Sunday Ride: Fort Buenaventura 

I spent Saturday preparing for the “Headbanger’s Fireball” i.e. 80’s rock night at Keys so I didn’t get much riding in. So Sunday I woke up and wanted to find an adventure to ride to, and Fort Buenaventura sprang to mind. Fort Buenaventura is the “first anglo settlement in the Great Basin”. It is the site of weekly “Trader post” markets (on Saturday), hosts camping (in teepees!), and on special occasions the site of “Mountain Man” acitvities. A few weeks ago my friend, Aron, attempted to show me this little historical gem hidden in the heart of Ogden, but the road leading in was closed and while that normally wouldn’t have stopped us, there were a few cars at the bottom of the hill and we were not eager to find out who was in them. I looked up the fort online to see if there were any fees, or fun activities, but there didn’t seem to be anything going on and no fee associated with entry. So I text Aron to see if he wanted to join, he did, so geared up and headed north.

I’ve always really enjoyed the ride between Salt Lake and Ogden, (as long as there’s not too much traffic). It’s simple, straightforward, but still has its twist and turns. This time I glided down the highway, feeling happy, and envisioning what exactly was in store for me today. It wasn’t until I stopped and parked that I realized how relaxed I felt. Soon Aron came out to meet me and suggested we grab brunch before setting out on our adventure. We headed off to Jeremiah’s this cute little restaurant attached to a Best Western. It reminds me of Shoney’s (if you’ve ever been to one) mixed with Cracker Barrel. There are wooden accents and it decorated like a country store, there’s a small display of things for sale. Overall there is a diner feel, but with a full “hearty” menu.

Neither of us are morning people, but brunch, brunch is something we have always enjoyed together. It’s like it’s just the two of us, without the interruptions of the bar. We peruse the menu and discuss our options, occasionally giddy about our orders (the stranger the better). We enjoyed our food, him breakfast and for me lunch, and eventually it was time to leave. I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot where we were going. Aron laughed at my mistake and  we headed out.

The entrance to the Fort looked incredibly different in the daylight, roadway and signage are run down and dilapidated, it reminded me of a small city park from my child hood. The parking lot was surrounded in mature aspen trees, and was speckled by sunlight streaming through the early leaves of spring. It was much smaller than I was expecting, but almost completely empty. We parked near an old piece of farm equipment and the walkway from the parking lot was marked by two hand carts. There was a playground with a few kids playing on it, with a large metal slide that had large drop off. Aron and I jokingly debated over the height of slide and change in safety standards for children since we were younger.

We walked over to the fort, it was closed up likely because it was Sunday, but we peered through the cracks and looked around. We also stopped and read the plaque before continuing on. He showed me the tomahawk targets, and the target shooting range. He showed me where the targets hang, and the scars in the wood from the bullets. I walked along looking for a bullet wedged in but found none. Aron rolled his finger around a hole in one of the metal poles, and I exclaimed that there was no way it was from a bullet. He scoffed and found a few more, to which I laughed and still denied they were from bullets, but eventually gave in.

Still laughing, we hiked up a hill to the other side to a path wide enough for a car, with trees on either side. Soon the path turned into a creek so we turned back. The other direction was blocked off by tape so we climbed over a small dirt wall, and headed back towards the lake adjacent to the shooting range. We walked along the edge of the lake following the path to another set of trees and over a newly built wooden bridge. The path, while still visible, was clearly lesser travelled. We were approaching the edge of the park, which was marked by a downed chain link fence. As we walked, we came across some junk including a deteriorating lawnmower, some tires, and a very questionable cooler. We kept going and eventually stopped at the chainlink. We joked about continuing over the tracks and on to the highway overpass, but there was train coming.

We realized how close the train was, turned to each other and with mischievous grins we stepped over pile of chain link, and hurried closer to the tracks. I pulled out my camera (that I’d been hauling around this whole time) and got ready to take some photos. I really wanted to get some with Mount Ogden in the background, so he ran ahead, and called after me. I nervously took a few steps but realized the path through the trees was narrow, so I’d never get a clear shot. We turned around and headed back to the better marked path and took a different way out. We came to the creek and there were two boards propped up on the side on which we were with the other ends just below the water level. Aron quickly crossed while I watched with wide eyes. I, not being great with balance and not wanting to end up soaked, turned and backtracked to the bridge. Aron tried to get me to cross the boards, offering help me but I still enthusiastically declined. As I walked a little farther away I joked about being all alone and he yelled after me that he would watch me through the trees.

It was much farther to the bridge than I remembered, but was comforted by the conversation we were carrying on through the trees. As I approached the bridge he stopped responding and I couldn’t see him. It wasn’t until I was halfway across the bridge when I saw him. He had stopped about 20 feet from the bridge, just to mess with me. We laughed as we talked. We began to head back to towards the parking lot, now on the other side of the lake. There’s an island in the middle which we crossed much older, rotting, bridge to but immediately turned around as there was a couple curled up in a sleeping bag that we thought best not to disturb. I took few more pictures and we finally reached the parking lot. We walked around to some of the other structures, and read the plaques and before we left, visited the swings on the playground.

All in all it was a good day with a great friend. I learned a little more about the history of this state, and had a great time in the process.


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