Notes from Westwater

Discovering the mouth of Red Canyon while searching for Bert Loper’s Hermitage.  Merry Palmer photo
We’ve searched for Bert Loper’s Hermitage three times. The first was during the summer of 2020. We explored Blue Notch Canyon, found the remnants of old mines, and hiked to a cliff overlooking Lake Powell and Good Hope Bay but saw no evidence of the ranch, long submerged under Lake Powell. Since...
It is like a barren alien planet on the way to Mike Canyon.  Merry Palmer photo
“For those to whom a stone reveals itself as sacred, its immediate reality is transmuted into supernatural reality.” – Mircea Eliade “I’ll walk to lessen the weight on my side,” I told my hubby as I crawled out of our Pioneer 500 at the base of the steep trail to Mike’s Canyon, named after Jim...
Ned Smith and Ted Palmer hard at work on the washed-out road from Piute Pass into Red Canyon.  Merry Palmer photo
I could hear the clank of shovels hitting buried rocks and the men panting from exertion, but they didn’t talk much as they dug dirt from the side of the road to fill the crevices of the washed-out road from Piute Pass into Red Canyon. Ned Smith, Ted, and I had started from Blanding with our ATVs...
Water is flowing in Westwater Canyon after recent rains.  Courtesy photo
Using a drawing pencil and pad, I traced the space around the table in my mom’s hospital room. The switch in my brain felt painful. I’d never noticed the negative or white space before, but Betty Edwards, Ph.D. had developed a series of exercises in her book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain...
Horned lizards symbolize health, strength, transformation, and, in some cultures, even God’s messengers.  Ted Palmer photo
“When you love you should not say, God is in my heart, but rather, I am in the heart of God.” ~ Kahlil Gibran As a high school freshman, I contracted a serious illness, ran a high temperature, and stayed in bed for two weeks. We were living in my great-grandparents’ old farmhouse at the time. My...
Goldfinch, photo by Ted Palmer
The lesser goldfinches in our yard often perch upside down on the sunflowers, busily plucking seeds from the mature heads. Holding on with their tiny feet, they ride the flowers like miniature ships as they sway in the breeze. The males with their gold breasts, black caps, and black-and-white...
Historic photo of cave tour at Manitou Springs.  William Henry Jackson photo, courtesy Denver Public Library
Dustin, our guide, handed us each a long-burning candle inserted into the bottom of a bucket. We stood just inside the mouth of the cave where enough outside light illuminated an iron gate. “Iron,” Dustin intoned, “repels spirits and keeps them from leaving the cave. Once we pass that gate, our...
Hardworking ants can carry impressive loads – ten to 50 times their own weight.  Merry Palmer photo
Clumsy and plump, Steven Pfenniger cried easily, which didn’t earn him any respect from the pack of kids running our neighborhood in Hutchinson, KS. His dad owned a shop just off Fourth Street and repaired TVs, but we didn’t know much more about him or his family — which was unusual in our...
Havasupai Canyon. Photo by Merry Palmer
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin Nine years ago, having heard about the mystical waterfalls in Havasupai near the Grand Canyon, we decided to backpack into the area. Because I’d been struggling with bronchitis, I sat up coughing the night before we hiked in, but...
Soldiers carry the colors during the Blanding Fourth of July celebration. Annually, the Blanding celebration offers the small-town American feel of yesteryear,  a breath of fresh air in these modern times that can sometimes feel complicated.  Ted Palmer photo
I first met Blanding on the Fourth of July many years ago when my family and I visited my brother Tom. After some rough experiences including war, Tom, a police officer, decided he wanted to raise his young family in a small religious town so he looked on a Utah map, prayed, and chose two...

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