Booking It In Utah
We found that Wal-Mart was even more profuse in Utah than it is in many of the other states. One gal told us that Wal-Mart is the only store within seventy miles on either side of her hometown. Yikkes!
Our first bookstore find in St. George astonished me in that the woman who owned it was avidly listening to Rush Limbaugh's poisonous mouth. Somehow I didn't expect that from a bookseller. The store was pristine, but lacked any personality or soul, and for that matter there weren't any really interesting books; mostly paperback religion and bad craft books. We were to find that true of many of the places we stopped.
It gets better, honest. The second bookstore find in St. George was a delightful little basement bookstore called the Book Cellar, just off the restored area of downtown. Margi LaPorte and Karen Lee, two very nice ladies, started their store about a year ago and are doing okay. They primarily carry a nice general stock of reasonably priced non-fiction with some older, out-of-print fiction, a good shelf of western history, and a number of signed western books, of which I bought two, and the ever present Mormon history and dogma canons. They are happy to give a dealer discount and the store is cozy, friendly and fun to visit. They are very community-minded with book signings and poetry readings.
The next day we left for Kanab and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. This is the largest, no-kill, animal rescue sanctuary in the U.S. with about 2,000 rescued animals on about 3,000 acres of land ten minutes north of Kanab. We stayed at one of those great old motels, The Quail Park Lodge in Kanab, probably from the 1940s, which was clean and quiet and welcomed our dog. If you are not familiar with Best Friends, and since this is a bookseller article, I encourage you go to www.bestfriends.org if you want more info. It is quite a stupendous place, they do amazing work, and we loved it.
We hit the two thrift stores in Kanab, which were, not surprisingly, very disappointing. There was a huge rummage sale the day we left but I only found one good book. So, off we went up the highway, headed towards Salt Lake City. We stopped at just about every bookstore and thrift shop along the way, with two side trips – one to Bryce Canyon and one to Zion Park - both spectacular and well worth the HIGH price of admission. We won't discuss food again until we get to SLC. Suffice it to say, it wasn't worth talking about except for some okay Cajun cuisine in, of all places, Cedar City.
On the western approach to Zion Park up the highway toward Cedar City, we passed through Virgin, Utah. It is a tiny little blip on the highway surrounded by dusty flatland, and the wind was howling. As we zipped through, we saw the magic sign, "Books." Screech, on came the brakes. It was a fun bookstore, the only one nearby, needless to say, and carried a general inventory. The owner was also the postmistress and the post office was right next door with a doorway between so she could run back and forth. She said that people often came by and just gave her books because they had no place else to take them. She was a two-year novice to bookselling and we had quite a long chat while I perused her inventory. We bought a couple of books and then scuttled on up the road.
If you aren't familiar with Maynard Dixon, he was a wonderful painter of landscapes and life in the American West for more than fifty years. Dixon did a lot of book illustrating, which we did know, but also was a poet, which we did not know. The Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts in Mount Carmel, Utah, is "continuing Maynard Dixon's vision of American Art." Though Dixon's residence was closed for the winter, we visited Susan Bingham at the Bingham Gallery next door (email@example.com) where we saw several of Dixon's excellent western paintings, bought two of Dixon's prints (our anniversary present to ourselves) and found a lovely little print painted by Susan Bingham.