Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mount Carmel Junction, Utah!

     Mount Carmel Junction!
     "Where did we dine yesterday evening, before we zonked out at the little motel?  I cannot remember, but the food sure was great!" ... 
     When traveling by car to distant vacation destinations, all too often there seems to be an unexpected place where good food was found, which ends up being forgotten about soon after.  Maybe it has something to do with driver fatigue or spending endless miles staring at the landscape till it all becomes a blur.  Maybe the dining destination was forgotten because after getting a belly full of food, the only thing that matters is finding a motel with the vacancy sign lit up, before drowsiness turns into deep sleep.
     What is even weirder is when a few years later while traveling on vacation, just by dumb luck, the same restaurant that was forgotten about is inadvertently visited again.  Feelings of eerie déjà vu arise and one cannot help but to say, "You know something?  I cannot remember when, but I think that we have dined here before and if I recall correctly, the food was pretty good!" 

     Mount Carmel Junction is one of those places that people can pass through several times in a lifetime, yet remembering the details about this place is not easy to do.  Maybe it is because Mount Carmel Junction is located near several National Parks and travelers are totally focused on what they will be doing at these destinations while on vacation.      
     The first time that I stopped at Carmel Junction was back in 2004.  I was moving to Las Vegas from back east and I decided to take the scenic route west of the Rockies.  I just got through driving over 2,000 miles and everything was a blur.  Tired and hungry, I stopped at a place in Mount Carmel Junction for coffee and pie, before cutting through Zion National Park to a motel in Hurricane, Utah.  
     Needless to say, the next day I completely forgot the name of the of the town and I did not have the foggiest idea what the name of the restaurant was.  All that I knew was that I liked the place.  
     Several years later in 2011, I did a similar drive from Chicago when I decided to attend college in Las Vegas.  I did not realize that I was retracing the same route through Zion that I had taken many years before.  I pulled up to a restaurant in Carmel Junction and déjà vu struck.  It was then that I remembered the great pie and coffee from the previous trip. 
     Oddly enough, after getting to Las Vegas I completely forgot the name of the little town in Utah that had great food.  It was just like some kind of a forgetfulness curse.  Fortunately I took a few photos while I was there and after spending some time searching for information on the internet, the name Mount Carmel Junction was finally etched in stone!

     After completing 4 years of college in Vegas, I did a little bit of traveling in the Southwest during the summer of 2015.  One trip involved visiting the Grand Canyon, then taking the northern loop through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Escalante, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Kanab, Utah.  This route runs west to Zion National Park, then south back to Las Vegas.  
     This time I remembered Mount Carmel Junction was next to Zion and planned the trip so I would pass through in the afternoon.  After driving a few hundred miles, a slice of "Ho-Made Pie" at the old Thunderbird Restaurant sounded pretty good.  Since I was on vacation, a craft beer sounded pretty good too.  An ice cold beer, a cup of chili and a slice of Thunderberry Pie may seem like an odd combination, but one must remember that I was a college student at that time and anything goes!   
     After the Southwestern travel fling of the summer of 2015 was over, I accepted a seasonal job in Wyoming.  I decided to take the scenic route through Utah, so I could visit Capitol Reef National Park along the way north.  
     Amazingly, I actually looked forward to the opportunity to pass through Mount Carmel Junction once again!  It is funny how Mount Carmel Junction went from a déjà vu vacation dining destination to being a planned event.  Of course after driving the extra miles for a good meal, I was so tired that the only thing that I craved after the long drive was pie and coffee.  All I can say is that the homemade mile high Banana Cream Pie at The Golden Hills Restaurant in Mount Carmel Junction sure hit the spot!

     Of course there is more to Mount Carmel Junction than just great pie.  There are some nifty tourist traps and antique shops going north on U.S. Highway 89 toward Orderville.  There are also several rock collector shops that feature local gemstones, petrified wood and dinosaur age fossils.  Outdoor excursion guides and camping outfitters can be found in this area too.  
     Zion and the Pink Sand Dunes are next door and Bryce Canyon is just up the roads a spell, so the location of Mount Carmel Junction is perfect for travelers coming from any direction.  This little town has 2 restaurants that specialize in great homemade pie.  To a weary traveler this is like a dream come true, because everybody knows that pie makes everything better!      

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