Monty left Grand Junction, Colorado and lived in Austin, Texas for a short time before arriving in Arizona in 1984. He brought with him the love of camping and dirt bike riding. We met in 1990 and he quickly introduced me to the joys of camping and we rode double on the dirt bike many a mile before we bought an ATV for a bit more comfort. The dirt bike was fun and we enjoyed riding in the National Parks as well as many of the back roads in Utah, Colorado and Arizona.

Outside Moab, Utah in Canyonlands National Park we rode way out in the badlands area. It was so desolate and forbidding that it was a bit scary. We discovered the tail of a small plane down in one of the canyons. Clearly it had been there awhile but it was still a reminder that we were out there pretty much on our own. Monty had ridden in this area often with some of his pals from Grand Junction so he was familiar with the terrain and loved riding and exploring in the canyon country.

Monty and the Dirt Bike

Monty and the Dirt Bike

On that same trip to Canyonlands National Park we were disappointed to discover the creek bed that led to the Tower Ruin was fenced off to travel. This was a lovely wide creek that was usually dry and perfect for cruising along on the dirt bike. Monty was looking forward to showing me the dwelling and after a few minutes thought, he decided if he laid the dirt bike down he could slide it under the fence. Somehow it didn’t look like this was the first time he had been faced with a similar situation. We spent a delightful afternoon cruising the creek, the dwelling was magnificent, and we enjoyed an afternoon of sandstone climbing.

 

In these early years we were driving a Blazer and pulling an open trailer for the dirt bike. Monty had extra gas cans on the trailer with Bonello clearly written on the sides. When we returned to the Blazer there was a note under the wiper directed to Mr. Bonello, stating that the creek was closed due to quick sand and suggested we might re-consider ducking the fence. It was signed by Ranger Mitch Fong. Busted! We’ve spent twenty-five years looking over our shoulder for our nemesis, Mitch Fong. We’ve been to all the National Parks in Utah and we thought surely we’d run into him somewhere in our travels but he has remained a mystery.

This particular trip was full of special memories. We were tent camping in the small Cottonwood Campground in Canyonlands, aptly named for the huge cottonwood trees that run along Indian creek. After our eventful day we had happy hour/dinner and settled in to enjoy a fire and cup of hot chocolate when our neighbors wandered over. This delightful evening was spent with a couple from Germany. They were in America touring the Southwest canyon country in a small rented RV. This is a very popular destination for Europeans, many rent RV’s in Los Angeles, San Francisco or even Denver with an itinerary to see Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches and of course the Grand Canyon. She was a mid-wife and he was a parson. In the early nineties, mid- wives weren’t as common as they are now and when have you heard the term parson? They were fascinated by the culture of the Native Americans. They were curious that the Indian women were making and selling jewelry along the road and the men were nowhere to be seen. Where were the men and what were they doing to contribute? They referred to them as the Na-vah-hoe Indians. They shared stories about the current Germany and how it is different from when Monty visited there in the early 70’s.

Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground

When the couple joined us at the campfire they brought a couple of cans of beer and offered to share, although somewhat apprehensively. They were not sure what the deal was with not being able to readily buy beer or liquor in Utah. Since we were out here camping in Utah, did we not drink either? It was a fun discussion and we enjoyed their company.

The next day we headed out in the Blazer up Salt Creek to see Angel Arch. There was a group of people from California driving modified VW Bugs taking the trek along Salt Creek. This is slow going four wheel drive road, most of the way in the creek bed that still had plenty of water. It was a fun day. The arch is without a doubt one of the most beautiful arches we’ve ever seen.

Angel Arch

Angel Arch

Well, all of that has come to an end to preserve some small darter snail or milk weed. We went back to Canyonlands several years ago and sure enough, the environmentalists have gotten there and threatened to shut down the park if the National Parks Assoc. didn’t close Salt Creek to traffic and ban any type of dirt bike or ATV from the thousands of acres of back country. So unless you are a back backer and can hike twenty miles one way you are never going to see Angel Arch.

We believe in preserving our wildness and we have NEVER driven off the road or torn up the environment with the ATV, BUT to legislate rules that allow only a limited number of hardy hikers to see our National Parks and keep everyone else out of all of that beautiful country is narrow minded and stupid.

The Maze

The Maze

Canyonlands Park is set up in four districts and they are vast areas bisected by a couple of large rivers. You can’t just skip from one area to another. Not too long ago we went up past Green River to the Maze District. This part of the park is called the Maze for a reason, the canyons create an incredible maze that is hard to believe. There are thousands of miles of wilderness areas for back packing, the country is too rough for vehicle traffic. In the early 2000’s a young man from Colorado went hiking in Blue John Canyon here and became trapped by a shifting boulder. Since he didn’t tell anyone where he was going, (mistake # 1) and didn’t have a companion with him (mistake # 2) he ended up cutting off his lower arm to save his life. Yes, this is really the outback.

We camped in Bureau of Land Management Land (BLM) outside the park and took the Jeep in to a view point to oversee the Maze. This was a four wheel drive road that was a challenge but worth the trip. The maze is other worldly. The no ATV rules apply even to this desolate area of the park. We would have been much more comfortable on the ATV than bouncing along in the jeep. Not only that, but there was a strict rule stating no dogs even in the vehicle. So Mattie had to stay in the camper while we drove to see the maze. I’m just asking, how much trouble could a dog, in the jeep, cause in these thousands of miles of open space? We are soon fed up with the  narrow, self-serving agenda of some folks. We look forward to seeing what all these ‘holier-than-thou’ folks think of the limited access plan when they are old and gray with bad knees and new a hip. Ok, moving on, next stop was Horseshoe Canyon.

Horseshoe Canyon is famous for the Great Gallery, well preserved rock art with life sized figures along the canyon wall. This wall is sometimes referred as the Ghost Panels. We’ve heard about the panels for many years and were eager to see them. Surprise, no dogs on the trail. Once again Mattie is relegated to the camper while we hike down the canyon.

The Great Gallery

The Great Gallery

The canyon is lovely with a creek, spring and cottonwood trees. It was a beautiful day and the short trek was nice. There are several dwellings along the canyon walls and there are both pictograph (painting) and petroglyphs (pecking) art work along the canyon walls in the area. The main panel, located about a mile and half into the canyon is two hundred feet long and fifteen feet tall. There were several people at the panels. A visitor book is available to sign and leave comments, along with logs to sit on and contemplate the view.

The artwork is beautiful, it is believed to have been created by the Native Americans who left the area by 1300 A.D. Most of the figures are red, made from red ochre or iron oxide. The natives used brushes fashioned out of plant material, hands, finger tips or, in some cases, the paint was sprayed from their mouth. It is amazing that the paint is still visible and appears to be wearing well. If you figure how often you have to paint your house it is nothing short of a miracle that these figures are still here for us to see.

I remember a spring ride on the ATV up through Davis and Lavender Canyon outside Canyonlands. The weather was beautiful and both Davis and Lavender creek were running with snow melt. We crossed the creeks and proceeded on our way up the canyons to explore. On the way home, later in the afternoon, the run off from the spring snow melt had produced much higher creeks. Well, there was really only one way home, so off we went into the creek. What a ride, the ATV bobbed along in the water, going more down stream than across, luckily we caught on an occasional rock or bit of sandbar that sent us sprinting ahead but we continued down stream. We finally made it to the other side, albeit about a block from where we started.

Mattie in Her Spot on the ATV

Mattie in Her Spot on the ATV

This is picture is one of my favorite memories of the Canyonlands area. After they closed the park to ATV’s we took to riding in an area outside the park. There was a good camping spot and some back roads to explore. In 2003 we brought home our first traveling companion, Mattie, or as Zoe refers to her, Saint Mattie, apparently that dog never did anything wrong! Anyway, we were doing some fall riding, and of course Mattie rode with us. Monty built her a carrier on the side of the ATV and she was happy as could be to ride along. On this occasion we stopped at the camper to have lunch and looked around for Mattie and there she was sitting in her spot ready for the afternoon ride. I remember that day turned cold before we got back to the camper, we had warm windbreakers on but we were worried abut Mattie getting chilled. We dug out an old sweatshirt from the storage box, poked her front legs thru the sleeves, slipped it over her head and she was happy as a clam riding with her purple sweatshirt on.

Mattie’s diagnoses of chronic kidney disease when she was three years old was so heart breaking I didn’t think we would recover. She managed another two years but that wasn’t nearly enough time to enjoy that dog. As the vet told us, Mattie was just dealt a bad hand and there wasn’t anything to be done to save her. Losing her was so hard, here are some of our favorite pictures of her. This poem gives us comfort and we know she will be there to greet us.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

High Country, Colorado

High Country, Colorado

Dad’s Driving, I’m Snoozing

Dad’s Driving, I’m Snoozing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…. Author Unknown

Mattie - August 2003 - October 2008

Mattie – August 2003 – October 2008

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