Small Town and Big City Lifestyles in Utah

Holiday Hills in Coalville, Utah

When I drove away from my home in Grass Valley, California in June, 2014, I never envisioned that I would be living the life of a gypsy.  For 10 years, I had lived in Grass Valley, and letting go of that home was only the beginning of a series of letting go’s that led me to my Bighorn RV and my tiny home lifestyle on the road.

This coming June, I will have lived in my Bighorn RV on the road for 1 ½ years which doesn’t sound long especially when I remember all the places I’ve visited, and the experiences I’ve had.  All those memories could easily have taken place in just one lifetime.

I wouldn’t say that I am an expert at living on the road, but I have experienced enough to write a travel memoir.  That is going to be my summer project while my husband, Jim has his first job on the road as a Camp Host for the Holiday Hills RV Park in Coalville, Utah.  It’s a small campground, only 40 campsites alongside the Weber River which feeds into nearby Echo Lake.  The campground is surrounded by green hills where cattle and horses roam within the sight of the cross-country Highway 80.

Since arriving here the end of April, I am struck by the contrast of the surrounding communities.  The town of Coalville is tiny compared to the larger surrounding cities of Salt Lake City and Park City.  The downtown of Coalville consists of one Main Street with storefronts, and homes from the turn of the century.  I walked into the Summit Furniture and Mercantile Company, the local general store which was built in 1908, and still run by the same family.  The hardwood floorboards creaked under my feet as I marveled at all the items for sale from groceries to Levi jeans; from Mother’s Day cards to cowboy hats.  The store included a small butcher shop as well as a selection of hardware items.  It truly was a general store.   In town, there are only a couple of family restaurants, and the only chain restaurant that I’ve noticed is Subway.

After my trip to downtown Coalville, I decided to go explore the nearest big city of Park City, Utah where the Winter Olympics in 2002 took place.  Under the looming snow-covered mountains, I entered a whole other world.  Talk about culture shock.  Driving over from my campground, I stepped into a world that reminded me of the San Francisco Bay area.  In one sprawling plaza, there were all the shops, and restaurants that I remember living with in the Bay area.

I stopped at one Starbucks to get a coffee, and experienced the afternoon coffee rush hour.  There were students, mothers with young children, and working people all lined up.  I commented to one young mother about the long line, and she told me that it was always like this in the afternoon – the time in between school being let out, and before all the after-school activities had begun.  She then proceeded to ask her two young children what they wanted for their afternoon snack.  They both got chocolate milks, and then a banana muffin, and a chocolate croissant.  Along with her personal coffee order, I think I heard the Starbucks barista tell her the order total was $20 something.  The young mother then began socializing with all the other mothers who were also waiting in line for their re-fueling for the second half of their day.

After my quiet life in Coalville, I felt like I already had a caffeine buzz even before I sipped my iced mocha.  I was in awe of all the activity, and felt like I had been thrust back into one of my past lives, living in the Bay area.  Then I headed to Whole Foods, not a store that I’ve seen too often on my trip around the country.  Again, I was overwhelmed by all the activity, and by the abundance of healthy choices.  Luckily, I had a shopping list, but I still ended up piling some extra goodies into my shopping cart.  Most people have joked about Whole Foods, and how it takes your whole paycheck to shop there.  I knew I wouldn’t be coming here too often for my groceries, but for only special treats, and healthy alternatives not found anywhere else.

After noticing more stores that reminded me of my days living in California, I headed back to my small town life in Coalville.  Still reeling from the culture shock, I couldn’t believe that Park City was only 25 minutes away from my campground.  Even though the two towns are that close, they are like night and day.

The experience made me wonder how differently groups of people can live who are only a few exits apart on the highway.  And yet, one lifestyle seems to be more affluent, and focused on material consumption; and the other lifestyle, more centered on maintaining a small town atmosphere with friendliness and a slower pace of life.

I am not judging either lifestyle because I have lived in both kinds of places.  I know the incredible benefits that I gained from living in the San Francisco Bay area, and also know the amazing riches that I unearthed, living in the Gold country of California.  Both places were incredible learning experiences for me, and both shaped and molded who I am today.

I just love the diversity of experiences in this great country of the United States, and continue to marvel at all that I’ve seen on my trip around the country.  And so the journey continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥



About Donna Fisher-Jackson

After traveling for three years around the country in her Bighorn RV, Donna Fisher-Jackson, MA, CHT now makes her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She is still a part-time RVer, and her latest book, "Living the RV Lifestyle: Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road" is available on Amazon. For seventeen years, she lived in Northern California where she pursued studies in Western Astrology, Holistic Counseling, Hypnotherapy and Past-Life Regression. Donna completed certification in Astrological Counseling with the Astrology Institute West in the San Francisco Bay area. During her time in the Bay area, she also graduated with an M.A. in Counseling Psychology specializing in Holistic Studies from John F. Kennedy University in Northern California. Her counseling business, Iris Holistic Counseling Services, began in 1999. In her counseling work, she shares the insights of Hypnotherapy, the Enneagram, Dreamwork, Western Astrology and the Mythic Tarot. She specializes in life transitions, relationship issues, mid-life, career/vocation and life purpose.
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3 Responses to Small Town and Big City Lifestyles in Utah

  1. Hi Donna & Jim,
    You are such a good writer! Love following you around on the road. In case you’re interested, my pal Heather still lives in Salt Lake City so let me know if you’d like her email address or phone number. It seems to me that you 2 have much in common, but I don’t know how you feel about seeing her. She has been going through some turbulent times but is on the other side of them, I think. When David & I visited her in 2014, she & I spent a day in Park City so I could imagine you right where we had been. The town was not “my cup of tea” — too much glitz and money for my tastes, but it was a beautiful drive up and back. My favorite drive was up into the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains — stunning scenery. We ate outdoors at a lovely restaurant in the canyon — too long ago for me to remember the name. Will write my news in an email — all is well here.
    Love, Susanna

  2. Thanks Susanna! I would like to get in touch with Heather so please let me know how to reach her. I’ll also have to look for that drive in the canyon – sounds pretty. Jim just finished his first week as Camp Host – a big change after his free-wheeling days on the road. Look forward hearing your news. Take care, Donna

  3. Angela Ott says:

    Really love reading about your adventures in your life.

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