Snowville is the first town I came to in Utah. Named not for legendary snow falls but after an early pioneer, Mr. Snow. There’s also a town named after Mr. Dewey called, not surprisingly, Deweyville. Arriving in Tremonton, I checked into a Motel 6 owned by Kumar from Mumbai, India. I always love to talk with people from India, and I love to ask which city they’re from because India is such a fascinating country. It’s really like 50 countries, as different as the countries in Europe, different languages, different cultures, different histories, only known at this moment in time as India, thanks to the British. At least one thing the country shares in common: they all speak English and speak it well. They say things like, “It was I …” instead of the incorrect “It was me.” I told Kumar I had been in Mumbai in the 1990s right after the big rain that dumped over four feet of water in just 24 hours two days in a row. Imagine you’re walking down the street one day, and the next day the water is up over your waist and the day after it’s two feet over your head.
“That place was a mess,” I recalled.
Kumar didn’t want to talk about it. It’s probably why he left. Plus, when I went to check my facts I saw Mumbai and India in recent years have had a great many other record weather events, heat, rain, drought, any of which would make one a climate refugee if one had the means to escape, which obviously Kumar a Motel 6 franchisee had.
After a shower followed by a hot soak in the tub, I walked to a grocery store near my hotel. After an ordeal of a day pumping a flat tire every few miles on the freeway, I felt a reward of a good IPA was in order. The store had one IPA, a brand cleverly called hIPAcrite. Was its named just to be fashionably rebellious or was it a disclosure that this really is not an IPA? I went to the check out where two young men in their twenties or early thirties awaited. I asked them about the “IPA.”
“Is this beer any good?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it.”
I turned to the other young man.
“Me neither. I’ve never had a beer in my whole life.”
Welcome to Utah, I thought. A place where some men of beer drinking age don’t drink beer. Maybe it was the Mormon influence. These guys were good clean looking young men. They tried to be helpful, asking the next customer in line if he knew about that particular beer. An older guy with a full beard and a belly looking more the part of a beer drinker didn’t know either. I’d have to take my chances.
I’ve always wondered why Mormons are so nice. Are they nice because they genuinely love people or are they nice because they get a big reward in heaven for being nice or are they nice because that’s just what Mormons do: they’re taught to be nice and so they better be nice. I decided to give it the acid test. The apostles observed “Jesus felt compassion” on those he healed, fed, and taught. His love was based on genuine compassion for virtually everyone: lepers, prostitutes, tax gatherers, crazies, even Judas his betrayer. If the highest bar of humanity is to be like Jesus, where do Mormons stand? I decided it’s best for me not to even try to judge one way or the other, even for my own academic curiosity.
After a full days rest in Tremonton, riding again I was swept into Brigham City with the highest winds yet. The American flag was frayed and garbage cans both full and empty were blown over. I had to slow Sunride to 5 mph to negotiate the high crosswinds. The forceful wind pushed against me and the bike below me. I had to lean into the wind to compensate. This gave the wind more exposure to my solar panel. It felt like a giant hand pushing down on me from the top of Sunride through the bottom of the tires. Riding a bike is all about balance. I was able to manage but it wasn’t fun.
I hid out at a breakfast place watching the flag to see if the wind would relent. It did not. My server told me it was particularly bad in this specific location.
“There’s a notch in the mountains to the east making a natural wind tunnel,” she informed me.
I was heading due south. I fought hard for about a mile and then the worst was over. It would be smooth sailing on into Salt Lake.