Absolutely Kanabulous

Kanab. Aside from being about the worst thing that you can call a woman in Klingon, Kanab is also a small town right at the southern border of central Utah. In anatomical terms, it is where Utah’s sphincter would be. It is known as “Utah’s Little Hollywood” because apparently Robert Mitchum shot a scene there once in 1958 just before urinating on a cottonwood tree and leaving for Big Hollywood. According to the most recent census, there are 2 African Americans and 1 Pacific Islander living within city limits. It is also the place that my immediate and my extended family chose to spend our first family vacation in 18 years.

We went to Kanab because my wife found a rentable condo there at a reasonable price. There are also rentable condos for a reasonable price less than a six-hour drive away, but that is apparently beside the point. As the expedition loomed over our heads during the month of March, this was my constant argument. If you combine the long drive with my son’s projectile-vomiting carsickness and my other son’s proclivity for pooping at inopportune moments, you would seem to have whatever the opposite of the word “vacation” is. Even the thrilling Kanab Wikipedia page could not dissuade my wife, or my mother who quickly championed the cause of the trip and carried it as her own. And so, on April 1st, the day when millions of fun-loving pranksters pulled practical jokes on those they love, I embarked in my van, loaded up as if for the Joad family journey across the Oklahoma panhandle, and made my way towards Kanab.

In truth the ride down wasn’t too painful, thanks to some Benadryl (or Sleepy Juice, as we like to call it) and the constant drone of Yo Gabba Gabba in our van’s DVD player. I had loaded up some audio books on my iPod in the hope that at some point the children and their mother would choose the same time to all sleep, leaving me to my own literary benefit. However, my plans were foiled as the smooth narration of a Neil Gaiman novel was interrupted by intermittent cries from my drug-induced children and the mind-numbing catchiness of songs like “You Don’t Bite Your Friends” coming through the speakers. Add this to my wife’s constant stream of questions I couldn’t possibly answer, though answers were adamantly expected. “What do people out here do for work? Where do they go when they need to shop at a Target? Wouldn’t it be great if we could fly to Kanab but still be in a car to keep all of our stuff.” We arrived in Kanab, just before completely driving through it, and found our condo. I was pleasantly surprised, something that rarely happens in my life, with the cleanliness and size of the condo. We unpacked literally most of our belongings and, tired from the long drive across the state doing nothing but sitting, we all sat on the couch for the rest of the day.

The first few days of our sojourn in the South were fairly uneventful. We basically just watched the children play with the bevy of toys that their grandmother spoiled them with as we ate the bounty of food that our mother spoiled us with. There was an awe-inspiring mound of junk food on the kitchen counter that served as a kind of communal trough or a saltlick from whence to satisfy our appetite throughout the day. We played some games, got some rest, and dealt with the temper-tantrums of the child and adult varieties. The day before we were set to leave, I woke up from my bed on the couch which I am convinced was once used as a Turkish torture device and realized that we had really done nothing to merit the tumultous journey to this desert location. So I gathered up those who wanted to come with and set out on adventure. We drove out about 30 minutes out of town to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes—a breathtaking expanse of...well, pink sand dunes. At one point, we found a short trail and so we ventured with the children across the sand which at first was fun to walk across, but after 30 minutes forced us into deciding who we would eat first to survive. Eventually, we made our way back to the car with only sand in our teeth, looking like Lawrence of Arabia, if he happened to bring along his three toddlers into the desert and drove a minivan instead of a camel.

Luckily, I was dressed for the occasion.

We then decided to take a trip to some caves that we heard about while desperately searching Google for “Things to DO in Kanab”. A website warned that the caves were “technically” private property, but as long as you didn’t leave trash anywhere, one should be fine. Luckily, my wife stayed home with our youngest—a tribute to her wise premonition. We found the caves, just off of the main freeway, parked our cars on top of some brush, and headed down an ominous dirt path toward the caves, visible on the side of the mountain ahead of us. There was a rusty sign which featured small print in a font that hasn’t been used since 1964 underneath a large, all-caps “NO TRESPASSING!!!” I was convinced that we would be just fine, though I was still a little nervous as my primary source of conviction came from the internet. I also felt a little at odd exposing my son and his cousin, both 3 years old, to what had more than a passing resemblance to the beginning of a teen camping slasher film. We came to a fork in the road; one path led to the caves and was marked by another, rustier “No Trespassing” sign. Down the other road there stood a weather-worn cabin enshrouded by trees. We forged ahead, keeping a glance on the cabin for any disgruntled resident that might protest our passing. About 75 yards later my brother-in-law and his son stopped just ahead of us on the road. I followed his steady glance toward a tree where some bright white objects were strewn on the ground. We both walked over and found that what we both thought had to be fake was in fact quite real and quite disturbingly picked-clean skeletal remains.

An appearance of a gigantic femur with a little fur still attached above the hoof discounted the remains as human. On the other side of the road, the skull was found—it’s empty ocular cavities staring at the young family intruding upon its gruesome final resting place. We continued on, for whatever reason, towards an opening a little farther down the road where a fire had recently been extinguished. “I’m ok going back,” said my brother-in-law, with my other two sisters agreeing immediately in unison. But here we were, so close to what looked like truly impressive cave formations. I thought to myself that any one of the red cautionary flags that were raised would be easy to overlook, but the combination of all of them seemed to serve as a warning from above. We stood there in at the side of the ashes in silence as my family awaited my decision as the interim trip advisor. In the silence, I could swear that I heard a banjo playing softly in the background. I bent down and saw the pages of a book that had been burned in the fire, leaving only a few corners of text undestroyed. I told myself that the contents of this book would determine our course. I dusted off the black char and saw in my hands what was left of a detailed military weapons manual. From my crouched position, at the same height as my son and his cousin, I looked them both in the eyes and said in a trembling voice, “I’m going to need you boys to run for me, ok? Can you do that?” With lightness of foot, we made our way back to the now-shamefully-named Nissan Quest, luckily without the report of any firearms behind us. I still couldn’t shake the feeling though that those Kanab hills had eyes, and they were freaking the crap out of me.

We left for Salt Lake City and its relative civilization the next day. As is usually the case, the ride back home was more dramatic and traumatic. High winds blew grit in our eyes outside a rock shop in Orderville. A desperate stop was made in Nephi for my son to pee on the side of the road for the first of what I can only assume will be many times in his life. And diapers were soiled and changed in Santaquin and American Fork. We discovered that the city of Beaver only has one eating establishment which is approximately the size of a bathroom stall. Don’t ask about their bathroom stall. But, all in all, no spew was spewed, no one had a breakdown, and despite my persistence in the matter, the trip did not end up to be the death of me. It was wonderful to spend time with my immediate family as well as my parents and siblings and nephew. No sooner had we once again unloaded our belongs back into their original positions of disarray in our home than Miranda began talking about our future return trip to Kanab, as if it were part of our Passover ritual. “Next year in Kanab, we’ll have to make it up to those rock caves,” she said. All I could do was smile and wait until next year’s vacation where, if I do survive, I might have an even better story to tell. I’d like to meet that one Pacific Islander anyway.

The caves. If you look real close, you will see the face of death. And yes, those cave walls are actually bleeding.

4 comments:

Rob & Michelle Eberly Family said...

I knew I could never do this story justice, so thank you for this very funny blog. I would have described it as downright hillarious if it hadn't happened to me.

melissa said...

I will agree with Michelle that this story would be hilarious if only I wasn't still jumping awake in the night with worries that the bunk bed is about to crush me. I guess I can only describe your blog as Kanabulous.

teddi said...

Okay, I've been dying for this blog to be posted since I knew no one else from the trip was going to tell the tale. All I can say is, Miranda, bless your heart, someone else needs a turn planning the trip! :)

Edee said...

OMG.. that's hilarious.