Notes from Westwater

Wild burros near Oatman, AZ. Once very instrumental to mining operations during World War II, these hardy beasts were turned loose in the desert where they have thrived. Some sources estimate their numbers have grown to around 20,000 throughout the west. Ted Palmer photo
As I was walking between the Quonset hut and the old chicken coop, I heard my cousin scream. I peered around the door of the old coop where my cousin Linda cowered on the roost. Two Shetland ponies had chased her there and were not about to let her down. Linda and I were ten years old. “Merry, go...
Joshua means, “God is deliverance,” an unlikely name for the largest yucca plants in the world, but according to Katie Noonan, when settlers sent out by Brigham Young first saw the trees southwest of St. George, they thought they resembled Joshua from the Bible. Not all early explorers thought the...
Moqui Canyon, photo by Merry Palmer
by Merry Palmer I held my breath as we started down the 600-foot, orange sand dune into Moqui Canyon. With our fellow adventurer, Ned Smith, following in his Razor, Ted drove our Pioneer 500 to the end of the dugway’s first slope. He stopped, put on the parking brakes, and he and Ned climbed out...
“I always wanted to see the pyramids,” Dad told me once over the phone. Maybe that’s why he always listened so intently when I described the Ancestral Puebloan ruins, pictographs, and petroglyphs found in San Juan County. He died on December 19, 2021, just a month short of his 95th birthday. He...
The left front tire bounced over a boulder, the right front tire left the ground, and my hubby called, “Lean your way!” We could see the red bottom of a deep, deep gully below us. To be honest, before we left Blanding, I’d been worrying about friends suffering from COVID, family situations, and...
Last week as I looked out the window at the stars, the story of the first English poem, “Song of Creation,” came to mind. According to Bede, an eighth-century historian, an illiterate man named Caedmon herded the cattle owned by a great monastery on Northumbria’s rolling hills in what is now...
During the Prohibition, Albert “Dubinky” Anderson and his father Albert Anderson operated a moonshine still in Valley City, five miles south of Crescent Junction. After agents arrested the father for bootlegging, he moved his still to Little Valley where he was again fined and jailed. Perhaps...
Recently, one of my friends told me that when she and her husband drove up on Blue Mountain to view the fall colors, they wended their way along an aspen-lined road. “The leaves seemed illuminated from within,” she said. “The light didn’t come from the sun because it was a cloudy day.” Ted and I...
Years ago, with our wedding date approaching, Ted and I planned our honeymoon in the great Southwest. Because it sounded romantic, I said, “Let’s go someplace with white sand.” I pictured an area with pure white sand glittering in the sunlight and a rich blue sky arching overhead. Oddly enough, I...
The discovery and continued exploration of Carlsbad Caverns and other caves in the Guadalupe Mountains seems every bit as dangerous and awe-inspiring as the recent ventures into space. Like most people, I’d heard about the caverns for a long time, but never had a chance to visit them until this...

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