Quilt in Panguitch When we visit small towns, we find ourselves intrigued by local history and museums. We're becoming quite used to collections of old farm equipment lined up in a park, or a lovingly-polished steam engine, protected by a shiny fence, in a prominent place near the city square. These days we see more Visitor Information centers and more brochures in French or German, which is a sensible idea since the West is a favorite destination for Europeans.
A welcome change from farm and mining equipment was to be seen in Panguitch Utah, where logs and bales of hay were used on every street corner to hang a quilt. So why were all these quilts on display? Panguitch was preparing for its annual Quilt Walk, the second week in June. There will be costumes, quilting workshops, a Cowboy Shoot (we think the Cowboys are the Shooters and not the Shootees), and plenty of home-cooked food.
The Quilt Walk story revolves around the initial attempt to settle Panguitch, Utah in 1864. The first Cliffs above Red Canyon winter was brutal, food was scarce and the settlers were starving to death. A group of seven men, with a wagon pulled by two oxen, set out to get food from Parowan, 40 miles away. In their weakened state, the men struggled with every footstep, sinking up to their hips in the deep snow. Eventually they abandoned their wagon and oxen and continued on foot. As they held a prayer circle kneeling on a quilt, they discovered they did not sink in the snow. The men completed their journey by laying quilts over the deep snow and walking across them, retrieving their quilts and repeating the process over and over again.
The Mormon settlers were always directed to establish some kind of industry, to provide a source of cash in addition to farming and ranching. So a brick factory was erected in Panguitch in the 1880s. But of course the workers were paid -- at least at first -- in bricks. Therefore Panguitch today is filled with lovely old brick homes and stores. We thought the enormous lilac bushes in the front yards might be as old as the houses.
Highway 12 out of Panguitch is one of the beautiful scenic roads of Southeastern Utah, leading past Bryce Earsys and Pendletons Canyon to Capitol Reef. Every turn of the highway seems more beautiful than the one before, and springtime is the best time of year, especially this year, when the wildflowers are abundant and add even more color to the many-hued rock formations.
But first we had a rendezvous with college friends -- this time Elsa's roommate Nancy and her husband Bob. They are wending their way west while we are zig-zagging generally eastward, and we managed to make our paths cross at Ruby's Inn, at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Ruby's Inn, consisting of inn, motel, gas station, restaurant, cafe, beauty shop, gift shop, art gallery, craft shop, internet hot spot, horse-and-helicopter tour booking center, conference center -- you get the idea -- is one of the two evidences we have seen of the enormous growth in popularity of our western National Parks. We remembered a lazy trip to Bryce Canyon in 1972, where we signed up for a campground the day we arrived. Not so today; in fact the enormous Ruby's Inn itself was 100% booked.
Over coffee and cantaloupe we sat and rattled back and forth with one another for an hour until it was time Dramatic rock strata to part, planning to meet again for a more leisurely visit in the future. Since we retired and "hit the road" we have had time to reestablish contacts with dozens of friends and relatives scattered all over the continent in at least 15 different states. It's one of the special pleasures of our nomadic life.
The Utah scenery dazzled us all the way to Torrey, where we found a hilltop restaurant and motel with a lovely view of the Aquarius Plateau in the distance.
Capitol Reef was designated a National Monument in 1937 and became a National Park in 1971. It is one of the quietest of the National Parks -- the first paved road to cross the park was finished only in the 1960s. It passes through Fruita, where a Mormon community settled and planted orchards in the 19th century. Now those orchards produce fruit which can be bought as pick-your-own fruit later in the summer.
The next day we retraced our 1972 path for Elsa's benefit. You see, she had just started working for the Textures in stone Whittier Public Library, and had earned no vacation time, while Bob had the benefit of the long vacations due to a college professor at the time, so he and the boys went alone on a three-week camping vacation.
Bob wanted Elsa to see the lovely dirt road he had followed then, along the east side of Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile *wrinkle* in the earth's surface, given its name because the erosion produced shallow indentations, or pockets in which rainwater collected. The land which has been pushed up is weathered and eroded, resulting in a variety of shapes and colors, canyons and hills. The desert vegetation was a lush green with splashes of blue and purple and yellow and white wildflowers. We saw a few pickup trucks and that was all for 65 miles of beautiful driving. An ordinary camera with its narrow field of view simply can't capture the panoramic splendor of the Utah scenery -- but we tried.
On the 1972 camping trip, Bob and the boys had visited the tiny little marina at Bullfrog, where a little Boats on Lake Powell boat with an outboard motor allowed them to explore the nooks and crannies of Lake Powell. Well, things have changed in Bullfrog, let us tell you! As we came over the rise we saw enormous parking lots filled with cars and long lines of boats on trailers queuing up to be launched. The water was jammed with power boats, cabin cruisers and jetskis (a good breeze is so uncommon that nobody brings a sailboat) and hundreds of houseboats were tied up in marinas and anchorages. Today people buy a houseboat and time share it for a week or two at a time in order to pay the costs of the boat and the anchorage.
How could there be such enormous crowds just a few miles from such a deserted dirt road? That probably says something about the human mob instincts.
We had an hour to wait for the ferry, and we enjoyed comparing and criticizing the skill of the various powerboat launchers. Some knew how to back up, hit the brakes and let the boat float off elegantly, while others strained and struggled to separate boat from trailer. But everybody got the job done sooner or later. At any given moment of time about six or eight trailers were in the process of launching into Lake Photographer's shadow Powell. This even though there was a large Launch Preparation Area at the top of the hill. We must have seen 75 to 100 boats launched in the hour we waited for the ferry.
Not one of the boaters (especially the little kids) was wearing a life jacket. We still have photos of Bob and the boys in life jackets back in 1972. Those were the days when the Coast Guard had more to say about boating safety. Nowadays that responsibility has devolved to other law enforcement agencies, but the National Park Police were not in evidence.
This was a wet season in the western mountains, and the Lake is now going up a foot and a half each day, forcing the ferry operators to keep changing their landings. The lake will still be well below flood stage, however, and will probably never full up completely, as long as the water-hungry southwest keeps experiencing a population boom.