Odometer (Legend): 540,208
Odometer (ILX): 148,512
Trip Distance: 1,037 Miles
It’s an annual tradition of mine to head north on major holidays since most of my family lives in Utah. On Thanksgiving Thursday, I drove through one of my favorite pieces of road – Highway 89A between Flagstaff, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. It’s a remote red-rock wonderland with spotty cell phone reception and lightly-traveled two-lane roads.
My destination was Rockville, Utah – a town of only 247 people (of which my aunt Jodi is one). She hosted over a dozen people at her home on Main Street for a potluck feast, card games, and viewing of the classic holiday film “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”
My friend Ryan drove down from Logan, Utah to celebrate the holiday with us in his recently-purchased Audi. On Friday morning, he and I headed out to Interstate 15 northbound and Beaver, Utah where my younger brother Bentley has recently finished building a cabin. Snow flurries kept us from taking full advantage of the posted 80 mph speed limit from Toquerville to Cedar City, as visibility was not good enough. From Beaver, we did our share of Black Friday shopping by stopping at the Family Dollar on Main Street for a couple of crock pots – half off, at only $8 each! Best of all, no line at the register.
It had been over a year since I took the canyon drive up Highway 153 toward Eagle Point Ski Resort, but I knew very well that if road conditions were less than optimal, it would be a smarter move to leave the ILX at the base of the mountain and hop into Ryan’s all-wheel-drive Audi A4. Skies were clear so we headed on up in tandem for the 23-mile drive to my brother’s place. The highway twists through wooded forest, then sharply ascends some switchbacks as it climbs to 9,100 feet in elevation. The scenery was rewarding all the way up. The final stretch was un-plowed, single-lane roadway so I did have to ditch my car in a parking lot but Ryan’s A4 made it.
I’m now a believer in “Quattro!” We enjoyed a charming evening from the cabin with homemade turkey dinner courtesy of my dad and my step-mom. We also played a little in the snow outside with my nephew Beckam who was putting a few miles on a remote-controlled snowmobile. Luckily, the storm system didn’t leave us with more than a light dusting of fresh powder and the following morning, skies were vivid blue.
My car wasn’t too thrilled about cranking over in 4-degree temperatures, but it started on the first push of the button anyway. Ryan and I made our way carefully down the steep canyon, knowing that the possibility of icy roads was very real.
Ryan and I made just one more stop before splitting ways and heading to our respective homes. The abandoned “Sleepy Lagoon Motel” on the south end of Beaver had caught our eye. Some of the motel’s 20 rooms were wide open with furnishings still intact. I later learned that Sleepy Lagoon has been around since the 1950’s but was badly damaged by a fire in 2005. That would perhaps explain why I couldn’t find a lobby. The place has sat for the last 10 years awaiting a buyer who will probably come in and bulldoze the whole thing.
Here are my pictures from this week’s trip!
The Arizona Department of Transportation decided to get clever with its freeway messaging this weekend.
Highway 89A approaching Lee’s Ferry
Lee’s Ferry, a remote spot on Highway 89A where this 1929 bridge crossed the Colorado River. It’s since been bypassed by a newer bridge to the west.
This may just be the most scenic gas station I’ve ever visited. The background almost looks like a painting, but it’s not.
A few miles down the road, this is Marble Canyon where huge boulders line the side of the road.
Beginning my ascent toward Jacob Lake at nearly 8,000 feet in elevation.
From here, the road gets twisty and quickly gains elevation toward the summit where Highway 67 branches off toward the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Fresh snowfall from the prior evening still dusted some of the side roads in that area.
Fredonia, Arizona, is home to this historic / abandoned service station. I’d love to go inside and take a look around.
Photo with my mom on Aunt Jodi’s back patio
The backyard extends toward the bank of the Virgin River which comes through Zion National Park.
Card games afterward
Eastbound Highway 153 nearing Eagle Point Ski Resort, outside Beaver, Utah
My brother’s mountain home
Nephew Beckam is a selfie pro!
Dad’s 2013 MDX with 32,000 miles was right at home in this terrain
Crispy Saturday morning departure
Attempting a window fix on Ryan’s A4. My brother let the passenger window down to back the car out and it wouldn’t return shut. Ryan ended up driving about 4.5 hours home without a window! In freezing temps, no less.
The ‘lagoon’ at Sleepy Lagoon Motel in Beaver
Parked in front of the Sleepy Lagoon rooms – notice doors wide open on some rooms.
Some of the interior furnishings still remain, even mattresses and chairs in some cases!