Sunday, July 26, 2009

"A day without baseball is a day at the rodeo."

I think Anita Bryant said that--and that was long before "Where's the beef?" Coincidently, this first day without a baseball game is also my birthday. I don't really celebrate, but how could even I resist a twenty-foot dinosaur, in cowboy hat and bandana, with a lariat in its hand and inflatable birthday cakes at its feet. We had to stop for photographs.

The other unique photo opportunity was the remnants of the Bottle Hollow Resort, a motel and convention center opened in Fort Duchesne by the Ute tribe in 1971 and abandoned in the 1990s. The complex, built at a cost of $54 million, was designed by Baird-Young and Jones, a Salt Lake City firm. The June 26, 2009, issue of the "Ute Bulletin" reports that new development of the site is under way. Orange snow fence surrounded the buildings, and Melvin and I were very tempted to enter them, or at least get closer, for better photographs of the far-out, tipi-styled structures. However, the xenophobia that we have experienced so far on the trip made me fearful of being arrested for trespassing, and I convinced Mel to get back in the car. If I am going to get busted, I want to get arrested closer to home and not have it screw up my vacation.

There was some dramatic scenery in the Provo Canyon, right outside of Ogden, and east of Fort Duchesne. Otherwise, the two photo-ops were the highlights of the six-hour drive from Ogden, Utah, to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The latter seemed like the kind of town that would have a good brewpub, but Melvin's research uncovered only bad reviews for Mahogany Ridge. So, instead, we went to the Old Town Pub, where the beer was fine but the food rather undistinguished. But what to do after dinner? It felt strange to not have a baseball game to go to, so we went to a different sporting event, the sixth weekend of the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series. The ten weekends and final event are part of the Mountain States Rodeo Circuit, which is one of 12 regions in which cowboys and cowgirls earn points to qualify for the Dodge (sponsored) National Circuit Finals Rodeo. Or so we learned from the program; we grew up watching baseball.

We missed the bareback riding but caught the team roping, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing and bull riding. Children in the audience ages six to 12 got to take part in the "calf scramble," where they try to grab a flag attached to the animal's tail, and children five and under could enter the "ram scramble." The whole event was punctuated not by any sort of irony or self-aware humor but with Hee Haw-level mother-in-law jokes... some of which we laughed at like crazy, in spite of (or because of?) their incredible stupidity. We both commented that if we ever run out of baseball teams, driving around the country following rodeo might not be so bad. We'd have to change the name of this blog, though.

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