On our way to the spectacular Horsehead Inn, we passed a red rock with enormous white lettering: ‘Hole n the Rock’. It had all the makings of a tourist trap and, upon being reunited with his much-loved wi-fi, the professor took it upon himself to do some travel research. ‘Apparently people used to live there,’ he told me, ‘and they do a 12-minute tour.’
So the next day, as we painfully scenically made our way back to Arches National Park, we stopped at the Hole n the Rock. ‘They’ll remember doing a tour,’ I justified the stop, ‘they’re not going to remember driving through a desert.’ (Actually, the Gort probably will remember driving through the desert, and – in retrospect – we probably should have deposited the tour money in his therapy fund.)
Instead, we hopped out of the Monster and surveyed the sweltering Utah asphalt, laden with gems like a jeep covered in license plates and various other treasures. We entered the gift shop, deposited $36 in the boys’ family-vacation-memory-bank and proceeded to wait for the famed 12-minute-tour.
All while the boys attempted to fleece us for gift-shop items. Percy had to have a ‘necklace’. The Hen had to have a neon green plastic ball with tentacles. And the Gort, our geologist-in-training, wanted (yet another) bag of overpriced polished stones.
Finally, it was our turn for the tour and we walked through a set of swinging doors; fully prepared to be amazed. Or, at the very least, amused.
Here’s the two-minute version of the twelve-minute tour.
A man named Albert and a woman named Gladys ran a diner from inside a huge red rock just outside Moab. The gift shop where we’d been fleeced was once a diner, and the place where we were standing –a cave-room with a mint-green painted ceiling and old-fashioned appliances – had once been the diner’s kitchen. The kitchen’s swinging doors led to their living quarters; also inside the cave, with a whopping 3 windows to let in light. Being something of a ‘natural-light-aholic’ and a ‘minor claustrophobe’, I more-than-shuddered at the thought of being a real-life Betty Flintstone.
‘Albert was a noble artist,’ our slightly monotonous tour guide explained, pointing to a few not-entirely-stellar paintings. And the professor and I stifled giggles, because what does ‘noble artist’ mean, anyway? [In addition to dabbling in painting Jesus, Albert also dabbled in taxidermy as evidenced by the 2 or 3 stuffed donkey-like creatures lounging around the cave ] Gladys, when she wasn’t soaking in her mint-green painted cave-tub, liked to fill the shelves Albert built with knick-knacks. He even built a fireplace, ‘not because they needed it for heat, they just wanted it for atmosphere.’
More suppressed giggles.