Notes from Westwater

I was 12 when my mom, little brother, and I moved into my great-grandparents’ farmhouse in north central Kansas. Even though I’d always wanted to live in the country, the move from town to the old farmhouse terrified me. Without city streetlights, the nights were so dark I couldn’t see my hand in...
When we were in St. George at the end of February, I walked around the block in my mother-in-law’s neighborhood. Birds sang their spring mating songs on branches laced with delicate green. Daffodils, looking like old-fashioned telephones, and purple crocuses bloomed. After the frigid winter, the...
Every year for Valentine’s Day I give my hubby a weekend trip. This year he chose Green River and the San Rafael Desert with prehistoric and historic quests in mind. Those goals came from the book Hiking, Biking, and Exploring Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity, by Mike Kelsey. Because of...
On February 6, 2021, Ted, Oggie, and I drove down Highway 276, turned onto the Red Canyon road, passed the Red House dugout where Red House Annie once lived, and headed north up a rocky track toward a mesa with no name, a large plateau not far from the Tables of the Sun. The Red Canyon area, rich...
On January 10 I hiked up to the Westwater tower and then down to a lower trail, thinking Oggie was right behind me. Once I was down, I decided to take a shortcut to the north so I could see the Abajos covered with snow against the brilliant blue sky. When I finally paused to examine a tiny pinyon...
With the coqui frogs still singing, Ned Smith, Kirk Mosley, Ted, and I, left the house in Bayamón, Puerto Rico at 6:30 Tuesday morning and followed Ron Batt in his battered blue van to Maunabo and our first project. Ron founded the Halos and Hearts Organization to help reroof homes devastated by...
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma, a category-five storm, skimmed by Puerto Rico on the north, causing three deaths and widespread power outage. Two weeks later on September 20, Hurricane Maria rammed the island, crumpling the entire power grid and blowing frame houses off their foundations....
A few months ago, I told Ted I was addicted to Fable Valley, which we’ve returned to three times this fall. Since my confession, I’ve discovered that an addiction to nature is healthy for us. In the book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, Florence Williams...
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words. And some of the words are theirs. (Norman Maclean, A River...
On September 15, Oggie and I stopped at our usual resting place about halfway around our Westwater route. Oggie had previously dug a hole under a rock overhang where she liked to cool off while I poured her some water and took a drink myself. This time, after she rose to drink, I heard a squeak and...

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