Above ~ The San Raphael Reef (or Swell) ~ Click on the picture to view larger
It was December 10, 2012, the day before my birthday. I’d just spent a couple of cold weeks or so camping along dirt roads, and hiking in remote, dusty canyons. I thought how wonderful it would be to have a shower, get a haircut, wash my clothes, and re-stock my dwindling supplies, (I pretty much only had canned beans left). I was also craving a drink of something other than water and herbal tea.
There were two towns in the vicinity, Blanding (about 45 miles away) and the smaller town of Hanksville (about a 100 miles away). I picked Hanksville in part, because I had a friend who was heading out that way and there was a chance we could meet up somewhere.
When I arrived in town I headed straight to the grocery store where there was a hair salon, and luckily the stylist was in.
Veronica did a wonderful job on the cut, and afterwards I felt like myself again. A couple of Veronica’s friends were also in the room; Clarissa was painting pictures on the wall while her hair was being dyed, and Gail was about to have hers rinsed. Apparently they do this a lot, to help wile away the time in this small town. When Clarissa heard it was my birthday she told me she had a coupon for a free night at the Hanksville Inn stuck to her refrigerator door. She had won it in a turkey shoot, and asked if I would like to have it because it was no use to her. The three of them decided I should take it, so Clarissa, (with her hair still wrapped in plastic, and her plastic cape still on), drove home to get it for me. I had this vision of her in her car, plastic cape flying out of the window, mouths dropping open at the sight of this wonder woman streaming by. She returned with blushed cheeks and a huge, happy smile. I was completely blown away by this act of kindness to a complete stranger, and clearly they were loving every minute of it.
When I arrived at the inn I learned that they didn’t have any water, but they hoped to have it fixed later as someone had driven to Price to get the necessary parts. So I took a room, then looked for a Laundromat while the room warmed up. However, the tourist side of Hanksville had closed down for the winter, and there was no place to do laundry, so I had to do it by hand in the bath tub (once the water was back on at the inn).
Back at the grocery store, I searched for food, but the choices were very limited (a delivery was due in that afternoon). The shelves were almost empty, and the prices outrageous. I bought some 4.0 beer (the highest alcohol content allowed in Utah), and some snacks, and returned to my room.
After that, I relaxed in my room and used the internet. When the water came back on, I washed all my laundry in the bath tub, and was appalled at how dirty it was (lots of desert sand). I had to rinse it three times, and my hands were sore from all that wringing out. I mused over the fact that I used to do all my laundry this way when I lived in England because I couldn’t afford the Laundromat. I even did my sheets by hand.
Through the kindness of strangers I had a night of luxury. Not only did I have running water, but also heat, electricity, internet, and TV! I saved a soak in the tub until last, crossing my fingers that there would be enough hot water left.
On my birthday morning, I stayed in the room for as long as I dared and I saw Veronica outside. Then went to Blondies Restaurant for coffee. Gail was in there and she gave me a big hug and free coffee, and many birthday wishes. I met Jake, and Jeff, and some other folks, and passed away the time learning about life in Hanksville. I talked to Susan at the BLM office for a while, and I think I knew half the towns folks by the time I set off to camp for the night in The San Raphael Swell, rejuvenated, and ready to face the cold again.
The next day I parked my vehicle in a spot that my friend had to pass by, on his way to find me, (the only way to make contact, as there was no cell phone service) and went exploring The Swell (Lots of slick rock and canyons to explore). On my return my friends vehicle (small RV) was parked next to mine. That evening we had a campfire with the bit of firewood I’d been hoarding, and some wine, and cooked a feast. He had cool gifts for me; a short climbing rope suitable for some canyoneering (84 feet), a stuff sack, a rose, and a ton of bits and bobs that I needed or were just simply a treat (like chocolate). I slept in heat, and I can honestly say, that thanks to the kindness of strangers, and meeting up with a friend, my 51st birthday in Wild Utah, was wonderful!
Blondies changed owners in 2015, and in December I made a point of stopping in and telling the story to the new owner. I made her promise to thank Clarissa, Veronica and Gail, next time she saw them. I will never forget their kindness, and I give thanks to everyone who made my birthday so special.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature