SUMMER GUIDE 2016
ROADSIDE ODDITIES OF UTAH ROAD TRIPS ARE A LOT MORE FUN WHEN THEY GET WEIRD.
BY RANDY HARWARD
don’t think I have to sell you, necessarily, on the appeal of the road trip. Jumping in the car with your family or friends and driving anywhere for as long as an hour or an entire day, with or without a particular place to go—well, that’s a blast. You eat terrible food, listen to great music, tell stories or just stare out the window and think—or not think at all. Sometimes, while you’re gazing through the safety glass, or hanging your head out the window, mouth open, wondering if your gaping gob creates enough drag to slow down the car (what, you don’t do that?), you see something—among all that nothing—that’d make your jaw drop, if it wasn’t already low. Something weird. Something awesome. What I’m sayin’: Road trips, whether short jaunts to Wendover or cross-country treks, appeal to our need to escape, to reboot our minds and activate our possibly dormant childlike sense of adventure and wonder. They make us feel alive again. (Or at the very least, provide us with Instagram fodder.) But they’re a lot more fun when random, crazy shit happens. Maybe you’re on Redwood Road and you spot someone riding an elephant—and then you see the big top for the traveling Mexican circus. (Caution: elephants, as my daughter pointed out, are covered in “poky” stubble.) You might spot Dancing Steve, the retired anesthesiologist, who wears purple velour outfits and dances and juggles at intersections in the Holladay area. Or, on westbound SR-201 east of Wendover, you’ll see this crazy structure with no immediately discernible point or purpose that appears to be the creation of a madman, but qualifies as art and makes you wonder what it means. (See “Metaphor: The Tree of Utah.”) Sometimes it’s a pile of mildly interesting junk, or a historical landmark you never knew existed—or could fathom existing. Like the following list of roadside oddities ripe for your to ogle. From downtown Salt Lake City to all six corners of Utah, there is an abundance of roadside oddities to ogle while thinking, “What does it mean?”
Everyone knows that the site of Kevin Bacon’s iconic dance-fit in the 1984 film Footloose is in or near Lehi (I think, exactly six degrees from wherever Kevin Bacon is currently breathing). But who, among us locals, ever goes there? Even if you don’t dance, why wouldn’t you go, if only to be that close to where the magic happened?
MOUNTED HEAD OF THE DOG
Located up north near Ogden, Huntsville ain’t all that big, but Buck—the St. Bernard whose gargantuan cranium is mounted in the Shooting Star, was once the largest of his breed according to the Guinness World Records. As of 1957, the giant pooch is chasing 18-wheelers in the Great Beyond—but they’re still using his carcass to make the Shooting Star’s famous burgers. (That’s a joke.) SHANE MITHELL
Trent Harris’s beloved cult film from 1991 was shot entirely in Utah. The desert scenes, where Rubin discovered he’s the “king of the Echo People,” were shot in Goblin Valley State Park in Green River. On Main Street in nearby Hanksville, you can visit the tiny gas station (called The Prod Pump & Rest in the film) where Rubin found his way out of the desert. The Fontenoy Inn, where Rubin (Crispin Glover) lived with his mother and dead cat, is actually the Mountain Courtyard Suites at 350 S. 300 East in downtown Salt Lake City. At 222 E. Broadway, you can walk down the alley where Rubin kicked his platform shoe at his tormentor. Also downtown, last we heard, is Trent Harris’ office, where the stuffed cat, named Thistle, sits on a shelf. But don’t show up there hoping to see it. Maybe just leave a watermelon at the door. If you’ve seen the film, you know why.
You’ll have to leave Utah, enter Nevada, then re-enter Utah, in order to access this astronomical work of art installed by the late artist/filmmaker/photographer Nancy Holt in 1976. The large concrete tunnels have holes bored into them in the shape of constellations, and they’re positioned so that Sun projects them onto the concave inner walls. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the dirt road leading to the tunnels. Bring water, too.
40 | JUNE 9, 2016
| CITY WEEKLY |
RUBIN AND ED LOCATIONS
Making Fun Times Out Of Your Sun Times Summer Guide 2016