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Hitchhiking to Jackson, Part 2: Vegas to Salt Lake for Drinking and Skiing

After a long trip from New Orleans to Vegas, I was leaving sin city after only 12 hours with a full belly, a few more dollars and a bottle of bourbon. A caught a city bus way up town to the stop closest to the Speedway, the best place to hitchhike from when heading north. The idea was to get to Salt Lake City, then get on up to Jackson to see some family and the mountain.

I walked along the road heading for the speedway, it was a great day to be outside. Cars sped by, then one monster truck of a pickup pulled over and I ran up to it. The tires were enormous, about up to my elbows. We shouted over the roar of the engine, "Where you headed?", he yelled. I told him Salt Lake City, he was only going to the speedway and I said that'd be great too. I saw him scan the back of the pickup, it was too high for me to see inside. "Hey I'm sorry man, we got a bunch of guns back here... not sure how comfortable I'd actually be... sorry!", he drove off.

Not to much longer after that, a car pulled over, I hopped in a tiny dog hopped on my lap. The guy driving was heading just north of Saint George, a good ways up the road. He dropped me off and soon I was in another car, with another tiny dog jumping on my lap. The driver of this car was a retired mortician going all the way to Salt Lake City, Sugar House actually.

He told me a little about his old job and some of the various horrific bodies he had to deal with over the years, folks mangled from different farm equipment and whatnot. He'd apparently done a pretty good job in reconstructing quite a few people, doing makeup and more to make them look presentable for viewing at funerals.

The most frightening story, he said, was about a woman who'd been killed by her burly lumberjack husband in a fit of rage. He was working late one night prepping her body, just about finishing up, when he heard scraping coming from the window. He looked over to see the husband, who hadn't been captured yet, trying to break in. He immediately locked himself in the office and called the cops, they arrived, but the guy had already disappeared. Weeks later they found himself hanging by his balls in an apparent (unsuccessful) suicide attempt. He's now been in jail ever since.

We rolled up the road with various conversation, stopping in Beaver at a cheese factory where he wanted to pick some things up. He let the dog run around a bit and we went in, he picked up his cheese and got us both ice cream cones and drinks, I was pretty happy about the whole thing.

He dropped me off at the Bohemian Brewery in Salt Lake, rolling in just after sun down. I'd gotten in touch with Cameron, my friend in Salt Lake, he said he could pick up there in a little while. I found a spot at the bar, hoping Bobby (a friend who's the brew master) would be there. He didn't seem to be around, but I got a Cherny Bock in the biggest glass they had and drank it down, quite content.

I finished that and stepped outside right as Cameron was pulling up with his brother and a friend. They decided to come in and the four of us got a pitcher of beer, Cam gave me the keys and I drove home, they'd already had a few before picking me up.

We relaxed the night away, they had some beers and food on the grill while the Olympics played on the TV.

The morning was easy going, just catching up on things and looking more into the school bus project. I went to the dog park for a little while with Cameron, one of his roommates and a friend of hers, along with some dogs. We hiked around a bit until the sun started going down on us, then headed back to the house, dropping Cam off at work to get some last minute things done on some project.

I got a call from Candice, she was staying with her brother in Park City, she decided to come over and talk to me about a ski lesson gig she had lined up. I broke out the bottle of Wild Turkey from Vegas and passed that around a bit while a few of us talked on the counter, Cam's roommate was cooking something up.

Candice arrived and told me about the gig, she'd been giving ski lessons to some family and there were some extra kids, so she needed to find someone who'd come and give lessons. I told her I was in, it sounded like a free day of skiing, more or less. I'm not the best skier, but good enough to get down the mountain and deal with some kids I figured.

A group of went out to the IMAX theater where we saw Avatar in 3D, we missed the first 10 or 15 minutes, but enjoyed it all the same.

Candice and I were up early in the morning, out the door with a bundle of loose clothes, it's then that I realized I'd left my jacket, gloves and hat in the ride I'd gotten from Texas to Vegas. Cameron lent me enough clothes to get by, and as I realized later I'd grabbed his roommates jacket by mistake as well. Another guy I'd met the night before had set me up with boots and skis, I was good to go.

We stopped at Candice's brother's place where she suited up, also lending me a hat which never found it's way back to her. One more stop for her to rent skis and we got to the mountain, Deer Valley. I met the family and the kids I was to ski with and Candice and I split up.

After much fumbling around, to be expected with large groups and kids, we were on the lift going up. I skied a couple runs with the kids and one of their mom's, lagging just behind so the mom wouldn't have a chance to pick up on the fact that I'm not exactly fit to be an instructor.

The kids and I skied around until lunch and went to a lodge, a father had given me $80 for the four us, amazingly the bill came out to a couple dollars beyond that, I luckily had a five dollar bill on me. After the overpriced food we skied some more, at one point one of the boys had a hard time getting down the mountain, almost refusing to go down because he thought it was too steep. I had to coax him down until he finally bucked up and start skiing down.

The day continued, me shouting aimlessly things like "keep 'em parallel" and "you're doing great". On the last run of the day I'd linked up with Candice and the girl she was skiing with. Half way down the run my ski popped out of the binding, it had become loose and my boot wouldn't lock back in. I had to ski the rest of the way on one ski, putting some pressure on the other and making awkward turns.

Candice was waiting at the bottom with one of the fathers, she'd already explained what had happened. He reached in his pocket and gave me a fist full of twenty dollar bills and thanked me. Candice still had an hour left with her kid, I would have skied along with her, but with the loose binding my day was done.

I headed into the lodge to wait for her, finding a nice spot by the fire. A waitress came over with a beer menu, I pursued it to see something that looked tasty with a high price. I figured I'd just got paid, but after ordering it she cited some state law about the need to buy food when getting alcohol, so I passed on the whole thing.

I met up with Candice a while later, we went to the car and headed to the people's house, they'd invited us to have a drink or two and Candice still needed to get paid. I was happy to get there and have a beer in front of me. It didn't take long before the adults there were asking if Candice (and by proxy me) would be up for some babysitting so they could go get a fancy dinner, we agreed, they had plenty of beer and food to keep me busy.

We talked a while and the kids ran around, I drank down beers and ate what I could. A couple hours or more went by and they came back, pretty well buzzed. They thanked Candice especially over and over for all the skiing she'd done, paid her, and we were on our way.

We made our way back to Cam's place, I poured myself some Wild Turkey and relaxed a bit watching the Olympics with everyone. Someone sparked the idea of a pool hall and we were off. Pitchers of beer and games of pool went by, Candice took off and we said our goodbyes, we had a few more games of pool and then headed home.

In the morning I'd complete the last leg of my trip to Jackson Hole, it'd been a nice quick trip through Salt Lake again.

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