Utah with the Nonagenarians

Remember when Spring Break was fun? Mexico, Daytona Beach… well now I’m so fucking old, I spent my last Spring Break in Utah with my 86-year-old Dad and his 90-year-old “Girlfriend”.

Yeah, I know. Definitely a first-world problem when you are bitching about your Spring Break like a douchebag millennial. But fuck it – I’m telling this story.

Alaska-Utah what the fuck is the difference

I’m still not sure how I got roped into this trip. The Bear and I talked about taking an Alaskan cruise in the summer. The next thing I know my father and sister are talking about joining us on a family cruise to Alaska in March.

Alaska sounds good in August. It sounds cold as fuck in March.

I wasn’t really looking forward to freezing on the Bering Sea. I’ve seen that shit on TV, with miserable semi-criminals shivering their asses off as they chase crabs around the ocean. I don’t need that bullshit.

My sister wisely bailed out of Alaska. I made the mistake of saying some day I would like to go to the national monuments in Utah. I meant some day the way they use it in Broadway musicals – a long-term fantastical dream.

Fucking some day became my entire Spring Break. Dreams suck.

Dad kept asking me to make reservations. But I didn’t want to do all planning and making sure all the hotels served scotch and wine.

These folks don’t go anywhere without booze, and according to the Bear, Tucson has turned me into a hopeless alcoholic too.

I finally got smart and told Dad to go the travel agent. He’s got nothing else to do all day – he’s been retired since 1990-something. He shows up with a “trip-tic” from AAA like it’s 1976, and we were ready to go.

Flagstaff – a short trip to tall beer(s)

So we load up the Honda CRV, stop by the old folks home (I mean Fountain View Village) and head for Flagstaff — a 3-hour drive. On the way to Flag, we had to stop for food in Payson — about 1 hour out of town. That was our limit before we needed meals.

Ohh shit this is going to be a long trip. As soon as we hit Flag, I headed for Mother Road Brewing, and the rest of that day is a blur.

More than 18 hours later we make it to Monument Valley (about 4 hours drive out of Flagstaff — let’s just say more stopping and eating than driving).

The Bear and I can’t wait to go for a hike. There are plenty of trails that lead away into the “sand” away from the View Hotel.

The View is definitely the place to stay — awesome rooms that all have a patio view of the Monuments and Valley. We walk for maybe 35 mins and head back because the sun is going down.

My frantic father has been “looking for me.”

“You had all the wine and scotch in your room,” he says out of breath. “We walked this entire hotel. Did you know they don’t serve alcohol?”

Dad doesn’t call or god forbid text us… He just starts an aimless walking manhunt like he’s a lone Elliot Ness and we are Al Capone with the bootleg hooch. Let’s just say, Nessy was a little pissy without his drinky.

Harry, Yazzie, Klee, the Bear and Me

Day 3 is the tour of Monument Valley. We end up in an SUV with Harry the Navajo driving and telling tales of eating bobcat and coyotes.

They say many Navajo have a dark and dry sense of humor. Harry was on the far side of the “dark” curve. It was pretty fucking hard to tell if Harry was kidding.

He quickly nicknamed the two folks in the back. Yazzie means small, he said – so that’s the girlfriend, she can’t be 5-feet tall and is definitely less than 100 pounds.

Klee is left-handed, so that fit Dad. So we are bouncing around the dirt roads — Yazzie, Klee, Harry, the Bear and me.

Harry spends most of the time talking about being hungry as a kid and happy to eat whatever they could get.

“Donkey is actually pretty good,” he says. “But horse is better.”

Yazzie and Klee are both really nice and smart people, but they were born before FDR was president, so there are some “challenges.”

The Google Bitch

Every time in the car, the Bear opens maps on the cell phone and the “Google Bitch” tells us where to go. But Yazzie doesn’t hear well, and they should change Klee from “left-handed” to “mostly-deaf”.

Every time the phone bitch starts up, Yazzie and Klee start too:

“The map shows there should be a turn here somewhere…” Klee shouts.

“Dad, the phone will tell me when to turn.”

“I’m looking at the map, and there’s a turn around here somewhere,” he bellows.

The bitch drones “..in a quarter-mile…”

“When I was here in the 70’s, I think the highway is 87 or 89,” Yazzie says.

“…turn…”, drones the Google bitch.

“I can’t find either one of those on the map,” Klee shouts.

Then silence, and I have no fucking idea what to do in a quarter mile.

5 days of driving, and that scene was repeated at every turn.

I’m not Fucking Kip Keno

Zion National Park was pretty but crowded with no place to park. I had to drive out of Zion and park in town and walk 2 miles or so. The Bear texted me 5 times and called me twice to hurry up.

When you are nearly 90, your patience goes faster than your hearing, and Klee was losing his shit.

Apparently, “I’m not fucking Kip Keno” is not an appropriate response to explain why it took 20 minutes to return. (For you douchebag millennials, Kip Keno was a 10k gold medalist in 1970 something). We all grumbled our way onto a standing-room only tram in Zion.

Zion views are pretty and lots of stops. There’s a mix of people. Some are day-trippers fresh from a hotel and shower. Some are long-term campers who are riding to another hike. It’s obvious the campers haven’t seen a shower in multiple days or weeks.

I’ve got a “camper” with a German accent standing over me — complete with a foreign funk that fluctuates between locker room socks and 3-day-old, road-kill intestines. My fucking window won’t open. No one else wants to exit the tram until the final stop. Fuck, I almost puked.

I survived the BO monster, and we head for Bryce Canyon. Bryce is beautiful, but it’s 9000 ft. We were lucky it was sunny and 50-degrees. The snow was plowed into 5-foot tall mounds on the side of the road.

Don’t go in March — just about everything but one hotel and one restaurant are closed. Most of the time, the highway and Canyon are closed in March too — thanks for almost fucking this up AAA. I guess the auto club doesn’t do weather reports.

It’s a 20-minute drive from the hotel to the end of the road at the top of Bryce Canyon. We were there 2 days.

Most people hike from the top and follow the trails to the bottom — which is 10 miles and 5000 feet away. Yazzie and Klee didn’t want to go more than a few hundred yards from the car.

It’s really hard to stretch a 20-minute drive into 2 days. But we did it. Thanks to multiple meals at the buffet and adding an “extra” happy hour at 1 p.m.

Nachos Yazzie

The last day we are driving back from Bryce Canyon, past Flagstaff and all the way to Fountain Hills.

I talk the Bear into taking the scenic route to the north side of the Grand Canyon and through the forest instead of the desert.

We stopped at two trading posts, but all the restaurants on the way are closed. Klee is covering up his building urge to eat with fake pleasantries.

“This is a beautiful way to go. I’m doing fine… how far is it to the next restaurant?”

Around 2 p.m. we end up eating in Cameron, Az (again). The whole trip, little Yazzie has been “mistakenly” ordering huge meals and then worrying about all the food waste.

Yazzie set a new record in Cameron. She orders an appetizer. Nachos. They bring out a plate that the 200-pound waiter can barely lift by himself.

“It usually serves up to 20,” he smiles. I told you dark and dry…

If I wasn’t such a fucking asshole on this blog, I’d post the picture of little Yazzie’s face behind a mountain of nachos, but I’m sure her descendants will appreciate me leaving her identity out of this bullshit.

Finally Fucking Homeward Bound

On the last leg home, the Bear and I are talking in a normal tone in the front — Yazzie and Klee can’t hear.

“Let’s just drop them at the front door and say nothing about food,” I said. “I just can’t face sitting in another restaurant.”

“Ok,” she says. “But you know that’s not going to work.”

It was working for hours, but 30 minutes south of Payson within site of the Fountain, Klee shouts from the back: “To thank you for this trip, I’d like to buy you two lunch.”

Fucking, goddamn, son-of-a-bitch, I just want to get out of this fucking Honda and get away from all of you people.

“That’s very nice,” the Bear says. “Where shall we go?”

Home… Home… Homeward Bound is running through my head like I’m goddamn Garfunkel on acid. I’m on the edge of prayer hoping Klee changes his mind.

But he’s a goddamn atheist, and here comes more proof there is no loving and caring god.

“Euro Pizza would be great,” he says. And we spent what felt like the last hour of my middle age sitting in a booth waiting for something big and bland to arrive.

You know, I must confess, I never did get to Mexico or Daytona for Spring Break when I was young. The best Spring Break I ever had was in Toronto, and it was just about as good as that sounds.

So despite this douchebaggery of 1800-words of bitchery, Utah with the Nonagenarians (I’ll save you the Google – it means 90-year olds) was actually “OK.”

At least I didn’t puke or come home with a tattoo. And I definitely gained something — in addition to the 15 pounds – I learned that it is possible to enjoy travel at any age.

Maybe the Bear and I will be lucky enough some day to miss half the conversation and be shouting directions from the back of the Boy’s car. Some day in the 2040’s, I’m making his skinny ass drive us to Montana or maybe even fucking Alaska.