Some Reasons Why I Love Living Out West

Recently I took  a back road from Midway to Park City, Utah and the drive reminded me of many reasons why I love living “out west”. It started when I passed the sign that warned me the road may be impassable due to weather or other conditions. You don’t find these signs on your way to civilization in many parts of the country and I smiled at the opportunity to step out of bounds on the way home. These roads are one of the biggest reasons I love living here, and they tend to lead me to the others.

Back Roads 

Fall Snow in Wasatch State Park Guardsman Pass

These narrow, poorly paved, or dirt roads traverse mountain passes,  take you along the edges of cliffs, and lead you to rarely visited locales are up there on my list of reasons. You can drive at your own pace,  stop along the way to breathe pristine air, and enjoy the feeling of standing in the middle of wild country without worrying about how you’re going to survive the coming snowstorm that just breached the ridge (if you’re not broken down and unprepared).   Sandy roads through the desert lit by an orange moon and crowded by junipers are one of my favorites kinds.  They take you to the most miraculous places.

Wilderness 

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The land is still alive here. You can feel the vitality the air and see the layers of time laid bare in the mountain and desert landscapes. Wildlife is plentiful and it’s not uncommon to spook herds of elk or deer from the road in front of you. Eagles, hawks, vultures, circle the skies above you and the carcasses you run across in desert canyons remind you of your own mortality.   It’s easy to find yourself miles from anywhere with only the occasional passing plane breaking the silence (they’re an interesting reminder). Of course, the concrete amoebas and resource extraction machines are slowly sinking their tentacles in, but there is still pristine solitude left to enjoy and plenty of adventures to be had.

Weird Stuff

Triops Living Fossil Utah Desert

 

The Colorado Plateau is home to all sorts of unique things, like this living fossil, the Shield Shrimp, which can be found in a muddy desert vernal pools.  These living fossils haven’t noticeably changed since the Triassic period.  Their eggs lay dormant until floods give them a place to hatch, and then they go on a feeding and mating frenzy until they run out of energy or the  puddle dries up. Old uranium mines,  ruins of ancient civilizations, tunnels to nowhere, petroglyphs of crocodiles, abandoned towns, strange roadside stops, and many more things wait around the corners of the shifting desert landscape.

The Sky 

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Want to be entertained? Sunrise, sunset, stormy weather, and the night sky all provide free wonder.  Beams of light cutting through holes in the clouds, double rainbows, shooting stars, and satellites are constantly on display. Have you ever seen the Milky Way float like a cloud in the sky while coyotes howl in the distance? Get away from light pollution, set up camp for a few days, and look up.

 

People

people of Utah

Many of the people here reflect aspects of the things that I love. They’re wild, weird, vast, and filled with the same vital energy as the landscape. I’ve shared rum with strangers while they pan for gold in a workshop where drums and waterwheels are made(with a handgun sitting on the workbench for ambiance), danced the night away at an underground nightclub in a town of less than 300 people in southern Utah, and found a vein of everyday people that want to go further, higher, and do it all on their own terms.

 

These are just a few of my favorite things. Why do you love living where the wind grows tall?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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