Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy and Challenging Seven Years in Monticello, Utah.

Seven years have gone by since Roy and I moved to Monticello.  While we've been happy, for the most part, to say it was challenging is an understatement.  We still have struggles, but we face them together; and we've developed several friendships with locals that have helped us keep our sanity.

I predicted that within ten years this town would change, and it has slowly and surely.  New larger businesses are Maverik, Family Dollar,  Spower Wind Farm and Canyon Country Discovery Center; some smaller businesses are Paca Pantry (Alpaca products and more), Door No. 3 (florist and gifts), Draper's Auto Repair and Towing, Desert Stone Studio (my husband's venture into videography, animation and editing).  The new City Council and, still acting, Mayor (Tim Young - owner of Main Street Pharmacy and Gifts) acknowledge that business growth is needed to keep this small town viable. 

Proudly I can say that many new citizens have moved into the area due to what they have read on this blog.  Tourism is up, and I know many visitors have come, once again, due to this blog.  Now how can I say this?  Well, they tell me!  I've met many of them, and I'm not shocked anymore to see my blog on someone's phone or tablet. 

There are still citizens here that live in a time warp bubble; as far as they're concerned, it's still the 19th century when the first pioneers settled in San Juan County.  Their children's children, however, have a more modern view mainly due to all the technology and internet of the 21st century.  Monticello will continue to change as more "outsiders" move into the area; as more businesses open; as more visitors from all over the world come to experience this part of the Southwest.  Oh, that term "outsiders" is one that those born and bred here call everyone else; then again, what small town doesn't do that?

So, why should you consider visiting Monticello, or even moving here?  Real blue sky that goes on forever; stars at night that shine as bright as diamonds; the moon so large that you can't help but reach up and try to touch it; air is clean and crisp with the scent of sage; open land as far as the eyes can see...need I go on?  Alright, I will about the definition of a traffic jam out here?  Three pickup trucks in front of you and no passing lane; much more preferable than a backed up major highway through an overcrowded city full of dirt, pollution and wall to wall people.  Peaked your interest yet?

Lets take a photographic tour of the town...

North Entrance - Welcome Sign and Canyon Country Discovery Center.

View of town from Young's Machine Shop.

Junction of Highways 191 (North/South) and 491 (East/West)

North Main Street

Monticello Library

San Juan Record - Local Newspaper which I write food articles for thanks to owner, Bill Boyle.
Veterans Memorial Park

Traveling east along Route 491 will bring you into Colorado; only a 20 minute ride to another state!  Westward is Blue Mountain Foods (local grocery); local elementary and high school; San Juan Hospital and Clinic.

Highway 491 East.
South Main Street

Shops Along South Main Street.

San Juan County Building - Monticello is the County Seat.

This is where I work, so stop in and say "Hello!".
Monticello Welcome Center, Frontier Museum, Big 4 Tractor Building

Looking northward from the Welcome Center.

Looking southward from the Welcome Center.

Hideout Golf Club and Community Center.

Panorama View of the Golf Course from the Community Center balcony.

Hideout Golf Course.
Leaving Monticello along South Route 191, the Monticello Millsite Memorial, with walking trails, will be on the left.  This was dedicated to all those workers, and their families, who became ill due to the effects of uranium exposure and poisoning from the Monticello Uranium Mill.

Continuing south on Route 191 are the small towns of Blanding and Bluff; outside of Bluff, continue onto Route 163 for Mexican Hat, the San Juan River and finally Monument Valley.   As you can see from the photos, I wasn't lying about the blue sky and open landscapes.

...and for your viewing pleasure, Monticello Utah - Main and Center; the Video!

After seven years, I've finally seen and held a Desert Horned Lizard (aka Horny Toad).

...and yes, there are rattlesnakes here in the desert.  Utah has the Midget (aka Pgymy) Faded Rattlesnake which is very deadly; about 10 to 20 minutes before you're a goner.

Video of Midget Faded Rattlesnakes c/o Desert Stone Studio.

In the Manti-La Sal National Forest is an elusive creature, the Abert's Squirrel; well I finally saw, not one, not two, but three!  It's at the lower elevations, and we found these on the forest road (FR 085) which passes by Devil's Canyon campground.

I've still to capture a Golden Eagle on camera, but here's a Red Tailed Hawk in flight.

...and who doesn't love the Praying Mantis?  The ones I've seen out here are slightly larger than the ones back on the East coast.

Living out here in the Southwest, I've been able to see and experience places and things that I never thought I would.  Luckily, I have the best companion in the world, Roy Cokenour; my husband, bestest friend, cohort and co-conspirator, fellow adventurer and explorer. 

Three more years Monticello, three more years to give my prediction of change more to go on.

Mary Cokenour

Note: Roy is currently working on a video of Monticello and will be posted on here asap.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Forest and Man Trail at Devil's Canyon.

So, if you read my write up about our local National Forest Campgrounds, you would know that Devil's Canyon is one of them.  At the end of the first come/first serve camp sites is a nature trail called "The Forest and Man".  It's a very easy trail to walk and takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending on whether you do a little off the trail hiking or not.

There are numbered posts all along the trail that corresponds to the map on the wooden board; if you're lucky, there might be a paper map in the box at the beginning of the trail head, or not.

Post 1 is a logging stump, but we enjoyed checking out the fallen trees and rocks.

Post 2 is supposed to be Yucca plants, but while we saw several here and there along the trail, just not in this area.  Then again, it was the first week of May we were there, so plants that should have been visible might still have been asleep.

Posts 3 and 4 are near each other; #3 is something called "Catface", but we couldn't make it out.   Thanks to Kerry Shumway though, he drew it out for us on the photo; and now you can see it better too!

 #4 is a burnt tree stump.

Post 5 is a lightning strike area; I don't believe our imaginations were working the day we were there; we weren't seeing what we were supposed to at #3, #4 or #5.

At Post 6, there is a bench if you need to take a breather; Pinyon Pines are in this area and give us that precious little nut...pinon (pine) nuts.

Post 7 is porcupine damage and I'm taking their word for it.

Post 8 is Juniper

while Post 9 are Ponderosa Pines.

Post 10 is old barbed wire fencing and broken wooden posts; you can do a short hike, but it ends as quickly as begun.

Post 11 is Squaw Apple; part of the rose family and aka "wild crab apple".  The leaves are lance-shaped and gray-green; flowers are white tinged with pink, resembling apple blossoms.

Post 12 are Indian Ruins; a granary inside a cave.  There is a short trail that leads to a large grouping of rocks that are easy to walk over to get the best viewing across the canyon.

Granary inside Cave.

Were these ruins that collapsed?

The trail loops upward behind some rocks and leads you back to the wooden board with map.  This is definitely a short, enjoyable walk; and if you have children, you can all learn about the various trees and plants located in this section of the forest.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cloudy Days are Great Exploring Days.

This post is dedicated to all the whiners, whingers, spoiled brats, entitled, feeling owed, and all around basic cry babies who make the claim that, "Nothing can be done on a cloudy day!!!"  Stop sniveling!!!  No one owes you a thing because you don't know how to make the best of every situation.  No one is going to compensate you because you feel your vacation is now ruined.  Get over yourselves and better start learning how to enjoy life to the fullest!!!

Now that I have your attention; lets go gallivanting!  Across from Church Rock is another large sandstone formation called George Rock aka The Alligator aka Alligator Rock.  George Rock is named after George R. Adams (Mormon pioneer) who ran livestock there in the 1890s.  Now why the nickname "The Alligator" or "Alligator Rock"?  Use a little imagination when looking at two of the side views; the snout, eyebrows and head of an alligator can be seen.

View looking west from Route 191.

View looking south from Route 211.

To access George Rock, go about a half mile down Route 211 (the way to Newspaper Rock and Canyonlands National Park - Needles) and there is a dirt road (not the one with the metal gate, after that one) through the sage brush.  If you miss this one, there is another about a tenth of the way further; it can get bumpy, so 4 wheel drive is advisable.  As you travel around the formation, take note of how it changes in structure; the side facing south is home to several huge alcoves; while facing east is a small arch that can be hiked to.
East Side (with small arch), South Side (with alcoves)

Part of West and South Sides
Western Side.

The Alcoves

East Side with Small Arch.
George Rock and Church Rock Panorama

Views from the Alcoves

Now George Rock has two other claims to fame, one infamous; the other as a minor part in a cult's development.  In 1961, a B52 Bomber crashed; parts of the plane were distributed at both Church and George Rock.  It was speculated that the plane was carrying nuclear bombs, and the Air Force did a thorough clean up of the area.  An article about the crash can be read at the San Juan Record's archive; link:  In the 1930s, Marie Ogden and her Home of Truth cult resided in the Dry Valley area; George Rock being part of that.  Now there are piles of debris (wood, metal and a stone foundation) still there, but what, if any, are part of either the B52 crash, or the cult's buildings, is unknown; there is also a small, white windmill and an irrigation ditch. 

The day we were here at George Rock was in April; it was cloudy with a slight breeze...not one drop of rain, no thunder, no lightning, and we had an awesome day of hiking around and exploring.  For those who are afraid of a cloudy day, well you'll just go on missing out on life and adventure.

Oh, we went back in May on a beautiful sunny day, but you'll just have to wait for those photos now, won't you.

Never say never, and don't let a little cloud cover make you cry.

Mary Cokenour