Back to the legendary Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City for the second time. I read here years ago with my cousin Doug and have been anxious to have a new book and therefore, a reason to come back.
Driving through the lonesome beauty of southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho, I watch a dozen antelope lope single file toward the shadow of snow-shrouded mountains, then a cloud of pelicans rising from a riverbank. The road snakes between rock walls and echoes glittering streams before spilling out into Pocatello where we stop for a dubious Italian dinner. In retrospect, I should have ordered the spaghetti taco instead of the cheese-bomb attempt at lasagna. Soon after, we’re in our private, naturally-fed spa at our hotel in Lava Hot Springs (which wasn’t as elegant and ritzy as it sounds, but still the perfect way to end a long day of driving.
We arrive in SLC the next afternoon and meet up with an old friend, the insanely talented photographer Kim Raff, for drinks and a bite before the reading. Kim was part of the 303 scene eons ago back in Saginaw, Michigan. In the middle of the plays and renegade bed races and full-contact paint parties, Kim and her camera were there, snapping the perfect shot. Hopefully some of those photos survived. Dog knows everything was moving too fast for me to take a single pic in those years. At least not that I remember.
After the reading, Ken, Lisa and I polish off the last of the wine and head to a little taco/beer joint. We stand by the bathrooms while Ken makes a phone call. A few moments later, a steel door opens and we are escorted down to a fantastic (and fantastical) underground bar filled with art, bizarre taxidermy and an awe-inspiring vinyl collection. The drinks and food are outstanding.
We finish the night back at Forest House, another fantastical location hidden in a wrinkle on the map. Passing through the Doc Sarvis Gate into the enchanted garden is one of my favorite experiences in this city. Far more spiritual than that big damn temple downtown.
The next day we head north, entering West Yellowstone in such a thick fog that the town is invisible until the last moment. Someone threw a switch, and a town appears. It’s time for a road drink. In this case, a Good Medicine red ale at the Slippery Otter. And then we are off, climbing 191 as it flirts with the border of Yellowstone Park then chases the Gallatin River back to the interstate.