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Into the Wild West: Part One

by Tara

The skies are purple this morning; the world is softly lit in a dull, silvery light. I was too exhausted last night to notice, but I parked right in front of an old red barn. It is home to a lone, stubbly donkey, who is munching away in his pasture this morning. His breath, like ours, hangs softly in the 5 AM air. It's downright cold, and the chill is invigorating.

Donkey Eating at Daybreak Good Morning, Donkey Tyler Feeding Donkey

After petting the gentle beast for a few minutes, we groggily begin our day, hopping in the car, this time with Tyler behind the wheel. I've only just awoken, but a lack of sleep hangs heavy on my head. As Tyler pulls back on to the road, I quickly succumb to the haze, drifting into the world of dreams.

Tara Sleeping in the Car

Several hours have passed. As the last vestiges of my sleepiness fall away, they are replaced by the inviting rhythms of "Dire Straits", Tyler's favorite road-trip music. Once more, I feel the thrill of adventure zinging through my bones. What a sense of freedom I have when the two of us are on the road together, with everything we own packed up with us, with a world of unknown possibilities open before us. What interesting things will we see today?

Sleepy Tara Bikes in the Back Seat

We're now bidding Nevada farewell, rolling into dusty Utah with the windows down, feeling quiet and reflective. As the sun rises ever higher, it renders a truly spectacular brilliance to the landscape before us, one which, at first glance, appears to be much more desert-y than Nevada was. It really feels like the wild west!

Welcome to Utah Sign Gritty Highway Rear View Road

Passing a truck stop, the first we've seen for miles and miles, we spot a sign that says the next place for fuel and food is a few hours of driving ahead. So, we decide to pull in for breakfast while we have the chance. It's standard American truck stop fare: pancakes and sticky, sugary, maple-flavored syrup, scrambled eggs, and crunchy bacon. A hard slice of flavorless cantaloupe that has probably never seen the light of day adds some feeble flair to our morning meal.

Truck-Stop Pancake Breakfast Truck-Stop Pancake Breakfast

I've been sleeping for a few hours, with Tyler at the wheel, when he gently rouses me. My eyelids flutter open, revealing a a tiny crossroads town and an unlit neon sign indicating "Mom's Cafe". "Do you want some pie?" Tyler asks, and I smile. I can think of no better reason to get up.

Motorcycles in Small Town America Dog in the Back of a Pickup Truck Heath's Typewriter Sign Mom's Cafe - Salina, Utah

We're welcomed by a waitress in an honest-to-goodness uniform (I didn't know people still wore those!) I am mouthing "oh my god!" to Tyler when she calls us "sugar" and sits us down. Tyler is laughing at my naivety, reminded of how he felt the first time he heard a French woman say, "Ooh la la!" It is unreal how iconically American this cafe is.

We both test a sip of coffee, immediately pushing it away with disgust, sticking with the free ice water instead. When our waitress returns, Tyler orders a big fat cheeseburger with fries for us to share.

Mom's Cafe Mug of Coffee Today's Special at Mom's Cafe Waitress at Mom's Cafe Tyler Applying Ketchup Burger & Fries at Mom's Cafe

When it comes time to inspect the glass dessert case, we opt for a sundae instead (the pies look awful). Unable to choose between chocolate and caramel sauce, we ask for half and half. The result is a truly obscene creation the likes of which we might have been able to tackle after our hardest cycling day, but seems insane to consume on our lazy, butt-in-seat road-trip.

Scooting some of the sugary mudslide off the vanilla ice cream (the picture doesn't do it justice, there was so much sauce!), we laugh, deciding we're getting old. A kid would go crazy over this, but we shake our heads in disapproval, saying, "it's just too rich" and "that is way too sweet for me".

Obscene Chocolate Caramel Sundae