I guess I have something in common with Robert Louis Stevenson. He said, in Travels With A Donkey,

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake.”

And the quote from the Fellowship of the Rings,

“Not all those who wander are lost,”

also resonates with me.

I've always had a touch of the wanderlust, and so I'm always up for a road trip, and Labor Day seems to be an annual day for me to travel. I guess I should say us, since my very tolerant wife indulges and accompanies me. More often than not, we tend to venture away from I-15. I mean, does anyone really want to end up in Salt Lake City or Las Vegas? No, we tend to head to the smaller areas. Bryce Canyon, Beaver (ok, so that is an I-15 trip), Lincoln County (especially Rachel!) and the like. Last year, we found our selves ending up in Ely, Nevada. I know that Highway 50, that runs east-west through Nevada, is dubbed the loneliest highway in America. But I've got to tell you, highway 93 that goes north-south through that same part of the Silver State has got to be a close second. It's pretty desolate. But we got to go to the train museum there and that was interesting. It was a long day, however.

This year we decided to stay a little closer and ended up choosing to go to Panguitch. We've been through Panguitch many times on the way to or back from Bryce Canyon, but it's been a bit since we chose to make the largest  town in Garfield County our destination. It's typically a day to wander around and grab a meal at a local place.

We ended up having late lunch - early dinner - at The Original Kenny Rays restaurant, and it alone was worth the trip. Not the fanciest place to eat, but the food was delicious and the atmosphere was as perfectly small town as it could get.

Dr. T
Dr. T

Then it was time to wander around, and as we did I was hit with a little jealousy and melancholy at the same time. I grew up in a small town in the mountains. We were, for lack of a better word, a bit of a resort town where people came to get away from the pressures of day to day life in Southern California. Summer was a very busy time for us all, and it was the summer season where many merchants made the bulk of their income for the year. The lakes were full, restaurants busy, entertainment venues packed. But then came Labor Day, and a marvelous thing happened to us. The flatlanders (our “affectionate” name for the visitors) left and we were able to return to the solitude and peace that prompted us to leave the more populated areas. It was quiet, and it was wonderful.

Things started to slow down. The theater would go back to being open weekends only, and later in the dead of winter would close completely. Restaurants would shift to winter hours and some would close for the season. Other businesses would also adjust operating hours, and all of a sudden we had the lakes to our own use (while it was still warm enough) and we had time to spend with one another. As a child, I used to get perturbed by the end of summer because, well, summer was fun and no school. But as I got just a little older, I came to embrace the more quiet seasons. To this day, fall is still my favorite season.

So as we were wandering around Panguitch and Highway 89 and Highway 14, I couldn't help but feel a little envy for those communities that were going to be slowing down for the next several months.

Business ready to change to winter operation

And to be sure, it's not like life comes to a complete stop. Locals still need places to go and eat and shop. Winter will bring its enthusiasts and their activities to the area, and yes, Bryce Canyon is open year round (and worth a winter visit). And those in agriculture have things to do all year long.

But the pace will diminish. I miss the days living in a community where you went to the high school football game because everyone was there. And there was only one school, so it literally was the only game in town. Everyone went to the local hangout for the after game celebration (or to console each other). It is real community.

I know that Cedar City, and even St. George for that matter are not the large urban areas like New York and such. But even here, you have to pick what school game you are going to go to, what movie at what theater you will go see and we tend to keep the pace consistent all year long.

I imagine there are those young people in the smaller communities that, like so many in the past, have vowed that they will get out of this “crummy little town and never look back.” That's unfortunate. I understand the attraction to the big city. I just don't want it.

So way to go Panguitch, and all the other smaller communities in our region! Hope you had a great summer, all the business you could handle and a lot of fun. Now these people get to slow it down for awhile and enjoy life in a quiet community.

Lucky them.

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