Utah, New Friends, and a Rocky Road

Now that we’re a good week into our stretch of Utah, we’re blown away by how different it is from Nevada. While Nevada was beautiful, it definitely felt like we were in the desert. Meanwhile, Utah has sort of looked like the desert in some stretches, but most of the time it’s just green and mountainous (and beautiful as well). At least, that’s been the case for us so far.

So here we were, expecting vast miles of empty desert, and instead we’re hitting towns every 20-40 miles and there are trees, grass, and plenty of farm animals grazing all over the place. It’s different, but in a completely great way.

Anyway, here’s what happened after we left Baker and crossed into Utah. We pretty quickly came up on a fairly small town called Milford, which had a great diner—Penny’s, if you’re ever there—that let us sit around ALL day and use their wi-fi. We felt obligated to order both lunch and dinner there as a result of our wi-fi usage, which worked out well for us anyway because the food was tasty.

As we were getting ready to leave Milford, we got caught in an aggressive downpour of rain, so we just set up at the Lyon’s Club campground in town rather than moving on down the road. The next morning, however, was much clearer, and we began the push toward Minersville, which was only a little farther down the road.

Minersville was also a great town, partially because of Michelle, the friendly post office worker we met while picking up a variety of packages we’d had shipped to Minersville. Michelle was excited for us and our journey, and wanted to help us out. She ended up going WAY out of her way by bringing us fresh baked bread, still-hot corn on the cob, and a load of hand-picked vegetables from her garden. Also, we discovered Barq’s Red Crème Soda while we were in town, and that stuff is FANTASTIC. Needless to say, we liked Minersville, even though we weren’t there long.

We didn’t want to stay in Minersville that night because, at that point, we hadn’t yet walked very far, but we knew there was a campground a few miles farther down the road at the Minersville Reservoir Recreation Area, so that’s what we set out for. We got there early enough in the evening to have some time to ourselves. It was a little eerie/odd because there were 40 campground spaces and we were the ONLY people there, but we had fun nonetheless. Plus, it rained while we were there and Lindsie was able to take some killer photos of the rainbow that came out as a result.

Later that evening, a guy we’d met earlier on the road from Ely to Baker brought us a pizza and had dinner with us. His name is John Gergen, and his life story is amazing. As he filled us in with the details of how he was saved and born again and what he’s done with this life since then, we just felt more and more blessed that God put him in our path. Plus, the pizza he brought was really tasty. We ended up enjoying a really blessed night of conversation and fellowship that ended in some really powerful prayer, so we were thankful for John’s company and his willingness to share such an amazing story with us.

Anyway, John works in Beaver, Utah, during the week, and then drives back to Ely—where he and his wife own Second Chance Ink, a laser tattoo removal shop that removes gang tattoos for free—on weekends. With Beaver only being 10 miles farther along from the reservoir, we told John we’d probably see him later that night and he told us he’d love to take us out for dinner if we wanted to. We were definitely fine with that, and we looked forward to meeting him later that evening.

At least, that was the plan. Then we got thunderstormed on, hard. Even though we’d only gone a couple of miles that day instead of our usual 15-20, we decided to set up the tent and call it a night. We’d tried to wait it out under a couple of tarps, which led to the disastrous result of both me and Lindsie soaked to the bone and surprisingly cold for being out in the desert.

We told John we weren’t going to make it to Beaver that night and we were sorry for faking him out, but he did what any awesome person would do and just drove out to get us (it was, after all, only about 10 miles away by car). We ate a delicious meal with him again, enjoyed more fellowship, and said our goodbyes back at the tent when dinner was over. We told John we’d keep in touch and we’d be talking with him sooner than later, even if it was just to say hello.

We had no idea we’d be calling him again two days later to work a miracle for us.

So here’s what happened. We made it to Beaver the next day, and it’s a lovely place. We set up at Camperland, which is just a really nice campground on the south side of town, and had an entire afternoon to use our computers and internet, plus we were able to reload on supplies AND send food ahead of us to a town that doesn’t have a grocery store as big as the one in Beaver.

We got up the next morning and began to take a road that both Garmin and Google said was a safe, travel-able road. Lindsie had been sure to set the GPS to “avoid unpaved roads.” We started off down South Creek Road and it wasn’t paved, but it was at least a solid enough gravel road. After 9 miles, we were supposed to turn right and continue toward Freemont Road, which we’d hoped was paved, or was at least good, solid gravel.

Instead, the road looked like the picture you see in this blog post. It was made of rocks. Not smooth, cart/bike/drive-onable rocks, but huge chunks of rocks just strewn about on barely visible patches of dirt road. Needless to say, it was a battle. We were hoping it was just a short stretch of difficult road before hitting a smoother road soon after.

It wasn’t. It went on and on and on.

We ended up camping early for the day so we could decide what our plan was. We ultimately decided that, knowing Freemont Road was only 4.5 miles further, we would just try push on and see where we could get, hoping the road would get smoother once we progressed past the rocky section.

It only got worse. After taking apart our carts and carrying them through massive mud puddles and carrying them around other mud puddles, pushing over rocks, and getting poured on not once but twice, we’d made it a grand total of one mile before my cart finally broke. One mile, when we’d been averaging 20 per day on normal roads.

We were stuck, and really not in a good situation. We were 3 miles out on a backroad where we hadn’t seen a single large vehicle (just two guys on their ATV who couldn’t believe we were trying to push on that “road”), we didn’t know how much farther we’d have to go to reach real roads, and our cart was broken, so going back was essentially impossible.

We didn’t know what to do. We called Camperland, and Andy gave us the number for the area’s Search and Rescue department, just in case they’d be willing to help. Unfortunately, no one answered. The ONLY other person we knew in the area was our recently-made friend, John, but he didn’t live in Beaver, so we didn’t know if he’d have any idea on what to do. Plus, it was a Sunday, so he was back in Ely anyway.

Either way, we knew he was our last option, so we gave him a call. He said he might know someone who could help, so he told us he’d call us back after he asked if his friend could help.

We waited nervously, praying God would send someone…anyone…our way who might be able to help us.

Eventually John called back and said his co-worker, Malissa Anderson, and her husband, Ryan, should be coming out to rescue us. We couldn’t believe it.

Sure enough, after a few phone calls and a few sets of directions and re-directions, Malissa and Ryan pulled up in their Jeep Wrangler. We were saved, and overwhelmed with gratitude. The only dilemma was cramming ALL of our stuff into the back of their Jeep. Thankfully, as you should be able to see in the photo, we made it work, piece-by-piece. Then we took off across the mess that had been kicking our butts for 3 miles. We ended up going out the way we were intending to continue on and we’re amazed to see that we would’ve had to go through about 15 more miles of that brutal rock road if we’d continued on our path. Instead, we enjoyed a fun backcountry ride out in a Jeep and were dropped right back off where we’d started at Camperland. And as a bonus, Andy, the owner of Camperland, felt bad about how awful our situation had been and let us stay for free that night. He actually told us to give the $20 for camping to the Andersons for gas, but they refused to take the money, and we ended up with a free rescuing and a free night of camping. We’ll call that a double blessing.

On the one hand, we were disappointed to end up back where we’d started two days before. On the other, more important hand, we were SOOOO thankful that the Lord provided us with a means to escape our seemingly-hopeless situation. Between God putting a great, uplifting Christian like John in our lives three days before we needed his help to Ryan and Malissa going WAY out of their way to come rescue us, we felt blessed beyond measure. If it meant coming back to Beaver and reassessing things from here, we thought it was a very worthwhile trade-off.

Anyway, we’re now figuring out a new plan of attack and will actually be on our way by the time this post goes live, but we look forward to whatever adventures come our way next. We’re hopeful those adventures don’t involve roads made entirely of rocks, though.

We hope you’re still enjoying following along with this journey and we’re thankful for everyone’s support and encouragement. We’re hoping to plow through Utah from here on out so we can hit Colorado running and make it through both of these states before the snow starts to fall. Please pray that we will make good time as we continue on the road.

Also, don’t tell her I told you guys, but it’s Lindsie’s birthday on Saturday, September 1st (tomorrow), so feel free to comment, call, text, or whatever else you feel like doing to wish her happy birthday. I’m sure she’d love reading happy birthday messages all day, as she’s a pretty big fan of birthdays.

Thanks again to Michelle, John, Malissa, Ryan and Andy for making our first week in Utah a memorable one, and thanks to everyone else for following our updates. We’ll be back with more soon!

-Mike and Lindsie

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