“You’re gonna get us killed,” my best friend Jimmy told me as we turned off the interstate. When we got to the end of the exit ramp, there was nothing there – no buildings, no gas stations, no anything – just a few telephone poles and a road sign that read U.S. Highway 6.
“Come on Jimmy,” I assured my nervous friend, although I didn’t really know why because I was feeling nervous too. “We’ll be alright.”
“I don’t know Has (that’s what Jimmy calls me). There’s nothing out here.”
“The map says there’s a ghost town a few miles down the road,” I continued. “If it looks bad, we can always cut back to the interstate.”
Jimmy reluctantly agreed and this started our path down the road less traveled.
We were on our first cross-country car trip in August 2009 from Atlanta, Georgia, to visit his bother Donnie in Southern California when I just happened to notice a ghost town on the map. We were somewhere on Interstate Highway 70 just inside the eastern boarder of Utah, coming out of Colorado, when we decided to take the road less traveled. We had been traveling I-70 all the way from St. Louis, across Missouri, through Kansas City, through Colorado, to Denver and over the Continental Divide, and it was time to hit the back roads.
About six miles down the road we arrived in Cisco, Utah – the ghost town. We didn’t see any ghosts, but looked scary enough that we never even slowed down. It was the kind of place you can imagine getting killed by a wild motorcycle gang, being beaten and robbed and left bleeding on the side of the road to die, and no one ever coming by to help.
Although we didn’t see any gang members, we did see plenty of house trailers that had been abandoned and some buildings that were all torn up. It looked like a small war had taken place there, and that Cisco was the loser. There were no places of business, no billboards or signs, and no people as far as we could tell, except for the man and woman we saw sitting outside in front of a trailer. They gave us a strange stare as we rode by. I guess they don’t see too many boys from Georgia out that way riding in a fire red convertible Mustang with the top down. I am sure we stared back at them.
As we scurried out of Cisco, little did we know that a few bends down the road we would find one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
“Jimmy, turn right at the next road,” I told Jimmy, who was driving at the time, probably a little too fast for the two-lane highway, but we were the only car anywhere around so it didn’t seem to matter much. We usually drove in two-hour shifts to limit the road fatigue (and it worked well for us) and it was his turn behind the wheel.
“Look for highway 128. It’s a state highway,” I told him, looking at the map as we drove through the empty, brown desert landscape.
We turned onto 128 to the south and headed out into what seemed like more emptiness – just another endless road to nowhere.
All of a sudden, we made this wide turn to the left and suddenly the brown, lifeless desert landscape vanished in front of our eyes, almost like magic. We had found an oasis. It was the Colorado River, as green as envy, flowing gently south. Now our hot desert ride started turning into a cool adventure along a wild river that looked like it was on vacation – waiting for the rains from up north to fill it again.
Amazed, and relaxed by the discovery, our quick getaway turned into a leisurely ride along the Colorado. We followed the river for about two hours. The winding river and the curvy road made their way through deep gorges and canyons made of bright red stone. Being from Alabama, we had never seen canyons this deep. The steep walls of red stone made it almost feel like we were driving on Mars. The sharp contrast of the deep red canyon walls with the crystal clear light blue sky, creating an otherworldly environment that Jimmy and I had never experienced. Each side of the river was flanked with lush greenery – trees and undergrowth feed by the water. I seemed like paradise. We wondered if the Garden of Eden had looked like this.
As we continued to ride, we discovered we were not the only ones enjoying this magnificent little piece of God’s handiwork. There were campsites and dude ranches and farm houses scattered all along the way. As it turned out, highway 128 rambled alongside the Colorado all the way to the next area of civilization – Moab, Utah.
After stopping in Moab, we decided to take a ride through Arches National Park, where the scenery was just as good.
If you ever find yourself in south-east Utah, make a point to ride along highway 128. You will not be disappointed.
For the rest of that trip and on our second Atlanta-to-California run the next year, Jimmy and I made a point to take the roads less traveled.
Causes John Haslam Supports
I support the Constitution of the United States of America.
I support St. Jude's Hospital.
I believe in GOD.