Apr. 27: Echo Drive-In, Roosevelt UT

It’s Day 117 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I beat the afternoon, late-April snow, but it took a little a solid four and a half hours to drive from the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive In in Minturn CO to the Echo Drive-In in Roosevelt UT.

According to a 2010 article in The Salt Lake Tribune, the Echo was owned by Richard and Wilma Snow and started in 1958. That might be off by a year or two. A couple of months ago, the folks at the Basin in Mount Pleasant UT told me that the Echo already existed when they moved the Basin out of Roosevelt. Normally, I’d check my reference books, but the Echo is another of those stealth drive-ins; it never appeared in any drive-in list in any edition of the International Motion Picture Almanac.

Commenters on a 2013 article in the Tribune noted that the Echo has the largest screen in the state and Utah’s first digital projector.

It was a Thursday night, and I was off by eight days. The Echo will open for the 2017 season on May 5.

Miles Today / Total:  252 / 12924 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 53

Nearby Restaurant: I got to watch them fling the dough at Mama Lia’s Pizza. That got me ready for my “veggi” pizza stacked with freshly sliced vegetables. There were even a few games around to keep me distracted while I waited for my fresh pie.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Just outside of town, still on US 40, I found the Comfort Inn Ballard-Roosevelt. My bed was clean and comfortable, there was a fridge in the room, I had an indoor pool if I wanted to swim, and there was sausage and fruit with breakfast. It’s all good.

Only in Roosevelt: According to Roadside America, a giant statue of a Native American with a headdress sits on Main Street Roosevelt. He is seated in front of a nail salon, but the building previously housed the Moqui Indian Trading Post. The statue was built out of cement by Darrell Gardner in the early 1970s.

Next stop: Motor Vu Drive In, Erda UT.

Feb. 22: Basin Drive In Theatre, Mount Pleasant UT

Basin Drive-In sign by snow-covered ground

photo by Kenny from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 53 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It was time for another long haul, over five hours through frequently yucky weather from North Las Vegas to the Basin Drive In Theatre in Mount Pleasant UT. Sure glad I’ve got snow tires!

According to Cinema Treasures, the Basin opened in 1958 and upgraded to digital projection in 2013. It’s apparently the only movie theater that Mount Pleasant has ever known.

DriveInMovie.com tells a great story about the Basin. “The Basin Drive-in was originally located about 300 miles from here in the Uintah Basin of northeastern Utah. In 1958 it was purchased and then moved to its present location – and everything, from the projection booth equipment, to the old screen and the sign out front was carried over, including the old name.” I love that story, but no one ever says what city it came from. The farthest point in the Uinta Basin is barely 200 miles away. There are no drive-ins named Basin in Utah in the 1955 Theatre Catalog. Despite that, that same story was told by the Deseret News. “In the 1960s,” the News wrote, the owners “bought the Basin Drive-In, which was located in Uinta Basin, and moved it to Mt. Pleasant.”

The Basin folks were kind enough to fill this hole in my knowledge. “It came from the east side of Roosevelt,” they wrote, “(yes, they had two drive-ins in that little town!).” The other is the Echo Drive-In on the west side of town, which is still going strong.

Even as the theater was pelted by a mixture of rain and snow, the Basin Drive-In Facebook page reassured me that the place will reopen for another season this spring. When, exactly? “Usually the first week in April!”

Miles Today / Total:  354 / 6776 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 37

Nearby Restaurant: You’ll never guess what I had to eat at Cavalier Pizza, just two miles south of the Basin. Not the pizza, but the soup and salad bar. The unlimited soup, like meaty chili or their special chowder, was the secret quasi-healthy alternative I needed after going full carnivore the day before.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There are no hotels in Mount Pleasant, but since the Basin is on the north side of town, the best choice is probably the Skyline Motel in Fairview less than six miles away. Just a small sign, 10 units, and a large tree out front with picnic benches underneath. Then again, my room had wifi and a mini fridge. It worked, but the culture shock after staying in Las Vegas the night before was pretty extreme.

Only in Mount Pleasant: This small city is home to Wasatch Academy, an independent, coeducational, college preparatory boarding school for grades 8-12. It was founded in 1875 by a Presbyterian minister who had come to the mountains of central Utah to do missionary work among the Mormons.

Next Stop: Tru Vu Drive In Theatre, Delta CO.

Utah’s Sunset Drive-In snack bar burns down

Sunset Drive-In at night

photo by Arbyreed, used by permission

We’ve got sad news from Utah. The Sunset Drive-In in Vernal is closed indefinitely after a major fire Friday night. According to the Deseret News story, Uintah Fire District Chief Jeremy Raymond said it started with a grease fire from the Sunset’s deep-fat fryers. Raymond called the combination box office and concession building “a total loss.”

The Vernal Express fire story, which said it was still under investigation, said that the projection booth and drive-in screen both survived the fire. What neither article addressed is a deeper question: When will the Sunset rebuild and reopen? Or was this the final chapter for this over 60-year-old landmark?

There are a few more details, and you really should read both stories to see the full range of morning-after photos. Let’s hope that the Vernal community rallies around the Sunset and brings it back better than ever.