Blanding and Monticello, Utah


There’s a good chance you’ll end up spending the night in Blanding or Monticello.  Both towns have a few chain motels, as well as a handful of independently owned ones, and if you don’t stay there, you’ll have a very long drive up to Moab, south into Arizona, or east into Colorado.

I chose Blanding as the place to end Day 4 and begin Day 5.  However, I quickly learned that Blanding is a town that lives up to its name.  After settling into my motel room, I walked up the street to the flashing traffic light.  My dinner choices were even more limited than they would have been an hour earlier (since the sit-down restaurant near my motel was about to close), so I ended up at the A&W hamburger stand inside a strange little grocery store/gas station combo.

My chicken sandwich took a long time to prepare, so I had plenty of time to walk around.  It was a depressing place.  The store seemed too big to be a convenience store, but too empty to be considered a full-fledged supermarket.  I’ve been in some sad, “grey” towns before, including the one I grew up in — and this place had the same feel.

Speaking of “grey”, I suppose it didn’t help matters that as Day 5 began, the sky was blanketed in snow clouds — which are, perhaps, the dreariest of all clouds, lacking any kind of interesting shape.  They always hang low, and hide the nearby scenery.  And of course, it’s never warm under a snow cloud.

The dreariness continued as I drove up US 191, but broke up as I arrived in…

Monticello, Utah

Maybe Monticello seemed more cheerful, based simply on the blue sky that started to appear as I drove into town.  Monticello’s Main Street also has a full-fledged traffic light…

… the stately courthouse for San Juan County…

… and of course, an LDS church.  This is Utah, after all.

Monticello is also home to an LDS temple.  The Monticello Temple was the first of many “miniature” temples built by the Mormon Church in smaller cities. It was dedicated in 1998, and serves church members as far away as Durango, Colorado.

Monticello is one of the few places where you’ll still find an old US Route 666 sign.  The “Number of the Beast” was recently removed from the highway that runs from here to Gallup, New Mexico, in favor of the much less evil US 491.  “Old 666” signs are still on display (for now) at the traffic light in downtown Monticello.

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