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More Dogs On Main Street

Tom Clyde, Record columnist

So just like that, fall is here. The leaves haven’t changed color to any significant extent, but there’s no mistaking the change in season. The nights are getting cold. I was at an early meeting this week and noticed there was frost on the roofs in Park Meadows. I haven’t had frost at my house yet but it could happen any day. I have to get up to close the bedroom window most nights now. The potguts have hibernated, and the deer have moved out of the hills and into the front yard. There is a patch of brush on the Richardson Flat side of Masonic Hill, just above the rail trail, that is always the first to change. It’s still green, but it’s a different shade of green, and the colors will burst through in a day or two.

The aspen leaves have dried out and make a different sound when they rustle in the wind. A week ago, the direct sun in the afternoon was like a blow torch. Now it feels good. The light has changed, and it’s getting dark a little sooner. No mistaking it, fall is here. It’s probably the best time of year around here.

The wild raspberries are on. They are never very big, but with this dry summer, they are tiny. It’s a project to round up a handful when I take the dog out for a walk. But they’re sweet as ever.

My niece and her husband have been after me for a couple of years to sell them my VW camper. I bought it in 1990 and used it quite a bit in the first few years. I’ve had some recent trips in it, including a great vacation in Crater Lake. But the last time the bus went anywhere was an exciting trip to Home Depot to drag a new dishwasher home. I knew I could lift it into the van, and wasn’t sure I could lift it in and out of the bed of the pickup. That was nearly a year ago.

I put it on eBay last year, but in the end cancelled the auction with a bid that was higher than I ever dreamed it would bring. There was just something about having it there in the garage, and the option of packing up for a big, spontaneous road trip, that made it hard to part with. But when my niece pointed out that the dust on the windshield was so thick she couldn’t see through it, it convinced me to sell it to them.

Most of the time when you dispose of a car, it’s good news. I don’t trade cars often. I had the bus for 18 years, and the old Dodge snowplow truck for 24 years. Usually when I dispose of one, it’s in trade for a new one, after the old one had become a liability. No tears were shed when the Dodge was loaded on a trailer and sent off to a new home in Idaho Falls.

Selling the bus was different. Even if I didn’t use it much, the dream of the summer-long cross-country trip was still there in the garage. The Lewis and Clark Trail, exploring New England, the Oregon coast, maybe even Alaska all trips that are still on the docket that seemed like they could be done best in the VW. Of course, squaring the dream with reality is always hard. There have been a couple of trips where I’ve weighed driving the camper against driving the car. The bus was slow, noisy, and had a lousy air conditioner that caused hypothermia in the back seat, but couldn’t generate a slight breeze in the front seat. If there was a head wind, the underpowered thing would just lie down and die. It was primitive, with no place to connect an I-pod. Somehow, unless the whole point of the trip was camping, I ended up taking the car.

My niece and her husband are excited to get it, and are taking off for Jackson this weekend for their first big trip. I think they’ll love it.

Of course, having sold it, there is now a spare garage bay at my house. Nature abhors a vacuum, and there is no vacuum more abhorrent than an empty garage bay. Stuff begins to spread out. Without really noticing, the space that used to be filled by the bus is gradually filling with other stuff. It’s only been a week, and already it’s hard to see how the bus used to fit in the garage. Junk expands. You have to fight back or it will just swallow you up. I decided I better plug the hole before the wave of stuff just filled it in. Rather than let it get out of hand, I quickly filled the space with another antique tractor, a 1944 Farmall M. So I think everybody is happy.

President Bush took time off from his busy August vacation to attend the Olympics in China. From the news accounts, he seems to be having a fine time over there. He’s managed to make a few speeches where he has taken a poke at the Chinese government policies on human rights, free expression, and so on. All of that is appropriate, though it’s a little awkward when we owe them so much money. Privately, I hope he’s taking time to renegotiate the terms of the sub-prime mortgage the Chinese hold on the U.S. We are still borrowing close to a billion dollars a day from them. There is no plan of how (or if) we are going to pay that back. When the note comes due, it’s your grandkids’ problem.

I’ve watched some of the Olympics, but haven’t really gotten hooked on it. Michael Phelps has been amazing, but I’m pretty satisfied hearing the medal count without watching heat after heat of swimming. Or I tune in expecting to see the mountain biking or some other event, and get a half hour of Korean flag twirling. But mostly, the evenings are just too nice to be inside. There are those raspberries to pick.

Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of the book "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.


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