Escalante • Utah's Highway 12 -- which winds its way 124 miles from Panguitch to Torrey -- has dozens of natural attractions from alpine forests and ancient sea beds to pink rock turrets.
But this scenic byway also boasts a relatively new man-made curiosity -- The Shooting Star Drive-In. It's a one-of-a-kind resort that combines Airstream travel trailers and vintage convertible cars with a drive-in movie theater.
Owner Mark Gudenas, a Chicago native, opened the resort about a year ago on 25 acres just west of Escalante. The main attraction is the eight restored vintage Airstream trailers that guests can rent starting at $149 a night. There are seven vintage convertibles where travelers can sit and watch an old-time movie on a large outdoor screen. The resort also has its own RV park.
On a warm May evening, just hours before the recent eclipse, a few lucky souls sat in the vintage cars watching the cheesy black-and-white science-fiction film "It Came from Outer Space." As he does most nights from spring until fall when the Shooting Star is open, Gudenas made certain the Looney Tunes cartoons and feature film were playing properly. In between, he sold popcorn, vintage soda pop and candy -- think wax lips and candy cigarettes -- and caught a glimpse of the movie.
Accommodations • A movie buff for as long as he can remember, Gudenas decorated the Airstreams in a manner he thinks John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe or Robert Redford would have liked when they were filming on location in Utah.
Each trailer has a kitchen, a tiny bathroom, beds, satellite radio and television as well as a wooden deck with Adirondack chairs and a propane grill. Gudenas even sells ready-to-cook packs of steak, salmon, chicken, brats or hamburgers so his guests don't have to hunt for the grocery store.
Gudenas is easy to spot: He wears 1950s-type bowling shirts -- a style he adopted long before Charlie Sheen made them famous on "Two and a Half Men" -- and a straw porkpie hat. He delivers dinner and breakfast on a vintage 1966 bright yellow electric golf cart.
"He is a character," said Neil Crane of Woodbridge, Conn., who enjoyed his unique Utah accommodations. "I saw portions of the movie and it was a good contrast to all the nature around us. It was like staying at a nice upscale motel."
Amy Sceery, also from Connecticut, discovered the resort via the Internet.
"I love hobbyists and clearly this guy is an extraordinary hobbyist," she said. "We had a fantastic time in the area, and he had some great tips."