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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Utopian Utah

Thursday September 10th, 2009 - Salt Lake City, UT

   There aren’t many Americans in the history of this great country that have seen as much of the lower forty-eight states up close as I have, and that would include Lewis and Clark. And Jerry Lewis. And Roy Clark. And Jerry Springer. And Roy Rogers. And Mr. Rogers. And Mr. T. And Mrs. Olsen. And Miss Daisy. And Boy George. And everybody else too.

   If there’s one thing I’ve done it’s travel across North America, from the big cities to the wide open spaces. If there’s a chance to see something I’ve never seen before I always try to squeeze it in my schedule. I’ve made a habit of that since I started and I still do it now.

   That being said, Salt Lake City is one of my very favorite places of them all. The beauty of the mountains is absolutely stunning by itself but coupled with the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats it’s like no other place anywhere. I remember when I had my job interview out here I thought it looked like another planet, and in many ways I was right.

   This is it’s own world out here. Salt Lake City is the place people come to from all over the area for hundreds of miles in every direction. There’s not a whole lot of population for the amount of land that’s out here. If there’s ever crowding in any big city there’s a whole lot of empty space out here for them to be sent. There’s a long way to go before it’s full.

   Las Vegas is about 380 miles southwest on I-15 and that’s the closest big city. Denver is about eight hours but that drive through the mountains can be brutal, especially during winter. I know, I’ve done it. More than once. In an old car. With bald tires. And a spongy brake pedal. Believe me, sliding over snowy mountains in a car can be out and out terror.

   Still, I was ready to make this place my home. I feel comfortable here even though I’m an outsider on almost all fronts. I’m not a Mormon and I’m not really an outdoors person, at least when it comes to hunting and fishing and all that. I just think this town is a place I could have settled down and enjoyed a good life. Then I lost my radio job and it was over.

   It wasn’t all that long ago (2001) when I did live here but it seems like a whole different lifetime now. I still have friends here and Jim Mickelson is one of them. He worked at the station I did and got fired a month after I did. His birthday is March 12 and mine is March 14. Other than being a Minnesota Vikings fan he’s a great guy and we’ve stayed in touch.

   Jim is working part time at one of the other country stations in town and just squeaking by. His wife Kathy has an advertising agency and business is down in that industry just as it is in most others. They’ve hung in there and slugged it out but it’s a struggle to survive. Jim and I had breakfast today and talked about what we’re both going to do next in life.

   Jim and Kathy have always been great supporters of mine and are just fantastic people. I spent Thanksgiving at their house one year and it was one of the best times I ever had. It’s people like them that made me want to live here. I bought a house and everything and that was the single stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Live and learn I guess and boy, did I ever.

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