Meeting Moses in Utah

As we entered Wyoming, we were greeted with a flashing notice of a vehicle fire up the road. Tim remarked that there was no telling how old the message was, given the sky was clear of any smoke. But a few miles up the road, we encountered a water tank truck, lights flashing, and as we rounded a bend a black smoke plume rose up in the near distance.

We were unsure as to which lane the fire was in or whether traffic would come to a halt.

Indeed it did come to a halt in the west bound lanes, for miles and miles. We, however, got a fairly close encounter as we drove east.

The cab of a military transport was engulfed in flames.

Thankfully, the soldiers who had been in the transport all seemed to be unharmed. They were standing a ways off and allowing the firefighters to do their jobs. That’s what struck me – the firefighter approaching the flames. It was a fairly hot day. Any of the flames could have sparked a road fire as well. Running toward a burning vehicle isn’t something I ever hope to do. I can’t imagine if it were my job to do so. I’m thankful for those who do it, however. Bless their hearts. Keep them safe.

We had another late start but it wasn’t because we were hanging around Brigham City, Utah. It’s because of that special someone I mentioned we would be meeting.

Major David Moses arrived home from a very long and extremely hot tour of duty in Saudi Arabia, and before that numerous tours in Iraq, and other trouble spots around the world.

David arrived in Salt Lake the same day we arrived in Brigham City, which is the town where his wife, Melanie graduated from high school. The last time I saw Melanie was in Texas and before David’s numerous tours in Iraq. I haven’t seen David since the fall of 2015, when we met up in Washington, D.C..

So here we all were in Ogden, as Tim and I tour the US and Melanie and David prepare for their next tour of duty, in Virginia. The movers show up at their home in Utah on Tuesday. Then David and Melanie will pack up their fabulously well-traveled four kids and a new puppy dog and head east right behind us.

Because Tim and I don’t eat indoors at restaurants, we found a coffee shop with chairs chained to the tables in the direct heat of the longest day of the summer. David, who is one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, and who is accustomed to the kind of heat common in Saudi Arabia, did not complain. Tim’s ears got burned though as we sat around telling story after story. It was so wonderful to be able to hug the necks of those we love and have missed so much. Welcome Home, Major Moses!

Brief though it may be in Utah.


By the time we reached Laramie, Tim and I both needed a butt break. We decided to get our steps in earlier, before the sun went down. So we found a walkable neighborhood near the presently being remodeled high school. Tim has an internal sensor for ballparks and football fields. I went off and forgot the mosquito spray at home so walking around any body of water wasn’t going to work for me. As it was, I managed to get six fierce bites on our walk. The bitty buzzards don’t bother with Tim. It’s my blood they always want.

As some of you may recall, Tim has a tendency to walk in the complete opposite direction as me, no matter if we are in a store, or Amsterdam, or Laramie. While Tim trodded up a hill, I stopped to admire a neighbor’s peonies.

I have never seen a yard with as many peonies in it. They were bordering the walkways and the fences. And they were the scented sort, so it was like walking through a perfume cloud.

Punch Williamson and his wife are the laborers behind this garden.

A native of Chile, educated at London’s Harrow School for boys, and then at NYU in the US, Punch has retained that delightful British accent. He spoke Spanglish until age 10 when he left Chile for Harrow’s. His family, however, is actually from Glasgow, Scotland.

It was his great-great grandfather from Glasgow who formed the family’s trade & shipping company, which lead to his parents locating to Chile. But it was his years in London that instilled in Punch a love for British cars. While the garden is really his wife’s vision, vintage cars are his.


Punch has spent 12 years working on this particular Rolls which he purchased for $12,000.  He got the Bentley for an even better price because the car wouldn’t even start.


I could have stayed and listened to Punch talk for hours, just to hear all the stories of his travels and to enjoy that wonderful King’s English of his, but we had over 200 miles to go to reach Nebraska and our bed for the night. And as I noted earlier, the mosquitoes were feasting upon my rich Irish blood.

So we thanked our kind tour guide of the hour and bid Punch adieu. I told Punch that I was traveling to Scotland next year to study.

“I doubt I’ll get weather as nice as this in Scotland in February,” I said.

“If you do, you’ll faint!” Punch replied with a laugh.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of the Appalachian series, Mother of Rain, Burdy & Christian Bend (Mercer University Press).

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.



about 2 years ago

Thank you, Karen. You made my early morning brighter with the tales of your travels. Meeting people in their places and spaces makes for a lovely read.


AF Roger

about 2 years ago

The juxtaposition of the Bentley grille and log with that bucking bronc Wyoming license plate is, well... I can't actually find the words for it. So it must be a gift.


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