Some smells and tastes trigger my memory.
In the summer of 1989, I was 18 years old. I’d recently graduated from high school, and like many kids that age, felt I had finally arrived. I was grown, ready to take on the world and whatever might come.
My friends and I had already taken our senior trip to Lake Powell, where we learned we could argue with one another, break each other’s hearts (the teenage drama was thick my friends), and still laugh and love each other. As the summer progressed, we prepared for the inevitable separation. Some of us would be going away to college, while others would be off on missions for the LDS church (self included. A shocker to read for some, I’m sure). A few would be staying near home, getting married too young or starting jobs they thought were better options than school.
My best friend found a job away from home, a few hours south of Salt Lake City at a ski/summer resort in Brian Head, Utah. Joel had skill in the kitchen, preparing food and the resort needed someone to help cook breakfast and lunch for the bus tours and random tourists staying at the hotel. Another good friend also got a job washing dishes.
Not to be left out, a few weeks after they left for work, I also interviewed for a dish washing position on the dinner shift. A few other friends got jobs as servers or as maintenance workers.
The road trip down lingers in my memory. It is a tale for another day.
It was a grand time- We were stretching ourselves, pushing against old boundaries, finding our freedom out in the big bright world, living on our own, paying 2 dollars a day to live in the hotel, working ridiculous hours for low pay. It was excellent!
We met other young people, students from Southern Utah University, who also worked at the hotel. One in particular, became part of our group. Troy worked at the bartender at the hotel lounge. He took drink making seriously, and wanted his flavorings to be as delicious as possible. At the time, I didn’t drink, and was the perfect test subject for his concoctions. Troy created the most creamy, smooth virgin margaritas, daiquiris and piña colada I’d ever tasted.
The hotel restaurant closed at 10, but the cleanup would sometimes take until 1 or 2. On nights/mornings when I finished before the bar closed I would wander over shoot pool while Troy cleaned up. He’d pour me a grenadine and coke from the bar gun. Like I said, I didn’t drink, that came years later, but being in that bar made me feel extremely grown up. It was my first taste of grenadine syrup. That flavor always reminds me of my time at Brian Head, and especially the nights at the bar when Troy and I hung out well into the morning.
When summer ended, most of my friends returned to Salt Lake to begin college or take other jobs. Many of the University students also quit or took reduced shifts. I was earning money for that mission thing, and needed to stay another month or so. It was a difficult and lonely time, but I never regretted the experience. I had left the security and safety of my home, worked hard, lived with friends, earned some money and learned valuable things about myself.
A photo of a time shortly after I returned from Brian Head with my two closest friends. The one on my right was the catalyst for the Brian Head adventures. The fellow in yellow didn’t work with us at Brian Head, but did come to visit several times. I’m the handsome rogue in the center.