Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Weird but Good

 


We're Thankful....

OK. Astute readers know we ordered our Black Friday item on Monday, November 22, right about 5 PM, Arizona Time. That's right. Friday morphed to Monday.

So get this: the Samsung Galaxy A02 Android phone we ordered will be delivered to Rimrock TODAY. If I read my calendar correctly, that's the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Weird...but Good!

Remember the old Wild West Daze of Black Friday? People had to go out in the total dark of night and fall into huge, long lines snaking through parking lots. Many years ago, Clair and I purposely drove past a Best Buy in the Mesa, Arizona, area. The line was perhaps a quarter mile long. Some people had been waiting in lines for days. They had camps set up with BBQ's sofas and party decorations. They generally wore Hawaiian party outfits. It was C-R-A-Z-Y! Me, myself and I actually participated in such madness. When decent digital cameras were then a "thing," I joined a line at 4 AM in front of the Mesa Target store. We were maybe #5 in line. (Target deals weren't worthy of a conga party line.) The other people in line were multi-year veterans of Black Friday hand-to-hand combat. They swapped horror stories of their battle scars. When the doors swung open, a surge of humanity pulsed through and everybody (including me) took off running. It was a cross between roller blade, ice hockey, sandlot football and wrestle mania. People (including me) were throwing elbows and trying to trip their competitors. There were no rules and politeness and civility were not part of the Game Plan. The general idea was "firstest gets the mostest." Well, that night, I won. I got my whopping FOUR megapixel digital camera. Even as a Black Friday deal it wasn't cheap by today's standards. I think it cost me $125. HA! Now you can't even give away four megapixel digital camera--unless someone wants a trendy tire chock. We've had lots of other hair-raisin' Black Friday experiences plus one that was (and remains) absolutely hilarious. But that night at Target is unforgettable. I had to throw not one but TWO body blocks on two guys to get them out of my way. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it didn't come to outright brawlin'. In today's contentious cultural climate, I suspect it WOULD come to brawlin'...or worse. Thank Goodness stores have come to realize their liability for enabling and encouraging such egregious behaviors. It's quite fun to sit here in a straw house on a cozy Monday afternoon and score a Black Friday deal with a few mouse clicks. And it's even more fun to know that my Black Friday deal will arrive today. PS: Here's the Hilarious Story. It was at the Prescott Costco many years ago. I needed a new laptop and Costco had a truly incredible deal on a hot laptop. Even though I knew my odds of actually getting the laptop were Slim & None, I drove over to Prescott, knowing Costco was going to open at 10 AM and not a minute sooner. Well, the line stretched way past Tires but my intuition told me to stay the course. As soon as the scrum huffed and puffed their way into the store, I beat feet for the computer area. Sure enuf, maybe 50 people were crammed together trying to get the laptops. I quickly noticed there were NO laptops but then realized it was a "hang tag deal." That's right. You had to bring the hang tag to the register to get the computer. Well, while everyone was looking down and wailing about "where's the laptops," I looked up and, LO! There was the hang tag number, easily visible. I memorized it and hot-footed it to a register and asked for that number. The Staff quickly went and picked up a laptop and brought it back. I paid and walked out of the store while those 50 people were still wailing and moaning at the site. One of them saw me leaving the store with the laptop and yelled out, " LOOK! That guy's got ONE!" And the whole crowd of 50-some people turned slack-jawed to stare at me. I smiled and waved and tried my best to look like the Zip-Zag man "just passin' through." HAHAHA! I can't help myself. I STILL laugh at that one. It was a red hot, Super Sweet Black Friday triumph.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

First Edition 80 years ago





One of the Great Gifts that keeps on Giving is the New Deal Era Works Progress Administration Federal Writer's Project American Guide series.  The project began in 1935 and eventually produced truly voluminous guides to every state.  The state guides are incredibly fascinating, priceless time capsules.

We've long enjoyed a loving relationship with state guides for Arizona, Idaho and Montana.  Oddly, we've lacked the Utah edition.  Last night we stumbled on an 18-page journal article in the prestigious Utah Historical Quarterly detailing the creation of the Utah guide.

That piqued our interest and we found a 1941 first edition on ABEBooks for a mere $12.44 including shipping and tax.  Since it's being shipped out of a bookseller in Phoenix, we should have it soon.  It's exciting stuff for us.

Rather than try to regurgitate the journal article, those who are interested can read the entire work here:

 Likewise, here are two great introductions to the WPA Federal Writer's Project:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/WPA-Federal-Writers-Project

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Writers%27_Project


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The quiet joy of discovery


Oftentimes a search is called.  We decide we must find a particular item.  And off we go.  The search is hard, tedious, eye-tiring and brain-number work.  It involves digging into digital records from all sorts of sources. And the search goes on and on and ON, seemingly without end.  Oftentimes, we come close to despair that our search will ever prove successful.  But we never give up.  We never give in.  We keep searching and searching and BELIEVE we will find our quest...that one ONE particular item can fulfill.

And so it has been for days and days, going on close to a week now.  We decided we MUST find a photo of Arthur Lorenzo Crawford.  No matter what, we were going find his photo and we didn't care how long it took.  His picture HAD to be out there somewhere and somehow we kept thinking it HAD to be right under our nose.  But our nose simply couldn't find Crawford's picture....until just before 7 PM Wednesday evening.  Bingo, we got out man.  Man!  It's such a rush.  Oh! The quiet joy of discovery.  We sit silently here at the computer basking in the glow of hours and hours of work.

I guess in some sort of strange way, it is these types of moments that make it all worthwhile.  Not all searches are successful.  In fact, I'd guess less than half reach their goal.  So we know fruitlessness and disappointment equally as well as the quiet joy.  But it's that quiet joy that continues to draw us in for yet another improbable quest. Because we know if we win--if our search is successful we will once again feel the bright glow of that quiet joy.  And so it was this evening.

And so who was Arthur L. Crawford?  Well, you can read a lot about him in the clipping below. (You can enlarge the clipping by going to the source link here:  https://www.newspapers.com/clip/88712811/arthur-l-crawford-1946/

We became smitten with Mr. Crawford because of a portion of his remarks at the 1946 Hite Dedication Ceremony.  He essentially equated the new road between Hankville and Blanding using Arth Chaffin's brand new bubba-boy ferry boat across The Colorado River as the opening of "the last frontiers of loneliness"!  Well, when I read those words and understood their context, I simple HAD to find a photo of this eloquent man.


Indeed, it was Arthur Crawford's speech at the 1946 Hite Dedication that triggered our full understanding of the significance of that ceremony and what it meant on so many different levels.
We're getting much closer to closure on our Hite Project now.  The pieces are coming together and we think we can make this jigsaw puzzle visible to one and all...and soon.  Thanks, Arthur!



Six Day Break

6:42 AM, November 10, 2021

Hard to believe it's been six days since I did a blog post.  Alas, 'tis true.

As usual when we arrive in Rimrock, our days are filled with the minutiae of every day life.  Nothing seems particularly noteworthy so therefore nothing gets written about.  And all those little things add up to days on end.

Looking back to our arrival, nothing really stands out..well, except for the last few Light Shows. One of The Top Five things we Love about living beside Montezuma Well National Monument are the Land-O-Light Shows. We don't have them in Idaho Falls.   We're too buried in the city to see the glorious dawn and dusk light shows.  Yes, they DO exist in Eastern Idaho--we just can't see them from our vantage point.

1876 Williscraft photo of our homesite at left edge of photo.

It's a different story here where the Eastern horizon and landscape hasn't change since pre-settlement days. We have an 1876 photo proving it looks today just what it looked like when the first Anglo settler set up shop here.

6:45 AM, November 10, 2021

The colors always tend to shine their brightest only for a few minutes.  Right now in the morning, the Light Show peaks between 6:40 and 6:45 AM.  Believe me, it's worth getting up for.  We haven't yet pinpointed the peak viewing time in the evening but it's probably in the same time frame.

Most of our time has been spent fighting daily battles in the annual Weed Wars.  When we were younger we could go mano-y-mano with the weeds for hours at a time.  Now, we're lucky if we can put in two solid hours before burnout (pun intended) and exhaustion set in.

Our much-anticipated teen age weed ninja showed p on time yesterday at 3 PM and he performed as advertised.  We aren't overloading him so he only did two sections as agreed.  It's so nice to have the nightshades and their minions knocked down.   We've made pretty good progress on the tumbleweeds.  However, the goatheads are still in control of their sector of the battlefield.  I know God had a purpose in creating everything but, for the life of me, I can discern the purpose of goatheads.  They are wicked, vile, evil and extraordinarily painful when you step on one in the middle of the might.

The Hite Wedding, Sept. 17, 1946, in the middle of The Colorado River.

Perhaps our most fun activity of the past week has been studying Hite, Utah.  It's a long story, of course.  The "Hite Project," as we call it, has occupied many hours.  Once the daily session of Weed Wars is concluded, we settle down to our Hite Project.  It is a truly mesmerizing and bottomless Hare Hole and one that we feel honored and privileged to visit.  Many more hours remain to bring an interim finish to the Hite Project. 

We did attempt to take a Ma & Pa Sunday Drive.  Boy, that sure backfired.  What we call The Well Road is in atrocious condition--definitely a bone shaking experience.  We thought it would be better on Forest Road 618.  HAHAHA!  Not only was the unpaved road in terrible shape but the nature of the traffic there is dramatically different.  The UTV's are traveling somewhere between 40-50 miles an hour.  One old Nissan SUV was hurtling toward us only in tenuous, marginal control by the driver.  I thought seriously about bailing off the road in fear of a head-on collision.  So we bagged that idea and we've totally swore off even thinking of driving any of this area's once-delightful unpaved roads.

Speaking of traffic, ALL of our local roads are overloaded and congested with people driving way-too-fast. It's like a plague of heavy metal locusts.  But it's what to expect in a state that's grown to well over 7-million people.

We're still very grateful and happy with our humble home here beside Montezuma Well.  It's the best possible place to spend the cold months.  We own it free and clear and it costs practically nothing on an annual basis.  Property taxes, homeowner's insurance and propane are all about $300 each a year. Total annual expenses for this place are less than $1,800 a year, including internet.  Speaking of  the internet, it finally got it's act together and is working.  Despite being slow as molasses, we consider it adequate and we are pleased to have it.

Anyway, since we only live here six months a year, our monthly expenses are less than $300. In this day and age it would be truly impossible to find any RV park in the state for $300 a month, let alone a place like this. 

So, all-in-all, Life is Good and we are Happy Campers.

The Tuesday Evening, November 9, 2021, Land-O-Light Show.





Thursday, November 4, 2021

Our Hackberry Tree

When we bought this land in the early '80's, there was a scrawny young hackberry tree here.  My, OH!, My! How times have changed!  It's now a stately Hackberry Tree exhibiting Class & Style for its species.  We're very proud of this tree and happy that we didn't succumb to suggestions to "cut it down."

The Hackberry might not be a keystone species around here but it's probably close to that status.  You'd be amazed at how many birds utilize this tree during their annual avian migratory Life Cycle.

It's so nice to see our Hackberry Standing Tall & Proud on this TBT.

PS--Yes, that's a remnant Pit House we tried to build when we first owned this land.  Long story best told later.



Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Dry visit to Prescott


NOAA's just sayin' Arizona will be dry for the next 7 days.  Out visit to Prescott starts Sunday and ends on Friday, the 12th.  Nice to know it's going to be smooth sailing. We're back on our Chromebook now so having to relearn how to do a blog post.  The screen capture function is remarkably simple and we can paste a screen shot right into this blog.  Way cool.

We finally DO have internet here at 2nd Chance Ranch.  We initially thought it was a worthless WIFI signal.  Well, it didn't even exist!  Century Link finally activated our DSL internet here at 1 AM Wednesday morning.  Unfortunately, we can't seem to connect our primary laptop so we're on this backup Chromebook.

We will be doing more blog posts once we "remember" all the funky quirks of the Chrome OS.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

And on The Eleventh Day

The Party of Two returned home to their Rimrock straw house at high noon Monday, November 1.

After visiting the Winslow Airport and revisiting Peter Wolf Toth's Arizona Native statue, we enjoyed an uneventful leisure cruise up across The Mogollon Rim into the Verde Valley beyond.

As expected, the travelers were greeted with a veritable jungle of weeds on their property.  After hacking out a parking spot, The Mosey Inn was nestled up close and cozy to the straw house.
Our little tiny home on two wheels is our newest rendition of The Phone Booth.  We set up an 18 foot tall mast and connected an antenna.  The cell signal booster turned a useless one bar into three decent bars of connectivity. That's huge for us.  Why?

Even though Century Link turned on our internet as scheduled yesterday, it is totally & completely worthless.  So worthless, in fact, we're probably going to cancel the service and simply use our phones out here in the travel trailer.

Maybe one of these days we can rig the antenna and cables so that the booster works inside the house.  In the meantime, who cares?  We have nice connectivity and a great little hang out spot here in our new Phone Booth.
Today and the next few days are going to be Weed Wars.  The tumbleweeds are the worst they've been in ten years.  The dispicable goatheads and the worst they've EVER been. We renewed our fire department burn permit yesterday and will begin torching the tumbleweeds about mid-morning.  If we burn them one-by-one "in place" far fewer seeds disperse.  It's tedious, time-consuming and exhausting work but it has to be done.

Luckily, NWS Flagstaff said this morning: "A very quiet weather pattern lies ahead for the next several days bringing a period of dry and mild fall weather."  Translated that means Dispatch will approve our burning when we call in our permit number this morning.

It was EZPZ opening up the house yesterday--took less than two hours.  Other than the weed jungle, the place looks just like it did when we left it in late April.

It sure was a fun trip south.  Total fuel cost was $366, about $120 more than if we had taken the shortest possible route.  But that $120 bought some wonderful value added stuff.  Staying off I-15 through Salt Lake and off of I-17 south of Flagstaff was priceless.

The shortest possible route between Idaho Falls and Rimrock is 800 miles.  On this 11 day soutbound journey we traveled 1,270 miles, well over 50% farther than the shortest possible route.  It sure was fun!

 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Winslow

There's more to standin' on the corner in Winslow. You betcha.  Winslow is Home to Peter Wolf Toth's Arizona rendition of his famous series of Native American sculptures.  Even though Route 66 will always be the headliner click bait for passing tourists, Wolf's sculpture OUGHT to be one of the main attractions in this thoroughly railroad city.

Ever since we moved to Idaho Falls in 2007, we've been totally smitten with Wolf's work.  His Idaho sculture is smack dab on our daily travel route.  We get to see it in all phases of light and shadow.  No matter how many hundreds of times we've gazed upon that Indian, our Love just grows deeper.
Toth's Story is one of the Greatest Untold Epics of Public Art in America.  We have a first edition of his book and will draw heavily from it when we fully document and describe The Winslow Indian.

Suffice to say it is spellbinding.  Seriously.

Winslow is kind of like a "mixed metaphor" in a kinda, sorta Van Gogh way.  It has some truly first class artifacts like the La Posada.  It has some of the bestest Route 66 schtick stuff you're gonna find on that Get-Your-Kicks-Route.

But is has a dark side, too.  When we parked to see the Toth Sculpture there was a homeless campsite right across the street.  All the detritus of a homeless person was spread wide for the world to see.

Meanwhile, a wandering band of Navajo Kids playfully engaged Winslow's Railroad Park, climbing atop a caboose and skateboarding around the behemoth remainders of Old Railroad Daze.

There's a penitentiary practically snugged right outside Winslow.  It was sited here when Arizona's Legislators thought building a pen from convicted criminals would become a new form of Rural Economic Development.

We're camped at the Navajo County McHood Park on river left of Clear Creek.  We had some misgivings about camping here but our doubts were allayed when we arrived.

Alcohol is BANNED in this park so it's never going to be the Bubba Boy Party Spot we feared it would be.

Meanwhile, we think the park would qualify as a Tie Hack Graveyard.  No, not the MEN who hewed the railroad ties but the ties that they hewed.  We're quite dialed into the history of Tie Hacks and their handiwork.  It's easily one of the great mostly unknown stories of the spread of railroad technology throughout The Western United States.

Of course, the railroads ruthlessly took advantage of those innocent, hand-working men, paying them pennies per hand hewn tie.  It's somewhat embarrassing to even read about what they were paid and how hard their jobs were.

There's a Tie Hack Memorial outside of Dubois, Wyoming (Where REAL Cowboys Work and Play!). It's one of those classic ginormous retro sculptures that reaches for The Sky.

Being here in McHood looking at all these whitewashed remnants of The Tie Hack Days kinda reminds me of visiting a Boot Hill graveyard.  It's errie in a Halloween sorta way.

Today's drive from Sand Island to Winslow calc'd to 266 miles but it really wasn't that far.  HUH?  Well, we took a wrong turn that added at least 40 miles to the day's driving total.  Blame it on a truly stupid driver.

The drive through The Rez was mostly about visualizing Georgia O'Keefe watercolors.  Man, that's an evocative landscape out there!  And, yes, it's TRULY OUT THERE!

Hopi Land was much more fun and endearing to traverse.  We could actually see the ancient pueblos perched atop their mesas.  SO exciting!  Meanwhile at Road Level, one of the Hopi communities was getting a brand new water system and we geeked out on that aspect of our day's journey.

We're going back into Winslow Monday morning for "make up" stuff.  The light was all wrong on Toth's sculpture this afternoon.  Tomorrow morning it will be perfect.

Plus, we're hoping to get a Special Blessing to see a special exhibit in the La Posada.  (Good Luck With THAT!)

And then we're trying to buy an Old Trails Museum 2021 Calendar.  How esoteric is that agenda?

But whatever.  We're having FUN and that's really all that matters to Old Road Trippers.

Thanks for reading!

On to Sand Island...

As Road Trip Days Go, Southbound Day 8 was a Good One.

Every thing happened "just right" and the Big Bugga-Boo's didn't come to haunt our Halloween Weekend route.

The Capitol Reef to Hanksville portion has become considerably more endearing to us since we began studying the Life & Times of Port Pectol.

Hanksville is in A Whirled Unto Itself.  Perhaps that's why one of Hanksville's stalwart residents declared it The Center of The Universe.  Susun actually got to talk with The Creator of The Hanksville Universe today.  I opted out because I knew a male-to-male conversation about The Center of The Universe would go on for a few light years.

We needed to travel so we proceeded on.

We strayed in Hankville for over an hour before heading out to Hite.  The Road To Hite is pretty special in ways too detailed to describe here.  Suffice to say it's mesmerizing and even more so if you know the history of this area, especially David Rust's part of it. The Cass Hite part of it is pretty danged good, too!
When you finally get to the Hite Overlook, it's kind of like an epihany.  You stand there dumbstruck looking at everything there is to see.  It's overwhelming in a Good Old Fashioned Way.  The sweeping 360 panorama fills Your Heart & Spirit with Inspiration and much more, too.

From Hite to Blanding is a journey through plateaus, canyons, buttes, spires and many other features so typical of this area of the Colorado Plateau.  We will defer further discussion for a later post.

We prefer to steer far wide of Blanding so we only went into the south side of that community to buy gas and then turned around and beat feet for Bluff and Sand Island beyond.

Although we generally avoid Blanding, we have considerable personal history with San Juan County.  We once tried to buy a house in Monticello, the County Seat.  We put money down and signed all the papers.  It's a long story, of course.  We even had a Post Office Box in Monticello and a storage unit, too.

Sand Island is a BLM enclave beside The San Juan River.  It's Ground Zero for people rigging to run The San Juan--Grand Ma's River, as we have called it for nearly 40 years.
We have almost as much personal history on The San Juan as we do The Verde, The Salt or The Colorado.  We've spent huge gobs of time in Bluff and Sand Island and on The San Juan in all of its permutations and combinations.

Coming back to Sand Island is a lot like going to a Family or Fraternity Reunion of some sort.  You might not see the same people, but you sure see the same familiar faces of this place.

The San Juan never seems to change.  Sure, maybe the invasive tamarisk trees are a little bigger and more numerous but The River is The Same.  Hey, it's The San Juan and that's why river runners have been coming here for more decades than most of us know.

We will be pulling out of Sand Island on Sunday's Halloween Morning to head down deep into The Rez, as The Navajo Nation is often called.  We'll turn right and go out through Hopi Land before turning left and thence toward Little Colorado River Country at Winslow.

We're bound and determined to stay off infamous I-17 this trip.  We're coming back to Rimrock from Winslow with only four miles of I-17 time to return home.
While in Winslow, we hope to visit and photograph Peter Wolf Toth's Arizona Native statue.  We'll write more about Toth when we get back to a real computer hooked up to real internet.

As we close this Halloween Tome, we will leave you with a tantalizing thought. Did you know that Bluff, Utah, is joined at the metaphorical hip with Escalante, Utah??

Huh?  Say What? 'Tis true!

Now THAT's a long story and one we will tell when we comfortably back onlline at our Straw Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument.

Happy Halloween.  Happy Last Day of October!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Southbound Day 8

'Twas a mighty Fine Friday, our last full day in The Reef. We headed out "early" once again--if you can call 10 AM "early." We went straight out to and down Grand Wash to the site of the September 25, 1937, enormous dedication of the newly-created Capitol Reef National Monument.

The direct sunshine hadn't quite yet made it over the Echo Canyon Cliffs but the intense shadows were a welcome sight to see.
I set up the microphone on a camera tripod by duct taping the microphone stand to the top of the tripod.  'Twas a genuine Bubba Boy rig for sure. I used baling wire to attach Port Pectol's photo to the front of the tripod.  The view from my "speaker's stand," so to speak, was yet another signature slice of The Reef.
I had been somewhat agonizing over what to say for Port Pectol's Eulogy. I tried three times to write a script...and failed. I laid awake at night, tossing and turning with the angst that only a speaker knows.

Finally, Friday morning I just wrote down a few keywords and did my best to memorize them.  Growing up in Hoosierville, I learned how to mispronounce a lot of words.  It's The Hoosier Way.  One of those words we mispronounced on the Banks of The Wabash was "allocades."  There is no such thing.  It's accolades.  But for whatever reason, I can NEVER remember to say it right.  I always fall back on my Hoosier upbringing.  Oh, how I mentally chided myself yesterday to "get it right" this time.

There's never the precise right time to stand and deliver a Eulogy.  In my short career as a Eulogist, I've learned that you can only begin speaking "when The Spirit Moves You" and not a minute before that.

So, the two of us stood around admiring the splendiferous (sic) scenery waiting for The Spirit to get a move on.
Finally it was time and I let it fly.  Oh, how those words coined themselves and rolled effortlessly off my lips.  As I was speaking, I was alaso "listening" to myself and thinking, "Whoa, Yonni, that's some Good Stuff, Dude!"  I was definitely inspired by The Man, The Place, The Moment and some mysterious combination of all of the above...and more.

The words kept flowing and they touched my Heart and when I got to the "Never Give Up, Never Give In" part of it, my words overwhelmed me and I started crying.  Well, you can't really be much of a speaker when you're crying so I had to stop speaking and let the emotions run their course.

Nevertheless, it was a pretty good Eulogy as Eulogies go.  It only ran a little less than five minutes of air time so that's a mighty short Eulogy.  My Eulogy to Jim Posewitz ran almost 15 minutes.  I think The WIlliam Dillon Eulogy was close to ten minutes.

And, yes, I got the accolades part of it right this time.

There was other stuff I wished to say but it wasn't meant to be. Even so, it turned out OK and my Dear, Sweet Audience of One Loved it.  That's all that matters to me--pleasing my Dear Sweet Audience of One.

It's always pretty comical when I start out welcoming everyone to the speech.  There's only ONE in attendance so the other audience is like a big group of imaginary Friends...or something.

We were both pretty stoked standing there in that powerful landscape.  Those were mighty golden moments in the Utah SunShine!

We then trundled toward Torrey Town. That's when we encountered The Angus Gang blocking State Highway 24 shoulder to shoulder.  What fun it was to have those beefy bodies swarm around our truck.  We're no strangers to that phenomena.  It happened to us a lot out at Bowery Guard Station when Syd & Karen Dowton's cows would swarm our Suzuki Samurai.

Good thing cattle don't get riled up like bison or we'd sure have a lot of dents in the truck to show for it. 

We tried once again to use the Visitor Center WIFI.  No can do.  But we had a memorable vignette there.  The NO WAY Woman (described in yesterday's blog post) actually gave me a standing ovation for delivering the Eulogy.  That was Sweet for sure.  Definitely a Classic Utah Moment!

We then idled over to Etta Place Cider and had a fine and fitting visit with Ann Torrence.  She's a truly unique individual (aren't we all?) and it's so fun to visit with her.  Since we have US 89 in common with her, the coversation often strays into delightful tangents.  The Cidery is doing quite well. Ann's very proud of those six medals her cider won a few weeks ago.  The local 2021 apple harvest is history and everything has been juiced and is fermenting.  Bottling will begin in a few weeks.

Stopping at Etta Place is now a new touchstone for each of our visits to The Reef. 

We then returned to camp and began working on the audio file of the Eulogy.  Processing audio files is a lot easier than it once was but it's still tedious and time consuming.  After getting the MP3 file feng shui, we headed to the Phone Booth and hooked up the cell signal booster.  Man, that thing ROX!  It gave us far better cell that we could find in Torrey Town itself!

So, once we got the file posted up to SoundCloud, we headed back to camp to begin rigging for The Road.  Even though we have a very minimalist travel rig, there are still numerous nit-picky things to be done before we can safely pull out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever comes our way.
The pendulum decided to desert Susun and I won both cribbage games last night with the greatest of ease.  Susun's rather short tenure as Champ-peen ended with a thud.  Ah, well, that fickle pendulum swings more often that not.

Well, here's a wild one for you.  The State Highway from here to Blanding has been closed for almost two months!  Like really, really closed with no local detour.  As if by magic, it reopened two days ago, just in time for our Road Trip Traveling Band of Gypsies to saunter through San Juan County. It's a Good Omen and we are pleased.

We don't have a fixed agenda today. We'd like to get all the way to Sand Island outside Bluff, Utah, but we're agreeable to getting waylaid if and when something compelling comes along.  We'll have cell at numerous locations today so we'll keep ya posted.

Thanks for reading!  

Friday, October 29, 2021

Port Pectol Eulogy


Eulogy for Ephriam Portman "Port" Pectol delivered by John Parsons October 29, 2021, at Singing Rock in Echo Canyon on The Grand Wash of Capitol Reef National Park.

Here's the link to the 4:42 Eulogy. It would have been longer but I became emotional and had to stop.


Port Pectol is The God Father of Capitol Reef National Park.  His singular, unrelenting determination and  dedication fueled enduring efforts that sparked public sentiment and shaped political processes which combined to create Capitol Reef National Monument in 1937.

The Monument was declared a National Park 50 years ago in December 1971. Pectol began his decades-long campaign on behalf of The Wayne Wonderland over 100 years ago.

When we began to study The Life & Times of Port Pectol, we were struck by the lack of recognition and interpretive resouces about this remarkable man.

Pectol was born in 1875 in Glenwood, Utah, a small community in the Sevier Valley.  In 1887, Port's Dad uprooted his Family and moved to Caineville, a rather desolate oasis 20 miles east of Torrey.  Young Port first saw Capitol Reef Country when he was 12 years old as the Family's wagon moved through the warped, folded and eroded landscapes.

As Young Port rode horseback hither and yon through the area, he coined the enduring moniker: "Wayne Wonderland," embodying Wayne County's name with a kalaidoscope of nature wonders within its boundaries.  Port married a remarkable woman--Dottie Hickman and they raised a large Family.  They moved to Torrey about 1911 and Port and Dottie opened a store dubbed "The Wayne Umpire."  Port became Bishop of the Torrey Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He conducted LDS services and proceedings in what's now the historic Torrey Log Church, the only log church remaining in The State of Utah.

Port served as Bishop for 14 yearas until about 1925.  He and his brother-in-law, Joe Hickman, began promoting Wayne Wonderland over 100 years ago in early 1921.  They sent out glowing descriptions of their beloved land to newspapers around the nation.

Port's story is a long one and well deserves to be told in a book.  One wonders just how it would have turned out for Capitol Reef Country if not for Port Pectol.

That's why we decided to do a Euglogy for Port.  We feel he's never received the recogition he deserves.  His story is all about how the passion and drive of one man can make a timeless, enduring difference in the land he so loved.  His Life & Times stand as a shining example of The Power Of One to make a better world for all to enjoy.

Southbound Days 6 & 7

Here's a recap of Wednesday & Thursday.

On the 27th we headed out into Cathedral Valley. That road is about 20 miles from camp.  It had been closed due to storm damage which was still very apparent.  The road was considerably rougher than we expected so we only went about 5 miles in.  It was very slow going, often less than 5 miles an hour so we bagged that idea and slowly worked our way back out to Utah 24.

We then did a drive-by of Caineville for our "On The Trail of Port Pectol" video series.

After lunch at camp we headed off to our Phone Booth under true Blue Bird Skies. This Reef Country is mighty nice under any light but it's especially fine with crisp, cool blue sky.  The snow-covered Henry Mountains really stand out in that kind of light.

The cell signal booster turned one very weak bar into three strong bars and we were able to post a lot of stuff. I consider myself above average tech savvy but it simply never ceases to amaze me that a video can somehow travel through the air from a pimpy $50 phone through some voodoo booster and wind up visible to the world.  I am dazzled by that kind of stuff.

After Susun's Nap Time at camp we drove out to Grand Wash and thence to the Slick Rock Divide before calling it a day.  Once again Susun's newfound cribbage success prevailed and I was forced to eat crow in two losses.  When the cribbage pendulum swings to another corner, it stays there for awhile.
Thursday got off to a quick start...well, if you can call leaving camp at 10 AM "quick". 

First, we tramped around the edge of Sulphur Creek trying to get a photo match of the  Clair Bird Ripple Rock Mine.

Then we headed into Torrey Town in high hopes of getting some decent WIFI. HAHAHA!  The Visitor Center claimed to have WIFI but it didn't work so we used our  phones once again.

The NPS gave us an address for their digital archives but they weren't useful to us.  Luckily, the Visitor Center had a copy of the Wayne County History and we struck paydirt by finding THE 1937 photo that we desparately needed.

We learned from the woman at the Visitor Center that there was "NO WAY" we could gain access to the inside of the old Torrey log Church.  Typing the "NO WAY" in ALL CAPS gives you an idea of her raised voice emphasis that such access wasn't ever going to happen.  Period. Case closed.

Yes, that's rather odd but we accept local realities, especially when we're in Utah.  It goes with the turf.

After leaving the Visitor Center, we went to the Torrey Town Cemetery and found Port & Dottie Pectol's graves.

The Visitor Center "NO WAY" woman told us that Port Pectol's old Wayne Umpire store was alive and well as The Chuckwagon so we headed there.  Sure enuf, the surly clerk showed up photos of the old store and even took them down off the wall to let us photograph them.

Why do I say he was surly?  Well, Susun loves to ask a lot of questions and one of her questions to the clerk didn't go over so well.  She asked, "What do you do during the winter?  The surly clerk snaped back, "Whatever I want."  Okie, dokie, we got that.

Actually, the guy warmed up a little bit when I showed him the old photo of the inside of The Wayne Umpire.  Man, he wanted that photo BAD!  So, he actually gave me his email and I sent it to him right at the counter.  High tech stuff in low tech Torrey Town.
After another longing visit to the log church, we headed back to camp to stage for our Discovery.  We knew we had a smoking gun photo in hand that would help us find the site of the September 25, 1937, gala National Monument dedication ceremony attended by 2,500 people.

Stuff tends to get lost over time, especially in a bureaucracy like the NPS.  We found it exceedingly odd that no one could tell us where the dedication took place.  Wouldn't YOU think that was odd, too?

At first as we drove down Grand Wash, we couldn't see a photo match and we were getting bummed out.  But we turned around at the Capitol Gorge trailhead and, BINGO!  The photo match leaped right off the cliff wall at us.  

We were SO excited. It's difficult to explain that type of excitement but it's very tangible and very, very real.

And then....

And then we found the echoes.  WOW!  Talk about excited!  It was an exhilirating experience and one we will not soon forget.
After grabbing some videos of the echoes, we beat feet back to the Visitor Center and rallied up Thann, the Cultural Resources Manager.  He caught our buzz, too, when he realized we had truly documented the lost site of the 1937 dedication.  It was so awesome to have someone to share the news with who really understood and appreciated what it meant and how fun it was to find it.

Then the three of us went outside to ponder the location of the Clair Bird Ripple Rock Mine.  More fun.

Finally, it was time to call it a day and we returned to camp.  Naturally, SUsun's Streak of Cribbage wins continued unabated and I skulked off to sleep with my cribbage tail between my legs.

Today is our last full day at Capitol Reef.  Once the sun rises high over the sheer cliffs here, we will head back to the 1937 Dedication site and deliver a short Eulogy for Port Pectol.  Eulogies R US.
We're heading back into Torrey Town to try to meet us with Ann Torrence at the Etta Place Cidery.  Maybe Ann will know the Secret Handshake that could get us into the historic Torrey Log Church.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Techie Tuesday

The wind blew almost all of Tuesday.  Just when we thought the wind was strong, it got stronger.  Just when we thought the wind was hard, it got harder.  Man!  It was cranked up!

And the wind actually caused some lasting damage.  What? How so?  Well, we went to what we call our phone booth.  I opened the driver's door and the wind ripped the door out of my hand and danged near bent around the front fender.  It dented the door edge.  Of course, now the door won't quite close and open the way it once did.  Luckily, it still closes and locks but it's definitely not the same.

Tuesday turned into a Tech Fest. What with the fierce, howlin' wind, we pretty much hunkered in our tiny home on two wheels and entertained ourselves with techie toys.

Of course, the biggest tech trick was getting the cell signal booster set up in the truck.  It worked about as good as we expected and definitely good enuf to post a big fat video file.  All-in-all, we're pleased with it.
We fired up our dormant dash cam at the phone booth and recorded the drive back to the Visitor Center. Luckily, the entire drive on Utah 24 fit in a couple of the cam's two-minute videos.

We were able to use an Android app to splice them together and add a title.  Even at the cam's low resolution, the video turned out pretty good.  That VAVA dash cam records simultaneously in both low and high resolution.  A two-minute file at high resolution is over 250 megabytes.  Luckily, the same file at low resolution is a mere 25 megs.

Then we set up our phone for a time lapse of clouds rolling over one of Fruita's signature cliffs. The wind was blowing so hard I had to tie down the tripod. Even tied down I feared the whole rig would blow to Hanksville....or somewhere.

In 51 minutes we captured 1,505 frames.  We set the replay rate at 12 frames per second and condensed those 51 minutes into a little over 2 minutes of replay run time.  It's pretty good looking, too.

We used our long lens Nikon L840 to get some pictures of a local buck. Deer have no fear here.  The tech trick was resizng each photo from 11 megs to one meg and then getting them transferred to the Android so that they can be posted next time we visit the phone booth.

We have a nifty little techie toy what allow us to plug a full size SD card into the Android phone.  Using a equally nifty little file manager app, we can extract photos from the SD card and get them into the phone's Gallery.

And there was a lot more techie tricks, actually too numerous to mention, but quite a bit of fun for this aging geek.

By and by, around 3 PM, we headed up to the Visitor Center to pose our list of questions.  The pleasant volunteer at the front desk actually took our questions seriously and summoned the "Cultural Resources Manager," a guy named Thann (with two "N's").

Thann was real nice but wasn't so sure he could help us because of the "chain of command."  He said he'd have to get clearances from a long list of higher-ups.  If you know the NPS, that's pretty much the way it goes.  We did get a link to a public gallery of NPS Capitol Reef photos so we didn't come away completely empty-handed.  Since we had zero expectations, our experience at the Visitor Center exceeded our expectations.

Susun might have turned the tide on her cribbage woes.  She won two games last night and was quite pleased with herself.  The first game came right down to the wire and the second game was a blow out in which I nearly got skunked.  The photo shows what it means to "come down to the wire."  Susun's peg was in the last hole and mine two holes away. 

The campground really was FULL overnight not "wink, wink" full like it was the night before.  The wind laid down late Tuesday and the sky cleared so this morning's low was a brisk 34 degrees.

Today we're probably going to drive out and back through Castle Valley. Summer storm damage closed that road for awhile but the NPS workers bees have it feng shui again.  Maybe we will visit the phone booth beforehand...or maybe not.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Groovy Tuesday

The mega-hyped storm arrived at Fruita, Utah, in the middle of the night leaving behind perhaps a couple of hundreths of an inch of rain and a lot of wind.

The wind is really confusing the leaves.  They don't know which way to blow.  First they race across north across the campground.  Then they change their leaf minds and race back south.  Such behavior makes them very interesting to watch.  Fruita's stately old growth cottonwood trees were at their peak when we arrived early Monday afternoon.

Now their slightly past their peak because the wind has stripped off lotsa leaves.  But there's still plenty of color, so much so that the campground has an odd but pleasing yellow tint.
The NPS put signs at the Visitor Center saying "Campground FULL" but it actually wasn't completely full.  Close but not quite.

As usual the Capitol Reef Campground fills out Hearts & Spirits full with Joy & Delight. Site 30 in the B Loop is arguably the best site in the whole campground. 

After our Spring 2021 Northbound trip and factoring in this Fall's Southbound route so far, we've decided it's our new South-North Route.  Plus, we're going to experiment with repeating our Fall 2019 leg via Hanksville-Blanding-Bluff to Arizona.  It might actually be equal or even shorter distance to go that way rather than to go back through Loa and then to Koosharem, etc. to get to US 89.

You can't make something from nothing. Cell signal boosters only work if they have a weak signal to boost.  There is absolutely ZERO cell signal here in Fruita and the NPS intends to keep it that way.  So, our hoop-dee-doo cell signal booster is useless in such a situation.
(View from our. Phone booth.)

However, it "might" work its magic at a viewpoint where we know there is a weak signal.  The nice thing about the unit we purchased is that it came with two external antennas.  One works great on a tall mast.  The other is magnetic and can simply be attached to the roof of the truck.  The amplifier plugs into the 12 volt port.  Those ports used to be called cigarette lighters but that seems such an archaic name now.

Today promises to be cooler than normal.  It was 68 degrees when we pulled into this campground yesterday.  At 10 AM it's 44 degrees and the wind makes it feel even cooler than that.

Anyway, it will be a good day to spend time at the Visitor Center trying to find more information about The Bird Ripple Rock Mine and also the location of the 1937 National Monument Dedication Ceremony.

We're thinking of delivering a short Eulogy to E.P. Pectol at that Dedication Site but, as this point, we have no clue where it is located.

We have VERY low expeectations for working with the NPS Staff today. In fact, it will be no surprise if we come up empty-handed on all of our inquiries.

This might be a large National Park in physical area but it's a very small park in terms of Staffing and so-called "resources."  I'd be quite surprised if they actually even had archival records located on site here.  I'd be willing to bet real money the Capitol Reef archives are located at the Denver Regional Office.

But whatever...at least we will give it a good ol' college try and see wot hoppens.  

Theoretically, the weather is supposed to improve this week.  With four more nights remaining, we have plenty of time to explore and do all the stuff people do when they visit Capitol Reef.

Capitol Reef National Park was created from Capitol Reef National Monument on December 18, 1971, when President Nixon signed it into law.  So the Park is turning 50.  Efforts to designate this area as a National Park actually began over 100 years ago through the relentless efforts of E.P. Pectol.  Pectol coined the name "Wayne Wonderland" well over 100 years ago.  He and his pards began a concerted promotional campaign in 1921. 

Back in 1925, people here actually thought that a "Wayne Wonderland" State Park had been created.  A couple thousand folks showed up at a Dedication and the Governor was keynote speaker.  Interestingly, there never was a Wayne Wonderland State Park here or anywhere else.  But people "thought" there was.  President Franklin Roosevelt actually signed the law creating Capitol Reef National Monument in August 1937.  It was supposed to be called Wayne Wonderland National Monument but some NPS bureaucrat co-opted the name at the last minute in the legislative process. Local folks wer\\\e very upset about the name change.

Guess who actually named the area Capitol Reef?  None other than that famous river runner, Major John Wesley Powell!

All-in-all, it's a minor miracle that Capitol Reef National Monument became a Nation Park 50 years ago.  Such a thing would NEVER happen in today's political climate. Utah has five headliner National Parks.  It's doubtful ANY of them would stand a snowball's chance of becoming National Parks in today's contentious culture.

We're very happy to be tucked into the Capitol Reef campground at Fruita.  It's one of our favorite places to be.  We Love It Here. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Southbound Day Four

A Merry Meandering Monday...

We're at the top arrow due west of Cleveland...but we're definitey not in Ohio! We head south on what Utahans are now calling "Carbon Avenue." Maybe it should be called The Coal Truck Causeway.

We cross under I-70 and use a frontage road to gain access to Utah 72 (middle arrow). That fun road takes us up and over the east flanks of the Fish Lake Mountain area. UT 72 drops us out near Loa, the Wayne County Seat. Eighty years ago, every house in Loa was on a corner.  Seriously.  You can read about Loa and its neighbors from the 1941 WPA Writer's Project book on Utah by clicking the ridiculously long link at the end of this post.

We turn left there on Utah 24 and eventually go through Bicknell. Bicknell was once called Thurber after the first intrepid dude that settled the desolate area.  Well, by and by, some effete Easterner named Thomas W. Bicknell said he would donate a library to any Utah town that took his name.

The Good Citizens of Thurber jumped at the chance but so did those of Grayson. So Tom split his donation between the two and he got Bicknell while Grayson became Blanding, his wife's maiden name,

Bicknell might be the only remaining Utah town of its size to still have a functional movie theater. The owners cooked up an International Film Festival which occasionally brings Bicknell a few seconds of fleeting fame.

Torrey's the last settlement before entering Capitol Reef.  We first visited Torrey over Thanksgiving 1982. Ever since then we've been convinced there's really nothing much actually in Torrey, except for the obligatory tourist motels and restaurants.

But that a changed last year when Ann Torrence and her husband opened The Etta Place Cidery.  Having a cidery in rural Utah is kinda like having a meteor drop into your backyard...or something.  The cidery's products recently received SIX medals at the nation's premier cider judging contest: four bronze and two silver.

So now we can confidently say there really is SOMETHING in Torrey.  And why is it named Etta Place, you ask?  Ann chose to honor The Sundance Kid's Love interest.

Our interest in Torrey definitely perked up when Ann'e Etta Place opened up.  Ann's most famous to us at least for writing THE book on US 89. Her book will never be topped.  Ever.

How Ann jumped from studying US 89 to the cidery business is quite an intersting and endearing story.  Maybe we can get her to tell it someday.

Technically, Fruita is the last community before our campground but it's not a real town any more.  It once had over 100 residents.  However, the NPS acquired all the private land and now only NPS staff live there in "company housing," so to speak.

So, that's our Merry Monday ahead.  It's probably about a hundred miles, plus or minus.  EZPZ day.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

THANKS BLM & Emery County

The Swell is truly swell. 

In some ways it is better than its Big Brothers--all the NPS Utah headliners you've grown to know and love: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion.

The key difference between The Swell and The Fab Four is your ability to actually drive to some Super Sweet Spots.  The BLM manages The Swell and they've enabled access in ways the NPS just would never do.

The BLM has made The Swell accessible and we LOVE IT!  You can drive to places that the NPS would make you hike to or buy a mule ride to.  
The scenery is spectacular beyond words. Utah tourism movers & shakers have latched onto the "playground" moniker for The Swell.  It's apt, appropriate and fun....just what a playground should be.

We did an 80-mile loop through The Swell today, basically seeing The Wedge, The Little Grand Canyon Overlook, Buckhorn Wash, the Swinging Bridge and the obligatory Buckhorn Big Boys.
The BLM and Emery County have gone all out to continue to keep these destinations accessible, user-friendly and enjoyable.

We had a DFD--A Danged Fun Day!

Weather conditions were beyond perfect.  Temp at the Swinging Bridge was easily low 70's. No wind & glorious light.

We reserved our time @ Capitol Reef  because we felt we could catch some Utah Fall Color.  Boy! Oh! Boy!  Did we ever.

The cottonwoods on The San Rafael and in Buckhorn Wash were at their peak.  Knowing cottonwoods as we do, it would be hard to imagine how they could be MORE "peaky" that they were today.  The incoming storm will surely change that.

But we caught their peak and we are grateful. They were sublime!

Buckhorn Wash is truly misnamed.  It should be Buckhorn Canyon.  It's far more dramatic than so-called Nine Mile Canyon. Driving down Buckhorn Canyon could easily be analogous to driving down a side canyon of Lower Grand Canyon.  Think Diamond Creek and you get a decent idea of the analogy.

Many of Utah's premier places "seem" to be amply promoted but sometimes we think the promoters don't really understand how to promote what they have.

Buckhorn Wash is an amazing destination.  A Prius could have driven that road today. Easily.

The Swell's landscape is very durable and isn't going to be harmed by additional usage.

We wish Emery County and the BLM (s)Well in their efforts to bring additional visitors to Swell Country.