Family Time: Trip to Beaver, Utah
It wouldn’t be a Drive to Five weekend unless it involved traveling at least 1,000 miles, right? If the Grand Canyon National Park hadn’t been in my way of getting to southern Utah to visit my family, it would’ve been a lot shorter. Maybe someday they’ll bridge it.
After spending Friday night in my hometown of St. George, Utah, I joined 5 other family members for an annual pilgrimage of sorts. Each fall, we visit the location where we’ve buried the remains of my great-grandmother, “Granny,” far into the hills of a remote canyon in central Utah. We took two vehicles and the Acura ILX was one of them.
The 100-mile drive to Beaver from St. George goes quickly via Interstate 15 thanks to its 80 mph speed limit for most of the way. My cousin Dillon and his wife Crystal joined me for the drive up. Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, Dillon was able to be our DJ and we rocked out to some music selections from his iPhone as we motored northbound. Turns out we’re both fans of the musical group “Fun.”
Beaver‘s a 2,500-resident town that claims its fame as being the birthplace to Philo T. Farnsworth (inventor of TV) and the birthplace of Butch Cassidy. Beaver is also home to the ‘best tasting rural water’ , based on a 2006 contest that spanned the entire United States. We didn’t stick around town long enough to appreciate the water, but instead continued our drive and climbed State Route 153 to the east which would lead us up the Tushar Mountain Range, shown as the curvy yellow road in the following map.
The ILX hugged the curves during our ascent into Beaver Canyon. A river parallels the two-lane highway and the landscape is very green. Moonroof-open is the only way to travel on a road like this in September.
About 10 miles up the road, however, we were met with a road closure due to installation of a water main. “You can go around,” a UDOT representative told us, “But it’s a 22 mile dirt road detour via Kent Lake and I wouldn’t take that car on it,” as she motioned to the ILX. Bummed out but still determined to make our trek, we parked the ILX and piled into the Dodge Nitro to resume our adventure.
As it turns out, having a high clearance vehicle was definitely a necessity. The detour was full of washboard, ruts, and huge potholes that bounced us around plenty. We maxed out at 10,000 feet in elevation – this road was way up there! We did make it safely to our destination (though an hour or so delayed) and pigged out on our picnic lunch. Here are some pictures from our Saturday activity.
The red rocks of southern Utah have made the area famous for its popularity as a place to film old Western movies.
The climb into Beaver Canyon is (as my grandpa says) “gargeous” this time of year.
But here’s where we encountered our little speed bump in the plans:
No matter – we ditched the ILX for Jodi’s Dodge Nitro 4×4 and left the ILX at the roadside for a few hours.
The rest of our voyage up the mountain looked something like this, but with some sections of road in far worse condition and with steep grades.
The scenery, though, was phenomenal. Anderson Lake looked like a nice place to stop for some fishing if we’d been prepared.
Grandma in the cargo area – yes. She insisted!
Bathroom break and a chance to validate our directions. It’s a good thing we stopped, in fact, because for a short time we’d been traveling the wrong way. Though they may not be highly visible in this shot, my cousin Dillon (in front of the Dodge) is facing probably a dozen cows that were creeping closer to us.
Finally, we did reach our picnic destination along a small creek.
It took a few retakes (and a few laughs) to figure out Aunt Jodi’s iPhone timer and find something to use as a tripod.
The drive back down the mountain went much more quickly. After retrieving the ILX, we made a customary stop at Mel’s Drive-In on Main Street in Beaver for ice cream.
Mom got a vanilla cone since twist cones weren’t available that day.
And we’re off again.
What a great way to spend the afternoon with family! Nothing like a road trip to bring us closer together.
Following are some of the other pictures from this weekend.
The ILX prior to this trip, by the way, got its first wax job with Meguiar’s Gold Class. My fave!
Highway 93 in northwestern Arizona. Home to Nothing. Literally. This town – if it can even be called that – is the town of Nothing. Population 4. The “All Mart” looks like it’s been closed for quite some time. From a placard that’s since been removed from the site:
Town of Nothing Arizona. Founded 1977. Elevation 3269ft.
The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic. Through the years, these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.
One of many call boxes along the highway. While I had always thought these were kind of obsolete now that so many motorists are driving around with cellular telephones, the advantage of a call box in an emergency is that the exact location is immediately known by the dispatcher at the other end of the line.
Wikieup Auto Repair. Wikieup, Arizona. If you want their attention (per the sign to the left of the picture), you’ve got to “Honk 3 or 4 Times. Or Call.” Anyone need a spare hubcap or two?
Wikieup is also home to the Snoopy Rocket. Yeah, I wasn’t sure what it was either. But in this picture you can clearly see that the roadside attraction was clearly made out of a telephone pole and features a wooden Snoopy (or two) riding on top. Bizarre? You bet. But totally worth stopping for an ILX photo-op.
I got Rick-Rolled by the ILX right around this time on Pandora – my ’80’s on 8′ station always gives me something to chair dance to!
St. George, Utah Legend sighting. Rare 1991 L model “Golden Glow Pearl” coupe. It’d seen better days but it’s a rare color!
Highway 91 in St. George became known as St. George Boulevard and is still one of the main arteries through town. While many of the old relics of the mid-1900’s have long since been demolished, a few motels like the Sands Motel are still in operation.
I especially like that in the year 2012, the Sands is still advertising the fact that they’ve got color RCA TVs in each room. When was the last time any of us saw a black and white TV? I might actually pay extra to stay in a motel room that had one!
While reminiscing about the past, I also drove to and hiked around this old tunnel which in its day was the gateway into town from the north, long before Interstate 15 was sliced through the bluff.
A visit to grandma’s place after that – and what do I find? Old school pictures on the wall. I’m at the left. Bleached hair was all the rage in high school in the late 1990’s. I promise.
Grandma’s in a Heather Mist Metallic 1997 Acura 3.5 RL seen across the street in this picture. It’s been in the family since 2004.
Morning hike with a view of the landscape in my beloved hometown.
This morning, I had the chance to chauffeur some very important people to church with me. My grandpa and grandma took their first ride in the ILX and commented on how smooth it was.
I made the motion to swing into a parking space right near the front door to the church building. “What are you doing?” Grandpa asked me. “Just parking,” I responded. “No, go all the way to the end!” were his instructions. Sure enough, Grandpa knows proper parking technique! Must run in the family!
After saying my farewells, it was time to start my 6.5 hour return drive to Scottsdale, Arizona from St. George. Here’s a state line sign that I hadn’t captured yet. The Silver State!
I observed 34 mpg in the ILX from Mesquite, Nevada to Kingman, Arizona, about 150-160 miles away. Just north of Kingman on Highway 93, some ominous storm clouds loomed just ahead. Sure enough, I got dumped on. The volume of rain was so bad, in fact, that many cars had pulled off to the side of the road and were waiting the storm out with their emergency flashers activated. I motored on at a safe rate of speed and got through without any issues.
By the time I got to Phoenix, it was a nice evening out.
And it wouldn’t be a Drive to Five blog post if it didn’t end with a classic Arizona sunset.
This coming Wednesday I’ll celebrate 3 months of Acura ILX ownership and I must say that the nearly 15,000 miles we’ve already shared together have been memorable! Thanks as always for coming along for the ride!