Population: 3,200 (give or take a few)
Date: New Year's Day, 2009
We have survived 50 hours in this town named "Blanding." Like the name itself, the town operates similarly to the hum-drummings of a sloth. Before leaving for our destination, I packed appropriate clothing, boots, hats, gloves, and scarfs to participate in what locals call "sledding." It involves riding down a snow-packed hill on a plastic or rubber "sled" with the affect of causing the person to have "fun." Because we left at 11:00 p.m. Utah County time and had five hours of driving time before reaching our destination, we didn't bother wasting additional time buying our own sled from the commonly known "Wal-mart" store (which are in abundance in Utah County). Instead, we thought we could find a sled in Blanding which surely would have some type of mercantile exchange store that carried such people-moving devices. On the Eve of New Year's Day, I approached the mercantile exchange to purchase a sled, but was instead greeted by a sign that read, "Sorry for the inconvenience, but we are out of sleds temporarily. Expecting a new shipment after the New Year on the 5 o'clock train from the big ol' city."
With sledding crossed off the list of activities to entertain three girls under the age of 6, we turned to our most reliable and enjoyable activity: eating. "The Patio" was closed for New Year's Eve, and basically for all of what school children call "Christmas break." "The Patio" is a local burger and fry establishment, where Kulani likes to frequent every time we travel to Blanding. He says they make a really good chicken sandwich of some sort, or maybe it was the mushroom burger? I'll have to ask when he arrives back from bike riding.
Also peculiar was that most eating establishments in town were closing for New Year's Day. In most parts of the world, New Year's Day is perhaps one of the biggest days to eat out. Especially popular is a meal called "brunch:" not quite breakfast and not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal. You'd love it. Blanding restaurant owners must hate it, because they don't offer it for New Year's, when most of their clientelle have both time and money they'd probably like to spend. It leads us to believe that Blanding must be part of some weird economic blackhole where capitalism and competition does not compute in their idea of the marketplace of ideas.
Since the unfortunate closing of "The Patio" during the peak eating season, we found another place called "Taco Time." We have eaten at Taco Times in Utah County, but this Taco Time was special: it was twice-to-three times more expensive, but not two-to-three times as tasty.
After Taco Time it was time for a visit to the town's grocery store suitably dubbed "Clark's." Those in the know understand that every "good" small town has a grocery store named after the people who originally started the store. The Mini-Cassia area, for example, has many grocery stores so named: Swenson's, Stoke's, and John's. Kulani promised it would be a "quick" stop, forgetting that he was in his small, home town, and therefore, knew everyone and had to "catch up" with everyone. An hour later, we left, but not before I seriously saw an alien sighting much like this:
It turned out to not be an alien but rather a woman with a hairdo similar to the aliens with the big brains in the movie "Mars Attacks." It still gave my heart a jolt.
One very important lesson I've learned since being here is to make sure Kulani gets enough sleep and food. That story will need to be left for another time, even though time is definitely on my side while in Blanding. But I have a puzzle that won't be putting itself together, if you know what I mean.