5023 M. and 2 1/2 Yrs—We Finally Made It

From my hometown of Payson, Bear Lake is 179 miles away. The road to Bear Lake is simple to follow: Drive I-15 until you get to Brigham City, exit the freeway and continue on the same road through Logan and up the Canyon. And viola! As you come over the mountain you see Bear Lake’s sparkling waters (or icy if you travel during the winter) spread out before you.

From my hometown of Payson, Bear Lake is 179 miles away. The road to Bear Lake is simple to follow: Drive I-15 until you get to Brigham City, exit the freeway and continue on the same road through Logan and up the Canyon. And viola! As you come over the mountain you see Bear Lake’s sparkling waters (or icy if you travel during the winter) spread out before you.

We Comtes don’t take the simple or fast road. After starting out, the trip took us an estimated 5023 miles and two years and 7 months.

You can imagine the life changes that took place in that span of time. I started out as a Holman and arrived as a Comte.

Scott and I began our journey on a warm, Utah warm, which means hot (maybe not as hot some places, I’ll admit), July morning. We had high hopes for a great adventure. Both Scott and I hadn’t been to Bear Lake since we were kids and thought a trip two or three hours away would be enlightening. And enlightening it was. Just not in the way we had thought.

Scott picked me up in his Dad’s blue Toyota truck. He was dressed for a day in the water and had this great idea to borrow his brother’s neighbor’s canoe. The neighbor was more than willing to help us out—he even provided life jackets and offered water toys. But we were more interested in the romance of a canoe.

Without a trailer, the two men—Scott and the neighbor—came up with a plan to tie the canoe to the top of the truck. I was worried the canoe would slide off. But the two men assured me the canoe was secure and strapped tightly.

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And off we set–headed for Bear Lake.

The trip was filled with laughter, serious talk (we were discussing marriage), and few snacks. Time flew by and before we knew it, we were driving up Logan Canyon.

The scenery was beautiful, like driving on an enchanted road. Green trees and bushes poked out behind large rocks and boulders. The Utah climate was evident in the reds and browns of the canyon walls, hills, and dirt. Wild summer flowers blew softly in the warm breeze. The road was smooth as we traveled up and up and up the mountain, over water, round bends, through low-hanging branches.

And then—- How do you write that sound? The one your vehicle makes when the engine is sputtering, slowing down, and shutting off?

We pulled to the side of the road, as far over as we could get with a tall canyon wall on one side and a steep decent on the other. Scott jumped out of the truck, popped the hood, and gazed at the over-heated engine. Something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure what. (This was not his truck.)

Maybe the truck needed some oil? Maybe some anti-freeze? Scott filled the engine with a few liquids, but the truck continued to refuse to cooperate.

As Scott and I worked with the truck, other vehicles flew by only slowing down to ensure they didn’t hit us. Then one truck stopped. A young man jumped out and friendly inquired, “Anything I can do to help?”

Relief flooded our bodies with an audible sigh, relaxing of the shoulders, maybe even an exclamation, “Thank goodness!”

“How ’bout we get the truck over to that clearing on the other side of the road?”

“Okay,” Scott willing answered, and the two made plans to move the truck.

“Let’s push the truck together. Can she steer it back okay?” our rescuer asked as he inclined his head in my direction.

“Are you okay with that, babe?” Scott asked me.

Hesitatingly, I said, “Sure,” drawing out the “ER.”

“You don’t have to worry about the gas or the clutch. Just worry about the brake. Steer the truck backwards to that little spot; then hit the brake to stop it. Okay?”

“Okaaaay.” I was nervous to steer the truck backward—downhill—in a manual truck. The last time I was behind the wheel of a manual truck, things didn’t turn out so well. But that’s another story.

Scott put the vehicle in neutral and the two men started pushing the truck backwards. I steered the truck over to the clearing—that was easy—and hit the break. But the truck didn’t stop. It kept moving—backwards.

“Hit the break!” the two men yelled.

“I am,” I called back. “I’m stepping on it but it’s not working.”

“Pull the emergency break!” our helper shouted.

I looked under the dashboard of the cab. “I don’t know where it is.” It’s not in the same place it is in my car.

The truck started to move faster, picking up speed as it continued down the mountain. Knowing I had to watch where I was going or crash into something, I turned my head to navigate the road.

I can’t describe the look on Scott’s face as he watched me helplessly continue down the road. He raced with me, trying to explain where the clutch might be, until the truck picked up a little more speed and left him helpless, desolate, frantically thinking how he could save me.

The road up Logan canyon is not a straight one. A car was bound to speed around the bend any second to find a truck driving in the wrong direction. I needed to find the emergency break and stop the truck before I ended up in a worse situation.

My heart beat furiously as I turned to face the front of the cab and search the area for the emergency break, the one thing that could end my speeding descent down the mountain.

Five seconds feels like a long time when your life depends on finding that one solution. But I found it, just in time. The emergency break was hidden below and a little to the right of the steering wheel.

Frantically, I pulled the emergency break as hard as I could, just as the back of the truck hit a cement barrier.

Scott raced to catch up, flung open the drivers side door, and pulled me into a tight hug. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “Is the truck okay?”

Scott helped my shaking body out of the truck and we went to inspect the damage.

The back left tire had hit the barrier just as I pulled the emergency break, so the truck was fine. And the canoe was still securely fastened to the top. Scott and I noticed that if I had not pulled the emergency break in time, the back tires would have continued up and over the barrier and I would have landed in the river below.

Tender mercies, indeed.

Luckily, after my short trip going backwards down the mountain, the truck started up again. We thanked our helper and headed back down the canyon, facing the right direction and making a few stops along the way to let the truck rest. After taking the truck to a mechanic, we learned the radiator had a slight crack—nothing we could easily fix. So from Logan we had the truck towed back to Orem, with the canoe still attached.

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Since that adventure, Scott and I have moved across the U.S. and lived in three different states.

Now living back in our hometown, we decided to take our wedding anniversary to Logan, just for fun, without planning much besides a romantic hotel and a sleigh ride.

But on our way to the sleigh ride, we found ourselves in Logan canyon, unable to find our destination. And being the adventurers we are, we continued onward, finally making it to Bear Lake.

Maybe next time we’ll get there in the summer so we can experience the warm waters and famous raspberry slushies in a romantic canoe.

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Writer. What more can be said. Actually, a lot. So, just read and find out.

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