Utah Holiday Travels

Odometer (ILX):  23,385

23385

Dashing through the desert in a 201-horse, front-wheel-drive sleigh.  That’s how I kicked off my weekend on Friday after work.  When I wasn’t spending time with family or friends, I was behind the wheel of the Acura ILX over the last few days.  Here are the details of my travels!

About 3 hours (200 miles) into my drive, I stopped for a little Route 66 side-trip in Kingman, Arizona.  The original highway, now bypassed by Interstate 40, is called Andy Devine Road.  Even though it was after-hours, I made my way to the Visitor’s Center (which used to be the city’s power plant, thus is now named Powerhouse Museum).  There’s a marker here that denotes the site’s elevation:  3,333.3 feet above sea level.  A spike in the building denotes the exact location.

sea_level

powerhouse_sign

I circled the location of the sign in red here, on the building behind the ILX.  Photoshop skills at their finest.

ilx_at_powerhouse

When was the last time you saw a pay phone?  Better yet, when was the last time you USED one?

phone

Across the street, a 1928 steam locomotive was on display. This one was Santa Fe #3759 – a “4-8-4” style that was built in 1928 and ran until 1957 when it was donated to the city of Kingman.  It’s sat in its current location for 55 years!  The locomotive reportedly ran 2.5 million miles of service before its retirement.  Now that’s something a half-million miler like me can appreciate!  Each year during this season the train is decorated with Christmas lights so I got a few pictures before continuing on my way.

3759

3859

In Las Vegas I met up with Drive to Five fan Jessie, who is a proud Legend owner.  His Rosewood Brown 1992 L Sedan automatic has only 134,000 miles on the odometer.  Jessie strives to keep his car running in tip-top shape.  I was privileged to take it for a drive around the parking lot.

jessie_tyson_2

jessie_tyson

Saturday in St. George

Hike time!  On a cool (30-degree), crisp Saturday morning I picked up my mom, my stepdad, and our friend Holly for a trip up to Snow Canyon State Park by following State Route 18 which leads north from the St. George area.

driving

About 10 miles up the road, we arrived at the trailhead for the Cinder Cone hike.  The hike itself was only 3/4 of a mile long each way, but it traverses some rocky / jagged terrain and ascends about 500 feet in elevation.

cone

trailhead

trailhead_2

hiking

Reassurance marker along the way, though trail was clearly visible.

sign

Last stretch before reaching the summit.

almost_there

Freezing but still celebrating our arrival at the top.

celebration

The views from the top are spectacular.

view

tia_todd

Since Cinder Cone is an ancient (and now extinct) volcano, from the summit, the crater is still visible.

trailhead_3

Our descent went much more quickly and we soon enjoyed the comfort of the ILX and its heated seats to take us back to St. George.

snow_canyon

Sunday’s Ghost Town Road Trip

Modena, Utah.  It’s a town that I visited 7 1/2 years ago in my then-175,000 mile Acura Legend.  I felt like giving it another look to see what’s changed.  As it turns out, aside from a few more years of aging, it sits largely the same as it did in 2005.  On a crisp Sunday morning I headed out from St. George Utah via State Route 18 to explore some of southwest Utah’s backroads in the ILX.  Total distance was about 170 miles round-trip.

map

As I began my climb to the higher elevations, I started seeing white-capped mountains in the distance.

drive

Soon I was passing through Veyo, Utah (population of 483 people as of the 2010 census).  This giant red sign advertising Veyo’s famous pies caught my eye on the roadside.  More on that later!

veyo_pie

I decided to take an 8-mile detour to the east to visit a tiny town called Pine Valley.  This place is a popular cabin destination for folks in St. George who want to escape the triple-digit temperatures during the summer months.

pine_valley_sign

This was the first time my ILX had seen snow, so I pulled off for a quick picture.

snow

Arriving in Pine Valley via Grass Valley Road.  It was a crisp 27 degrees Fahrenheit according to the ILX’s exterior temperature readout.

arrival_pine_valley

I got a picture of the Pine Valley Mormon chapel, which was just starting to welcome its guests for the 10:00 a.m. Sunday service.  This chapel was built in 1868 by Ebenezer Bryce, who used the scheme of an upside-down boat.  Today, it’s the oldest continuously-used Mormon meetinghouse.

pine_valley_chapel_2

pine_valley_chapel

Next it was time to loop back to SR-18 and continue northward.  The summit on this road is elevation 6,150 feet.

SR18

At Enterprise, Utah, I veered right to stay on SR-18 for another 15 miles or so.

219_18

Closing in on my destination!  From the intersection of SR-18 at Beryl Junction, Modena lies another 16 miles west.  During this 16-mile stretch, I counted only two other vehicles that I encountered.  This is an extremely remote location!  Speed limits are 60 mph which seems agonizingly slow for the wide open stretches.

16_miles

wheel

Arrival!

Unfortunately, the Last Chance Saloon is no longer open for business. I would have loved a bite to eat.

last_chance_saloon

The 1936 schoolhouse is probably the best-preserved building in town.  From the “360 Cities” website regarding Modena:

“With the advent of the railroad in Iron County and its arrival in the Modena area in December 1899, Brigham J. Lund, along with two partners, E. M. Brown and Jose Price, started a small business venture here. In time they were freighting to St. George, Utah; Pioche, Nevada and Delamar. Lund soon bought out his partners and in 1903 incorporated under the name of B. J. Lund & Company. The name “Lund” is still found on several buildings in town including the General Merchandise & Hotel building. By 1903, a U.S. Weather Bureau office had also been established in Modena. The Last Chance Saloon now closed and boarded up is a reminder of a distant era.

The change from steam to diesel by the railroad brought about the demise of Modena which today is almost a ghost town. Only five families remain. There is a small convenience store/post office and a gas pump (no services available as of this writing) in town which served locals and others working the silver, iron ore, and beryl rock mines around the area. A stone school building is one of the more imposing solid structures in town. Edna Thorley 91, taught elementary school children in the building. She still lives in town and keeps up scrapbooks filled with memories of the past and present. Just north of town is the Modena cemetery.

schoolhouse

snow_road

B.J. Lund & Co:  General Merchandise & Hotel.  This place has been around for over 112 years.

lund_hotel

ilx_back_modena

I left the ILX parked for a time and wandered around on foot to explore some of Modena’s streets.  It was eerily quiet aside from the crunch of my shoes on the snow.  I intentionally kept quiet because I didn’t want to awaken any dogs that might be in the neighborhood.

hotel

I was able to boost myself up and peek inside the hotel’s main floor.  When I visited Modena in 2005, I actually went inside, but given the latest “No Trespassing” signs, I decided to play it safe this time.

hotel_interior

street_signs

Back side of the hotel.

hotel_back

And a few other buildings within walking distance.

building3

tracks2

Here’s a shot looking inside the General Store area of the Lund Hotel.  I wonder what this place would have looked like in its heyday – bustling with people and commerce as the steam locomotives brought people from near and far.

store_int_1

Here’s a fun “then and now” look.

June, 2005:

rrtracksmodena

December, 2012:

tracks

This building was at one time the post office.  When I visited in 2005, it had a (dry) gas pump out front which has since been removed.

post_office

Some background information here.  Can you believe this place didn’t have electricity until the 1940’s?

modena_sign

I was intrigued by this little 2-room wooden home.  Let’s take a look inside, shall we?

house_outside

house_entry

Someone left a pair of boots in there.

house_interior_2

Quaint little bedroom!

box_spring

And a stack of newspapers dated 1985. The one on top was dated January 21, 1985.  I wonder if someone was still living in this little home 28 years ago.

newspapers

house_interior_1

Another home.

building2

water_tower

Beryl Junction fire truck.

fire_truck

It was last registered in 1998.

fire_truck_plate

building1

There’s a cool, serene feeling about being the first person to walk or drive on freshly-fallen snow.

snow2

I’m as intrigued by abandoned cars as I am about abandoned buildings.  This Buick Regal 2-door caught my eye.

buick_back

The driver’s side door was ajar, so I went ahead and took a look inside.

regal

This interior is in pretty remarkable condition aside from the dust.  Throw a little vinyl conditioner on those seats and you’d be set!

buick_interior

Is that a CB radio I spy?

buick_radio

According to the license plate sticker, this car was last registered in 1989.  The odometer shows only 75,000 miles.

buick_front

Calling all Drive to Five car geeks.  Can anyone identify the year of this Buick?

buick_hood_ornament

Now’s when I really started getting a sense of adventure.  I drove past a road called “Old Modena” road.  I thought I’d give it a quick drive to see what was down there.  Except, this road quickly turned to dirt.  Well — make that mud.  So much for my clean ILX.

old_modena_rd_ilx

Just a couple of miles down the road, conditions got quite a bit worse or I would have continued.  The last thing I needed in this remote area was to get my car stuck.

muddy_road

old_modena_rd

I took the 9-mile drive to the Nevada state line.

nevada_line

Looks like I’m due for a car wash.

mud

utah_line

Looping back, I’d been thinking about those famous Veyo pies the whole time, so I grabbed a peach pie.

veyo_pie_peach

From there I took a new route home by heading west on Center Street.  The 2-lane highway curved through some 15-25 mph turns which were fun in the ILX.

Since this was a new stretch of road for me, it seemed fitting that this song came on my iPod.  I really enjoy this one from Linkin Park and I played it 3 times back-to-back.

Soon I was rolling through Gunlock, Utah.

gunlock_post_office

Gunlock’s fire engine looked to be in only slightly better condition than the one in Modena.  Gunlock is home to fewer than 300 people.

gunlock_fire_engine

Gunlock Reservoir State Park.

gunlock_lake

And now at the lower elevations, the beautiful red rocks of southern Utah lined the road.

road_2

road

redrock_back

That peach pie was amazing, by the way!

Christmas Eve – Return drive to Phoenix from southern Utah

Today’s final trip of the weekend was 453 miles.  Instead of taking the same ol’ route past Hoover Dam and down Hwy 93, I instead cut south at Boulder City on Hwy 95.  This is an arrow-straight multi-lane highway named Veterans’ Memorial Highway.  A series of signs along the roadside at certain intervals denote which veterans are to be remembered (there’s a sign for WWII, Vietnam, and others.  I remember noticing that the last sign said something to the effect of, “Veterans of the continual war on terror”).

map2

But first, I had something to see in Las Vegas.  Some of my readers may remember a cartoon called The Simpsons.  Well, thanks to Roadside America, I learned that there is in fact a home in the Henderson suburbs that was built after the design of the cartoon home in 1997.  It’s in the South Valley Ranch community off Boulder Highway.

south_valley_ranch

Check it out!  And disregard the filthy car, please!

simpsons_house

Compare to the cartoon version:

simpsons_house_cartoon

Pretty fun.  I wonder how many people drive by it each day for a picture.

Here’s where I veered off US93 and took the 95 southbound.  “Cal Nev Ari” (noted on the sign) is a 400-person community at an intersection of California, Nevada, and Arizona.

US95A

Lots of vast open land out here!  The speed limit dipped quickly to 25 mph as I rolled through Searchlight, Nevada.  This town is so teeny I couldn’t even find anything worthy of a photo-op.  Amazingly, at one time this was a boom town that had a population greater than Las Vegas.  Today, there are fewer than 600 residents.

US95

When I approached Hwy 163, I headed toward Laughlin Nevada.  The road drops sharply in elevation toward the Colorado River in the valley below.  Laughlin is the third most visited casino and resort destination, after Las Vegas and Reno.  I did not pit stop here but did snag a picture of the Riverview Casino out my passenger window.

laughlin_riverside_hotel_casino

The road climbs from the riverbed up to another pass and then on through Kingman.

to_kingman

And 3 hours later I was home sweet home in Scottsdale.

I’m exhausted from these travels and looking forward to spending the evening relaxing with friends.  Hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas tomorrow.

13 Responses to “Utah Holiday Travels”

  1. Have a great Christmas Tyson!

  2. Incredible journey, Ty! I live vicariously thru your continued adventures.

    • Thanks Barry! This was a really fun weekend. Glad you could enjoy coming along for the ride. Hope you had a great Christmas and I’ll that get to see ya soon! Take care.

  3. I love ghost towns it is like traveling back in time, it really stimulates your imagination.

    • I agree – love going to places like that and stepping back in time. I would have loved to visit when the town was in its prime. There’s a whole list of similar places in Arizona that I’m hoping to visit. 2013 will be a busy year!

  4. So many good details in this post! I guess I could say I can relate to so much of it — because I was there for much of it! I will be downloading that song from Linkin Park. And that sign with 3’s on it had my name all over it!

    Here’s to roads untraveled — bring on 2013!!

    Mom

    • That Linkin Park song is a good one for sure! If you hear any other “road” related songs, do send them my way! Remember when Amber put together the Drive to Five music playlist? That was awesome!

  5. WOW!! Of all the newspapers that could have been inside that cabin in far away Utah, it is a newspaper depicting Miami Dolphin Dan Marino’s only Super Bowl appearance and loss. I live in MIami and lived here when Dan “The Man” Marino played this game. I even went to the playoff games immediately preceding this game. Living in Miami at the time was incredible. Everyone loved the Dolphins. And that front page of the paper in your picture looks remarkably well preserved for it being a 28 year old paper exposed to the elements. It is like you traveled back in time! Like you went thru a space time continium while traveling in a little town in UTAH!. (I hope you are a Star Trek fan to appreciate that last comment). Happy Holidays Tyson.

    • Carlos, that’s some awesome background! It’s totally ironic then that I picked up that particular stack of papers. There were at least 3-4 other bundles up stacks. Interestingly enough I had another reader email me a similar story to yours – he was living in SF at the time of that Superbowl game, and seeing the newspaper brought back memories for him. Hoping to take another trip through a space time continuum soon! Happy new year Carlos!

  6. Happy holidays Tyson! Pretty cool stuff you ventured upon. My Moms name is Beryl funny enough. I would guesstimate that is a 1977 regal

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