Driving east through Idaho and Utah, things get no-nonsense. Back to basics. There’s no need to guess how American Legion Street got its name, or what you will find at the end of Cement Factory Road. “Tomorrow is the reward for safe driving today,” advises the Utah Department of Transportation, with the word “reward” lending a certain sanctity to the message.
With Idaho farmland behind me, I crossed into cattle country – Tremonton, Utah. I was glad to be in Tremonton, as the travel day was growing long, the sun was setting, and the Eagles guidebook listed an aerie in Tremonton with RV parking. I drove down Main Street, passing commercial properties which were either boarded up or selling ranch equipment. I found the lodge, parked, and stepped out of the rig, immediately accosted by the odor of cattle and dung. I wasn’t quite sure if my sense of smell would allow me to stay there overnight, when the decision was made for me. I realized the aerie was permanently closed.
A gentleman at the cattle trucking company next door informed me it closed about six months ago.
I feared I might encounter the decay of middle America when visiting aeries around the country. I began to think my prediction was premature, as on Saturday night two days ago I was at Aerie 115 in Boise, Idaho, singing karaoke with Brothers Gary and Eddie and cheering the Boise State Broncos onto victory against Hawaii. The bartender, Cat, gave me a lapel pen as a remembrance of my visit.
I will remember to call ahead next time, especially in small towns.
So there I was, darkness descending, a windshield so littered with bugs that I could barely see through it, 30 miles from Ogden, and no place to stay. Come back and see me and I’ll tell you that story another time.