Apparently I’m bad at watching the gas gauge, because I was on empty when I pulled into Salt Lake City at around 4pm. I found myself downtown, with not a gas station in sight. I was having trouble shifting, too; the hundred-degree-plus heat was taking its toll, and at one point, while stopped at a light, I had to forcibly crank my truck into first, with both hands and all my might. Fortunately there was no one behind me! Desperate, I made random turns, hoping to find a gas station. I did, blessedly. Red faced and sweaty in my white and red polka-dotted sun dress, I cleaned the cake of crushed bug-pulp off my windscreen, and tried to decide what to do. I’d gotten a phone number from my hosts in Boise; I called the woman, who called a woman, who called me. I didn’t like the sound of her on the phone; she seemed overly anxious and potentially pushy and invasive. True, it would be a free place to stay, but I knew there’d be a price, and at that point, I would rather have paid in cash.
My dad ended up finding me a hostel online while I sat on the grass outside of a duplex on a residential street near the university. It occurred to me to simply ask the nice looking young man who was (seemingly) being visited by a bike-riding pot dealer for lodging, but I’m not quite that bold (although I might just be that foolhardy).
The Camelot Inn was in what I think is probably the bad part of Salt Lake, though I couldn’t be sure. Car dealerships and factories dominated the landscape, foregrounding nearby mountains.
Yards were filled with plastic kid’s toys and cast-off furniture, and the reek of garbage mingled with the perfume of honeysuckle in the warm night air. I wanted to go out and get a beer, but the numerous bars I’d passed on the way to the Camelot Inn had grown sparse. I left the hostel after settling my cat in and eating a quick dinner of tortilla chips, celery and almond butter, and took a walk around.
After making a wide circle and feeling mildly threatened by a young man yelling at me from across a street (I became uncomfortably aware of the growing dark and the lack of other pedestrians in that area) I headed back towards the hostel. For lack of saltier options (the gay bar I’d spotted earlier turned out to be a member’s only affair, to my great disappointment) I settled on a generic sports bar called Legends.
The bartender was generous with his sample pours, and I got a kolsch-style lager that, after the third sip, tasted like strawberry sour-patch straws. I also got a “kid’s cup” of delicious pale ale, and headed back to the Camelot for a good night’s sleep with notably bizarre dreams.