This is the second episode of my latest travel blog, documenting a recent trip in our electric Tesla (with our electric bikes affixed to a bike rack on the back) to St. George, Utah and environs. The impetus for the trip was a program called “The Best Golf of Your Life,” sponsored by the travel and education organization known as Road Scholar. We have gone on two Road Scholar trips in the past and were very impressed with all aspects of the programs. (Road Scholar offers a wide array of programs throughout the world: here’s a link to their website.) The first program was a comprehensive tour of Key West, FL, in January 2020, which both Pat and I participated in. The second was a pickleball course on Hilton Head, SC, in March 2020, which Pat enrolled in; I merely went along for the ride, being less of an enthusiast than she is, and entertained myself with golfing and self-guided exploration of the island while she improved her pickleball skills. For this third Road Scholar program, only I was enrolled, and Pat came along for the road trip, similarly entertaining herself while I did the golf thing.
PART 1 of this narrative described the rocky start to our road trip, concluding in Douglas, WY, on Saturday, April 23, where we were holed up in a hotel waiting out a blizzard that had closed the highways to the west, completely derailing the plan we had so carefully laid out for getting to St. George. We left the hotel at 6:50 AM Sunday, by which time the roads were passable. As we passed through Casper, WY, less than 50 miles from Douglas, we realized that my nephew Rob Arthur had played keyboards for a Chicago concert while we were hunkered down in Douglas. I don’t know how he and the rest of the band managed to get there in the blizzard, but if we had managed to brave the weather that far before holing up, we could have gone to the concert! Alas, an opportunity missed.
The road conditions were still a bit dicey as we continued to head westward, but by the time we reached Rawlins, WY, it was pretty much smooth sailing. On we drove, and drove, and drove some more, until we staggered into the lobby of the Convention Center Holiday Inn in St. George at 10:40 PM, having covered a total of 735 miles in just under 16 hours, including six stops to recharge the car, eat, visit restrooms, and stretch our legs. (According to Google Maps, the trip should only have taken 11 hours, but that would include nonstop driving at posted speed limits of up to 80 mph, and also presumably require an IV caffeine injection system and a catheter to collect bodily fluids, none of which fits our travel style. Brother-in-law Andy Lindsay probably could have managed it.) I was a wee bit late for the 5 PM Road Scholar orientation meeting, we were dead tired, and the Tesla was pitted and scarred from Friday’s hail damage, but at least we had overcome the rocky start and arrived at our destination.
Thankfully, our week in St. George was excellent, including most enjoyable golfing (me), biking (Pat), and hiking (me again). Here is a summary.
Monday: After breakfast, the golfers were bused from the hotel to the training facility at Southgate Golf Course. We were divided into four groups; mine had lessons in bunker shots and pitch shots. (One of my first attempts at a new bunker technique caromed high off the lip of the steep bunker and hit the woman next to me on the top of her head, luckily causing no injury other than to my pride. Things got better after that.) Then we had lunch, and then played golf at a beautiful course called Dixie Red Hills. My first swing was a pull-hook into the rocks on hole one, leading to a quadruple bogey snowman. Two double bogeys followed, and I began to wonder if the golf lessons were a waste of time and money. But then I hit a nice shot on hole four and sank a ten-footer for a birdie two, and all was right with the world again. After golf, we had a nice dinner. (Our Road Scholar Group Leader told us the unofficial name of the program is “Eat, golf, eat, golf, eat,” and by Friday I was feeling like an overstuffed sausage.)
Tuesday: My two morning lessons included chipping and irons/hybrids. We had lunch at the Southgate Course and then played the back nine. It was another beautiful layout, and I started off much the same way as Monday, with two triple bogeys in the first three holes, before settling down and eventually making another birdie on the par-five 17th hole. Dinner was at a goofy place called Chuck-a-Rama, one of those all-you-can-eat buffet places, which was the only meal during the program that I found less than satisfactory.
Wednesday: Morning lessons included drivers/fairway woods and putting, to complete the training portion of the course. All-in-all, I did pick up some good tips – this was the only actual instruction I’ve ever had except for two one-hour lessons (one when I was about twelve and another in my thirties, I think). Time will tell if it was worthwhile. After lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant, we played at yet another beautiful course, Sunbrook, on the Blackrock nine (so named for the lava rock formations on many of the holes). This time, I started off pretty well – two over par for the first five holes, before running into trouble with two double-bogeys and another quadruple bogey snowman in the last four. Most of the trouble was due to bad luck rather than bad shots, though, so I tried to remain positive about the experience. Dinner was at a nice teppanyaki-style restaurant with an entertaining knife-wielding chef.
Thursday: We took a break from golf and had a tour of Snow Canyon (on the bus only) and Zion National Park. Our Road Scholar bus dropped us off at the visitor center before we took the park shuttle bus to see the main highlights, all of which I had seen when Pat and I visited previously during our Excellent Adventure, but it was still just as impressive and awe-inspiring this time around. We then took a two-mile hike on the so-called moderate Kayenta Trail, with narration by a geologist using a headphone system. We made quite a sight with 26 mostly elderly folks in single file, often passing bemused hikers going the other way as they waited, and waited, and waited for us all to straggle past the narrow spots. There were no injuries, but I and many others felt challenged by the effort, and I could only reflect that my condition had deteriorated significantly since hiking that same trail in 2019. We had bag lunches at the visitor center before reboarding the Road Scholar bus and travelling to the east part of the park, which is not accessible by the park shuttle buses and which I therefor hadn’t seen before. The scenery was stunning and fascinating, well worth the visit by any measure.
After returning from Zion, friend Steve Aldrich asked me to drive him around to do some errands. Along the way, we stopped to photograph the Mormon Temple in St. George, which was the first ever built in Utah. It reminded me of the story our tour guide had told us in the morning. The temple was built of locally plentiful red sandstone, then painted white. One year, when maintaining the building, the workers ran short of paint. To complete the job, they put a very thin coat on the top of the dome. Suddenly, dark clouds appeared and a voice boomed out: “Repaint, and thin no more!”
Friday: We played at Sky Mountain, yet another beautiful course about 45 miles northeast of our hotel, near the town of Hurricane (so named after an early Mormon elder experienced such a fierce wind that he compared it to a hurricane). We played a scramble format, with yours truly as captain of our team, which also included friend Steve, a long-hitting gentleman from Georgia, and a woman from Long Island. We did reasonably well, with three birdies and several more missed opportunities and, sadly, four bogeys. That was only good enough for third place out of six teams. I hit several good shots, enough to be encouraged about the state of my game following the golf lessons.
Meanwhile, Pat was riding her bike around on the excellent bike trails in St. George every day. She described where she had gone each day, even including a ride past the Southgate practice facility one day while our group was getting our lessons. But when I asked if she could send me some pictures from her journeys for this blog, she just said, “Sorry, I didn’t take any photos. Not my thing.” She did assure me that she thoroughly enjoyed herself and did not feel abandoned as I was doing all those activities described above.
On Saturday, April 30, we packed up the Tesla again and drove to Williams, AZ, where we checked in at the Grand Canyon Railroad Hotel. Meanwhile, friend Steve spent the morning playing golf in St. George yet again, with one of our instructors giving him a private lesson. He is convinced that, with the three days of instruction plus this extra lesson under his belt, he will be a formidable opponent for me this summer at Gunflint Hills in Grand Marais. We will see, readers, we will see.
When we got to the hotel in Williams, I plugged the Tesla mobile charger into an electrical outlet by the SemaConnect destination charger, which the site technician told me does not work with Teslas for some weird reason. As I stood there looking at the bikes on the back of the car, I realized we had hauled mine for nearly 2000 miles, with the associated significant reduction in the Tesla’s performance as described in Part 1, and I hadn’t even used it! So, I pulled it off the bike rack and rode it around Williams for twenty minutes, just because.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more blog posts as my tale of Pat and Dave’s Eclectic Electric Road Trip continues. There is plenty yet to tell!