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.


  1. Enjoyed the video. Thanks. Saw my Grandma Christensen's old house, the lot where I bought my first car, the library where I first voted, the apartment I rented the year I worked there, the motel my aunt used to manage, the golf course where my Grandma Shumway played her first tournament, and,'ugh' the high gas prices.

    1. So happy you enjoyed the video, Kerry. Share the link, so it can get seen by others.
      Thanks bunches.
      Mary and Roy

  2. Loved it! Monticello is a special place. Thanks for capturing the beauty.

    1. You are so welcome, and thanks for much for the compliments.

  3. Received this comment via email and had to share:

    "Hi Mary.

    Congrats on your seven years in Monticello!

    I found your blog a couple of years ago. I truly enjoy your perspective, descriptions, and humor as you explore the Four Corners. My husband, Tom, and I just returned from our 20th trip to the area. We had hoped to stop by to say hi, but unfortunately, came through Monticello too late. Maybe next time.

    We are recently retired and live in Overland Park, a KC suburb. In 1976 we fell in love with the Colorado Plateau and annually revisit favorite places and make new discoveries on foot or as far as our small 4wd can get us on the dusty two tracks The area first captivated us for its beauty and solitude, but as the years have gone by we have become deeply moved by its rich geologic and ancient cultural history.

    We care deeply about the protection of the beauty and solitude of the Colorado Plateau and are so very glad that another generation of folks like you have come along to care for it. May you have many years of adventures there!

    Hope to see you on the backroads! Until then, we will keep enjoying your blog!


    Joyce Mouis"

    Thank you Joyce for this most awesome email!!! Mary