Monday, July 7, 2014

River song

Yesterday was a busy day. I was up early to try the North Kaibab trail to the Supai Tunnel again and wheezed and sweated my way out by about 10:00. It was beautifully cool on the way down but by the time I turned around with regretful resignation that I'd put myself through this again, it was inching past 80. That's not so bad if you're lying on the veranda with a cold one in your hand but hiking out of the canyon, even just as far as I went, is grim. Because it's so hard for me, I was sure the trail's slope is at least 30 degrees - oh, all right 20 - but when I put HH to the task of determining slope for me because somehow I missed that in school, he put it at 7. Seven? Is that all?

After I got home and recovered we took off for Lees Ferry, on the Colorado River. There was actually a ferry here, established by a Mormon, John D. Lee, but this was six years after other Mormon pioneers, led by Jacob Hamblin, built a raft and made the first successful crossing of the Colorado, in 1864. Hamblin made the trip to warn the Navajo of northern Arizona to stop making raids into Utah, stealing livestock, and threatening Mormon expansion, all under the white-guy authority of Manifest Destiny.

Lee was sent here by Brigham Young because of his supposed role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He became the sole Mormon scapegoat for the murder of 120 eastern emigrants, was excommunicated, and sent out of sight, out of mind.

The Mormon Church provided lumber and labor to build the first real ferryboat at Lees Ferry, first launched in 1873. In 1877 Lee was finally executed for his role in the massacre, the only Mormon ever held accountable. Lee's wife, Emma, took over operation of the ferry and farmed the ranch for several years. A couple of years later, the Church bought the ferry rights from Emma Lee for $3,000, and sent in someone else to run it.

Tour operators make this one of their starting points for trips down the river. Another volunteer here on the North Rim has just gotten back from a two-week trip. I thought that would be a great thing to do so I looked it up. A one-week trip is about $3000. Holy smokes. It's not happening this year, that's for sure.

I drove down the road a bit, pulled into a parking area for a beach, and walked over to the river. That river floods! There was washed-up debris all the way back to the parking lot.

I talked to a man and his wife who were fishing. They drive in from Tuba City, about an hour away. I can understand the attraction. The river is beautiful and this spot is the confluence of the Colorado and the Paria, which causes not-quite-rapids, but pretty riffles in the water. What I couldn't understand, though, was how they could sit out there in 105 degree weather with no shelter.

While I was there he reeled in a trout and said he's had pretty good luck all day.

Several boats made their way past this spot a little while later. $3000 or not, it would be a great trip.

I got back into air conditioning and we drove back the way we came, along the Vermilion Cliffs. The area is a National Monument.

Was I an idiot or what to stand under this rock? I wanted it to look like I was holding it up and all the time I was thinking how stupid it was.

We swung by the Navajo Bridge, which spans the Colorado and is the way to get from the South Rim or Flagstaff to the North Rim. 

This plaque was near the bridge. The history of Lees Ferry says that once the ferry was up and running, emigrants flocked to the area to use it even though no approaches had been built to the river. It doesn't look easy-going even after roads were built.

The bridge on the left is the one in use. The one on the right is a single lane and is the one HH remembers using when he was on the Great American Road Trip with his family in the 60s.

People are allowed on the bridge not in use, so I wandered out. Isn't the view amazing? All those colors in one space. I love the southwest.

The original bridge was built in 1927-1928, and is 467 feet high. It was placed on the National Register in 1981. Another one I can cross off the list. 

No, I did not lean over.

They can count on me.

Somehow I found out about a restaurant that sits in the middle of nowhere, not far from the bridge, near Vermilion Cliffs. TripAdvisor reviewers sang its praises so we stopped for a late lunch. HH got a Reuben but I got an appetizer of sauteed brie. This is an appetizer. This little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where you'd be inclined not to stop, serves a plate like this. The chef makes his own tomato and kalamata olive tapenades. $12.

The sign that gives nothing away as to what awaits and that is the view we had. We sat outside despite the heat because they've installed misters and ceiling fans and it was very comfortable. The only thing detracting from the meal was a woman seated two tables away who used the f-bomb so creatively I was tempted to take notes. She made it work for nearly every part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, exclamation, adjective. I think the only one she missed was an adverb. What a piece of work.

Then on back home so I could go to a yoga class one of the rangers is offering. I discovered that none of my joints bend and my muscles and tendons are so tight you could play notes from twanging on them. Other than that and the climb out of the canyon and the foul-mouthed floozy (I won't even go into how she was not dressed), it was a great day. No, I'm kidding. It was all a great day.

Thought of the day:

Night and day the river flows. If time is the mind of space, the River is the soul of the desert. Brave boatmen come, they go, they die, the voyage flows on forever. We are all canyoneers. We are all passengers on this little mossy ship, this delicate dory sailing round the sun that humans call the earth. Joy, shipmates, joy. — Edward Abbey, The Hidden Canyon — A River Journey

Friday, July 4, 2014

Strong women, doing what they gotta do

You have to drive through the town of Fredonia to get to Pipe Spring National Monument. I like to do the driving because I can cut over to the curb or pull a U-turn quick-like when I see something I want to take a photo of, instead of yelling out, Stop! NOW!!! and giving the HH a heart attack. So luckily I was behind the wheel when we went through Fredonia last week because I did execute one of those quick-like U-turns when I saw this store. Lotto. Guns. Ammo. Beer. I didn't go in; I just wanted the photo. What more could a girl ask for?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Pipe Spring began as a tithing ranch for the Mormon church. In the 1870s, 80-100 cows were milked daily by the men and boys, which produced 60 pounds of cheese and 40 pounds of butter, churned out by the women. Daily! Twice a month a couple dozen steers were driven to St. George, Utah along with a load of cheese and butter. The men who worked on public roads and the St. George Temple and Tabernacle received shares of beef and the dairy products.

This particular site was chosen for the spring, of course, but also for the rangeland. At the time the grass extended for miles and was said to be belly-high on a horse. Later, years of drought and overgrazing reduced the land to desert scrub and it was no longer able to support cattle.

Anyone who's lived or visited in this part of the country knows that the wind blows and howls and whips sand into spaces that are not even visible. Before we left Petrified Forest I opened the windows during the early spring winds and found fine sand covering everything.  It was no different for the women who lived at Pipe Spring. Emma Seegmiller, who lived at the fort in the 1890s, wrote:
After every storm, house cleaning was necessary and from a single room I have swept or shoveled out five gallons of sand, the broom would not carry the weighty bulk to the door.

The women were also responsible for providing food for not only their own families but cowhands and other workers, clean beds, and a welcome to all visitors. Laundry had so many steps it took all day. I have a nifty washer-dryer unit in my house, a single machine that does both functions, and is it handy! On the nice days we've been having here I hang the laundry outside, just like we did when we were kids. For me it's a choice, though, and I don't have to use washboards and wringers and boil water to do the washing first. I have such respect for pioneer women. They were strong and endured a life we can't imagine.
Part of a wagon wheel with an iron rim.

I was surprised that the garden wasn't up and producing. The Ranger who gave the talk about the place said they do grow crops there and visitors are welcome to help themselves, but there wasn't anything ready yet. I noticed squash blossoms behind the main house and at the entrance to the monument and immediately thought about the stuffed squash blossoms HH and I enjoyed at La Posada in Winslow,

but didn't ask if I could take any. I couldn't have kept them fresh on that long day we were on the road.

This is the main building, Winsor Castle. It's the living quarters and fort and is named for its builder, Anson Winsor.

I mentioned this cornerstone to the Ranger who gave the talk, but until I loaded the photo onto the computer, I'd forgotten that I never got an explanation of what's on there. Because of all of the carvings it looks like a miniature version of Inscription Rock that I saw at El Morro in February. That seems like ages ago.

The heavy doors open to a sunny courtyard. One of my must-haves, if I ever have a stationary house again, is a covered porch. These are perfect. 

The gutters and downspouts are copper but are not the original. This was a really nice place and HH and I both thought it would be an easy house to live in.

One of two cabins outside the fort.

This plaque notes the award of National Monument status and honors Stephen Mather, considered the father of the National Park Service. What I didn't know until not long ago is that Presidents can name National Monuments but it takes an act of Congress to name National Parks. You can see the sign calls the place Pipe Springs, but the NPS calls it Spring.

According to an NPS webpage, Pipe Spring became a refuge for Mormon wives running from the feds in Utah:

With the passing of more strict anti-polygamy laws in the early 1880s, the federal government tripled the number of U.S. Marshals in Utah and began a campaign to convict men practicing polygamy. Pipe Spring became a refuge for wives of targeted Southern Utah men, since it was located across the territorial line in Arizona. Flora Woolley, second wife of Edwin D. Woolley, said of her move to Pipe Spring, "So about the year 1886, I moved to Pipe Spring. In other words, I went to prison to keep my husband out."

A photo from the same webpage, taken in 1891:

According to the plaque above, the telegraph line is reconstructed but the first was installed in 1871. As time went on Pipe Spring became, in addition to a women's hiding place, a resting place, a watering hole, and a telegraph cafĂ©. 

Using the juniper at hand, the poles were set 70 feet apart. The telegraph line that passed through Salt Lake City inspired Brigham Young to plan a church-owned communication network. After the Civil War, the price of surplus telegraph materials dropped enough to make it affordable to install. (The Park Service posts the best interpretive signs and between them and Wikipedia I don't have to know anything; I just look it up.)

For 17 years in the late 1800s, at least seven women were employed to work the telegraph. They apparently didn't last long because it was considered a 24-hour job. Their bedroom was the telegraph room and they weren't allowed to leave it to mingle with visitors to the castle.

In the 1930s the CCC also had a presence here. They came to clean out the tunnel spring, graded the campground area (which I think does not exist anymore), constructed a road through the monument on a new location, and other projects.

There is an amazingly detailed history on the NPS site, loaded with illustrations. For such a small site, this place has many stories to tell.

Thought of the day:

A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars. - Carly Simon

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paw prints

My HH and I went to Kanab, Utah last weekend for a little road trip. When I was still at Petrified Forest my friend Richard, who'd worked at Grand Canyon for a dozen years, marked up a Triple A map called Indian Country, to show us what we needed to see. This map of the Four Corners area - Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado - is worth every penny of the five bucks AAA charges, except HH has a membership so we got it for free.

Richard circled Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, west of Kanab; we saw that Pipe Spring National Monument was nearby; and my boss here, Robin, told us about Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, so off we went.

The state park is pretty but if you go don't pay the $8 to get in if all you want to do is look. There are a couple of pullouts on the road in that allow you to climb a dune and get expansive views of the dunes and the mountains beyond. Pipe Spring began its life as a holding area for livestock that the Mormon faithful tithed to the church. A house/inn/fort was built to enclose a spring and guard against Indian attacks, which wouldn't have happened if our gov'mint hadn't harassed them onto reservations. In any case, those pictures haven't been processed yet. I'm so far behind.

The animal sanctuary is spread out over many acres. Its buildings are miles apart and generally the first stop is the visitor center where you can catch a shuttle that tours all the buildings. There aren't any animals there; they're all housed in other buildings in really beautiful surroundings.

But I want to cut to the chase. We didn't take the shuttle but drove ourselves around and in taking the back, gravel roads we came across a cemetery. As I first glimpsed it through the fence that surrounds it I thought it was a beautiful park, which I suppose in a way it is.

The area the entire sanctuary is in is called Angels Canyon, and what I took to be a park is a pet cemetery called Angels Rest. I've seen people cemeteries that haven't been so lovingly maintained.

Niches in the walls are filled with memorabilia:

pet collars,

photos, notes,

and what I suppose to be cremated remains of beloved pets.

Many graves carry multiple names and most are marked by simple concrete squares,

but some are marked like these three, with professional-quality stones such as you'd see in any people cemetery,

while others have handmade memorials.

There are a few dozen wind chime trees spaced around the rows and arcs of graves.

Each chime is dedicated to someone's pet.

I looked up Reno Rabbits and found this blog that talks about some rabbits that the writer had adopted "from a crazy woman that lived in Reno; she had over 1000 rabbits in her backyard."

I've loved every one of my pets and, while I may not go so far as to bury them in a pet cemetery, I certainly understand the devotion people have. But these two puzzled me. Are the owners also buried here? It looks like that might be true.

I went through an interesting array of feelings about this place. I was creeped out (I did look for a synonym but nothing fit), amused, bemused, and finally touched by an overwhelming wave of others' grief and sadness. The tinkling wind chimes were an eerie sound as the shadows lengthened down the canyon walls and I found myself alone. 

We should all be so loved that we will be remembered like this.

Thought of the day:

Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened. - Anatole France