I met Becky years ago, when I was living in Provo, and decided from the first day that I met her that I wanted to be her friend. Becky is one of my favorite people ever. One of the many things I love about her is her sense of adventure and her creative ideas that range from road-tripping to dig for diamonds in Arkansas to her newest plan, to go to Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Every time I’m around her, I want to be a better person and I feel more passion for life.
I told Becky about my blog and wanted her to be part of it for that very reason. She is a great example to me of someone who is constantly flirting with life. She told me about an idea for an adventure she’d been saving and it was perfect.
We started by taking turns pointing to a map of Utah with our eyes closed. We chose six locations in different sections of the state and wrote them down on slips of paper. Then we picked one of the slips as our destination. This Saturday, we got an early morning start and headed two hours south to a place I had never heard of before: Wales, UT… population 234.
We had a few ideas of how we wanted to spend the day… do a service project, find the oldest person in town and get their story, see if we could get someone to invite us over for dinner…. but mostly, we just planned to wing it. We had a beautiful day for traveling and I couldn’t have asked for better company or conversation.
When we arrived in Wales, we were looking for some kind of place where we could go to have breakfast and start meeting people in the town. Unfortunately, all we found were several abandoned and falling-apart buildings. They were picturesque, though, and we tromped through the snow to have a little photo shoot with them.
After taking some pictures, we drove a little further on the periphery of town looking for a main street of some kind. No luck. But we did meet a lady named Katherine who was out for a walk. She told us that we’d actually left town without realizing it and that there weren’t any restaurants, libraries, or public buildings in Wales. She said that the main attraction in town was a house where the occupants kept zebras and told us how to get there. We asked if she knew of any places we could do service or of any old people with good stories, and she told us about a lady in her 80’s named Geneva. After making sure we were good people, she told us how to get to her house.
We turned the car around and headed back into Wales, following Katherine’s directions. When we reached the place she described, we didn’t see any zebras around. There was a boy on his bike that confirmed we were in the right place, so we walked up to the house to see if the owner would let us check them out.
When Garrett answered the door and we told him we were hoping to see his zebras, his countenance fell a little and he told us they had died. Becky hastily apologized for knocking on his door to bring that up, and we ended up talking with him for a while. He had a fascinating life and told us about how he was a horse trainer for a while and from there went into training zebras, which people said couldn’t be done. We had a great conversation that ended with him telling us to come back any time. People down there were so friendly.
After talking with Garrett, we tried to find Geneva’s house in the neighboring town of Chester. We didn’t have any success, but on the way out we did catch sight of a couple of beautiful immature bald eagles soaring around. We drove on to the next town, Ephraim, and stopped for an early lunch at a diner called “The Satisfied Ewe” City Cafe.
The quaint family diner served delicious food and had a very small-town feeling. The teenage girl behind the counter, Kayla, seemed to know all of the customers and they knew all about her and asked her about her love life. She was a little shy with us, but we tried to get her and Linda (the lady in the kitchen) talking.
One of my favorite parts of the morning was when Becky and I were trying to figure out the name and artist of a song we had stuck in our heads. Becky called into the kitchen to see if Linda knew and started singing the song to her. A man was just leaving the restaurant, and as he passed behind us, HE started singing the song too, trying to figure it out. I told Becky it was the closest I’ve come to having life be like a musical. It was great.
After eating and telling Linda and Kayla about what we were doing, they told us about a man in town that had written a book that we might find interesting. The book was called Over the Hump: A World War II Pilot’s Report. As we flipped through it, we read some of the love letters the author had written to his wife, who was an army nurse, and Becky started to tear up a little because they were so beautiful. She asked Linda if we could meet him, and Linda found him in the phone book and called to invite him over to the cafe to meet with us.
Roger showed up a little while later, looking spry at ninety years old with his veteran’s hat on. He was, as Becky described him, “a delightful man” who was funny, fiesty, and still deeply in love with his wife, who had passed away a few years before. It was really beautiful to hear him talk about her and show us pictures. He also talked about his adventures in the war, travels all over the world, and near-death experiences in flight. He had us laughing with his two favorite words, which were expletives, but he found the most creative and funny ways to use them.
We ended up buying his coffee and he took us over to the local college to show us a display he had donated. It featured some of his old pilot uniforms and his wife’s nurse uniforms. There was currency from all over the world, different items he picked up in several countries, and more. People stopped him in the hallway to thank him for his monetary donations to the school in addition to the display items. He had such a good heart and seemed to love the attention.
He kept telling us to find good men and asking us why we weren’t married. He told us that he wanted a report on our romantic progress in six months. We took his address and told him that we’d be in touch. I think Becky plans to send him the pictures we took and write him every month. It was really a gem to find Roger.
After leaving Roger, we drove to another neighboring town called Spring City. Linda at the cafe had told us that it was a really historic place with a lot of restored homes from the 1800’s. We later found out that in 2009, Forbes had ranked Spring City among the nation’s prettiest towns.
What we didn’t realize was that none of the historic homes were open until after Labor Day Weekend. Again, we pulled alongside someone and asked for some local advice. This time it was a really nice lady named Bonnie who gave us a huge list of things to do. We didn’t have time to do it all, so we went with her first recommendation. We visited one of her friends, named Sarah, and asked if we could get a tour of her home.
To make a long story short, Sarah was a retired judge and a restoration expert. She had moved into one of her ancestor’s homes and did a lot of research on how to bring it back to how it would have been in the 1800’s. She showed us “before” pictures and then took us on a tour of the house that had amazing recreations of pioneer furniture and china from England and other antiques. We even got to learn a few things about historical restoration and about the people in the town.
After our visit with Sarah, both Becky and I were pretty tired and ready to head back. There was so much more we could have done and seen in Spring City, but that will have to wait for another time. After another great conversation on the way home, I said goodbye to Becky. Both of us were pretty exhausted, but it was an awesome way to spend a Saturday.