Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dutch John and Vernal Utah

This weeks trip was to Dutch John Utah - a place way to hell and gone out in the mountains. Our Houston Texas based customer had purchased a lot of equipment from us, installed it into a system they designed, mounted it in a trailer, and then drove it all to Utah. Once they were way out in the wilderness, hours away from any major city or airport, they discovered a small flaw in their plans: They had not tested the design of their sampling system and plumbing.
Thus starts a series of calls to my company claiming that none of our hardware works, and insisting that we send an engineer to fix “our” problem. Being one of the few engineers in our company with experience in all of the products he was using, yours truly was given the job. The closest airport and hotel was in a small town called Vernal Utah and even then, it was a long but beautiful drive through the mountains from Vernal to get my customer.
I had had every intention of flying “dressed” but my neighbor had different plans. When I leave for the airport, I can usually count on my neighbors to be at work, so there are no worries about my being seen. Just my luck that my favorite neighbor across the street had the day off and decided to spend it working and hanging out in his front yard. My son came in from class and told me to give it up, I wasn’t gonna get to the car with out being seen. I thought about waiting to see if my neighbor might go, but time was getting close for making it to the airport and my son was highly uncomfortable at the thought of my being seen. I gave up, washed my makeup off, and went drab. Drab and mad at my stupid neighbor for having the day off. Drab and depressed. Drab and bored.
In order to get flights that cost less than $1,200, I had to fly late which is something I hate doing. As a result, I was in the plane and approaching the Denver airport at sundown. The clouds made for an awesome sunset which I tried to capture with my camera, but most of the beautiful reds and oranges were lost in the pictures. I have no idea why – sorry! Still, while not as impressive as the actually event, they are worth a look
Colorado Sunset from the air 030
Colorado Sunset from the air 032
Sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my puddle jumper to take me to Vernal, a young lady in her early teens and her mother sat across from me. She was carrying a bag with a huge trophy and a Gown in a dress bag. Turns out she was returning from a beauty pageant in Southern California where she had placed but not won. My curiosity was killing me and I so wanted to ask to see her pictures, but I was afraid I might just come off as a creepy old man instead of someone with a keen interest in fashion and beauty, and so after the initial conversation I left it alone. Got in to Vernal at around 830 PM, got some exercise, and got a good nights sleep.
The next morning I got up early and was on the road as the sun was rising. The drive was just incredible! Mountains, forests, lakes, and the Flaming Gorge Dam. I took almost 100 pictures hoping to capture some of the grandeur. Most didn’t turn out too bad, but they unfortunately do not convey the scale and the sheer beauty of it. I will put a few of them here but you really should visit my Flickr page to browse them.
Sunrise in Vernal Utah Area 2008 018
Vernal Utah Area 2008 015

Vernal Utah Area 2008 030

Vernal Utah Area 2008 035

Vernal Utah Area 2008 041

Vernal Utah Area 2008 043

Vernal Utah Area 2008 064

Speaking of that, you know I’m kind of disappointed that I get very little activity on these kind of pictures. Some of them are of incredible scenes but hardly anyone on flickr bothers to look at them. In contrast, when I load pictures of this old cross dresser in a skirt, 9 times out of 10 I have comments on them before I’m even done with the upload process, adding tags and comments.

I had a surreal moment when way the hell out in no where I had to turn off the pavement and take a dirt road about 10 miles to get to their location. I was thinking the rocky dirt road might be a warning of things to come! (it wasn’t – everything turned out fine)
Vernal Utah Area 2008 046
Vernal Utah Area 2008 048

Passed a family of large deer before I realized they were there. They hadn’t bothered to run far so I snapped a few pics. When I tried to slowly back up to get better shots, they decided they had had enough of me and took off.
Vernal Utah Area 2008 050 Got to where my customer was working and fairly quickly proved that all of our hardware was working well and not at fault. At that point, I’d have been well with in my rights to hop back in the car and return to Vernal but the guy I was working with didn’t have the same back ground I did and clearly didn’t have a chance in hell of figuring out what was wrong with his companies design, so I stayed to help. We had a short phone conference with his guy that had built the system and he explained to me what his intent had been, and with in about half an hour I’d figured out where they went wrong and had a work around in place. (Just call me Montgomery Scott! :) )
Spent some more time training him on all of our equipment so that the next time he’d have a fighting chance to resolve any issues, and was then back on the road to Vernal by a little after 2PM, feeling fairly good about myself and my company.
It’s funny – I’ll post my travel plans before I go to huge cities with large TG populations, telling people where I’m going and hoping that maybe someone has suggestions or might want to meet. I very rarely get a response or feedback. Let’s face it, not everyone in the world is reading Kimberly’s blog with bated breath, in heart pounding anticipation of the day I may be traveling to a city near them. Imagine my surprise when I post about this itty bitty place I’m going to and I get a message from Susan saying “Hey, I live near there – wanna meet?!”
As always I took a few pics before I headed out to meet with her. Not sure why, but I like this skirt. It may not look awesome, but it’s long and sort of tight, and just kind feels sexy.
Kim in Vernal Utah 003 After a brief wait in the lobby, where no one gave me so much as a second look, Susan arrived and we took off looking for dinner. This was a minor adventure of it’s own as this was my first time there and Susan didn’t have much in the way of suggestions once I told her I wasn’t fond of Mexican food. We hunted a little and then found a place inside another hotel. They had a little wait, so we stood there for a few minutes waiting. I heard the hostess ask the folks in front of us if all of their party were adults. I assumed this to mean that there was seating available near the bar or something. When the hostess then asked if it was just the two of us, I smiled and told her “Yes, and I assure you we are both adults!” That got a very quick smile and off we went . . . to a table literally in the most remote corner they had. This almost amused me until I realized it wasn’t an insult, it really was one of the few places they had available. Susan and I joked that we were all right with being hidden away anyway. It was kind of cute how many times our waitress had other employees come to our table to talk to her. It seemed like as soon as she was near us, others suddenly realized they had pressing business with her and just had to talk to her that moment. I’m sure it had nothing to do with a chance to get a look at the two transgendered folks she was serving.
It seems that Susan and I have much in common. She also grew up in a one room cabin with all the same luxuries and amenities my childhood home had had – none. We swapped a couple of stories and had quite a nice conversation I thought. She had a grin on her face when I tried to order a beer and informed me that alcohol was not an option in this area of Utah! I laughed and asked if that might have something to do with the large Mormon population and she assured me it might. Apparently we are both insane, because we broke the cardinal rule and continued to talk about religion for a while. We spoke of popular religions in our areas, Mormons in the Utah area and Baptist in Texas. We spoke about Religion, God, and the Transgendered, with both of us agreeing that it was highly unlikely that God found us offensive for cross dressing. I can think of any number of things I have done that might irritate the heck out of God, but cross dressing is not one of them.
Susan has come out to her family and friends in the last year of so. No toe in the water for her, uh uh, she jumped in with both feet and told every one pretty much at the same time. She tells me that she didn’t loose a single friend over it, and that her wife is quite happy. What a neat thing that the world has come so far where this is possible! I enjoyed speaking with Susan but I’ve been through a lot lately and didn’t argue when she said it was bout time to call it a night. We took a pic for my blog as we were leaving the hotel and restaurant:
Kim in Vernal Utah 006
Got back to the hotel and played around with a very long wig I got a while back. It was on this wig that I learned you don't use a curling iron on synthetic hair. As a result of trimming burnt hair off, the bangs are trimmed a bit too short so I haven't worn it.

Kim in Vernal Utah 009
With the night at an end I was about to clean up and go to bed when I decided that maybe I'd try one more pic. I hate to contribute to the perception that cross dressing is all about lingerie, sex, etc, but I couldn't resist trying this just once:

Kim in Vernal Utah 034 B

The following morning I spent doing reports and working by email from my hotel room. As with the flight here, my return flight was quite late. Ultimately packed it all up and headed for the airport. Do you recall that I mentioned how very small this airport was? Well, with an airport that small, they don’t have all of the expensive and fancy machines for inspecting checked luggage. Nope, they do it by hand . . . right there. . . right there in front of you, the rental car guy, and the airline lady. For better than an hour, I was the ONLY customer in the airport, so there was not doubt or confusion as to what man had all of those skirts, wigs, etc in his bag. While they inspect it right at the counter, they do not require you to stand there, and so I went off around the corner to sit down as I saw the cute TSA lady grab my bags. I was bright red and walking around the corner as I saw her open it. . . sigh . . .
Well, I didn’t hear any laughter, and believe me this place was so small you WOULD hear it. About five minutes later a male TSA agent comes out of his office, walks around the waiting area where I am the only person, takes a good look at me, and then returns to their office. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the cute female TSA agent that had gone through my bag had trotted into their office and told all, and the guy that had taken a stroll through the empty room I was in just wanted a look at a real live cross dresser. Later, when it came time to go through the X-ray machine with my carry ons, the same female TSA agent took my laptop back pack while giving me the biggest smile you have ever seen. I was still blushing, but I just couldn’t help myself.
“Don’t worry miss, THAT bag is no where near as interesting as the last bag of mine you inspected.” She gave a very short laugh.
“Good.. Good. Glad to hear it!” she replied.

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