Seeing Utah

Milky Way
Driving back from Callao, Utah on a moonless night, I looked out my driver’s side window and saw lights on the mountain in the distance. I struggled to understand why the mountains were sparkled with tiny dots, then I realized I was looking at the stars.

I stopped the car at the side of the road, turned off the ignition, and stepped outside into the darkness. The sky hit my eyes like a power chord from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. It had been many years since I was far away enough from a city or traffic to actually see the milky way.

Suddenly it all came back to me. This was the end of a journey that had started in the spring of 2005. Travelling town to town, learning more, understanding Utah.

Callao was spectacular. I had never visited a town so small, yet overwhelmingly beautiful. Unpaved streets, no municipality, no police force, a one-room schoolhouse, and the most serene desert landscape you can imagine. Fighting for their very existence against the state of Nevada who wishes to drain their home of what little water exists for lawns in Las Vegas. A drilling exercise that would be suitable for an episode of the Simpsons if it weren’t so tragic. These committed Utahns continue their battle in spite of an ignorant congressional delegation that claims it is “conservative”. If this small group’s way of life is not deserving of conservation, then I have a hard time understanding exactly what is being conserved.

They talked to me about water, but then they told me so much more. The teacher of 19 years told me her dozen or so students are held to “No Child Left Behind” standards, which they can not meet because one child is autistic. They spoke of the war, the economy, energy, agriculture, ranching, and the fact that they have been promised fast Internet, but still have to rely on dial-up. I was taken aback that although they were geographically remote, they were in no way distant.

Their plight reminded me of one of the first campaign trips I took, to Bicknell, Torrey, and Teasdale. I went to campaign, but I also wanted to see BIFF, a decade long film festival that is more party than cinematic expose. At the closing night bash, I was introduced to a supportive audience and had a fine time. As I was leaving the party, a man called out to me, “Hey! Ashdown!” I turned to meet him. He worked for the local municipal electric company and told amazing tales of reliable service and rates that hadn’t changed in nearly a decade. I thanked him for his interest in the campaign and said goodbye. As I turned to my car, he said one more thing that will stay with me forever.

“When you win, don’t forget about us. Don’t forget about the little guy.”

I haven’t and I won’t.

5 thoughts on “Seeing Utah

  1. We know you won’t forget, Pete. I’m sure you don’t want to do it beforehand, because you’re too modest, but please try and find time to work on your victory speech. Yours is going to be the upset-special of the night of November 7, and every network is going to lead with your story. Also, please remember to wear the nice grey suit with the maroon tie.

    BTW while standing in line for half an hour to vote last Friday at the Murray city building, all I heard was your name. You’re a cinch.

  2. Las Vegas’ thirst for water is going to slowly creep far beyond Callao (btw, my father in law is the Callao high council rep for the Delta LDS Stake and speaks very, very fondly of it). Soon, Las Vegas will seek to start sucking water from other places in Utah. Their thirst is unquenchable. I know that the folks in Snake Valley and the region are few in number, but they are just the first to fall prey to LV. Many ranchers in Nevada have already lost everything to LV’s water needs, in ways that are nothing short of criminal.

    Las Vegas’ water needs are not Utah’s problem. We shouldn’t be the solution.

  3. You have just explained what it’s all about Pete.

    I remember your first apperance at the Weber County Convention. I also remember that drive down to St. George with Xavier. Once we arrived Colt became our guide.

    Where did those people go? It many ways it seems so far away, and yet in reality it was just yesterday.

    Thank you for being our honorable candidate for the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the quest that no one else would dare. But most important thank you for seeing the beauty of the common Utahn. He is important, she is important, and it is these middle class heroes that have made our Country and State great.

    Thanks Pete.

  4. I’m leaving work early today so that I can go vote early for you. You have catalyzed the democratic movement in Utah. I wish you the best of luck, thank you so much for your hard work.

  5. Holy crap.

    The sky hit my eyes like a power chord from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

    I would have voted for you for that alone.

    Best of luck to you, Pete. Here’s hoping there is an outbreak of mass sanity tomorrow.

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