and then put some rocks on it.  Little did he realize that the toilet paper was smoldering overnight, and it started a large wild fire Sunday morning.  He tried to beat the fire out with his sleeping bag, but was unable to do so.   As of today (one week later) the fire has consumed over 26,000 acres, with a cost of over $5,000,000.  The fire moved northeast, and did not involve the actual city of Flagstaff.  It started 5 miles north of the city.  Now the problem is the possibility of flooding in the area with any heavy rains.  It is monsoon season in Arizona.  

What an adventure this trip had been.  I got Janine and Lisa dropped off in Scottsdale at 10:30 p.m., and drove into my garage at 11:30 p.m.  I was tired from the long trip, but we made so many great memories with family, and being rerouted around a dangerous fire.  It’s good to be home . . . until my next trip, which is coming soon! 


  1. What a fun time – I’m sad that I couldn’t go with you all!
    I didn’t realize that Aunt Barbara and you were that close in age but it make sense since your dad was the oldest and Aunt Barbara is the youngest.
    Next time you girls have an “adventure” planned – give me a call!


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