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Riverton family nears goal of visiting all of Utah

The Gallachers are right at home as they hit the road — visiting nearly 600 Utah locations over 30 years.

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Taking Utah personally » Between ghost towns, Native American ruins, dirt roads and surprise detours, there have been mishaps and accidents, yet the Gallachers believe their in-state explorations to remote places have kept their family close. "Because you have to work together when you’re out there, " Ken Gallacher said.

The current carried him under a highway overpass before he could lunge for the bank, clawing toward the top. Brenda helped pulled him up and over, his cereal-box cast full of mud.

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The next morning, he went fishing, and that day didn’t turn out well either. Catching his do-it-yourself cast on cliff branches, he fell head-first into the river. "The last thing I saw was my tennis shoes against the blue sky," he said. In 1988 near Bicknell, Ken broke his hand while breaking a fall after leaning his lawn chair back into unstable soil. Miles from a hospital, he fashioned a cast from cereal-box cardboard, then stanched the pain with Tylenol.

Once, while camping at Starvation Reservoir in 1997, Ken felt one side of his face singed by lightning. That was nothing compared to what happened to the tree next to him, the sap boiling in its gaping trunk after the splinters and branches rained down on the family camper seconds after impact.

"The kids were just old enough that it was cool, not scary," Brenda said. "So big they have heads that will turn and look at you," Matt recalls.

Near Jericho Junction, in the summer of 2000, the Gallachers drove through a horde of oversize crickets so thick it left their camper drenched with the goop of insect guts.

Sixth-generation Utahns, the Gallachers say they’ve traveled throughout their home state partly out of pride. They’ve visited other states, as well. But only Utah has the Alaska-like summits of the Uintas, the Hawaiian-like beaches of Lake Powell, and the prairie lands of Kansas in one package, they claim, sounding like a state tourism brochure. And certainly few states boast of more beautiful desert canyons and rock formations.

"I’ve threatened my kids within an inch of their lives if they ever leave the state," Brenda said.

She’s joking, of course, but with family and geography so inseparable in clan Gallacher, it’s easy to see why she’d take it personally.

bfulton@sltrib.com Twitter:@A rtsaltFacebook.com/fulton.ben

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