Midway, Utah – September 2022 – Driving School

To my surprise I had access to a free day of performance driving school included in the cost of the new car I purchased a few months ago, a Ford Edge ST. Apparently because they are considered ‘high performance SUVs (to me an oxymoron)’, Ford Performance sends out letters to all new owners inviting us to this training.

Since it was included in the cost of the car, and a good excuse to spend a week running around Utah, off we went. And the good news was Ford provided the cars for the day.

The instructors were all professional drivers, mostly those who run in the SCCA or IMSA type races. Our leader was referred to as Reverend Jim who preached the gospel of speed.

We left Park City for a 45 minute drive to the town of Midway. Each car had a walkie talkie where Reverend Jim gave us play by play of the drive, the features of the car and other amusing, if not always useful, comments.

Eventually we arrived at the Soldier Valley Olympic Facility. This facility hosted the cross country skiing, as well as the biathlon – a combination of cross country skiing and target shooting.

The first part of the day was learning how to manage your vehicle during a skid. To do this they have a car outfitted with specialized hydraulics that the instructor could at any moment force the car into a skid.

Next up was to show the amazing ability of the Ford Edge ST (and many of today’s cars) to apply the brakes if the car decides you are not paying attention and are going to run into something. This is done with a combination of Radar and the cameras in the car.

The training was to accelerate towards a ‘balloon car’ and once you get to the point of no return you let off on the accelerator, do not touch the brakes and steer directly ahead. The car will sense the balloon car just ahead and hammer on the brakes for you – a very weird sensation but some cool technology.

The Olympic cross country loop is paved, allowing for athletes to train year round using rollers on their ski’s. Because we had the facility to ourselves today we were permitted to drive the course – slowly.

We arrived back at the start/finish line where the target shooting facility was located.

Once there two of the U.S. Biathlon Olympic team members were there to give us an overview of the sport, some history and some instruction on the target shooting. I last shot a gun when Gerald Ford was president but with their instruction was able to hit the target, which turned out to be 7 times larger than the target the Olympians shoot at.

Our day continued with an auto-cross. This is basically a course set up in a parking lot with constant sharp turns. We used what Reverend Jim and the others had taught us for the day and saw how fast and hard we could get Ford’s cars through the course.

All in all it was a fun day, with Reverend Jim and the other instructors helping facilitate a learning experience.

Salt Lake City – September 2022 – Toyota Land Cruiser Museum

In an industrial area of Salt Lake City is an old warehouse stuffed full of Toyota Land Cruisers from over the years.

The original ones were based on a Willy’s Jeep, and by 1942 were in production. By the 1950s this vehicle had become known as the Land Cruiser.

The Land Cruiser is popular throughout the world, but has especially strong sales in Australia.

The Land Cruiser has been used for special purposes and expeditions throughout it’s history.

While the museum has a large collection, from a photography perspective it is difficult as they are all jammed in together, with barriers preventing from going between them for closer looks.

This, coupled with a fairly high entrance fee, made this a less than desirable stop for me.

Provo, Utah – September 2022 – Provo Canyon

Seemingly keeping with the Utah approach of naming everything the same (Utah Lake, Utah Valley, Utah County), Provo Canyon is just east of the city of Provo, with the Provo River running through it.

The 28 mile drive through the Wasatch Mountains east of Provo takes you through Provo Canyon.

Not far into the canyon is Bridal Veil Falls, which cascades over 600 feet down the mountain in 2 drops.

The river is crossed by numerous bridges serving the hiking/biking path, but fortunately this was not the one we had to use.

The fall colors had begun on this late September day.

U.S. Highway 189 makes it’s way up the canyon, including this cool little double tunnel.

At the east end of the canyon in Deep Creek Reservoir.

We chose to take the Alpine Loop road up the mountain past Sundance Ski Resort. Overall a nice scenic drive for a couple of hours.

Provo, Utah – September 2022 – Signs, Signs Everywhere There’s Signs

Like most cities Provo, Utah has a sign ordnance dictating the size and placements of advertising signs. Fortunately the Lakeside Storage Facility is either not in the city of Provo, or has an exemption as they have an amazing collection of petroliana (items relating to the gasoline industry).

We happened upon this place just after they opened their office for the day. The young lady in the office said that we could walk around all we like!

But it is not just signs they have….

There are multiple small airplanes on top of the storage units.

Most of the signs date from the 1940s through the 1970s, in various states of condition.

A few old cars and trucks are included in the collection.

They have another area across the road with more signs, but it was under construction and off limits. Still – who can resist Elvis and Marilyn on a flatbed truck outside the gate.

The Lakeside Storage and Sign Museum on the west side of Provo, Utah is one of those funky places that is a must for me!

Southern Utah – September 2022 – Long Canyon to Escalante

The final section of the Burr Trail took us through Long Canyon.

By far the easiest slot canyon to hike into is Singing Canyon. It is about 100′ off the road, and a nice open path for a short distance until the canyon ends.

A few more scenic views before the Burr Trail ends at the town of Boulder, Utah.

For a short distance along another scenic road, Utah Highway 12, you pass by farms.

A short distance later and the scenery changes dramatically again as you go across the Hogback.

Once we dropped into the valley that the town of Escalante is, the farms return. Escalante was the end of this fabulous day.

Southern Utah – September 2022 – Burr Trail

John Atlantic Burr was born on a ship as his family was making their way to the United States in the late 1800s. Later in life he was a cattleman in Southern Utah.

His land included space along an amazing geological feature known as the Waterpocket Fold, a rise of nearly 1000′ feet above the valley below.

Today the Burr Trail goes from Bullfrog on Lake Powell to Boulder, Utah. The road is paved for the first 20 miles or so.

As we turned onto this road a park ranger stopped us and warned us that a few miles ahead the road goes through Bullfrog Creek, and that some people had been stuck there for 3 hours, before finally getting through.

Fortunately our choice of transportation is an all wheel drive Ford Edge – and the ranger said, in true guy fashion ‘you might be ok – just stay right, then left, then back to the right – and don’t stop’. Having driven in snow for decades I knew exactly what he meant. And it worked.

We went right through!

For next 30 miles or so we enjoyed the trip, first paved and eventually gravel road. The scenery was once again amazing. After about 15 miles you enter Capital Reef National Park.

At one point John cut a path for his cattle down the Fold so they could get down to the valley to graze. He did this with a series of switchbacks that now serve as the highlight of this drive.

While not quite as high a climb as Moki Dugway, it is far more intense as the road is barely 2 lanes, and the climb is steeper. Very cool!

This photo is not tilted, the land is!

The view at the top is great, looking back at what you just drove.

The remainder of Burr Trail takes you through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, highlighted in the next posting.

Hite Crossing, Utah – September 2022 – Lake Powell (What’s Left of It)

The comments of the severe drought in the west is true, check out Lake Powell at Bullfrog, Utah. Those white lines on the mountains on the other side of the water – that should be the water level.

In normal times there is enough water to take a ferry across, but we ended up going the long way around and crossing at Hite Crossing. While the Colorado River is present, the area between the lower canyon walls should be filled with the water of Lake Powell.

The drive up Utah Highway 95 was impressive.

Rock formations near Lake Powell at Hite Crossing.

Further north on Utah 95 is the Hog Springs Canyon rest area. The hiking trail was overgrown with grasses from recent monsoon rains, but these rains are far too little to help Lake Powell.

The rocks along Hog Canyon also had great erosion holes.

The drive back south to the town of Bullfrog passed the Henry Mountains, again with some of those classic Southern Utah looks.

The mountains in the background are highlighted with the Aspen tree leaves changing to their bright yellow.

Southern Utah – September 2022 – Moki Dugway

As you head up Utah Highway 163 from Mexican Hat, or Valley of the Gods, the route is your typical 2 lane blacktop road for the first few miles until you come to the 1100′ high Cedar Mesa.

Here your reach the Moki Dugway where the road turns to gravel and ascends the 1100′ in less than 3 miles at a 11% grade.

A dugway is literally a path carved out of a cliff. The term Moki is an ancient Pueblo term for carved toe holds or steps into rock cliffs, hence Moki Dugway.

Some people get stressed by the sheer drops along side the road, but it is a great experience and when you get to the top the view is fantastic.