Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Huck's Museum and the Promise of Fried Chicken.

Before I can actually tell you about Huck's Museum and Trading Post, I'll need to tell how we got there in the first place. We had just spent several hours hiking and exploring the Old Pioneer Dugway (outside Bluff, UT), and the slickrock ledges above it (that's for another post).  While I had brought along snacks, that wasn't enough for Roy and he wanted to hurry home as I had promised to make him fried chicken.  As we traveled northward, along Route 191, we were passing by Huck's and the OPEN sign was by the road, the neon sign inside was lit.

Now we had often passed by Huck's, but it was either closed, or we were hurrying off to elsewhere.  It was Sunday and we were surprised to see the open signs, but I told Roy I wanted to go in.  He kept driving though and pretended he had not heard me, so I asked him, "Umm, the museum, are we going?"  He replied, "I'm hungry and want fried chicken."  We were now two blocks away when I replied back, "You want fried chicken?  I want to see the museum; it's open, we're here; no museum, no fried chicken!"  Roy slowed the vehicle, checked traffic and did a U-turn back to Huck's.

Huck's Museum and Trading Post

1243 South Main Street (Route 191)
Blanding, Utah, 84511-3204

Phone: (435) 678-2329

The entrance to Huck's brings you directly into the trading post with all manner of knick-knacks for sale; the majority of them are Native American in origin (jewelry, pottery, Kachina dolls, carvings), local books and Blue Mountains Shadows, the magazine of San Juan County.  There are also old time artifacts on the walls, so you're sort of in a museum without being in the actual museum.

Now, as Huck told us later on, he's a hoarder; as soon as he empties out one area, it simply gets piled up again.  No wonder then that you won't notice him right away sitting by his desk, so don't jump when you hear his low, raspy voice say "Hello".  Hugh Acton (aka Huck) is, at first glance, a man of small stature (5'1"), frail and bent from the vestiges of age (87 years old), and cancer of the throat explaining the voice.  It's the eyes that give away that this old man is full of life yet; his tales are knowledgeable about San Juan County, and he is a pip!  Don't underestimate him; he's not dead yet and is still full of surprises!

The fee for the tour is $10 and well worth every penny and while the handwritten sign says "no photos allowed", he might just let you take one.  Huck owns and runs the museum/trading post on his own, and you can hear the love for his labors come through as he tells his tales.  There are mind blowing collections of arrowheads, beads, jewelry, tools, all types of pottery, axe heads (462 on one wall alone!) and sandals made from various plant fibers.  Thousands of artifacts, some of which he reconstructed himself, are housed in glass display cases that he built, designed, and labeled. His collection includes donations from local residents of the county, as well as artifacts from other sites throughout the United States, Mexico, Peru, and around the world. The "Hall of Fame" is a collection of artifacts sent to him by people from all over, who have visited the museum and knew he would appreciate their gifts.  He carefully labels each one with the name of the donor and the location where the artifact was found.

We developed an easy rapport with Huck; the first story he told was of when his father went to the 1934 World's Fair in Chicago and brought home a model of a Grey Hound bus.  "Well funny that." I said, "When I was a little girl, I went to the 1964 World's Fair in New York and have lots of souvenirs still."  His smile got so big, and I bet he was hoping I'd donate them to his museum.  He asked us many a question and was pleased when we showed we knew much about San Juan County.  Huck showed us the golden shovel he was able to keep from the dedication ceremony of the new Four Corners Monument; he was so proud!  By the way, did you know that the Anasazi invented the microphone?  No?  Then you better head on into Huck's and see the proof of it all.  We oohed and aahed, we smiled and laughed till our faces hurt; this was one experience that would remain memorable!

Huck himself must have had a really good time with us; he actually offered to give us our money back as a thank you for making his day...we refused of course.  After we left I asked Roy if he was glad we stopped and I made him wait for his fried chicken.  Oh yeah, he was happy, and that chicken was simply the ending to a great day.

Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blanding Cemetery

I've already given honor to Bluff Cemetery and Monticello Cemetery, so it's about time I get to the third of the San Juan County Pioneer Triad, Blanding Cemetery (Route 191).  The original pioneers from Bluff didn't stay there exclusively; they sent families to settle in the other two areas as well.  Blanding was originally known as "Grayson" (after Nellie Grayson Lyman, wife of settler Joseph Lyman), but changed to its current name due to a contest sponsored by wealthy easterner, Thomas Bicknell.  Heh, we east coasters are such cool folks.  Anyway, "Grayson" became Blanding (1914), the maiden name of Bicknell's wife, so the town library received 500 books...good deal!

Walter Crisbee Lyman is credited as being the "Founder of Blanding" (1905) and was extremely active in the development of the town as a whole. It was his idea to create the tunnel through the Abajo Mountains to bring water to Blanding; he also did the survey work.

However, it was Albert Robison Lyman who was the first settler, and built the first home; along with his wife, Ellen (nickname "Lell').  Before she died, Lell asked her sister, Gladys, to watch over her family, so it was no surprise this request was taken deeply to heart, and Albert married her.  Albert wrote many a book about San Juan County, and his art studio is still around, located in the park next to the Blanding Welcome Center.

Calvin Black was an advocate for development of San Juan County, and a leader of the ''Sagebrush Rebellion,'' which challenged the Federal Government over control of public land.

My friend, Amy, was my tour guide throughout the cemetery, so I received much of my information from her, and filled in the blanks from online sources.  So, lets get to Amy's family, since I've mentioned her.  Her lineage is the Watkins family, Richard and his wife, Marie Ann Martineau, who moved up to Utah from Mexico when Pancho Villa made the Mormons a target.  Marie Ann was, herself, Mexican, and life in Blanding was difficult due to prejudicial mind sets; but she raised a good and decent family nonetheless.  While at the cemetery, her spirit made it known that she was proud of Amy, and was very happy that we were friends.  I'm not a "hugger", so she did not hug me, but gave me the most beautiful smile.

There were several unusual, yet interesting, grave markers; quite unique in the depiction of the person they represented.

Betty and Alfred Pritchard

Jason Reese Hill
Elizabeth Silas

Vincent Silas

Guy Kelly and Guy S. Washburn

While not being highly unusual, there is a photograph of Rachel Black on her marker, posing with, I presume, a favorite horse.

...and Leo Black, among other things, loved the Ford Model T automobile.

Something I noticed in this cemetery is the large amount of children's graves; lack of water and shade in this area might be a large contributor, but those uranium mines weren't much help in staying healthy either.

There are grave markers that are simply lovely.

There are two Veteran Memorials, as well as a Retired Flag Burning Pit created by an Eagle Scout troop.

Which now leads me to show you some of the military grave sites. 
Hyrum Perkins and wife, Mary - WW2 Flier and POW

George F. Lyman

Jason Ray Workman was a highly decorated Navy Seal; he was one of 38 killed when a Chinook helicopter went down in Afghanistan.

Jason Ray Workman
Jason Ray Workman - back side of marker

Joseph Clyde Hunt

Quinn A. Keith

Kermit W. Phillips

Lyle Clint Palmer

Lynn Henry Stevens - Two Star General

Nathan Lloyd Winder was a recipient of the Purple Heart; he sadly died in combat.  I couldn't stay by his grave for very long; while his body is in Arlington Cemetery, his spirit is here in Blanding, and he is extremely sad.

Kumen Jones, one of the Hole in the Rock Pioneers, has a grave marker which lists his name, two wives, and names of his descendents.

Last, definitely not least, is Doctor James Redd; the Indian grave robbing Federal sting happened the same year we moved to Monticello.  Several people supposedly committed suicide, Dr. Redd being one of them.  I've heard many a person's opinion on the subject, and all I can say is, any people involved, still alive that is, should come right out and tell the truth of his story.  Settle it once and for all; then again, living in this area of small town gossip, will it ever really be settled?
I didn't know the man, but the San Juan Hospital staff has nothing but praise for him, so that's what I'll base my thought on the type of man he was....not gossip.

This concluded my visit to the Blanding Cemetery; thanks Amy for the tour and history lesson!

Update August 8, 2015

Been having lovely discussions with Dr. Redd's son, Jay.  He has given me three links to share with everyone to further educate us on his father, Dr. James Redd.  Thank you Jay, and through your writings to me, the love for your family does come out.

LA Times Article, "A Sting in the Desert"  website: http://graphics.latimes.com/utah-sting/

Jay Redd gives a speech about his dad in Blanding. website: http://youtu.be/PGA8T2gsQrw

Senator Hatch questioning Attorney General Eric Holder about Dr. James Redd and his death because of the raid on his house. website: http://youtu.be/XvzwF-KPHlk

Mary Cokenour

Friday, July 3, 2015

Recapture Pocket, a Hoodoo Playground East of Bluff, Utah.

Since we'd already found those hoodoos west of Bluff, finding the ones east was a must do!  We found them!!!  Recapture Pocket is very like a smaller version of Goblin Valley State Park, but free. 

Funny story time...I was at the dentist office and telling the hygienist about the hoodoos, so she asked, "Have you ever been to Recapture Pocket?"  I told her I didn't think so, but I'd look it up; online, I found photos of this place and it was where we'd just been!  Yeah, we used that "Around Bluff" pamphlet for directions again, and it didn't even list the name of the area.  That would have been so much easier to look up on a map then.  What my friend, Amy, simply says is, "It's a friend telling a friend telling a friend, who decided to write it down, but couldn't remember all the details or they got changed in the tellings.  Sort of like the child's game of "Telephone", or do kids play that anymore, since they're getting spoiled by receiving their own phones the moment they can talk???

Anyway, here's my telling of our hoodoo hunting east of Bluff.  We're going to start on Route 162, Twin Rocks CafĂ© (great place to eat afterwards) can be seen across west, and Cow Canyon Trading Post is on this corner.  Start at the trading post to be able to get to the 4.9 mile mark, not at the sign that says "Mile 0".

The road you will be making a left on has two names when you look at some maps (CR 2401 and CR 217), and you'll know you're there when you see a yellow "cow sign" with a "cattle crossing" sign underneath it; make the immediate left.  If you pass the second cow and crossing signs, you need to turn around, and then make a right onto CR 2401/CR 217.

So now I'm going to be really nice to all of you, and post a map that I doctored up; it wasn't until we left Recapture Pocket that we stumbled upon an alternate route from Route 191.  The blue line on the map is the first way we went in, following the instructions from the pamphlet; green line is the alternate route in/out; the short red line is also from following the pamphlet instructions and I'll explain that later on.

Here comes a warning, the pamphlet (yeah, I'm not liking it too much) states, "Most of these roads are not marked (this is true), but are passable with a normal automobile."  What it forgets to tell visitors is, that to locals, a normal automobile equals a vehicle with 4 Wheel Drive, High Clearance, maybe a Skid Plate, possibly Independent Suspension; you will definitely need 4WD and high clearance on your vehicle.  By the way, you are going out into desert terrain...bring lots of water and healthy snacks, make sure you have a full tank of gas!!!

Follow the blue line on the map, after the initial left turn, there will be a split at 9/10ths of a mile, take the left hand split and go 4/10ths of a mile.  Make the right onto CR 249 (Bluff Bench) and at the split at 7/10ths of a mile, go left again.  It won't be long before you begin seeing a hoodoo or more here and there, but it's at 1.3 miles that you reach hoodoo central...Recapture Pocket.

Roads are sandy, sometimes steep.

Roads are often rocky, sometimes chopped up.

Hoodoos watching on top a hill.

Recapture Pocket - we had so much fun walking among the hoodoos, sometimes climbing through openings to see what was on the other side.  The area is very sandy, so it feels like being on a beach; all we were missing were beach chairs, oversized umbrellas and a water filled baby pool to stick our feet in.

End of the canyon
Alright now, back to that handy dandy pamphlet which states, "When the road ends, park your car and walk."  which is exactly what we did next.   Getting back into the SUV, we continued down the road to the 2.2 mile mark at which it ended at a turn around circle and a metal post lodged in the ground.  So what do we do now?  Walk where? How far?  Which direction?  We eventually saw that the only way to walk was over this hardened ground that was carved out by rivulets of long past water.  We didn't get too far before we came to a deep dry wash; Roy walked up the hill next to us, but didn't see anything that drew his attention.  We concluded that where we had been was it for the hoodoos, well, except for the few we passed on the way to this dead end.  So that short red line on my map, that is this version of the road.

The actual end of the road is at the 2.2 mile mark.

Now here comes the alternative way in and/or out; we ended up going out this way when we zigged instead of zagged. (follow the green line on the map).  We ended back on CR 217, but heading west, a short distance onto Route 163, before taking CR 216 straight out to Route 191, north of Bluff.  Since we initially believed we were going back the way we came in, taking mileage readings didn't come into play.  It basically takes about the same time though whichever way you take, unless you keep stopping to take photos, like we do.

 ...and of course posting photos of local plant and wild life is a given.  Here is the Birdcage, aka Dune, Primrose which is part of the Evening Primrose family.  It's a delicate looking flower, yet grows throughout the desert regions.

Another site checked off on the "Around Bluff" pamphlet, only four more to go!

Mary Cokenour