A couple of years ago, I received a lovely gift from my friend, Holly Chaffee. She had bought a cookbook, With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant, and thought I would enjoy it.
"With a Measure of Grace recounts with sensitivity and wit the tale of a
women-owned, Buddhist- based restaurant becoming a community anchor in a
small Mormon town. Within the book's 176 beautiful, color-photographed
pages, former backcountry caterers and professional river chefs Blake
Spalding and Jen Castle share their struggles and successes as the
co-owners of Hell's Backbone Grill. Spalding and Castle began with the
goal to meld their ideas of place-based, seasonally appropriate cuisine,
right livelihood, environmental ethics and social and community
responsibility into a restaurant they would operate with compassion,
generosity, loving kindness and grace. They were unaware at the time
that given the unusual circumstances of their venture, this plan would
be the restaurant's only chance of survival. Located in the heart of the
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Boulder, Utah, was the
last town in the nation to receive year-round mail by automobile. Today
it has no stoplight, cell phone service, ATM, grocery store or medical
facilities. But it has Zagat-rated Hell's Backbone Grill, which despite
all odds, has won the acclaim of national and international media.
Sixty five favorite recipes accompany charming anecdotes, old-fashioned
rural wisdom and introductions to captivating local characters, making
With a Measure of Grace a warm and earthy, unforgettable read." (from the amazon.com web site)
Early this year, my son David encouraged me to take a vacation. I emailed Holly to suggest that we drive out from Las Vegas, where she lives, to have dinner at Hell's Backbone Grill (HBG). After all, it's only 332 miles away - surely not too far to drive for a well-reviewed restaurant. Later, I read some more excellent reviews of HBG and Holly declared that we should eat more than one meal there. We made a dinner reservation for 7 pm on August 24 and a room reservation at the Boulder Mountain Lodge for that night. HBG is on the grounds of the lodge.
We made plans to hit the road in late August, 2015. Holly and her husband, Art Wolf, have a time-share in St. George, Utah, about a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas. This would be home base. On August 23, I flew from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas. That afternoon, Holly and I packed Art's red Subaru Forester (thank you, Art!) and headed northeast.
And thus THE GREAT SOUTHERN UTAH ROAD TRIP began.