In what became a common theme of the trip, it wasn’t until sometime towards the end of the Vegas inebriation that I told everyone that I would be continuing on the road-trip. After actually following through with it the morning after, the guys learnt that I tend to commit to my statements, even if they were made in a different state of mind.
Check out was at eleven and there was a long twelve hour drive ahead of us to Denver and as could be expected after a big night out in Vegas, we all looked like death at 9am when we woke up. That is, until we had a shower to clean ourselves up a bit. Nate rolled out of bed at 10.30 and decided against showering, continuing his belief that the cleaner he and his hair looked, the less attractive he was to the opposite sex. Grimey-ness, it seems, is the key to alluring women. And with that being the case, the Utah dust we were about to drive through would enhance his sex appeal to a whole new level before we got to hit the bars in Denver.
Driving through Utah is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent drives I’ve ever been on. The landscape is so unlike anything I had become accustomed to in Asia and full of continuous ‘wow look at that’ moments that it was truly captivating. Even the vast expanses of rocky nothingness had a certain unrivaled beauty which was taken to another level when we encountered large canyons or huge rock formations that the highway led us straight through. Unfortunately, the scenes were so vast and grand that the pictures I took couldn’t encapsulate the entirety of it. We decided to stop at a lookout over a beautiful plateau and in continuation of what we had begun in Vegas, planked.
With a few hours left of sunlight and nearing the Eastern end of Utah we stopped at a Subway inside a gas station in in the middle of nowhere. The manager proudly informed me as I ordered my sandwich that we were in fact gracing the second highest grossing Subway in the state. Sitting alone, huddled over a sandwich within the confines of this particular Subway was someone who will forever be affectionately known as ‘Utah Girl’. Whilst the four of us were tucking into our dinner, a young woman in a leather jacket leaned over to strike up a conversation with us. The conversation went as can be expected, with exchanges of where we were from, where we are going etc until I mentioned that I was from Australia. After learning this fact, Utah Girl proceeded to compliment me on my English proficiency because she knew how hard it was to come from a country that didn’t speak English natively – She was born in Russia and was then adopted out to a family in the USA when she was six. That’s right, she thought Australian was it’s own independent language.
Once I realized that she was actually being serious, I did the noble thing and immediately tried to correct her by telling her that in Australia, we speak English. She actually didn’t believe me and continued on to say that “..because in Spain they speak Spanish and say ‘hola’, and in Russia they speak Russian and in Australia they speak Australian”. I started laughing, and felt mean for doing so and decided to escape to the bathroom to calm down before she kept going and I broke into hysterics. Whilst I was gone the guys tried again to correct her misguided ways but eventually gave up and moved on to other topics such as learning that she was 19 and with a six month old child who obviously was not at the Subway, and hopefully not outside in the car. She also claimed to have never met college students before which sounded almost impossible and raised some serious eyebrows about the family that adopted her from Russia.
When I returned she was getting up to leave and had actually walked outside before coming back to ask a final question: “Can you teach me how to say goodbye in Australian?” I cracked. I bowed my head and covered my mouth to try and hide the laughter (and tears) but she looked at me as if I was an asshole and insisted that she enjoys languages and really wants to learn. I wanted to give her something, anything. The best I could come up with was ‘g’day’ and thought that she would know it meant hello, not goodbye and consider me to be even more of a jerk. Obviously in hindsight she wouldn’t have had a clue and I should have just said ‘g’day’, but my brain wasn’t thinking straight. After a final attempt by Mark to say we speak English, she dismissed the notion and left.
As we were back on the road and nearing Denver, Mark felt it best to call his Mum to let her know that we would be arriving in a few hours and that there was also a random Australian guy with them. After some cautious hesitation and reassurances by Mark that I wasn’t going to kill them and take their money because if that’s what I was after, I obviously would have done it before Vegas, she accepted. By this stage it was around 9pm and the sun was starting to set behind mountains in the distance creating beautiful hues across the majestic nothingness. Just before midnight we arrived at Mark’s Mum’s house safe and sound, despite the fact that both Nate and Pat claimed they were hallucinating and seeing bears along the highway when they were driving.
Marks Mum and her partner were lovely people who had cold beer and pizza waiting for us when we arrived. After introductions, sharing stories of the trip so far and some discussion over the next days plan to hike around one of the nearby mountains, we retired to the beds that were kindly made up for us downstairs.