St. George, Utah

11/21/06-11/24/06
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View from Mom and Dad's condo in St.George
At Sky Mountain Golf Course
View from the 17th Tee at Sky Mountain
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A couple of months ago Tee mentioned to me that she was planning on taking the week of Thanksgiving off from
work, and suggested that we maybe go and visit her friend and colleague Iris in Berlin and then go together to
London were she would be working for the following week. That plan never seemed very realistic for me, but I did
speak to my cousin Carol Lynn and found that she was available to look after the kids that week. After a bit of
discussion we decided that we would take advantage of Carol Lynn's service even if we didn't go to Berlin. So we
ended up with a much simpler plan to take a three-day road trip to see my parents new condo and play some golf in
St. George.

Tee and I have been to St. George a couple of times together and we were both very much looking to go again. It had
been 7 years since our last visit (when we were in Utah on vacation from Sydney in 1999). St. George is a once-small
community located in the far South-West corner of Utah and surrounded by beautiful red rock desert country. While
St. George is one of the oldest communities in Utah, it has really put itself on the map over the last 10 or 15 years
thanks to spectacular growth and land value increases. While dominated by "neo-pioneer" culture, St. George has
been attracting people from all over, and has become a very popular recreational and retirement area. The weather is
also a draw, with temperatures normally 10-15 degrees warmer than Salt Lake.

We got a late start on Tuesday night, pulling away from the house at almost 7:00pm. The drive went smoothly
however, and we pulled onto St. George Blvd. at about 10:30. After the drive Tee and I were both looking for a cold
beer, and knowing that there is really only one bar in town, we headed directly for the aptly named One and Only.
We had been here before too, but it had then been called The Blarney Stone. It's been under it's current ownership
and moniker for several years now and has been spruced up a bit. Otherwise it's the same place it was years ago.

We sat in a comfortable spot at the large circular bar and people watched while forcibly being made to listen to
karaoke. They only sell "Utah beer" (3.2%) at the One and Only, so I drank Bud. It was ice cold and tasted great after
the long drive. Because this really is the only bar in town the crowd is diverse, with locals and regulars sharing
space with those on vacation or those just passing through. It's mostly a rural, working class crowd littered with
college kids. I even got a nod and a "thumbs-up" from a college aged girl with dreadlocks because I was wearing my
Ziggy Marley t-shirt (from
the show last month).

After stretching our legs and putting away a couple of beers we headed off to find my parent's condo. Just as we
were leaving a group of four city police officers entered the bar; not because there was anything going on, but I'm
guessing because if anything would go on in this very quiet, conservative community it would be at the One and
Only. They just looked like they were bored and sort of wanted to be in the atmosphere of the place.

We ended up driving straight to the condo were my dad was waiting to meet us. We had told him we would arrive
about 12:00am, so he was still waiting up. He gave us the tour of the place and we were very impressed! The place is
spacious, with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen/dinning room, a large "family room," a patio (with
porch swing), and large balcony. It was also furnished beautifully, with comfortable beds, sofas, and chairs, as well
as high quality appliances in the kitchen and two flat-screen T.V.s. The view is spectacular and the location is very
convenient, being just up from the major intersection of St. George Blvd. and Bluff Street.

After a bit of a visit with dad we said our 'goodbyes' and 'good nights' because he would be driving down to Arizona
early that morning. I think it took each of us about 30 seconds to fall asleep after we finally crawled into bed.
The next morning we went for breakfast at a little place called Jazzy Java that had been recommended by my dad.
It's a nice little coffee/deli/breakfast place located just at the bottom of my parent's street. The place was busy, but
we got our breakfast in good time and it wasn't bad. I had a veggie omelet. Tee said the coffee was good as well.

We were then off the play 18 holes of golf at the Sky Mountain course in Hurricane, located several miles east of St.
George. We arrived at Sky Mountain at just the right time. We were in no rush to make our tee time, so we took our
time taking in the glorious views and putting a bit on the practice green. I was surprised to note how many beautiful
and expensive homes there are in this particular area of Hurricane. I had always assumed Hurricane to be a sparsely
populated cowboy town, and perhaps it is in other parts, but for several blocks as you approach the golf course there
are a very large number of modern and sophisticated homes. (Where do they all shop?)

Once called to the tee we were paired with a father-son pairing who both knew the course well. They were both
originally from Napa, California, but since the son had taken a job as a Park Ranger at nearby Zion National Park,
the father had come to visit several times and eventually moved to St. George permanently. They were a lot of fun to
play with, and both had solid games. I was glad for their course knowledge as this course is a bit tricky (but playable).

The course was in spectacular condition and the weather was mostly cloudy, but a comfortable 65 degrees. While I
played my typical style of up and down, Tee played about as well as I've ever seen her play. It was particularly
impressive due to her not having played any golf for well over a year. She was happy, and having a good time. I hit
enough good shots to keep me motivated throughout the round, but I was also just plan happy to be there. I really
felt spoiled having Tee there on the course with me for a beautiful, fun, and relaxed round together. The scenery was
enough inspiration on it's own, but the combination of having Tee with me, the temperatures, the company, and the
great course was really fantastic. Even after the round was finished, I just had to stand on the balcony there and
take it all in for another 5 or 10 minutes.
During our round Tee and I came up with the idea to stop on our way back into St. George at the large shopping
district at the east end of St. George Blvd. and do some Christmas shopping for the kids. It turned out to be a very
good idea. We ended up getting ALL of the kids Christmas gifts in just over an hour. We felt a real sense of relief
when all was done and were in the mood for a good meal and a couple of glasses of wine.

One the way back to the condo we stopped in to check out a restaurant called
The Painted Pony. I had looked it up
on the Internet the week before and it looked to be a perfect place to have a nice dinner. We took a quick look at the
menu and decided to make a reservation for an hour or so later. That gave us just enough time to go home, shower,
and change. The Painted Pony turned out to be a really great restaurant. I had the duck medallions, while Tee had
the Rib eye steak with Stilton cheese atop. We also split the bacon-wrapped date appetiser, a slice of the Key Lime
pie, and a bottle of St. Michelle Merlot. I can honestly say that it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.
Each dish was superb (the Key Lime pie was easily the best I've ever had) and the service and atmosphere was also
terrific. I would have never guessed I would enjoy such a great dinning experience in little ol' St. George. We will
definitely go back next time we're in town.

Our waiter had mentioned to us that the only place to get a glass of wine outside of a few restaurants in St. George
was a small lounge inside the Hilton hotel at the bottom of Bluff Street. We were curious enough about what 'scene'
we might find there, so we headed over for an after dinner drink. Well, there was no 'scene' whatsoever. We initially
were the only ones there, and the waitress seemed thrilled to have someone to serve. We had to send back the wine
because it was spoiled. The waitress was apologetic and opened a new bottle. Tee and I spent about 40 mins.
drinking our wine and talking before we were ready to call it a night. By the time we left there were about 8 other
customers.

The next day was Thanksgiving Day and not many businesses were open. We passed up buying something that
morning at Jazzy Java and figured we would just eat at the golf course. We had an 10:30 tee time at Sunbrook, but
when we arrived at the course we found all of the food facilities closed for the holiday. Luckily I wasn't very hungry
and didn't think much of the fact I hadn't eaten until the end of the round.

The round of golf at Sunbrook was wonderful. Although the Bermuda rough was extensively dormant and therefore
yellow the course conditions were very nice. The weather was spectacular, with mostly sunny skies and a high of 74
degrees. Tee and I were paired with a couple in their early 50's from L.A.. They were very solid players and great
people. Tee again played quite well and expressed how much fun her two rounds had been on this trip. I played
very average, but enjoyed it a lot. Our playing partners owned a second home near the course and gave us the scoop
on the white hot real estate market in St. George. They had plans to permanently relocate to St. George and take an
early retirement in a couple of years.

By the time the round was finished I was really hungry and very much looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner.
While we weren't going to be able to enjoy a real traditional dinner with family this year, we did find a place to at
least enjoy a meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and cranberries. The waitress at the Hilton the night before
said she thought that
The Palms restaurant inside the Holiday Inn was doing a Thanksgiving buffet, so we went by
and found that it was indeed doing the Thanksgiving buffet. The meal was just what the doctor had ordered, and
while I did eat all the traditional offerings I also ate a large plateful of steamed crab legs that really seemed to hit the
spot.

After our meal we went over to the One and Only Bar again in order to see the Broncos game that evening. Normally
the games on Thanksgiving are all on network television but for what ever reason the Broncos vs. Chiefs game was
only available to those who had the subscription NFL package. So we had asked at the bar the first night we had
come into town if they had the package and were showing the game on Thanksgiving. They were, so we arrived just
as the game was starting. The place was pretty empty at first but filled up quickly. Tee just had one quick beer and
then went back to the condo to take a long bath. I ended up meeting and talking to an English guy of about 55 from
Yorkshire who had moved directly to St. George from England 10 years ago. He was a real interesting character and
we had a great time talking. The Broncos in the meantime were getting beat by a team they should be walking over.
When the defeat was final I called Tee and had her come by and pick me up. We spent a relaxing hour or so
watching T.V. together in bed before turning in.

We spent a leisurely morning sleeping late and preparing to leave the condo. Tee stopped in to Jazzy Java for coffee
and we initially thought we would eat breakfast at a place recommended by my mom called The Bear Claw, just off
of St. George Blvd. on Main Street, but when we went by there was a large number of people gathered outside and
waiting to get in. We decided to continue up to Cedar City and stop in to a diner there called Sullivan's Café where
we had stopped the last time through town. The place was much as it had been years before but also had been
recently renovated.

We continued on to Salt Lake talking and listening to The Talking Head's " Name of this band.." and Easy Star
All-Star's "Radiodread." Tee did all of the driving back to Salt Lake and we were back home quite a bit earlier than
we had expected. The report from Carol Lynn was that the kids were great and that they all had a very good few
days together. She sincerely seemed to have had a great experience again with the kids and told us she would be
looking forward to the next time.

All in all this trip for me, while brief was very satisfying and even more enjoyable than I had thought it would be.
Tee and I are certainly motivated to try and visit St. George again soon.
Tee at her new favorite coffee spot
At Sullivan's Cafe in Cedar City