“Once in a while, time’s gonna leave stuff behind. It can still be beautiful in memory.” ~ Paul Jury, States of Confusion
The smell of last night’s fire hangs heavily on me. I’ve got clean clothes in the right-side saddle bag, but the thought of unpacking and then re-packing is something I just can’t bring myself to do this morning. Continuing to wear yesterday’s campfire clothes is a luxury that a man traveling alone can easily afford.
Back on the road, I’m rolling up Hwy-89 toward Brigham City and then the long sweeping turns of Sardine Canyon. My goal is Logan, Utah. That’s where I went to college, and I’m suddenly compelled to see it again.
Hwy-89 marks the abrupt transition from valley floor to steep mountain as it carries me north through towns with names like Bountiful, Farmington and Pleasant View. I’m stealing glances to the left of sunlight sparkling way off in the distance on the Great Salt Lake.
I’m riding along as I hear a low rumble begin to develop. I’m starting to worry that something is wrong with Connie as the noise becomes a roar. Seconds later I realize this deafening roar is way too loud for any motorcycle to be the source. In fact it is coming from the sky. Looking up, I see two F-16s streak by. They are flying training missions out of Hill Air Force Base this morning. Some people say that’s the sound of freedom. I’m not so sure. I pull over near Pleasant View to see what the view is like. It’s not unpleasant.
About 45 minutes later I’m in Logan. There are some new businesses and apartment buildings, but it feels pretty much the same as it did in the mid-80s. The farms on the south end of town are much more beautiful than I remember. Maybe that says more about me than it does about Logan or farms.
I roll up onto campus and stop at the fine arts center — hoping to find and visit with my photography professor. The receptionist seems sorry to disappoint when she tells me Prof. Craig Law has retired. Apparently, some important things have changed in Logan while I’ve been gone.
I’m sad as I leave the fine arts center, but then I remember Utah State University’s famous ice cream. The ice cream shop is right across the street, so that’s where I go to lick my wounds and a cone of peppermint chocolate-chip.
Sitting in the shade of a huge tree, I’m crunching my sugar cone, when a campus tour guide leads a group of 20 incoming freshmen up to the front of the shop. Turning back to the group she clears her throat and yells that they are about to get their first taste of the best thing at USU. The young adults act like little kids when they learn they are about to get ice cream.
Five minutes later, the freshmen are out on the lawn, sitting under my shade tree. These kids are beautiful in their youth and potential. It’s a beauty that the millstones of time and disappointment will soon start working on. One young lady leans over and asks another if she can have a bite of her ice cream. Her friend’s whispered response is, “No, I’m having a herpes outbreak,” and she sticks out her blistered lip as evidence.
I’m planning to return to SLC. I’ll be traveling 100 miles along the same stretch of interstate I travelled a few days ago.
Tonight’s goal is to drink a few beers with my brother at his favorite bar. Sadly, we’ve not done much of that together. College and then work kept me away. I hope to repair some of that damage tonight. I’ve missed you, Dave.