Sunday, May 25, 2014

Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet

Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet
Darrel L. Hammon

            On Saturday, May 17, 2014, I attended the Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet held out at Thanksgiving Point’s Electric Park. Now, I have been to a few small car shows, but this one was extraordinary. 

              According to the literature, “The Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet is one of the largest car shows in Utah.” It was truly amazing. One of the benefits of the Expo was to help fund scholarships for the UVU automotive students.

             I arrived around 1:30 p.m., and it was going strong. I started my descent into the Expo by walking through the swap meet. From fenders to wheels to engines to car bodies to windshields to muffler tail pipes to a whole host of varied car parts, I had no idea what they were, the place was absolutely packed.

             Once inside the actual Auto Expo, I was literally “gaga” over the number and variety of cars. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of some of them before. The brochure said approximately 700 cars had been scheduled to show off their stuff. I suspect there were even more than that.

            I walked slowly though many rows of cars, slowly taking in the amazing cars and gawking at the many colors—bright reds, oranges, greens, deep blacks and purples, a few yellow ones here and there--shapes, years, and varieties. 

Most of the owners  stayed close to their cars, either relaxing beneath canopies or taking in the sun in captain chairs. All were friendly and waved as you walked by. Many, though, busily told their stories to people who had stopped to admire the brightly painted cars.

            Soon, I moseyed over UVU’s V.I.P. tent where I grabbed a delicious dessert prepared by the UVU Culinary Arts students. A couple was sitting in the back of the pavilion. I walked back and asked if I could sit with them. They welcomed me with open arms and introduced themselves as Erik and Judy Jensen from West Jordan although they were originally from New Jersey. They were wonderful!

            Within just a few minutes, they unfolded their incredible story to me. They were high school sweethearts, married, and then lived in New Jersey. Not too long after they were married, they decided they were going to take a trip to across country. They saved their money, took a leave of absence from their work, and headed west on a five-week trip. They wanted to see everything, which they almost did. 

They confessed to me that when they arrived in the west, took in Utah, Yellowstone Park, and Jackson Hole, they absolutely fell in love. They decided then and there, they were returning. They spent the entire trip back to New Jersey, planning on how they were going to pack up and move to Utah. Unfortunately, they couldn’t just pick up and leave. They had obligations and needed the necessary cash to make the giant move across country.It took them just a few years to gather up the money to move out west. Erik came first and obtained a job. He asked the company to give him a week so he could go back to get his family. Once he had his family, he would return to work. He did just that: He drove back to New Jersey, picked up his belongings and his family, and drove back to Utah. When he arrived, he discovered the company had given the job to someone else, thinking he really wasn’t going to return from the east. That didn’t deter the Jensen family. They both found new jobs and didn’t look back although their family thought they were crazy to move out to Utah. Erik told me that they would never live in the east again. They just love this part of the world.
            I literally could have talked to them all day and listened to their many stories. They make it a point to see the country. I suspect they know more about Utah and its many wonders than most Utah natives. I encouraged them to write a blog about all of their excursions

            I asked them if I could see their car. Of course, like all car owners, they wanted to show off their “baby.” They walked with me to where they parked their 2007 Shelby, an absolutely gorgeous black beast.

Even Carroll Shelby, the owner and designer of the Shelby, signed Judy’s driver’s side visor. “No one touches that,” said Judy as she gingerly showed me the visor and then carefully put it back in place.

                Soon, though, it was time for me to say goodbye to Erik and Judy. Thank you, Erik and Judy, for taking time to talk to me and tell me your story. You have lots of stories to tell, and I look forward to hearing more. 

I then walked around the Expo and admired many more of the over 700 cars present. 

I even saw Batman and the Batmobile.

            Some even climbed trees to get a closer view.

           Overall, it was a wonderful show! I salute all those who had anything to do with the Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet, especially the UVU Career and Technical crowd. Job well done!