ROUTE 63 DAY 7 LITTLE HOLLYWOOD AND GROUND ZERO KOWALSKI

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Kanab, Utah isn’t on the map for most people, but it was most definitely on the map for Hollywood during the golden era.

They call the Kanab area Hollywood’s back lot because you’ve seen it in many movies–you just didn’t know it.

Kanab is a cool little town even in the off season. It’s not a fast pace and the road to it ranges from great to pretty average. Fortunately, the scenery is mind-blowing and familiar at the same time because I definitely recognized some of it from several Westerns.

You’d never think a laid-back place like Kanab has hosted many, many Hollywood legends. The list is huge because people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, Anthony Quinn, Ava Gardner, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck. It’s too big to list them all.    

I get why Hollywood liked this place because the scenery changes every 3 minutes and it’s spectacular. You go from rock cliffs to rolling hills to mountains to desert in a blink of an eye. It’s like going from British Columbia to Saskatchewan in five minutes. The muddy snow was also an opportunity to test the Plymouth’s windshield washer—it went into part-time mode.

They also have a Little Hollywood Museum full of Hollywood sets from the area. There are sets from Clint Eastwood’s Outlaw Josie Wales and a Kenny Loggins video in the Grand Canyon–and many others. For me, it was enough to know Agarn (Larry Storch) from TV’s F Troop trod those same steps.   

The lake from the original version of the movie ‘Planet of the Apes’ is near Kanab at Lake Powell. More recent versions of the same Ape franchise have been filmed here, but that’s like being the second guy to step on the moon.

Kanab is a friendly town—like every town on this trip so far, so it wears its Hollywood connection with humility.  I’d recommend the Little Hollywood Museum—the woman who runs it is cool and she liked it when I gave her a loonie (Canadian dollar coin) after we talked about pennies and paper money. I explained how it was a northern version of the peso thanks to too many years of socialism.

Utah is a well-organized state. The secondary highways are well above average, and I-70 makes Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton look like a Third World goat trail. They care about the details—that’s rare.

The next destination was the ultimate cool spot for hardcore car guys—especially Mopar guys.

It’s the village of Cisco, Utah. This place is on the fringe of ghost town status, but it will always be known for one thing. It’s where the California police shut down Kowalski in the movie ‘Vanishing Point’.

They played Hollywood games in ‘Vanishing Point’ because Cisco is really located in Utah, but it was right there where Kowalski drove his ‘70 Challenger RT at Warp 7 past the gas station and straight into two Cats. 

If you take your bride to see Cisco, you’re looking an impending divorce action–but at least you’ll be able to tell your car buddies it was worth it.

For me it was everything I expected. I got to a Holy Grail Mopar car guy location in an old Mopar. Anything less than an old Mope would have been blasphemy.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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