Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017...We Can Only Hope.

For the New Year, my husband and I have one resolution to keep; to maintain hope.

2016 has been one of the most horrendous years that either of us has ever experienced. 

With not being able to get decent health insurance through an employer, we were forced into "Obamacare".  Necessary prescriptions for our diabetes care were kept out of reach due to high, high prices healthcare refused to cover.  Even the pharmaceutical companies gave us difficulty in getting a cheaper price on prescriptions; or said "NO!" because Obamacare should cover it all, but it didn't.

Tax time, we were slammed with outrageous fines for not staying within the poverty level.  Even though we made monthly payments; we were told "Not Enough, we want more!!!"  We were punished for getting healthcare through the government, when we should have had private insurance from the beginning.  Can't pay...too bad, now we'll take the money anyway!

We both had to dip into our existing IRAs to make ends meet; thereby being fined even more.  By the time either of us finally reaches an age we can get into the IRAs without being fined; we might be dead by then.  The age requirement keeps getting raised higher and higher; as we walk forward, the long hallway gets longer and longer.

It simply was, no matter how we attempted to get out of a hole, we were punished for even trying.

Finding full time employment has been one rejection after another; primarily due to the main facts of #1 - not being born and raised in the area; #2 - not following the "correct" religion;  #3 - not being descendants of a particular group.  It is a well known fact that this occurs again and again to others as well; it is a sick cycle that needs to be completely repaired.  We still have hope for changes in where we live; we still have hope that finally someone will stand up and say "Enough is enough; we welcome everyone completely, and not with restrictions to life here!"

There are a few people who care for us just because.  They don't care about those three reasons above; they care because we are good, kind, caring, loving people.  It's so wonderful to know that some do have their eyes, ears, hearts open to us.

While we have been struggling hard not to file for bankruptcy; unless there are serious financial changes for us in 2017; there will finally be no choice.

I am 58 years old now; I have worked since I was 16 years old; 42 years and within one year, I have lost almost all my savings.  Roy is 44 years old, he has worked since 16 years old also; 28 years of employment and wondering where has it all gone.  Retirement?  Not for me, not anytime soon at all; perhaps never at the rate we're going.

Many will read this and say, "We're in the same boat; we understand and feel your pain."  Others will say, "We wish we could help you, but not right now".  Many others will say, "We have ours, you can't get yours; we certainly wouldn't help you for any reason."  It is what it is.

So, Happy New Year from the Cokenours.  May the coming of a new President bring prosperity back to all the American people, not the chosen few.  May Karma punish those who revel in the pain and suffering happening to others.  May Karma punish those who have caused the pain and suffering.  May Karma bless those who have helped us, whether we know them, or they were anonymous; they cared and that was all that mattered...the caring.

Roy and I will rise up again; it may take some time and doing, but we will prevail!!!  Currently I'm filled with despair and anger tied together like the double helix of DNA.  I would love to see that change to happiness and relaxation.

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Half Day Tour with Four Corners Adventures.

Four Corners Adventures

254 East Center Street (Hwy 191)
Blanding, Utah, 84511

Phone: (435) 678-2628


Jared Berrett, Owner
Spring Berrett, Owner
Dallin Tait, General Manger, Lead Guide

Dallin Tait, foreground; Jared Berrett,  background

On November 10, I wrote about my adventure, with Roy, at Upper Arch Canyon Overlook.  Imagine my surprise when I went into work and was told, November 17th; trip with Four Corners Adventures with welcome center people from Monticello, Blanding, Bluff; Utah's Canyon Country staff; and members of  On the agenda was Upper Arch Canyon Overlook, Cave Towers (aka Seven Towers) in Mule Canyon, and maybe House on Fire.

The morning of the 17th began with snow, only about 1/4 of an inch, and about 35 to 40 mile/hour winds; but would this cancel our trip?  Oh hell no!  8:30am our ride showed up at the Welcome Center and away to Blanding we headed; last ones to arrive at the Four Corners Adventures office, but anxious to get going nonetheless.  One of the owners, Jared Berrett, gave us a brief update on what the plans were for the half day; we also were introduced to lead guide, Dallin Tait; and a guide up from Kayenta, Louis.

Into two, heavy duty, travel vans we packed in and off to Upper Arch Canyon Overlook we headed along State Highway 95.  Once we turned onto Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road; Dallin stopped the van to show us the trailhead to House on Fire.  Might as well tell you now that we didn't get to hike to it this day; between the snow on the ground and the cold, high winds, many of the group didn't feel up to it.  Don't be disheartened; the next day it was much warmer, no wind, so Roy and I made the trek and I'll be doing a post about that on a later date.   Back to this story...

Upper Arch Canyon Overlook looked very different from when I'd been there on the 10th; snow kissing the red rocks, dense cloud cover blocking out the mountains, and a good amount of the canyon beyond Cathedral and Angel Arches.  Jared and Dallin warned everyone to stay away from the peninsula's edges because of the high winds.  It wouldn't do for anyone to go flying off into the canyon, and with a parachute!  Of course Jared had to put shock into us all when he took a group photo; there he stood, up on a boulder, mere inches from the edge.

Upper Arch Canyon Overlook

Members of the group walk the peninsula.

Cathedral Arch
Cave Alcove Across from the peninsula.

Foggy Upper Arch Canyon.

Next stop on our trek was a mere 3/10ths of a mile east of Mule Canyon/Texas Flat Road.  There is a gate across the dirt trail; simply open the gate and make sure to close it behind you.  Another 3/10ths of a mile and we were at the parking area for Cave Towers aka Seven Towers; the choice is to walk the 350 feet to the ruin site, or drive.  With the severe cold the winds brought, driving was a great choice, but beware, this is one heck of a rocking and rolling trail ahead over slickrock and deeply rutted road.


At the site there is a single grave, fenced in, but no information listed anywhere; not at the grave site, not even on the information boards.

The trail to the ruins is not that difficult; sometimes climbing up onto rocks, and the dirt trails are loose dirt with small stones.  For extra leverage, a walking stick is a handy tool to carry.  Along the way, a hidden spring can just barely be seen down from a rocky ledge; we couldn't hear it though because of the wind.

The seven towers (3 partially standing, 4 collapsed) are along the short side of the oval surrounding Mule Canyon.  To the left, this trail is on less of an incline; the trail to the right climbs up higher and the trail is very narrow.  Walking the ledge, pueblo ruins, including a kiva can be seen along the northern wall ledges.  There are granaries tucked here and there along the wall ledges also.

Side note:  The next day, after visiting House on Fire, Roy and I went back to Cave Towers.  We found all 7 towers, could hear the hidden spring, and walking the ledges was a dream.  As we went further along the oval, we could make out more ruins along the wall ledges, and didn't have to worry about getting blown off the edge by the wind!  I will be writing up two separate blog posts, one on House on Fire, the other of the second visit to Cave Towers.  Make sure you're a Follower of my blog, and you won't miss a thing!

Cave Towers aka Seven Towers

What a View!  Tables of the Sun in the far distance.

Cave Alcoves below.
Pueblo and Kiva Ledge Ruins.
Upper Ledge.

Lower Ledge
Granary tucked into a corner.

 Views of Mule Canyon.

Thankfully, Jared and Dallin had hot chocolate and granola bars waiting for us back at the vans.  Let me tell you, after one hour of hiking, climbing and photographing; I could no longer feel my hands or face.  Back home though, I admired the fresh, pink skin; imagine, women pay thousands of dollars to go to spas for the same result.  All they needed to do was walk around cliff ledges, in 35-40 mile an hour winds for an hour.  Who knew!?!

Ah Louis, I'm not forgetting Louis; he was a pleasure to speak with; very knowledgeable as a guide, but better yet....he and I got to discuss Native American foods!

Anyway, back at Four Corners Adventures main office, we said our goodbyes and headed back to our respective visitor centers or offices.  It was also a pleasure to meet the folks of; whom I often share links of my travel blog adventures with.  This was a most awesome half day adventure with Four Corners Adventures.

If you're interested in one of their guided land tours which includes:


-  OR  -


Give Jared, Spring or Dallin a call to help you make the best choices for your adventuring.

Mary Cokenour

Monday, November 14, 2016

Once Again in the North Lower Forest.

CR 160 - June 2014, my dog Jenna and I explored trails at the northern lower end of the Manti-LaSal forest.  In 2015, for some reason, a portion of that trail was now fenced off and reserved for hunting.  However, 2016, we tried the trail once more and it was open fully again; this time freshly graded and widened. 

This has to be one of many relaxing rides we have experienced, so having it open, and improved, was a thrill.  Also, a favorite activity is finding rock groupings, or outcroppings, and exploring these as well; never know if ruins or rock art is tucked inside one of many openings.  Climbing up or down to, and throughout, is great exercise too; we also have developed the good habit of checking for scat and tracks.  Coming face to face with a bobcat, mountain lion or bear is not on the to-do list; taking photos from a distance is, and using a zoom lens to achieve it.

This time, Roy was along with us, and good thing too.  As we went the first half mile on CR 160, from Spring Creek Road, we saw a large pickup truck (New Mexico plates) pulled slightly off the trail.  A man came onto the trail waving his arms at us, so we stopped to see if he needed help; a second man sat in the pickup.  The first man said to us, "Did you see it!?!" in quite an excited tone.  "See what", Roy asked.  "The huge dog running through the trees, I think it was a wolf!"  He tried to persuade us to park and follow him into the trees to find this large dog, but we didn't take the bait.

See, we're smart enough to know that, besides the four legged predators that live in, and roam, the forest; the deadliest predator walks on two legs...Man.  The last known wolf to be killed in San Juan County was a large male (his hide measured eight feet long), sixteen years old, nicknamed "Big Foot"; killed by Roy Musselman in March 1920. ("The Improvement Era Volume 24" – September 13, 2013 by Church of Jesus Christ of Saints,  Story of "Big Foot" by Albert R. Lyman)  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that the last known wolf within the state of Utah was killed in the 1930s.  (Personal Opinion: The senseless slaughter of wolves is BULLSHIT!!!)  Now, since wolves have been seen once again in Colorado, could one or more have made their way to San Juan County, Utah?  Maybe, or maybe these guys saw a large coyote, they can grow as large as wolves; or maybe they were simply up to no good.  We said good luck in finding the dog, and kept driving.

Anyway, we soon found an interesting grouping of rock ledges with small alcoves and did some searching there. 

We did try out CR 119 again, but only 2/10ths of a mile down, the trail turned into a rutted mess just perfect for ATVs. Doesn't mean we won't check it out from time to time to see if it gets graded, and more passable.

A favorite place to stop is just past a dry wash; there's a rocky outcropping that we enjoy climbing up to; Jenna especially loves running around there. 


Panoramic View from CR 160

Back onto Highway 191, we weren't ready to head home yet, so decided to try and find Gordon Reservoir. Gordon Reservoir, off CR 120, is located 3.8 miles from Monticello, North on Highway 191.  The first time I'd traveled CR 120, I found the remains of a building; what I didn't know was that the dirt road on the side of the building led to the reservoir.  Most of the abandoned building has been removed, basically only the foundation remains; but we took the side dirt road on a lark, and found treasure at the end. 

The road to Gordon Reservoir.

Members of the CR 120 Road Committee.

 Oh, before I continue, I guess I should introduce you to the CR 120 Road Committee and its future membership.

CR 120 Road Committee in Session.

Future Members of the CR 120 Road Committee.

A Young Member Takes a Lunch Break.

View from CR 120.

Taking in the view from CR 120, we found ourselves being circled by Turkey Vultures; we disappointed them by NOT making ourselves available for the lunch menu.  I remember once a visitor to town asking me, "Why are all those birds circling around in the field outside of town?"  After getting a basic description from her, I surmised they were turkey vultures, to which I answered, "Oh, that's part of the Search and Rescue Team; they find the body, and the circling informs the team where to find it; it also means the vultures have found lunch, and the recovery team better get there pronto!"  I have no idea why she looked at me strangely, but said thank you anyway and left quickly.  Geez, doesn't anyone have a sense of humor anymore?

Anyway, the trail we took to Gordon Reservoir was not in the best condition; long, deep ruts often forced us to drive on the opposite side of the road.  Once we traveled as far as we could, it was a short walk to the reservoir itself....lovely, quiet, cattle grazing at one grassy end; the blades of the windmills slowly was a picturesque scene.

Gordon Reservoir is named after Warner Eugene, aka Latigo, Gordon, who was the third foreman of the Carlisle Cattle Company.  However, some writings have his name as William E. Gordon, such as in Life in a Corner: Cultural Episodes in Southeastern Utah, 1880–1950  by Robert S. McPherson, and wonder if the author just gave Latigo the same first and middle name of the local sheriff, William E. Hyde by mistake?



There was a great feeling of accomplishment, finding CR 160 open fully again and finally finding Gordon Reservoir.

So now I'll leave you with a few nature photos.

Horses in a Pasture on Spring Creek Road.

Wooden Stump Sculptured by Nature.

Prickly Pear Cactus.

No matter how much time you have, no matter the weather, go out and enjoy...period, just enjoy.

Mary Cokenour