Revisiting "Thelma and Louise"

Our travel expert offers advice on spotting the filmic outlaws' relics in Utah, getting in position for the next solar eclipse and learning about those European B&Bs.


Donald D. Groff
September 2, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

I was riding a motorcycle down the White Rim just out of Moab, Utah, and Thelma and Louise's blue convertible is still down below the rim where they crashed it. This is a national park and I was wondering why the film crew didn't clean up its mess.

Portions of "Thelma and Louise" were indeed shot at Arches National Park near Moab, but the title characters' climactic plunge occurred on Bureau of Land Management property below Dead Horse Point and was cleaned up afterwards, according to Murray Shoemaker, a park ranger who was working in the park during the 1990 filming. "They were required to remove everything," he said.

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Lee Sjoblom, assistant manager of Dead Horse Point State Park, says he witnessed the removal of the two vehicles used to film the cliff-diving scene. "They cut the cars up and hauled them out by helicopter," he said. Sjoblom said that on the Green River side of the White Rim Trail there are a few smashed cars that were used in the 1950s or 1960s as fill material to stabilize switchbacks. They have been exposed by erosion, and one is baby blue, Sjoblom said. That could be what you saw.

A movie locations map produced by the Grand County Travel Council in cooperation with Dead Horse Point State Park and the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Resource Area, shows three locations linked to "Thelma and Louise":

  • The site of the plunge, Shafer Trail under Dead Horse Point, where "a dozen police cars are in hot pursuit of Thelma and Louise as the final dramatic scene is played out."

  • Courthouse Towers in Arches Park, where, "stopped by a police officer while driving their '66 T-bird convertible, Thelma and Louise manage to take the officer's gun and lock him in his patrol-car trunk."

  • The La Sal Mountains as seen from the town of La Sal, which "was the opening vista for the movie and the location for some of the chase scenes."

The brochure puts a curiously pleasant spin on the movie's plot, considering the smashing outcome: "A humorous and uplifting story of two women who ultimately reroute the course set for them by society, thereby changing the direction of their own destiny."

The Moab Film Commission is at 50 E. Center St., Moab, Utah 84532; phone (435) 259-6388.

I understand the next solar eclipse will be quite visible from central/lower Africa in June 2001. Some friends and I are contemplating visiting Kenya, and perhaps climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the same time. Are there any tour groups that specialize in this?

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You're right -- the next total solar eclipse will occur June 21, 2001, and although it's too early for many tour companies to have firmed up plans, you can expect to have several choices if you want to sign on. The path of totality is expected to cross portions of Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Angola.

One company offering an eclipse program in Zimbabwe is Wilderness Travel of Berkeley, Calif. Four of its African safari tours -- in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- will take in the eclipse from Mvuradonha, located on the Zambezi Escarpment in northern Zimbabwe. Wilderness Travel is an old hand at Kilimanjaro trips, too, although it has none planned during the eclipse period. You might be able to glean useful information from Wilderness Travel, phone (800) 368-2794.

You can scope out Kilimanjaro trips through the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, which includes a primer on trekking at Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, just across the border from Kenya, as well as links to companies offering Tanzania trips.

Among solar eclipse sites is one from NASA that shows solar eclipse paths from 1997-2005. Another site is Solar Eclipses by Bill Kramer, an "eclipse chaser" who notes the June 2001 event. He invites interested parties to contact him, as he's looking into cruise ship possibilities. The page also has links to a dozen or so other solar eclipse pages. Another site is the Eclipse Chaser Home Page.

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There's an African Eclipse 2001 page that maps the band of totality over the continent and offers a trip reservation form. Another map of the eclipse's path is at the Eclipse Home Page at the NASA/GSFC Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum.

Another company whose site anticipates a Zimbabwe eclipse trip is Innovations in Travel, 1203 West St., Suite D, Annapolis, MD 21401, phone (800) 733-3361 or (410) 268-2883.

We've stayed in U.S. bed and breakfasts and know they were inspired by British B&Bs. But where can we find out about B&Bs in other European countries?

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Bed and breakfasts in other countries often aren't as we imagine them in the United States and England, but in one form or another you can always find a place to stay in private homes.

In France, basic B&Bs are called chambres d'hote, and they're especially popular in rural areas. Local tourist offices have the details, and you can get information by dialing France on Call, (410) 286-8310.

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There's also a B&B organization called the Association des Maisons d'Amis in France. Also check the official tourism site.

In Germany, B&B accommodations go roughly by the term "Zimmer frei." You can obtain a list of them from the local tourist office. The German National Tourist Office publishes a listing of Zimmer frei called "Bed & Breakfasts," available by calling (212) 661-7200.

Other European tourist offices also have B&B information, and you can locate the offices through the European Travel Commission, phone (800) 816-7530.

There also are several European B&B directories available -- check the travel section of a large bookstore. Another source for international B&Bs is Pamela Lanier's travelguides.com.

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Revisiting a previous Travel Advisor Q&A ...

An earlier column discussed the pros and cons of traveler's checks. Here, one reader testifies on behalf of using sterling checks in England, while another offers a mixed review -- the checks failed in Brazil, but came to the rescue in South Korea.

"My sister and I went to England last year and brought with us about $2,000 worth of American Express traveler's checks, in pounds, and found no problem cashing them. We were able to cash them at the banks without any charge. We had no problem using them in stores and restaurants. We always asked first if they would accept traveler's checks in pounds. On the whole our experience with traveler's checks went quite well. We also used ATM cards and our credit cards (I had problems with my ATM card)."

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"The pace of banking reform never ceases to amaze me. I first discovered that traveler's checks had become obsolete about three years ago when I visited Brazil. Cashing my American Express ensured an hour of delay and a horrible exchange rate. ATM cards gave an instant good rate even in a remote fishing village. My ATM card also worked great in Ireland last year.

"However, I've just returned from Korea with the strong reinforcement that one must always have backup plans.

"ATMs in Seoul are an international wonder, switching alphabets the moment an American card is inserted. But much of the rest of Korea is off the beaten path. In fact, there were cities of over 100,000 people where it seemed we were the first white people to visit in some time. Every ATM rejected our cards, and if I hadn't been carrying cash and backup American Express checks, we would have been high and dry for funds.

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"Changing money outside Seoul is no easy task, thanks to government red tape. Changing checks takes about 20 minutes per person, and a credit-card cash advance has a two-hour wait and requires a passport.

"Still, I live in hope. The ATM revolution continues."


Donald D. Groff

Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

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