Day 43 - To Milford: Utah's Zombie Town

"Continental Breakfast" at the Stratford Court was vast and filling, and i ate more than i needed, including the requisite oatmeal and hard boiled eggs plus a make-your-own Belgian waffle (the syrup bottle boasted "no high-fructose corn syrup" but the primary ingredient was still corn syrup -no maple for me) for the brief 56-mile ride to Milford from Cedar City. Nina and i packed up, and i skimmed as much as i could from my bike-load, managing to cut out a few mere ounces - but at least it was something. (Wish i would have remembered to unload the solar power charger - sorry Nat!) I kissed my laptop goodbye. And Nina too, the only physical human contact (besides a few handshakes and the hands-on prayer i'd received in Kansas) that i'd had in about 40 days (besides our affectionate greeting of course, three days before). Ironically, in Cedar City i was closer to Los Angeles (about 400 miles) than i'd be until i was riding down the coast of Calfornia. It felt counterproductive for Nina to be heading down Interstate 15 on a direct route and for me to ride directly north and away from my final destination. But that's where the Adventure Cycling maps take you!

Besides one small town (Minersville - empty, dusty, the presence shells of deserted cars and school buses strewn on lawns illustrating the town's discarded state of being) and one not-too-difficult hill, there was nothing to the day's ride. Leaving Cedar City (impressively sparkling clean even along the intersection of my route and the interstate), there was nothing. Dry, flat nothingness. A few unpleasant smelling and looking farms near Minersville, but nothing else. Not the Utahn splendor of the previous days to be sure.
With a lot of the small Western towns i've stopped in, I vibed a first impression that seemed to match the entire experience. And trust me, i'm open to every place being a gem in its own way. I don't want to NOT like a place; i really don't. But my first impression of Milford was, well, a little spooky. Clearly a mining/railroad town of yesteryear, i didn't see any people at all. i rode around for a bit locating the library (the only positive aspect of the town as far as i could tell), a place to stay, a convenience store for supplies. Didn't like what i saw, but there's no going "Eh, don't like Milford, i'll move on" as the next town on the map isn't for 84 miles, the whole next day's ride. Actually, that's what it's been like since leaving Cedar City; you can't really get creative with where you stop, as the daily distance is dictated by how far the next town is.
The Milford Station Hotel was a new low for accommodations. The advertized price was "starting at $34.99" which seemed high for how it looked from the outside but certainly within the range. The sun cast a shadow over the slatted wooden awning spanning the length of the building covering the rundown edifice with what seemed like a jailhouse bar mural. Unwelcoming to say the least. Inside the office, where an electric fan tied together with greasy rags blew hot air over me and the two women working there. I mentioned the need for a room and the $34.99 special. The women's eyes widened. The younger of the two said that i'd need to speak to the owner. She placed a call and handed me the phone. Unfortunately for me, the gravelly voice told me that the special price was the weekly rate divided by 7 and the rate for me would be the exorbitant amount of $52-something. Only game in town. No place to camp. (As it turns out, there was a nicer-looking motel i espied as i left town the next day). Deep breath in. And out.

I eased open the door to my digs for the night. It was (like several others before and since) sinister as if on purpose, as if someone said: "How can we make this room as inhospitable as possible? Oh, i know, let's smear the bedspread with an oily substance! Let's paint the cinderblock walls a putrid shade of mustard! Let's get all 32 people left in town to smoke 2 packs of cigarettes each and blow tar-infused smoke on all the towels! Yes, let's!" The blanket under the bedspread always is cut from the same swath of material: it's meant to either retard fire, or ensure that it explodes if a match is held to it. This night was definitely one to unpack the sleeping bag and sleep on top of, rather than under, the covers.

Feeling taken advantage of, i sulked over to the library, a one-room affair with an available computer station, and cranked out another post. Since i had given Nina the map section that ended with Cedar City, i was hoping to look at an atlas of Utah to jog the juices (and get the correct names of places i had seen) but the worker couldn't find one. No phone service in Milford so i emailed Donny. Not satisfying. (It's always extra lonely, by the way, staying in a hotel in the middle of nowhere without phone service.)

The library closed at 6pm and i walked to the town's grocery store. On the way, i was charged by a scary looking brown dog who clearly didn't want me on his property. The hair on my neck stood up as i calmly (outwardly) crossed the street. Almost no one was outside. No lawns were being mowed. No children playing. It occurred to me that this town might be THE ONE i'd been fearing all along: the one where zombies live. The one where when the sun sets, they will emerge. And only the flesh of a live human, no matter how tough and stringy from weeks of bicycling, will satisfy. Or maybe they'd transform me into one of them, and i'd roam the street(s) of Milford, Utah forever. [If Donny came to rescue me i'd either bite him and make him one of us, or in my animal-instinct-only zombie state i'd sense that i knew him, somewhere buried in my erased memory, and set him free.] Or maybe Milford wasn't an actual town. Maybe Milford was destroyed in 1980 by a nuclear experiment gone wronge out there in the desert, and it all was a mirage: the hotel, the bedspread, the rags blowing in the fan-wind, everything. A broken-down, unfriendly, ugly mirage. Each of these scenarios was a distinct possibility. I was toast.

Strangers eyed me in the grocery store which didn't have much on the shelves to purchase, though i managed to cobble together enough for breakfast and for the 84 mile ride to Baker, Nevada (Nevada!) the next day. I've given up on tea so Red Bull has become the morning ritual. Did you know they make a cola version? Much easier to stomach.

My experience at the Station Motel Restaurant also ranks as one of the all-time lows. American AND Chinese cuisine. I knew to avoid the Chinese offerings noting the steaming pile of viscous red dye #2-infused vittles in front of some zombie about to consume it. I sat at the bar (mistake) in an attempt to hang with the locals and make conversation, since i'm supposed to be learning shit on this trip. Maybe i would uncover the spooky secret of Milford!

The teenage waitress (dark-haired) bumbled about referring to herself as blond due to the array of mistakes she allegedly was consistently making. Under normal circumstances i would feel anti-sexism-based sympathy for her as in "Poor girl, people always telling her she's blond to put her down, and now she's absorbed that criticism, laughing painfully at herself, buying into the whole 'i'm a dumb blond even though i'm not even a blond' culture. What could i possibly say to empower this young woman? Offer her something as pat as 'Maybe waitressing is not your calling. Something totally awesome awaits your discovery!'" As it turns out, she was just stupid. I tried to engage her in conversation but to no avail. Her answers to my simple questions were so painfully banal that the meal soured into a worse glop than it had been at its late delivery to my face.

The sun sunk. And as i expected, the Milford zombies tried to get into my hotel room to attack me. Luckily, i've been on the road for a while and have developed some handy skills that kept them at bay.


  1. We looked it up. The wikipedia entry is not very informative -- population 1,421; average temperature swings from 48 to 86 on a typical June day -- but scroll down to the bottom ("Municipalities and Communities of Beaver County") for a brief smile.

    Also, Milford has a website -- Under "today's events" it notes that there are no events today.

    Doug M.

  2. Where is the best place to buy or rent a house there in Milford, Utah. My husband is applying for a job there but we are not sure if how hard to find a housing there. Your reply is highly appreciated. Thank you.

  3. It's too bad that you had such a bad experience in such a nice town. Milford has always had "open arms" to anyone and everyone who come to visit.

    Maybe you were just to worn-out from your ride to notice that there are some great places in town. Too bad for you that you missed one of the greatest places around!

  4. i was probably too worn out. sorry i missed the fun in milford! next time...


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