Hikes, Boats, Beer and Hitchhikers in Utah and Arizona

My first few days in Salt Lake City were relaxing, Candice and I schemed about plans for the future. We went to the planetarium one day and 3D IMAX another, and had a couple beers in between.

We spent a lot of time looking at vans and eventually buses we could convert to run on veggie and travel around and live in. Plans for this are still up in the air.

Candice had a yard sale on Saturday morning, plenty of people showed up to buy what she no longer wanted, the end result was a nice chunk of change in her pocket. That same day we hopped in her car and drove a few hundred miles south to see her parents in Saint George.

We spent the next day in Zion with her dad hiking around a couple trails, great views and good times. We hiked again the next day too, a place called snow canyon that was red and orange rocks and sand, we climbed all over it. 

A day later we were in a car again, headed towards Lake Powell to stay on a house boat with Candice's friend Matt and his dad and brother. The house boat was pretty big, we sped around a smaller boat scouting out a spot and whipping around until we settled on a small sandy peninsula. We gathered a bunch of logs and fire wood to get a bonfire going later.

Once the house boat was all tied down Matt started cooking. He gave me a lighter and told me where a 6 gallon gas jug was to get the fire going. I walked up the beach and poured a little fuel on the fire and lit it up, about half of it got going pretty good. I though the other half could use some help doused some more fuel on the fire, this of course made the flame trail back to the jug I was holding and created a huge fireball as I tossed it and ran, a puddle of gas and plastic went up in flames and smoke. I came back in the boat and told Matt I owed him a new gas jug, everyone looked out the window to see the two fires going and laughed saying I was lucky I still had hair and wasn't burned up.

We later went and stood around the bonfire until late in the night, at that point I was able to put out the little gas fire. There was a full moon that night, we enjoyed that and the stars we were able to see, it was a beautiful spot to be in.

In the morning we headed back to the docks, Matt, Candice and I took the speed boat and explored a bit in between. Once back at the dock we enjoyed the sun and even did some yoga on the roof of the boat.

The time came to hit the road and Candice I walked back up to the car after saying our goodbyes. The drive between there and Saint George is a nice one, always some red rocks and good things to look at.

We saw a dark figure walking down the side of the freeway, we got closer, a thumb popped out, we smiled. For once I was in the car pulling into the shoulder, looking in the side mirror watching someone else do the backpack dash for the car, the 17 year old Navajo kid popped in the backseat and we were off. He was also heading for Saint George, it's a great feeling to hear a driver say they're going all the way to your destination, I shared his relief.

He said he'd been walking since 6am, it was around 2pm now, and a hot day at that. We gave him juice and he relaxed. He began talking about different herbal remedies he'd come to know growing up, stories about taming wild horses, ceremonies and hunting after scrubbing himself in mud and leaves match the smell of his surroundings.

Talk of picking beads of the cedar trees led us to a stop on the side of the road at one point, the three of us got out of the car and marched through the bushes towards the trees until we found one in bloom, Candice and I began picking the beads. I really had no use for such beads, but picking them was the thing and I assumed I'd give them to Candice later who had better plans for them, necklaces and whatnot.

The kid asked if we had any bud, we did, I went to the car and got that and some juice. He rigged an empty can to smoke out of when the joint failed, Candice kept picking away at the beads and collecting bark from the tree now too. On our way out he dropped part of the can on the ground and said about it, "Whitey picks this stuff up, not us, on the rez we just throw stuff wherever".

We all hopped back in the car headed towards Saint George. He got a little quieter in the back seat and mumbled a bit more when he spoke. We pulled into a gas station to fill up, Candice and I got out. She gave me a look with a hint of confusion and a hint of a smile, I glanced in the car, he had his head down and it looked like he was asleep, but a moment later he opened the door handing the crushed can to out to be thrown away.

We jumped back in the car, Candice asked if he was tired, "No, let's just get out of here he said, head still down", he mumbled something about too many people around and we started to pull out. Just at the corner the car stopped.

Candice looked back at him, "I'm sorry, but this as far as I can take you, I just got a really bad feeling, I'm sorry but you have to get out...", I don't me or the kid saw that coming, he asked why, Candice more or less repeated herself and he kept mumbling "fuck that... fuck no... I can't hitchhike...", I heard a little whimper. I wasn't exactly sure why his ride was getting cut short, but I offered some confidence that I'd hitched this road before and he'd likely get a ride. 

The car turned off and Candice got out, I got out too, she opened his door and reluctantly gathered his bag and got out, hoodie up over his head. I looked at him, his face was twisted in confusion and worry with reddening eyes tearing up. I pointed to the stop sign on the corner and said it would be his best bet for getting a ride, at least it's where I would have thumbed from in that spot.

Back in the car we rolled away leaving the Navajo kid behind, Candice apologetically began explaining what had just happened. She said she started getting a weird vibe starting back at the cedar tree, then felt a bit uneasy on the drive away seeing him in the backseat leaned over a bit doing something with his hands a bit out of sight, and that was part of the reasoning for getting gas to take a quick breather. She said when she got back in the car after filling she got an overwhelmingly negative feeling about the whole thing and that prompted the hitchhikers exile.

To me it seemed the negative vibes she was getting started right after he smoked, I suggested he was perhaps acting paranoid and strange because of the bud which led him to be nervous and act a bit a funny which might have sent the wrong message. The whole deal got to Candice, confused about whether her decision was the right one, defaulting that overall it was better to let me out rather than be on edge the whole drive.

We drove past the beauty of southern Utah and pieces or Arizona, the energy in the car was hollowed by the incident with the hitchhiker. We got back to Saint George and met up with one of Candice's friends briefly and then to her grand parents house before heading back to her folk's place. We took it easy, took some showers, talked about the day, and sleep overtook.

In the morning her folks were gone with a note about being at the hospital with Candice's grandmother, we got on the road back to Salt Lake City. We were both tired, I enjoyed the peace of the ride and we cruised straight back into town, we stopped at Bohemian Brewery before anything else. She knew a guy Bobby who works there, we had some drinks and fries then headed into the back where he gave us a tour and some more beer, he even gave Candice two big zip lock bags of barley, one fresh, one used.

We both promptly passed out when back at her house, eventually meeting up with Peter, a yoga instructor and one of Candice's friends we'd been hanging out with a lot. Later that night we went to the airport and picked up Ingrid who'd flown in from Vegas, that's where I met her when we were all partying around Thanksgiving. We used the rest of the night talking and laughing about one thing or another.

The next day we got to look at the green monster, a bus we'd found on craigslist that already ran on veggie oil, one tank goes 1,500 miles on oil you can get for free at most thai, chinese and other restaurants. It's a full sized bus we could live out of, it may be used for Peter's new yoga deal he's getting started too. Candice drove it like a pro, the guy who owns it said he'd hold on to it until we could come up with the cash.

We enjoyed some beers the rest of the day, Bobby came over later that day with a growler from the Bohemian as well, a really good bock. Ingrid cooked a great meal and we relaxed the night away.

It's another Saturday as I write this, as relaxing as anything else. This morning we went to a diner for coffee and whatnot, Candice and Ingrid enjoyed some yoga in the sun.

The future is unclear, cluttered with options and general directions, unknown as usual. Next weekend Peter is leading a group of friends into the desert for yoga and that type of thing. My friend Walter is coming to the states in a couple weeks too, and my free Vegas nights are piling up. Costa Rica is shouting louder. Candice has had money on her mind and scheming ways to pull some in. Zak, another guy who lives in Salt Lake, is taking off on a long excursion heading first towards the northwest and through Vancouver in April, another thought. No shortage of possible good times, but I look forward to the next beer, a sure thing.

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