By C.L. Beck
In the 23 years we’ve lived in Utah, we’ve never found the local fishing hole named New Canyon Lake. The last time we tried, we had a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and we still ended up light years away.
The time before that was even more interesting.
“Did you bring the map?” I asked my husband, Russ.
“We don’t need one,” my son, Dave interjected. “My friends told me how to get there.” Right then I should have known. Men never think they need a map. That’s why couples spend hours circling the same four blocks in Sandy, looking for Temple Square.
“You just stay to the right,” Dave said.
The first right-hand fork in the road arrived quickly. It dead-ended half a mile later, at a locked gate. The sweat trickled down our necks as we got out, swatted mosquitoes, and looked around.
“I don’t see a lake,” I said.
As we piled back in the truck, Dave mumbled, “Maybe they said stay to the left.”
An hour of left turns later, the dirt road narrowed and the aspen grew closer. I asked, “Shouldn’t we be there by now?”
Russ and Dave looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and Dave said, “It’s probably just around the bend.”
Russ swatted the gnats that buzzed him. “Give it one more chance. If it’s not around the turn, we’ll head back.”
I should have ignored them and listened to that inner voice screaming, “You’ve donated 20 pints of blood to mosquitoes and you’re lost. Go home.”
No one wants to be the kill-joy, though. We drove on and within minutes I heard a loud “clunk”.
“What’s that noise?” I asked.
“What noise?” Russ jerked the wheel right and left, too busy avoiding trees to hear anything. He slammed on the brakes. We peered over the dash. The road dropped in a downhill grade that would make even a mountain goat hyperventilate.
“Time to turn around,” I said, prying one white-knuckled hand loose from Dave’s knee and the other from Russ’s forearm.
“There’s no room to turn,” Russ said, so we drove on. The truck clunked every time the steering wheel rotated. I had visions of tie rods snapping as we bounced along.
A few minutes later, I asked, “What’s that smell and why are we going so fast?”
“What smell?” Russ replied, never taking his eyes off the dirt crevice we were pretending was road.
“The one that smells like burning brakes,” Dave said.
Now I had visions of tie rods snapping and us pitching headlong down the mountain side, the truck a flaming fireball from over-heated brakes.
After a tense half-hour filled with clunks and smoke, the grade leveled and we flew down the last hill, bouncing around in the cab like the ball in a pinball game. The truck slid to a stop, the red-hot brakes still smoldering.
Dave pointed at a guy walking towards us. As he got close, the man took his cap off and smoothed his silver hair. “Where’ve you folks been?”
“Up the mountain. We were looking for New Canyon Lake.”
“You’re not anywhere near it,” the man said. “You’re in the valley below. Did you drive the whole way down on that sheep trail?”
I blinked twice. “Sheep trail? That wasn’t a four-wheel drive road?”
“Nope.” He put his cap back on. “Nice day for a ride, though.” He headed towards his truck, then turned and called, “You can leave my field by that gate over there.”
I looked at Russ and shook my head in disbelief. “We’re sitting in the valley—in some farmer’s field.”
“And we came down the mountain on a sheep trail,” Dave said.
Russ sniffed the air. “No wonder our brakes are burning and we have a clunk.”
Silence prevailed, broken only by a meadow lark’s song. Finally, Russ said, “Next time, maybe we should take a right before we hit the sheep trail.”
“We’re never going to find it by driving around aimlessly,” I said.
Dave scratched a mosquito bite. “I read that one day scientists will come out with a futuristic, super technology, satellite tracking thingy—”
“And then we’ll find it,” we all said in unison.
What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: Bennie and the Jets, by Elton John
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