In the summer of 1992 my family took a two week vacation through the great midwestern states of Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. The destinations were chosen by me. I had turned thirteen that year and in lieu of a big blowout party to celebrate my bar mitzvah, I was given the choice to go anywhere in America (and just to reassure you, I was also given a very tasteful luncheon the day I became a man). This is where I chose to go.
Growing up on Long Island I was fascinated by the West (so much space and no one around), regional soda, and the kind of mundane details only an accountant could appreciate (I loved the spines of cassette tapes and organize mine according to record label and typeface). I was also, it should be noted, an idiot. Here are verbatim excerpts from the journal I kept on that trip, entitled Michael Pace Goes to the West! (8/10/92 - 8/22/92).
DAY 1 - Salt Lake City, Utah/notes taken at: 9:40PM, Aug. 10/written at: 8:20 AM, Aug. 11
We woke up at 6:00 AM, put on our clothes and waited for the limo to come. It came at around 7:00 AM, and took us to JFK. We got on the plane (TWA) at 9:20 AM. We landed in St. Louis, Missouri at 12:00 PM (central time) and took another flight to Salt Lake City. We got there at 2:30 PM (mountain time), rented a mid-size car (a white Chevy Corsica) from Alamo Rent-a-Car, and drove to the Little America Hotel.
DAY 2 - Salt Lake City, Utah/written at: 6:30 PM, Aug. 11
The Mormon Tabernacle is home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This building holds the largest pipe organ in the world. We took a tour around the Square. At the end, the guides asked us if we would like to receive a Mormon bible. I signed up for one, but since I was Jewish, I told her not to send it....For dinner we went to “Stein Eriksen’s Lodge” up in the mountains. It was a very fancy restaurant, and the menu had words like ragout and bokchoy. Today I went to a Kmart for the second time in one week!
DAY 3 - Idaho Falls, Idaho/written at: 10:15PM, Aug. 12
We ate dinner at “The Peppertree” where they had live entertainment by a very good group from the region. Since it was Ladies Nite, my mom got a rose from this guy (probably a waiter) with a broken arm.
DAY 5 - Grand Teton Nat’l Park, Wyoming/written at: 9:00 PM, Aug. 14
On the way back to the Tetons I had my first taste of Squirt ™ (reminiscent of the Mr. Pibb that I had last year in San Francisco)...We ate a dinner of barbequed beef, beans (they were great) and roasted marshmellows (I tried to see how burnt I could get them without eating them). The chef, who was dressed as a cowboy, took out a guitar and tried to start a sing-a-long, but unfortunately the only song he could get us to sing was “When It’s Hog Feedin’ Time in Nebraska” (a great family favorite). On the ride back we saw a deer. Right now my dad is relieving himself from the beans (uh-oh!).
DAY 6 - Grand Teton Nat’l Park, Wyoming/written at: 9:00 PM, Aug. 15
Today is my mom’s birthday, so my parents are eating out at “The Mural Room.” They bought us boridos, mini pizza, salad (two bags), popcorn, and other crap at a nearby market. This older couple on the boat trip invited my parents to the lobby for a drink, but I don’t know if they went (I’ll update you tomorrow).
DAY 8 - Buffalo, Wyoming/written at: 10:30 PM, Aug. 17
Doing 100 MPH, we got to Buffalo at 6:30 PM. We ate dinner at Pizza Hut. I had my first Mello Yello (another citrus drink). Buffalo is a small town with weird diners like “Taco John’s.” In Red Lodge, Montana, there was “Uncle Milty’s Fast Food Emporium.”
DAY 10 - Scottsbluff, Nebraska/written at: 10:30 PM, Aug. 20
We came into Nebraska and drove for over an hour until we got to Scottsbluff and to the Candlelight Inn. We ate dinner at Burger King. I saw two families pray before meals (we’re in the “Bible Belt.”).
DAY 11 - Denver, Colorado/written at: 9:20 PM, Aug. 21
After eating breakfast at Grampy’s, we drove out of Nebraska (where I got Crystal Pepsi) and into Cheyenne, Wyoming. We had our first taste of Wyoming pizza (we had got Pizza Hut in Buffalo). It had a very thin crust and was very good. I had a Dr. Wells (a cross between root beer and Dr. Pepper).
DAY 12 - Denver, Colorado/written at: 10:00 PM, Aug. 21
We took a drive to Pike’s Peak, but to drive up a mountain 14,000 ft. in the air (we went 12,000 ft. in Montana, and went in the snow) for $12.00 per person, we thought it was a rip off, so we didn’t go. We went to Colorado Springs for lunch. I saw a guy wearing a Primus shirt.
DAY 13 - Home/written at: 1:00 AM, Aug. 23
I am writing this at home because I forgot to write it on the plane. If this trip was not the best, it was cirtainly a very memorable exotic vatic vacation.
Trust me when I say these were the highlights. By next summer’s vacation I’d be too consumed with making the perfect mixtape (an amalgam of Top 40 schlock, white boy hip-hop, and the Columbia House “Alternative” Selections-of-the-Month) to keep a journal at all, which is probably for the best since it would’ve been titled Michael Pace Goes to Orlando Again!