Sunday, November 07, 2010


Sometimes the roads less traveled go straight through your own town. That’s what we ended up finding out this weekend, for lack of a better occupation. We walked those roads and found out where they took us.

Trying to enjoy the last bit of a finicky Indian Summer, we decided to take Saturday off from house chores and what-not’s and just stroll about the small (that is an understatement!) downtown of our presently hosting town of Spanish Fork, as well as through Springville, the next town over. The luxury of living in a small burgh is that it only takes a few minutes to cover the downtown walk. So that leaves you plenty of time in the day to visit the next small city (glorified name alert!).

Aside from the weather being just spotless beauty that day, the thorough enjoyment of the adventure also came from unexpected findings like shops with treasures, unique local art, history, old times charm and lots of just plain local beauty.

We got lost in an antique store and then in a local gift and sweets store, and we had lunch at an unusual joint, that advertises “Chinese and American” fare on their sign. We took in the specific of these parts, which speaks so much of what the West stands for, and which are built mainly on family values (read: “kids”) and the Mormon Faith and traditions.

I’ll let the pictures we took speak for themselves about the local flair of what it means to live in a smaller than small Utah County (a.k.a. “The Most Mormon County in Utah”) town. I hope you find them telling.

Enjoy the journey! (just click on any of the pictures to see them larger)

We found out at the Spanish Fork Library that the first white man expedition around here was not Mormon, indeed, but Franciscan/ Spanish. There is a monument erected to celebrate this expedition on the Library's front lawn.

This time capsule also at the Spanish Fork Library marks my first ever encounter with such a landmark. I was trying to figure out if I will be alive when it's set to be opened. Probably not!

The downtowns of both Spanish Fork and Springville look very much like your typical Western town: lots of connected one story businesses, in a row, across the street from each other. But a zebra on the roof?! Now, that's different. And I have no idea what business that is, and why a zebra! No, zebras don't live in the Rockies, for those who are wondering ...
- Spanish Fork

Strangeness of Spanish Fork: directions on how to cross a road WITH a flag and major fire hazard. I knew these folks are way crazy about Christmas decorations, but seriously, this does not look safe. And what in the world is "normal caution" anyway?! Hhmm ...

Both Spanish Fork and Springville have family owned drug stores in their downtowns. We always wonder how in the world they stay in business with Walgreens just at the next corner, but ... selling dolls is evidently how - in this family oriented town, those are on high demand, I am sure! - Spanish Fork

And speaking of Walgreens: we spotted this shirtless gentleman in the parking lot of Walgreens, just standing there. No, he was not homeless, by all appearances, he had just hung up his cell phone as I was taking the picture. And was just waiting there... Small town indeed. - Springville

I absolutely loved this store in Springville! It is a gift and sweets store, and everything else you might want to sell, with a local flavor - homemade crafts, "inspirational" gifts and such.
We witnessed a conversation of folks putting in their order for homemade breads for Thanksgiving with the owner, and it was just like coming home again. Nothing beats the personalized, individual attention your small town "mom and pop" store gives you! The name of the store is ShayBee's and it's lovely! The way they preserved the original outside walls where they probably built on an addition was interesting, as well.

There was a memorial square of some sort commemorating settlers, or so it seemed, in Spanish Fork. This particular plaque caught my eye: He was a homebuilder and she was a homemaker and they were both successful. Career women, eat your hearts out! Only home, I noticed that her name was "Margaret Mitchell", one of my most treasured American writers to date ...

Downtown Spanish Fork, the old and the new collide: I am browsing a 1905 edition of the book "One Hundred Years of Mormonism" on the patio of our very own, local, family owned coffee shop. Yes, coffee in Utah County - with a sassy sign, nonetheless.

Eating establishments: "T-Bone Restaurant" in the first picture - one online review described it as " a total dive, but the food is good", and they were not far off! Second picture: the beautiful stained glass windows at Magleby's, another restaurant staple - both in Springville.

Springville, or "The Art City", is literally littered with metal and marble and ... whatever else material you can think of sculptures. Please visit the whole album for a broad depiction of these unique works. You will notice that most of these sculptures are of kids.

My favorite sculpture of all was of course Mark Twain, in front of the old Public Library (1922) in Springville, now a museum. So cozy ...

And because these establishments are filled with little ones more often than not, there were warnings on some of the metal sculptures which made us chuckle.

These markers were all over Springville. They spoke to me, as a live testament of the Old West and its Pioneers. Just like an old coin, branded in everlasting metal, they bore the mark of time, history, hope and faith. It was moving. It's not just brick and mortar of old walls a town is not. It's lives, and people who built it, and their story and perseverance that gave us what we have today.

Springville: I just loved some of its architecture.

Fall in Springville.

Visit the album of this trip to see more. And remember: the next revelation of the year, or of your life can be hidden down that road you never ventured on because it was marked "one way". Park the car and wander about.

Treasures abound right under our noses. And if writers bear any truth, "you might wake up spiritually as easily in Utah as in Sri Lanka" (Anne Lamott), so you never have to travel that far ...

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