A Road Trip Adventure

Meet James,

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Story teller, Good Samaritan, and my Guardian Angel in time of need.
While traveling to from Salt Lake City to Arches National Park on Nov. 6, 2010 I had a problem with my rental car about 2 hours south of SLC. I pulled over at the first gas station I saw. It had a light on inside the store, but the door said closed. Theresa my friend knocked on the door because she saw a man inside. He came out and verified what I thought- the gas tank or line was leaking. He invited us into the store to call the rental company and to keep warm. We left SLC at 5AM and it was only about 6:40AM when I pulled into the Tesoro Service Station.
I called the rental company and while on the phone I heard James(the man at the gas station) tell Theresa the station doesn’t open until 8:30AM and he rarely goes in early.
The rental car co. was going to set me up with a “tow exchange” and they needed to know my location.
I gave them the address. The woman on the phone with me needed a zip code so she could find me on the map. James said, ” We don’t have one. Soldier Summit is 30 miles south of Spanish Fork on Hwy 6.”  We were surprised by this, but the woman on the phone looked on the map again and Soldier Summit wasn’t on her map.
Fortunately, I was at the only Tesoro Service Station within miles so the tow truck driver wouldn’t have a problem finding me. She got all the paper work started and told me it would take a minimum of 4 hours to  get the replacement car out to me. After I hung up and told Theresa and James it would be awhile before they got a car out here James said, ” That was the smoothest I’ve seen a call to a rental company for help go, and I’ve had 11 tows out of here this year.”

James we discovered is also an amateur photographer. When we told him where we were going to Arches to take photos he got goose-bumps! He pulled out a big black 2 inch binder fully loaded with photographs he took. There were also old photos of the town his mother took. Each photo had a great story to go with it.
He also likes to tell jokes. Like this one- When giving back change to a customer I heard him ask this when he handed him his change. ” Do you see this quarter? That’s a WY quarter. See this horse? What kind of horse do you think this is? Appaloosa, Mustang, Palomino?”
When the customer replied, ” I have no idea.” James said, ” It’s a Quarter Horse!”

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This is the gas station where I waited for a replacement rental car.
It’s located 30 miles south of Spanish Fork, Utah in Soldier Summit Utah.
After sitting in the store chatting with James the store keeper, and visiting with a few of the customers the sun came out and I said I’d go out and photograph the Old Jailhouse and make Lemonade out of lemons. I was photographing the station and Theresa said she named this station Tesoro Arch since we couldn’t be in Arches National Park we would call this Tesoro Arch. I loved it!
Can you tell there is nothing much out here. There is a house on the hill behind the station, and that’s about it.

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This was my rental car. She’s leaking gas. Can you see the little puddle by the back right tire? James put some kitty litter like stuff on the puddle once before I took this photo. Poor thing.

Here’s another view of the gas station. It really was lonely out here!

This is “Guy”

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

This gentleman came into the station and I was fascinated with him. He had that …”je ne sais quoi”. James, had said “Hi, Guy!” when he came in, but we learned that wasn’t his real name. James always says “Hi Guy” and he says Hi back so it’s stuck.

I asked him if I could take his photo and he said, “Sure!”
While I was snapping my shutter I asked him what he did for a living to get him talking to keep me relaxed. You know I’m not a “people photographer”, and Guy was relaxed!  He said he retired from the mine and then my phone rang! I stopped photographing him to take the call as it was from the tow company that was bringing me a replacement car. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him anymore after that because he left just as I hung up the phone.
An American Cowboy. Isn’t his mustache great!

Here’s a plaque just in front of the old Jailhouse that tells the story of how the town got its name:

Copyright © 2010 Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved.
It says:
Soldier Summit
On Sept. 11, 1776, Two Franciscan priests Father Escalante, and Father Dominguez entered what is now the state of Utah, and several weeks later camped in a mountain pass. It is believed that the Fathers gave the pass its first name. Calling it Grassy Pass.
The name was changed to Soldier Pass when Johnson’s army at Camp Floyd was ordered east in 1861.
About 40 officers and enlisted men from the southern states were given permission to leave the US Army and go south to join the Confederate Army.  They arrived at Grassy Pass in a blizzard. Six or seven men and a fourteen year old boy were frozen to death and were buried by a spring near the summit of the pass.  The Rio Grande Railroad Company in 1880 named the pass Soldier Summit in its first time table.
~Castle Valley Center-Handicapped School. Nov. 1, 1990

The tow truck with the replacement car arrived by 10:20ish. After loading the new car, and saying farewell and Thank you to James we were on the road again headed to Arches National Park by 10:50ishAM.

He was a wonderful host, and I’ll never forget his kindness for letting us hang out in the store to keep warm while we waited for the replacement car.
Thank you James for going to work early, for your hospitality, and for the photograph of the Sunrise across from your Deer Camp.

For additional history on Soldier Summit go here:

4 thoughts on “A Road Trip Adventure

    1. Hi Colette!

      I can totally understand why. It was a pleasure spending time with him, and I’ll always be grateful for his helping hand, and calm spirit.
      You know that I still laugh out loud when I think of that Quarter Horse joke.
      You’re very blessed to have him for a Dad. Tell him “Hi” for me please.


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