November 17, 2022
This past week was full of delicious food, bittersweet goodbyes, and cold weather. Last Thursday evening though we found a place with an open mic of sorts and wouldn’t you know…they hold it on Thursdays just like our open mic back home. Luke got a chance to play and sing some old songs with a few really talented musicians in the area and we had fun. If you’re in our area, come by The Ranch Dog Kitchen for an early dinner on Thursday evening and join in or just listen.
It’s that time of year when the daytime temps are often below 40 degrees and nights are bitterly cold. The dogs bundle up when we’re hanging outside now just like we do. We also discovered that our sofa bed is a very cozy place to cuddle with dogs for little naps.
This week we lost a dear friend named Ray Parenteau. He was a friend from our open mic, The Rose Room Revue. He loved to sing, play guitar, and listen to the music of others. Back in 2013 Ray excitedly told us about a cajun music festival that he tried to attend every year in Louisiana. I honestly don’t remember what this festival was called now, but it was in October and outside the city. Luke had been actively disinterested in traveling up until this point, but Ray and I convinced him that a short trip to Louisiana for some sightseeing and music would be worth it. This is what prompted us to purchase our first Sony camera. We didn’t really know how to use it well at the time, but we had a great time snapping pictures of all of the interesting things we saw. We rode on a swamp boat, saw some cajun Indians in their intricate and colorful costumes sing and dance, heard great music, fed an alligator a hot dog and also ate alligator corn dogs (not the same gator), saw Cecil Neville sing in the park on his birthday, and visited jazz clubs on Bourbon St. It was fantastic and Ray was a fantastic person. We were sad to hear about his passing this week. We honor the beautiful man that he was and the ways that knowing him enriched our lives.
Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. She is the most lovable person you may ever meet. Her name is Laura and she is my hero. She laughs loudly, hugs fiercely, sings with her whole self, never runs out of energy to do things for others, and she hates sweet potatoes. If you too love Laura (or think you might if you met her), you can leave her a Happy Birthday in the comments and I’ll make sure she sees it.
Onto the delicious food! This was the last week for the campground to be open.There were many hugs and “see you laters” as many of the work campers here are planning to return in the Spring. Each day the food team had something wonderful to keep us working. There were quesadillas with fancy cheeses, mojo pork, and the dessert variety with Nutella and bacon. Ray made amazing cinnamon rolls the size of my head and surprised us with them one day. We all got free breakfast from the food truck one day. There was amazing chili and cornbread. We enjoyed using the campground as our personal playground the first night that everyone was gone and we frolicked in the hot tub and had a big fire together. Amanda and I also went out to eat at the famous Hell’s Backbone grill. Jenn and Blake run this farm and restaurant following Buddhist principles. The food they serve is all locally produced, seasonal, follows environmental ethics, and is so damn good. They are some of the best chefs in Utah and dining there really does feel like a special experience. It is definitely an experience you want to have if you are out here and love food. As if we weren’t stuffed enough, our kitchen at Yonder let us shop all of the unsold perishable food. We had yummy meals for days!
I spent time with my new friend Grace before she left. She and I were the only two remaining employees for the front desk. She works hard, gives a lot of compliments, and makes me laugh. Grace is very easy to love. She even modeled for a photo shoot Luke did for Yonder reels.
Our dogs were overdue for some vaccines and we learned that we could purchase these online for only a small fraction of the cost and administer them easily ourselves. If you are interested in doing this, check out Valley Vet. When we took our dogs into the vet for these we paid over $100. Doing oit this way cost about $30 for both dogs.
The boys who live next door to me and work in the food department deserved a thank you so I took them to Bryce for an afternoon. It was beautiful, but also covered in snow and ice and very cold. I like visiting National Parks when there’s hardly anyone there. Two of the guys were wearing shorts and none of them had jackets or gloves, but they walked around and shivered anyhow and even tried a brief snowball fight. Ray and Matt are brothers on the left and Shawn is the lunatic on the right in shorts.
Needless to say, we did not do a lot of hiking while we were there.
I am grateful for my fellow transients sharing their time and friendship with me. My friend Amanda is moving on to another part of the state, but we have talked about making plans and taking road trips to see each other again. She has helped me learn and re-learn lessons about resolving conflict, building trust, suspending judgement and assumptions, and how to work well in the hospitality industry. She is also quite easy to love as is her dog Sadie.
Now it is time for me to build community with the locals around here. Town is only a mile from Yonder and soon we will be living in town as well so making new friends should not be too challenging. I’ve already planned a Yonder Thanksgiving too. I have two work camping neighbors left here so they are making stuffing and pie. I’ll make my mom’s famous cranberry relish along with squash potatoes and turkey. I’m sure I can find someone else to do the green beans and rolls. It’s going to be so tasty!
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.