Museums you wouldn’t expect and a case of a missing llama

PROVO, Utah  — Everywhere we went, we saw Charlie. There were signs for Charlie on power poles. We saw Charlie — or at least we thought we saw him — zipping between the apple orchards on the sprawling Utah Valley Hospital campus. 

No question about it. Charlie was having a wild time in Provo — and so were we.

Who’s Charlie? He’s a fuzzy male llama missing since September — and presumably roaming Provo’s neighborhoods.

Reward signs for Charlie, the missing llama. If you’ve seen him, you could get $100.

And who are we? Like Charlie, we’re outsiders, too. We’re the family of four staying in that rental over on North 200 East Street. Oh yes, that’s how they name the streets in Provo and in a lot of other cities in Utah. It confuses Google.

Reward signs for Charlie, the missing llama. If you've seen him, you could get $100.

Don’t let Provo’s squeaky-clean, straight-laced image fool you. It can be a wild place.

I’m not just talking about Utah Valley’s latest obsession, a skill that will serve you well in the zombie apocalypse. There are plenty of interesting museums, including one where you can try on a straightjacket. Oh, and we tracked down some llamas, but you’ll never believe where we found them.

How do you throw an ax and make it stick?

One way to have a wild time in Provo: throw an ax. 

What’s ax throwing? It’s exactly what you think it is. You grab an ax and hurl it at a target. We stopped by a place called Phat Axe in American Fork to try our hand at it. 

Got an ax to grind? Throwing axes is a growing trend

Ax throwing is a useful skill in case there’s a zombie apocalypse, a staff member told me with a completely straight face. But you have to throw it the right way so that the ax sticks in the zombie.

I couldn’t believe we were having this conversation here, in one of the most conservative parts of the United States. I guess everyone’s afraid of something. Might as well be the undead.

Iden Elliott prepares for the end of the world at Phat Axe in American Fork, Utah.

How do you throw an ax the right way? You have to put the right number of spins on the ax so that the sharp edge sticks in the wood. Also, you don’t throw too hard; let the ax do the work.

I spent a few agonizing minutes in front of a target before one of my kids showed me how it’s done. 

“I should watch more zombie movies,” I concluded. That’s something the kids readily agreed to.

Museums you wouldn’t expect

Every morning, my oldest son and I walked from our vacation rental in Provo up to the Utah State Hospital, about a mile east. Along the path, we saw two things that made us want to come back. First, there was Charlie. At least we thought it was Charlie. He was eating the ripening apples in the orchards of the state hospital.

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