Kurgo solves Mud Season

muddy-dog-by-wout-1024x768Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud
Flanders and Swann

Mud Season’s around the corner. How will your back seat look?
Is it enthusiastically trashed by your beloved canine? Does she look at you with that “What? Me?” look as you grind your teeth and pinch your nose?

Kurgo_square_logo_600x600_hi-res copySeat covers are crucial if you don’t want your car still smelling like Mud Season in August or October. There are lots of choices. I recently returned a fancy, expensive “custom-fitted” seat cover. It didn’t fit, wasn’t well made or well designed and attracted dog hair like a magnet.
Then I found Kurgo. It’s a young, Salisbury, Massachusetts company dedicated to all things dogs: beds, collars, drinking bowls, harnesses, even life jackets and car booster seats.
They sent me an Allagash Bench Seat Cover.

Hooray!  I finally have relief from a truck perpetually smelling doggy and featuring a stubborn layer of multi-shaded hair.

IMG_8693The best feature of the Allagash seat cover might surprise readers: it’s the lack of customization:
Let’s face it, so-called custom seat covers never really fit well and can be incredibly hard to take off once you get them on.
Kurgo seat covers are simple and adjustable. They have slits to allow for seat belts and zippered pockets for stashing leashes and travel water bowls.

The next impressive feature is its material:

It’s Hydraweave, a tough, waterproof fabric made especially for the Allagash line. Hydraweave does not attract hair like most every other seat cover.
Yesterday, my three boisterous dogs jumped in and got the IMG_8697back seat muddy. Really muddy. I unclipped the seat cover, hosed it off, and put it back on the seat in a few minutes.
When Kip got excited and had a little accident, I just cleaned it with soap and water. No more smelling smells for months or spitting out dog hair when the windows finally get rolled down.

Finding Mob in Moab

balFinally, a trip south!

Sure, UtahOutsider checked out Lake Powell last year. But we’d yet to visit Moab and parts in southeastern Utah.

With Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire tucked in the glove box, we headed to the country’s park showcase (There are a whopping five national parks in southern Utah – Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Capitol Reef, and Bryce).

Way back then (Abbey worked as an Arches park ranger in 1960’s), the author complained about cars and tourists. I thought I was prepared.

But apparently, I spend way too much time on my own, exploring wilderness on my own terms, without strangers, without noise, without official direction. The scene was a shock to the psyche.

kAround dusk on a Sunday evening, we arrived at Wolfe Ranch and trekked up the red rocks to Delicate Arch. Germans, Chinese, Australians, Latinos, Utahns, Texans, and Arkansans trudged, too, with inappropriate footwear, expensive cameras bouncing off their chests, and plastic drink bottles at the ready. (I found this last point particularly amusing since it was just a short hike with temps in the 40s, yet clearly our fellow visitors were respecting park notices to the letter: “Drink at least one gallon of water per day! Carry and drink water during all activities such as hiking!”)

When we got to the famous arch, I considered it as an agnostic might consider an image of Jesus (in a tree, in a cloud, etc.). What makes it any more special than all the other natural wonders around here?

Delicate Arch swirled with human pollution of the audio and visual kind. I listened as tourists murmured, chatted and yelled (“Hey, could you move so I can get a good picture?!” Flashes interrupted the view. Noise was like gurgling water in a dirty, frothing stream.

An exponentially better time was had at Kane Creek, a BLM area south of Moab. We hiked there for a few hours, enjoying sightings of rabbits, hawks, a quiet, ice-encrusted creek and no humans.

Another great walk was found at the foothills of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, also just off Route 191 (Moab’s main street) south of town.

Moab itself seemed overrun with franchises and that monotone of quick, colorless development. But we found hope at Moab Coffee Roasters and the Moab Brewery.


Future visits will improve the perspective and change the lens. I’m looking forward to washing off some cynicism.







Uintah Basin on Screech



For our trip to Maine, we decided to avoid Interstate 80 and travel along the lesser-known Route 40 in Utah and Colorado. We’d camp and check out the Rocky Mountain National Forest and Park.

Route 40 runs through Duchesne, Vernal, and serves as the thoroughfare for the frenzied fossil fuel production of the Uintah Basin. Half of the traffic was semi-tractor trailers, rigs dedicated to hauling out the extracted material and sending it on its way. One driver told me he does 12-hour shifts, six days a week. The truck, however, goes non-stop. As soon as he’s finished for the day, another driver takes his seat. The rig has clocked hundreds of thousands of miles in just a few years.

(Apparently, they didn’t name the town Gusher, Utah, for its sugary fruit candy.)

By serendipity, the other half of our traffic was scores of Maseratis, Ferraris, Porsches, Rolls Royces, and the like, running in the high-end Gold Rush Rally.

IMG_0651What a scene.

Imagine, lil’ old me, putzing along in my Toyota, dogs riding shotgun, when dozens of quarter-million dollar sports cars scream by, effortlessly going 100 miles per hour. They passed each other on steep bends, like kids playing tag or leapfrog. Photographers hung out of Rolls Royce convertibles, capturing white-teeth and white-knuckle moments.

Alas, they need gas as much as us common folk.

I caught up with them at a pit stop in Duchesne. Steve Goldfield (I’m assuming it’s his nom-de-guerre and not his real name.) told me they do 150-200 mph when no one’s looking.

Steve, a Gold Rush Rally participant, from California

Steve, a Gold Rush Rally participant, from California

I waited in the crowded ladies’ restroom with several Gold Rush gals. The women were clad in anything gold, one-piece gold body suits with wide slits for, em, ventilation? Gold-colored rhinestone ball caps, gold stiletto sandals, gold stretch jeans.

“Did you see that deer?” said a woman with gold-tipped finger nails to her friend.

I’m assuming she meant a live one, but most of the animals I saw were dead: deer, rabbits, beavers, and prairie dogs. Hundreds of prairie dogs. Literally tons of roadkill.

It seemed like wildlife, like the rest of the outdoors here, is getting run over.

Read how fossil fuel pollution is impacting neo-natal health.


The Truth behind Sea Gulls

Gulls at Trans Jordan landfill

Gulls at Trans Jordan landfill

In 1955, Utah legislators named the “Sea Gull” the state bird. They were commemorating the 1848 “Miracle of the Seagulls,” when huge flocks of gulls ate up hoards of crickets, saving crops of the newly landed Mormon pioneers.

"Seagull Monument" in Temple Square, Salt Lake City

“Seagull Monument” in Temple Square, Salt Lake City

This is funny on two counts:

  • As Mainers know, there’s no such thing as a “sea gull.” The gull they honor is, in fact, the California Gull, one of four dozen species in the subfamily of gulls. Back home, we have plenty of Herring Gulls and Black-Backed Gulls. “Look at the sea gulls!” is something tourists say.
  • There was no Miracle of Gulls, either. Mormon researchers have found little or no references to the phenomenon during the time it is said to have occurred.

“Nowhere is mentioned any instance of a spectacular crop rescue by cricket-eating seagulls,” writes the Mormonism Research Ministry.

Gulls, do, however have a long and storied connection to trash. We took a trip to the Trans Jordan landfill the other day.

Gulls, gulls everywhere!

Though not one for superlatives, I must say I’ve never, ever, in my entire life seen so many gulls in one place. Utah’s state bird, rarely seen elsewhere, has a huge presence at dumps. And dumps have a huge presence in Utah.

IMG_3793For starters, the state population is booming (increasing by 40,000 annually) and everyone’s trash has to go somewhere.

Secondly, recycling is not integrated into the folks’ mindsets or municipal mandates.

“I think we Utahns still have a Western frontier attitude,” my realtor told me when I asked why there was so little recycling.

A friend added, “a large percentage of the population here thinks that climate change is a liberal hoax…and that God created the earth so that man could trash it. “

According to Trans Jordan landfill site, less than 15 percent of Salt Lake Valley trash is recycled (less than half of the national average). Not coincidentally, trash production well above the national average. Utahns generate more than a ton per capita per year, reports a national study.

Heck, Maine isn’t exactly a shining example of sustainability, but it recycles six times more trash than Utah, generating nearly a million tons less trash.

Maine’s state bird is the chickadee, which likes to flit around trees. Maine has plenty of trees.

Utah has plenty of trash…

Now I get it!

The selection of gull as state bird wasn’t a nod to Mormon myth. It was a prophetic gesture.


The Genesis of UtahOutsider

Utah Mountains

I’ve lived in many places – East Coast, West Coast, and in between, France and Ireland.

Every move has come with a tipsy balance of knowledge and ignorance. Along the way, assumptions have been dispelled; preconceived notions have been shot down.
Curiosity has been my guide and backbone.

Now, Utah is my home. Finally, I’ve landed in a place that seems to suit me and my family (animals included).

But does it?

Experiences will shape fresh outlooks. Encounters will mold new opinions.

What lies under the surface?

I want to know. And what I discover, I want to share.

UtahOutsider will be that vehicle for sharing. It burns ignorance and moves forward with knowledge. It picks up passengers along the way.

Please join me.

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