This past weekend I went to Salt Lake to get my taxes done by my accountant.
Now that doesn't mean there aren't good people locally that can do taxes, but the guy I have had doing my taxes for the last 40 years is now an old buddy. We have grown old together as is evidenced by the number of wrinkles in the room that we see when we face each other in that two hour, once a year session.
Because I was taking the trip up north, a friend of mine and I planned to go with our ATVs out on the west desert on Saturday. Before I lived in Price over 20 years ago, weekend trips to places like the Clay Pits, Little Sahara, the geode beds and Skull Valley were quite common. Since living here, I have not gone out there for a long time.
The trip to Salt Lake was fairly uneventful Saturday morning (other than trying to negotiate the freeway gauntlet through Utah county) and we ended up having breakfast in Tooele before we eventually decided that Skull Valley would be the destination.
The wind was blowing there, much like it was everywhere in the state on Saturday. We parked near Rydalch Pass and drove south along trails and dirt roads until about mid-afternoon when we reached White Rocks, a place I had not gone to for over 35 years. White Rocks used to be a regular campsite for many of my friends in the 1970's when we were all riding machines with two wheels instead of these lumbering four wheeled monsters we have been forced into riding because of age and decrepancy nowadays.
By the time we reached White Rocks the wind had really kicked up. I couldn't keep my broad brimmed hat on going south because we were riding into the wind. On the way north back to the truck I thought that it would be better. But the gusts were so strong from the south on the ride back that it kept blowing off into the direction I was traveling. Lots of sun screen kept me from being fried in the early spring sun that was out all day.
By the time we reached the truck it was about 4 p.m. and we were being sand blasted as we loaded the machines on the trailer and drove along a road past Quincy Spring and Brown Spring to I-80 near Aragonite. We got on the freeway headed east and just as we passed a large truck that was swaying in the wind on the east side of the Cedar Mountains we ran into a totally blinding sand storm. This is common in this area and I should have prepared better for it. I pulled to the right and slowed down, which made me a hazard to the truck driver I just passed. I should have known better and I am sure he was cussing me.
But what was to come was worse. I had seen another tractor trailer rig in that lane in front of me just before we hit the dust cloud. Suddenly looming before me was the outline of that trailer almost dead stopped. I jammed on my brakes hoping the semi behind me saw it too. I hit the brakes so hard I thought the ATVs would be riding in the cab with us the rest of the way home. I saw the outline of the trailer swerve to the left and then I saw why he had almost halted. There in the road were two cars, a Mercedes and an Acura both stopped in the lane of traffic. I looked at my left mirror and couldn't see anything coming so to avoid hitting them I had to go left too. As we passed I could see the people in them with their windows rolled down and their heads out trying to see the road in front of their cars. There they sat, unseen and untouched as of my passing, blocking the right traffic lane instead of pulling way off the freeway to stop. It was unbelievable.
"California plates," said my friend spying the identifying letters as we passed.
We both laughed nervously.
Some of this was my fault. I wasn't looking far enough ahead to see the dust cloud, instead I was concentrating on passing that weaving trailer.
But stopping in the travel lane in the middle of a dust storm that no one can see through? I guess all the crazies don't just exist in our little canyon or on the flats toward Green River.
But who knows, maybe later they did pass through here.
It was a lesson learned. Every year a I learn a few new things about driving that I hadn't seen in my 42 years since getting my license.
It just goes to prove, what you don't know can hurt you, or at least scare the heck out of you.