Tuesday, November 13, 2007

11/13/07 Midway, UT

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Ray, our service rep at Blaire Jensen RV Center, recommended that we leave the RV for a few days to make it easier for them to take the jacks apart and work on it. He’d work on the other eighteen service items (including installing our new GPS) around that critical repair. We asked around for a good kennel for Mayim, packed our computers and clothes, and headed out into Utah. After we dropped Mayim off at the nicest kennel I’d ever seen, we headed south to find the Alpine Scenic Loop which I’d seen mentioned in a tourist guide.

It felt strange to head down the road with no plans or hotel reservations, but the kids were jubilant and their mood was infectious. We headed through Salt Lake City and Provo to Highway 189 to find 607-foot Bridal Veil Falls with the “World’s Steepest Aerial Tramway.” Oops – slight problem, I was using an older travel guide – and the tramway had been destroyed by an avalanche several years before. (The waterfall could have used some more water, but we’ve been spoiled by waterfalls in Oregon, Canada, and Montana lately.) Another geological destination, Timpanagos Cave, a limestone cavern on the side of Mt. Timpanogos, known for its spectacularly water-created colored stalactites and stalagmites, had closed for the winter. We’ll see those next time.

Nearby the falls was a sign for the town of Sundance. Since we weren’t really headed anywhere, Sundance sounded perfect. Whereas I had pictured a quant skiing town, it is mostly one resort owned by Robert Redford … beautiful, elegant and classy. I could tell by the cars in the parking lot and the grand entrance that it was out of our price range, so we drove on. Further along there was a conference facility for BYU. I stopped in to chat and asked about local accommodations. We were referred to the town of Midway, near Heber, and a resort called “Homestead.”

While we were dining at our new favorite drive-in Sonic (the kids love when they bring the food out to the car – like old A&W’s), we called the resort. “Yes,” they had room and “Yes,” they were running a fall special. Decided we’d take some Limeades to go, we headed out, not expecting much because the price was so low.

When we got there we were stunned – it was a giant resort with hundreds of parking spaces – with only one other car besides our own. The resort was virtually empty! The resort is popular during spring and summer and then again during ski season, but not during November. Even their golf course had closed the week before. The gardening crews were preparing the landscaping for snow and the maintenance crews were painting, cleaning and rewiring with a frenzy of activity. The restaurants were still open since the locals came to eat. They gave us a lovely room with two queen beds, piles of shampoo and personal care samples, and a welcoming giant plush rabbit whose cousins were for sale in the gift shop.

The resort was originally started out as a farm next to a 55 foot, beehive-shaped limestone crater filled with 96 degree water. In 1886, the farmer created a wood plank pool filled with mineral water from the crater, started hosting buggy loads of visitors for therapeutic baths, opened a restaurant where his wife served chicken dinners and built some lodging for out-of-town guests.

Today the crater has a tunnel through the rock wall at ground level with decks and a soaking area used for swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling. It is the only warm water scuba diving destination in the continental US so the place is filled every evening and on weekends with scuba divers studying for their certification. I can’t tell you how funny it is to be taking an evening stroll bundled up in a jacket, gloves and hat against the freezing weather and see people in the parking lot in bathing suits with beach towels carrying swim fins.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go scuba diving in Utah! Fortunately, the dive shop could access my PADI certification number online, so they got me suited up with full gear. The hole at the top of the dome let in sunlight and fresh air. The water was heavenly, like diving in a bathtub, and crystal clear. It was great fun to dive 50+ feet in the hourglass-shaped crater. Dave and Sarah used snorkeling gear and stayed near the surface. I taught them how to buddy-breath from my tanks and got to swim a few feet under with them.

Sarah and I were in need of a book store. The closest option was a half hour away in Orem at a Target Super Center. We had great fun buying books, music and snacks for the hotel room. Sarah was especially tickled to pick out a Nickleback CD for Dave and a new pair of earphones for his computer least he forget how much she dislikes their lead singer. Several of her favorite groups had new albums out, so maybe we’ll start to listen to something other than Beatle’s music. Fortunately, I like the Beatles and the new music she bought is pretty nice too.

While we on our shopping spree, Dave walked from the resort to the nearby town of Heber. He’d been walking a few miles each day into Midway, but was ready for some new eating opportunities, so he just kept walking along the roads through the farm lands. He checked in with us throughout the day by cell phone on his trek, but didn’t want a ride. Imagine his thrill to find a shop that sold Magic cards. When he came back to the resort, he was limping slightly. Using the car’s odometer the next day, we figured that he walked more than ten miles!

One of Sarah’s favorite things was feeding the ducks and geese. The restaurant gave her bags of bread for them. They would recognize her and zoom to where she was to get snacks. Our last night at the resort, Sarah and swam in the famed-mineral water pool and sat in the Jacuzzis outside in the rain. We treated ourselves and Dave to some of their homemade fudge. Wow!

After we checked out, we went for brunch at the new German-themed Zarmett Resort nearby. It was beautifully designed and I would love to see it with snow. With full stomachs, we headed back to Salt Lake City, the almost repaired RV and Mayim.

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