Mobile Writing Retreat - Day 3

As the sun rose, I was able to abandon my makeshift workstation at the ReMax office in favor of an open coffee shop. While I waited, though, I saw a few more people than I expected out and about before dawn on the morning on the 4th of July. First there was the woman walking to work that looked pleased she wasn’t the only one out and about at 4:30 in the morning. Then, there was the municipal worker who passed me twice while lugging maintenance equipment around in a wheelbarrow, each time laughing like he couldn’t believe some idiot chose to get up this early. Finally, there was the multiple rounds of the bike cops, who clearly were trying to figure out what I was up to. I saw one talk into his shoulder-mounted radio each time they made a pass, and imagine he was saying something like, “No. He’s still just typing. No. We’re not sure why, but we don’t think this is the type of crazy we can investigate.”

 Y Mountain - Provo, UT

Y Mountain - Provo, UT

After ingesting coffee and laboring over a massive spreadsheet (see above) for a while (NOTE: no writing today – just data and reading), I wandered up to the Brigham Young University campus. Given it was a holiday and everything was locked down, my plans of crashing a building and working were thwarted. The place was pretty deserted. Still, the walk around even just a small portion of campus was impressive. Really well-maintained and an impressive path system with serene spots like this walk through the trees along a creek.

 BYU Campus Walk

BYU Campus Walk

Despite having been up for almost 7 hours, no lunch places were open yet. So, I took in some of their 4th of July parade until I began my assault on the local cuisine. First stop was J Dawgs, a local purveyor of exactly what you’d think, and really nothing more. I had the polish with sauerkraut, banana peppers, and special sauce.

 At J Dawgs, you have a choice between polish or regular beef.

At J Dawgs, you have a choice between polish or regular beef.

Next, I checked into my bed and breakfast, cleaned up, and then headed to a bar (more on that in a minute) to work until it was time for supper. I’d been told by some BYU insiders that I needed a pastrami burger, and they were right. Tommy’s hit the spot, as did the “fry sauce” – still don’t know what’s in it, but it was good. The burger, though, consists of a beef patty topped with a slice of provolone cheese melted between two slices of pastrami. Mmmmmmm.

 How is the pastrami burger only a thing in Utah?!?!

How is the pastrami burger only a thing in Utah?!?!

After that, I returned home to read and wind down and catch some sleep before the 4:35 am train (yes, I arrive at 4:35 one morning and left at 4:35 the next – this is pretty much what you can expect from long-haul trains. So, if you don’t like mornings, pick a different stop than Provo, UT).

But, before we bring this entry to a close, I’d like to share the highlight of the day. Some of my favorite parts of traveling are the times when you can get a little deeper into the local culture. Typically, I have found this takes place in watering holes – especially those that are not likely to attract outsiders. In Provo, I found such a location in the City Limits Tavern. The place was dimly lit coming from the sun-soaked sky outside, and it took a minute for me to realize there were only a couple people inside – none drinking craft beer. The few who joined our “crowd” while I was there opted for PBR tall boys, save the gentleman with the ponytail. He had a Corona and a glass full of limes, which confused me. Does this guy love limes that much? Does he use a new one after every sip? Then, I realized he was going solo through a bucket of Corona. That’s just to give you the vibe of the place, with the cherry on top being the bartender’s “NO BRA CLUB” t-shirt.

So, now that you have a feel for the vibe, let’s get to the point. I was introduced all around and involved in pretty much every conversation, which ranged from racial tension in America to the most impressive skateboarders. Same people. I kid you not. Anyway, at some point later, the topic of drugs comes up. A “gentleman” to my left speaks – from experience – on the dangers of substance abuse, which is impressive. That is until he starts to talk about his interaction with the judge at what sounded like the conclusion to his pre-trial diversion program (which he referred to as “graduation”). Apparently, the prosecutor was coming down hard on our friend, but the judge stepped in and vouched for him. They had known each other for 8 years (I gather this was not through supper club, but rather a more “professional” involvement) and the judge spoke of our friend’s growth over this time. To which our friend replied, “That’s right. You might see me back in here for something small like fighting, but I’m done with drugs.” This would’ve been humorous enough, except that he added to the bar patrons, “It’s just weed and beer for me from now on. And maybe the occasional mouthful of shrooms. But nothing else. I’ve learned my lesson.”