Red rock wilderness

Recently Grange asked me to review something he had written for school.

Apparently he felt my experience writing about the trading post life, Native artists, and Southwest art might prove useful.

Questioning his judgment, I inquired whether he had ever actually read any Tied to the Post stories. He had not.

So, I have advised him that fiction is my forte, and facts are often sacrificed in the interest of a good – or even mediocre – story.

I suggested he might reconsider the invitation if he wanted to get good marks on his essay.

In spite of my counsel he persisted, so we assembled our tools and settled in to write.

Grange had already begun fleshing out a few ideas, and we both liked the one focusing on what it was like to be born and raised in the “Red Rock Wilderness” of southern Utah.

Noticing what we were discussing, Jana mentioned the recent U.S. Census had classified San Juan County as “frontier.” This designation is reserved for counties with a population density of less than two people per square mile.

Consistent with that finding, our friend Cleal Bradford has for years labeled the residents of Bluff “modern day pioneers.”

This of course refers to the challenges faced by the founders of this isolated community and those confronted by its current residents.

The original pioneers, who set out for this area in the fall of 1879, expected their trek to last six weeks. Instead, the journey turned into a six-month ordeal.

As they reached what is now known as the Hole-In-The-Rock, a steep sandstone cleft that led down to the Colorado River, some argued they must turn back and abandon the expedition.

Jens Nielson, a Danish convert to the Mormon Church who had seen much worse, advised them, “We must go through. Even if there is no way through, we must go through.”

Nielson’s philosophy has guided me through 31 years at Twin Rocks Trading Post.

Indeed, although I realize the words were never really spoken by Gene Kranz during the ill-fated moon mission, we long ago adopted the Apollo 13 motto, “Failure is not an option.”

Like those in Nielson’s party who feared descending into the sandstone abyss, we frequently ask ourselves, “How will we ever get through?”

The answer is most often uncertain. We, however, persist, and in the process have become “Find-A-Way” people.

Just as Bluff’s patriarchs conquered the Hole-In-The-Rock, I have always gone through.

In times like these we must also find our way through, even if we are sure we can’t. Patience with our fellow man, diligence, and goodwill will get us through. God bless us all; we will need it.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday