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The Thing from Another World (RKO, R-1957). One Sheet (27″ X 41”).

The Thing from Another World (RKO, R-1957). One Sheet (27

The Thing from Another World 1951
Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!
—Ned “Scotty” Scott

www.popscreen.com/v/7aMWr/The-Thing-from-Another-World Full Feature
www.youtube.com/v/T5xcVxkTZzM Trailer
This is one of the major classics of 50s sci fi movies. Released in April of 1951, it was the first full-length film to feature a flying saucer from outer space, which carried a hostile alien. The budget and the effects are typical B-grade stuff, but the acting and pacing are well above the usual B levels. Kenneth Toby and Margaret Sheriden star. James Arness (more known for his westerns) plays The Thing.
Howard Hawks’ early foray into the science fiction genre took advantage of the anti-communist feelings of the time to help enhance the horror elements of the story. McCarthyism and the Korean War added fuel to the notion of Americans stalked by a force which was single of mind and "devoid of morality." But in the end, it is American soldiers and scientists who triumph over the evil force – or the monster in the case of this film. Even today, this is considered one of the best of the genre.
Film review by Jeff Flugel. June 2013
There’s not a lot new or particularly insightful I can offer when it comes to discussing the seminal sci-fi flick, The Thing from Another World that hasn’t been written about ad naseum elsewhere. One of the most famous and influential of all 1950s creature features, it kicked off more than a decade of alien invasion and bug-eyed monster movie mayhem, inspired a host of future filmmakers (one of whom, John Carpenter, would go on to direct his own version of the story in 1982), and remains one of the best-written and engaging films of its kind.
Loosely (and I do mean loosely) adapted from John W. Campbell’s novella, "Who Goes There?," The Thing is legendary director Howard Hawks’ lone foray into the science fiction/ horror genres, but it fits comfortably into his filmography, featuring as it does Hawks’ favorite themes: a group of tough professionals doing their job with ease, good-humored banter and practiced finesse; a bit of romance with a gutsy dame who can easily hold her own with the boys; and lots of overlapping, razor-sharp dialogue. Featuring a script by Charles Lederer and an uncredited Ben Hecht, The Thing is easily the most spryly written and funniest of all 50s monster movies. In fact, it’s this sharpness in the scripting, and the extremely likeable ensemble cast of characters, rather than the now-familiar story and somewhat unimaginative monster design, that makes the film still feel fresh and modern to this day.
There’s likely few people out there reading this who don’t know the story of The Thing like the back of their hand, but here goes…When an unidentified aircraft crashes close to a remote research station near the North Pole, Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey, in the role of his career) and his squad are dispatched there to investigate. Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) heads the scientific contingent there, and he informs Hendry that he thinks the downed craft is possibly "not of this earth." A joint team of soldiers and scientists head out to the crash site and find an actual, honest-to-goodness flying saucer lying buried under the ice.
The spaceship is destroyed while the men try to melt the ice around it with thermite bombs, but they find a lone, 8-foot-tall extraterrestrial occupant frozen nearby and bring the body back to the outpost in a block of ice. Dr. Carrington and his crew of eggheads want to study the thing, but Hendry is adamant that it should be kept as is until he gets word from his superior in Anchorage, General Fogerty. It wouldn’t be a monster movie without something going pear-shaped, of course, and before you know it, a careless mistake results in the creature being thawed out of his iceberg coffin and going on a bit of a rampage, taking out a number of sled dogs and a few unsuspecting scientists along the way. The rest of the film details the tense battle between the surviving humans and the coldly intelligent, remorseless alien invader, which seems virtually unkillable, impregnable to cold, bullets and fire…
The set-up for the film, and how everything eventually plays out, might seem overly familiarly nowadays, but in 1951, this was cutting-edge stuff, at least in cinemas. The Thing plays as a veritable blueprint of how to make a compelling "alien monster-on-the-loose" movie. Howard Hawks not being particularly well-versed, or even interested in, science fiction per se likely worked to its benefit, as he ended up making, as he so often did in his other films, what is first-and-foremost a well-oiled entertainment, rather than simply a genre exercise.
Typical of a Hawks film, The Thing is meticulously designed, composed and shot, but in such a way as to appear offhand. Hawks almost never went in for showy camera angles or flashy effects. His technique was nearly invisible; he just got on with telling the story, in the most straightforward, unfussy way. But this easy, seemingly effortless style was very carefully considered, by a shrewd and knowing mind. As Bill Warren, author of one of the best (and certainly most encyclopedic) books about 1950s sci-fi filmmaking, Keep Watching the Skies, notes in his detailed analysis of the film:
As most good movies do, The Thing works in two areas: sight and sound. The locale is a cramped, tunnel-like base; the men are confined within, the Thing can move freely outdoors in the cold. Compositions are often crowded, with more people in the shot than seems comfortable, reinforcing the idea of confinement After the Thing escapes, only the alien itself is seen standing and moving alone.
This feeling of a cold, hostile environment outside the base is constantly reinforced throughout the film, and a real tension mounts when, towards the climax, the highly intelligent Thing, itself immune to the subzero arctic conditions, turns off the compound’s heating, knowing the humans inside will quickly die without it. (The freaky, otherworldly theremin-flavored music by Dimitri Tiomkin adds a lot to the eerie atmosphere here.)
As groundbreaking and well-structured as the plot of The Thing was (and is), what makes the film play so well today is the great script and the interaction of a bunch of seasoned character actors, who toss off both exposition and pithy bon mots in such a low-key, believable manner. This is a truly ensemble movie, and the fact that it doesn’t feature any big name stars really adds to the overall effect; no one really hogs all the limelight or gets the lion’s share of good lines. Hawks was a director who usually worked with the biggest names in the business, but, much as in the earlier Air Force, he was equally at home working with a cast of rock-solid character actors.
All this talk of Howard Hawks as director, when it’s actually Christian Nyby who is credited with the job, has long been a source of speculation with fans of the film. Todd McCarthy, in his bio Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, seems to clear the issue up once and for all (though really, after viewing enough Hawks films, the results speak for themselves):
The perennial question surrounding The Thing From Another World has always been, Who actually directed it, Christian Nyby or Howard Hawks? The sum of participants’ responses make the answer quite clear. Putting it most bluntly, (associate producer) Ed Lasker said "Chris Nyby didn’t direct a thing. One day Howard was late and Chris said,’Why don’t we get started? I know what the shot should be.’ And I said, ‘No, Chris, I think we’ll wait until Howard gets here." Ken Tobey testified, "Chris Nyby directed one scene. Howard Hawks was there, but he let Chris direct one scene. We all rushed into a room, eight or ten of us, and we practically knocked each other over. No one knew what to do." Dewey Martin, Robert Cornthwaite and Richard Keinen all agreed that Hawks was the director, and Bill Self said, "Chris Nyby was a very nice, decent fellow, but he wasn’t Howard Hawks."
Nyby had been Hawks’ editor on a number of films, and Hawks apparently decided to help his collaborator establish a name for himself by allowing him directorial credit on the film. This seemingly altruistic gesture didn’t mean that Hawks wasn’t involved in virtually every aspect of the making of the film, however, and ultimately, The Thing did little for Nyby’s directing career, at least on the big screen (he did go on to a long and busy career directing for numerous television programs, however.)
Bill Self was told at the time that Hawks didn’t take directing credit on The Thing because it was planned as a low-budget film, one in which RKO didn’t have much confidence. But, as critics have been saying ever since it was released, The Thing is a Howard Hawks film in everything but name. The opening scene of various members of the team bantering is so distilled as to be a virtual parody of Hawksian overlapping dialogue. Even more than Only Angels Have Wings, the picture presents a pristine example of a group operating resourcefully in a hermetically sealed environment in which everything in the outside world represents a grave threat. (3)
In addition to all the masculine camaraderie and spooky goings-on, one of the best aspects of The Thing is the fun, charming little tease of a romance between Capt. Hendry and Nikki (top-billed Margaret Sheridan). Nikki works as Prof. Carrington’s assistant and is not merely the requisite "babe" in the film. True to the Hawksian norm, she’s no pushover when it comes to trading insults with the men, nor a shrinking violet when up to her neck in perilous situations. Unlike most actresses in 50s monster movies, she doesn’t utter a single scream in The Thing
and in fact, it’s her practical suggestion which gives Bob, Hendry’s ever-resourceful crew chief (Dewey Martin), the notion of how to finally kill the monster. Lederer and Hecht’s screenplay hints at the backstory to Nikki and Pat’s relationship in humorous and oblique ways, and their flirtation amidst all the chaos adds sparkle to the film but never gets in the way of the pace of the story. One nice little throwaway exchange near the finale encapsulates their verbal give-and-take, as Nikki playfully pokes the temporarily-befuddled Hendry, as his men scurry about, setting Bob’s plan in motion.
Nikki: Looks as if the situation’s well in hand.
Hendry: I’ve given all the orders I’m gonna give.
Nikki: If I thought that were true, I’d ask you to marry me.
Sheridan, a former model signed to a 5-year contract by Hawks, is quite good here, but after The Thing her career never really caught fire and she retired from acting a few years later. The closest thing to a star turn in the film is Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Hendry. Tobey racked up an impressive number of credits throughout his nearly 50-year-long career, generally as gruff, competent military men or similar types, and he was always good value, though it’s as Capt. Hendry in The Thing that he truly shines. He consistently humanizes the no-nonsense, take charge man of action Hendry by displaying an easygoing approach to command. Most of Hendry’s men call him by his first name, and delight in ribbing him about his budding romance with Nikki, and he responds to all this joshing in kind. When things get hairy, Tobey’s Hendry doesn’t have to bark his orders; it’s clear that, despite the friendly banter, his men hold him in high esteem and leap to do his bidding at a moment’s notice.
Many of the other members of the cast, while none of them ever became household names, will likely be recognizable from countless other roles in both film and television. Hawks gave Dewey Martin co-star billing in The Big Sky a few years later. Robert Cornthwaite kept busy for decades on stage and television, as well as in supporting roles in films such as Monkey Business, Kiss Me Deadly and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? John Dierkes (Dr. Chapman) and Douglas Spencer (Scotty) both had juicy roles in the western classic Shane, as well as many other movies too numerous to name. Sharp-eyed viewers will also recognize Eduard Franz, Paul Frees (he of the famous voice) and Groucho Marx’s right-hand man on You Bet Your Life, George Fenneman, in pivotal roles. And of course we mustn’t forget 6′ 7" James Arness (years before becoming renowned as Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke) as the hulking Thing.
A quick note on the "remake": John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), a bleak, grisly and brilliant take on the story, was a box-office dud when first released, but has since attained well-deserved status as a modern classic. While most fans seem divided into two camps – those who love the more restrained, old-fashioned thrills of the original, and those who prefer the more visceral, paranoiac Carpenter version – I happen to treasure both films equally and revisit each of them often. The Carpenter version is by far the gutsier, unsettling one, emphasizing as it does the "trust no one," shape-shifting "the alien is one of us" scenario imagined by John W. Campbell, but the Hawks’ film is the most fun, with a far more likeable array of characters, working together to defeat an implacable menace. Each has its own clear merits. I wouldn’t want to do without either film, and frankly see no need to choose one over the other.
"Every one of you listening to my voice…tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are: Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”
Acting Credits
Margaret Sheridan – Nikki Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey – Captain Patrick Hendrey
Robert Cornthwaite – Professor Carrington
Dewey Martin – Crew Chief
Douglas Spencer – Ned "Scotty" Scott
Eduard Franz – Dr Stern
Robert Nichols – Lieutenant Ken Erickson
William Self – Colonel Barnes
Sally Creighton – Mrs Chapman
John Dierkes – Dr. Chapman
James R. Young – Lieutenant Eddie Dykes
Norbert Schiller – Dr. Laurenz
William Neff – Olson
Allan Ray – Officer
Lee Tung Foo – Cook
Edmund Breon – Dr. Ambrose
George Fenneman – Dr. Redding
Tom Steele – Stuntman
James Arness – The Thing
Billy Curtis – The Thing While Shrinking

Posted by Morbius19 on 2014-02-05 21:18:08

Tagged:

LIPSTICK, HOLOCAUST AND PAINT

LIPSTICK, HOLOCAUST AND PAINT

AN EXTRACT FROM THE DIARY OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL MERVIN WILLETT GONIN DSO WHO WAS AMONG THE FIRST BRITISH SOLDIERS TO LIBERATE BERGEN-BELSEN IN 1945. SOURCE: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere, some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had fallen. It took a little time to get used to seeing men women and children collapse as you walked by them and to restrain oneself from going to their assistance. One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect. It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diptheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it, one saw women drowning in their own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, and men eating worms as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference. Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand propping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the open relieving themselves of the dysentary which was scouring their bowels, a woman standing stark naked washing herself with some issue soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated. It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tatooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Posted by *SARCASTICALIOUS* on 2010-05-16 19:51:48

Tagged: , Holocaust , nazi , jew , deathcamp , humanity , theevilthatmendo , neverforget

Wildflowers of Dinosaur NM

Wildflowers of Dinosaur NM

We enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of the wildflowers and sage as we left Dinosaur National Monument and made our way on day three of our road trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River.

*** To see the photographs form this road trip in chronological order, open the Backpack Keet Seel June 2012 photo set:
www.flickr.com/photos/12150532@N04/sets/72157630045725131/
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Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-23 15:00:40

Tagged: , Dinosaur National Monument , yellow wild clover , wildflowers and sage , Colorado section of Dinosaur National Monument

Horse explained joke to driver

Horse explained joke to driver

This scene in Telluride, reminded me a lot of Tombstone, Arizona. I told a joke as I took this photograph, but only the one horse "got it". The horse then told the driver and he finally "got it" and smiled for the camera…thus the two photographs of this colorful horse drawn wagon.
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On day four of our twelve day road trip, we left our comfy motel room in Montrose, Colorado and headed for a nice Forest Service campground between Monticello and Blanding, Utah (Devil’s Canyon campground), where we would camp two nights.

On our route from Montrose to Monticello we took a detour up for a first time visit to Telluride, Colorado. What fun! Telluride has a little bit of everything from history, houses, to people. It is a fun place to walk around and watch the locals and the tourist mix.

We also made a side trip up to see the Telluride, Colorado airport. It is the highest commercial airport in North America and is notorious for tricky take offs and landings (no touch and gos allowed at this airport). Our son flew for a charter jet service before his present job as a pilot for a regional carrier. His stories of both the airport and the town, made us want to go "see for ourselves".

After Telluride we drove down to Dolores, Colorado and had a great pizza and pasta lunch at a place with outside dining and recommended to us by a local. We then made one side trip to see the Lowry ruins, before making our way to Devil’s Canyon campground, and setting up our camp for a couple of nights. A very fun road trip day.
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Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-15 14:55:56

Tagged: , Telluride Colorado , Rocky Mountains , horse drawn wagons

Perforated batons…

Perforated batons...

1 – 6. (See ‘tension lever’ Flickr album for full details).

Sometimes known as ‘Bâton de commandement’, ‘bâton percé’ or ‘perforated baton’. The top example comes from La Madeleine, downriver from Lascaux and initial prehistory site from the 1860s, and then from the abris Cap Blanc – known for its panoramic horse bas relief – not far away, and up a tributary of the ‘Vesera’ river, with the last two (as far as I understand) from Le Morin – a site in Pessac-sur-Dordogne known for its evidence for domesticated dogs. All are from the collection at the Musée d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux. None of the above are decorated. All are Magdalénien, so from the end of the ice age between 17 and 12,000 ybp. The objects are carved/adapted from Reindeer antler. Elsewhere, decorated examples exist, with subjects ranging from carvings of reindeer to phallus and geometry. Examples with two adjacent holes also exist. The objects are relatively common and their function is much debated…

Arrows cut from saplings may need straitening to assure a reliable trajectory. The hole is obviously too big to help with such a simple task. Larger spears would hardly need such a time consuming tool with a ‘v’ in a tree more likely to have been scuffed by attention.

The idea that the object was ornamental for rituel seems odd as the point is oft curved, making the ‘drama’ of a situation a little limp.

The idea that the hole was used to help when weaving a rope or cord needs developing – with alternatives of ‘y”s of wood being more flexible should a procedure need to be restarted at a halfway point. Attempts to turn details of the outside edge of the baton into useful artefacts for string making also seem too dependent on selected examples of batons and ignor the imprecision of the hubbub of forms.

The idea that it was a ‘super wedge’ for blocking cord so that bags and produce might be lifted from the ground seems only to add an unnecessary complication when contrasted with a combination of knots, wedges, frames and cracks.

The idea that they were sardines for tents seems to be interesting but for the fact that they are never found with a sharp end, with ‘ticks’ of wood being easier to create and dispose.

The idea that they were spear throwers seems to go against the skill-set and calibration of known spear throwers and does not explain models with two holes or the hapless variety of sizes and shapes.

The idea that they were handles for a sling shot does not explain why some have two holes or why the long end often appears as broken.

The idea that they were large pins for clothing is interesting – but for the fact that decorative belts, buttons and elegant pins seem to be either more ornamental, more comfortable of more practical.

Ideas that they were used in astronomy need to be explained (why not mask with wood, which can be wider and easy to burn a hole in), as do ideas that the object might somehow help when making fire … How?

The idea that they were sex toys picks up on the fact that they are often from the category ‘phallic’ and are varied in size, but fails to explain why many are decorated with reindeer or why so many have unhygienic broken ends. Prehistoric sexual amulets do exist of vulvas and phallus and were overt and exercised with confidence.

The idea that they were objects of art seems to be an example of contemporary time wasting. Some were decorated, offering them an ornamental finish…

Whilst Images of wild horses with bits in their mouths do seem to appear from time to time during the paleolithic, it is easier to explain the images of bits as being from rope rather than from two rope-joined perforated battons.

A function must justify the time it takes to carve such a hole in reindeer antler (a very tough and fibrous medium) and the desire to appropriate the object with ornamentation – even if the above examples show that the ornamentation was at the discretion of the clan and in no way a ritual and cultural ‘obligation’. Once an object exists a second use may be assigned – a way of maximizing the capacity of materials that must at some point be packed up and carried around. Any secondary appropriations should not be viewed to mask the main function.

Today, camping can be cold. In the Magdalénien the cold could get … very cold. The Solutréen was simply worse – in fact as bad as the end of the Gravettien. Man did not develop the thick fur of the woolly mammoth or woolly rhino or have the heat-clever dense pelt of a wolf, bear, cave lion or reindeer. What man did have were strategies to use these elements for his own needs, with evidence of leather working (for example the Abri Peyrony lissoirs) from as early as 50,000 ybp. Leathers and furs might line cloths and huts to turn the ice age from a vision of panic and frozen inability into one of opportunity and warm conversation.

Man was a hunter gatherer, but within that idea, there is much debate about how much he moved or was semi sedentary (arguments about ‘simple’ versus ‘complex’ visions of hunter gathering). Even with food storage, man will have moved camp – if only to distance the clan from vermin and predators who, with time, add hominid camps to their models of reality. When a clan decides to move, he must pack up his possessions. Leather and fur take time to tan, cut and waterproof, and, as with many objects, they were natural, but were not disposable. Today we roll up a tent made of materials that are measured in microns. In the ice age, some of the best possessions will have appeared like loft insulation. First you tap the fur, the pelt, the cloak and the trousers. You may sponge with moss. Things will hang and dry before being rolled for travel. Poles of dogwood, leather cooking bags, bags of flints and ocre, totems, rugs and blankets all need to be prepared for movement. The thick pelts roll and strap using cords of horse hair, tendon, leather strip and fibrous plants. The cords were certainly strong, but getting the rolled-up camp to compress down into a manageable package can not have been easy – and this is where the ‘perforated battons’ come in. Think of them as a lever that pivots an attached rope. The ‘fulcrum’ end is not pointed, as it should not pierce the pelt. These ends are often found to be shattered, as, over time, they took the force to lock tight the cord. The hole is large enough to then receive the tie or pin from the other side (possibly held tight in position to a tree). The models of perforated batons with two adjacent holes (not pictured) take more time to make, but have obvious advantages and innovations. Once the two ends of rope are locked tight into the hole of the lever, the reindeer antler is strong enough to hold the strain and assure that the material that is transported is tightly bound and secure from the elements – for example, strapped to and carried aloft on the long dogwood poles. There are possible variations using knots of consecutive loops and pegs that may allow the ‘tension-lever’ to be used again and again (see associated picture). Whatever the version, the grain of wood may here be less adapted than the fibrous antler for taking the strain.

You might also imagine that when the huts are finished on the new camp-site or abris, the ‘perforated lever’ becomes the ‘door close’, with rope in the hole pulling the leather door and the long length jarred between wood frame elements. All huts look alike to a young child and some may choose to decorate their tension-lever/door handles so as to define the activity inside. Let’s say phallus motifs for an ‘adult’ hut, reindeer for an ‘eating’ hut and geometric for a general hut. When in the new camp, at first, the child does not always remember which hut is which, so will always look at the carving before pulling the wedge-handle and entering. But, that day, the weather was mild and he will stay outside and help stretch and pin some small pelts using his own small ‘tension-lever’ some pegs and knotted loops of chord. His mother is not far away, and she is using her lever to pull strings of leather through a line of perforations to help her to stitch together two pieces of leather. She used goose grease to reduce the friction. A friend from the solstice is spending a year with the clan and that afternoon, he has used his tension lever to help him to stretch a net to catch first birds and then fish.

AJM 22.02.17

The photos were taken through glass and enhanced to show form and surface texture. (Original images JM).

Posted by AJ Mitchell on 2017-02-22 11:35:03

Tagged: , Prehistoire , Prehistoric , Paleolithic , abrisMagdeleine , abriscapblanc , lemorin , batonperce , antler , reindeerantler , prehistorictools , museed’aquitaine , bâton percé , tension lever , baton perforé , text on flickr

Hill top setting of Lowry Pueblo

Hill top setting of Lowry Pueblo

The ruins of Lowry Pueblo in Western Colorado and east of Monticello, Utah are over 1,000 years old. It was inhabited over a 160 year time frame. At the peak of its occupancy consisted of 40 rooms; 8 small kivas, and one "Great Kiva".

Of special interest is the "painted kiva and the great kiva were added to Lowry pueblo sometime between 1085 and 1170.

There were attempts to preserve "on site" the beautiful painted designs over many layers of plaster in the painted kiva, but it didn’t work. Some of the work can be seen at the Anasazi Heritage Center along with a life size photo showing what the painted mural looked like in 1934 when the site was scientifially excavated.

You can climb down in one of the kivas to give you a feel for what it must have been like when first built for those who lived here, though their’s was a tough life. Half of the children died before age six; life span was 30 years; and the people were small in stature (5 ft. to 5′ 3").

There are no springs in the area so water came from pools in the canyon bottoms.

I have tried to include photographs of some of the informative signs at the site so you can read and see the information for yourself.

The side trip to visit Lowry Pueblo, was well worth it. We had visited Hovenweep to the south, many times, but never stopped here before.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On day four of our twelve day road trip, we left our comfy motel room in Montrose, Colorado and headed for a nice Forest Service campground between Monticello and Blanding, Utah (Devil’s Canyon campground), where we would camp two nights.

On our route from Montrose to Monticello we took a detour up for a first time visit to Telluride, Colorado. What fun! Telluride has a little bit of everything from history, houses, to people. It is a fun place to walk around and watch the locals and the tourist mix.

We also made a side trip up to see the Telluride, Colorado airport. It is the highest commercial airport in North America and is notorious for tricky take offs and landings (no touch and gos allowed at this airport). Our son flew for a charter jet service before his present job as a pilot for a regional carrier. His stories of both the airport and the town, made us want to go "see for ourselves".

After Telluride we drove down to Dolores, Colorado and had a great pizza and pasta lunch at a place with outside dining and recommended to us by a local. We then made one side trip to see the Lowry ruins, before making our way to Devil’s Canyon campground, and setting up our camp for a couple of nights. A very fun road trip day.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-15 17:46:46

Tagged: , Lowry Pueblo Colorado , Canyons of the Ancients National Monument , kivas , painted plaster walls ancients pueblo , great kiva , Western Colorado pueblo ruins , Lowry ruins , Lowry pueblo

Snowshoe Hare at our tent

Snowshoe Hare at our tent

These guys (at least two of them, this might have been the smaller one) were strolling throughout our campsite the whole evening and morning (besides white tailed deer). We were even wondering if it would have been a good Idea to leave the tent door open over night… So anyways I tried to capture them after we broke down our camp in the morning and actually they were not even that shy – most likely used to food leftovers at the cooking site.

As usual I shot in Manual Mode with Auto ISO on – except for the fact that I forgot to switch Auto ISO on which resulted in a few black frames. In Lightroom I was able to pull the exposure up by about 6EV (shot in ISO 100 this would have been ISO 6400) and I am very much surprised about the result. I guess that is the famous ISO invariance of Nikon Cameras that they are all talking about 😉 A whole lot of post processing went into the image though.

To be honest I am not complete sure wether this is a young Snowshoe Hare or just a Mountain Cottontail. Any thoughts?

Posted by derliebewolf on 2017-08-25 18:35:25

Tagged: , hiking , Wildlife , snowshoe hare , rabbit , hare , baby , cute , animal , bokeh , dof , nature , Glacier national park , usa , traveling , travel , Backcountry , Golden Hour , forest , Bowman lake , morning , campsite , trees , summer , Camping

Bee finds wildflower Muley Point

Bee finds wildflower Muley Point

The dirt road route out to Muley Point on top of the Moqui Dugway portion of the Cedar Mesa road, offers tremendous views of the San Juan River Canyon and the bench road down below that leads to John’s Canyon.

There is one rim view about 1/2 mile before reaching the end of the Muley Point road, plus the landscape views from the slickrock rim at the end of the road. We enjoyed our first visit to Muley Point much more than the longer drive to visit Montezuma Canyon. Thanks Cedar Mesa Hiker for your photographs of this fine landscape viewing site, which caused me to make this stop for sure on this trip.
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There were four primary destinations we had in mind when we left our home on a twelve day road trip:

1. City of Rocks – entering it from Oakley, Idaho).
2. Dinosaur National Monument – hike Harper’s Corner and camp Echo Park.
3. Montezuma Canyon – from Monticello down to Blanding/Bluff, Utah.
4. Keet Seel – a 17 mile backpacking trip in Navajo National Monument (permit required).

All of these met or greatly exceeded our expectations except Montezuma Canyon. The first part of the trip, dropping down into the Canyon from south of Monticello was interesting and picturesque, the second part of the drive wasn’t that great, so as you look at the photos posted you can decide for yourself. I wouldn’t recommend it, though I’m glad we gave it a try.

We camped the fourth night of our road trip in our "backpacking converted to car camping" North Face Mountain 24 tent at Devil’s Canyon campground (highly recommend it).

We got up early, and were glad to see the active wildfires on the flanks of the Abajo Mountains, that we had seen the night before, had diminished considerably.

We drove 56 miles or so of dirt road from Monticello to south of Blanding, dropping down into Montezuma Canyon.

We then headed for Mexican Hat for lunch before driving to the top of the Moki Dugway on Cedar Mesa to drive out to the end of the Muley Point overlook road. This is a dirt road we have passed a dozen times but never taken the time to go visit. Inspired by some recent photographs posted on flickr by Cedar Mesa Hiker, we decided to pay the place a visit. Excellent!

We then returned to our Devil’s Canyon camp for a short while, before driving up into the aspen and wild iris flowers, west of Monticello. This was a relaxing day with no hiking, just driving about and seeing some sights we had not visited before.
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Keet Seel Road Trip June 2012
Wednesday 30 May 2012 – Sunday 10 June 2012
Mr. & Mrs. "oldmantravels"

ROAD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS: * City of Rocks, Oakley to Almo, Idaho / * Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado portion: hike Harper’s Corner; camp Echo Park; hike Green River and Yampa River confluence; Steamboat Rock/ * Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Colorado/ Funky and hip – Telluride, Colorado / * Lowry Pueblo ruins / * Devil’s Canyon campground: Montezuma Canyon loop drive; Muley Point overlook; Abajo Mountains drive / * Blanding, Utah small town fun: Lickety Split Bakery serendipity and the "cast of characters" / Navajo elder turquoise – Homestead Steak House / Daisy Cowboy at the laundromat / * Navajo National Monument: backpacking trip to Keet Seel cliff dwellings; Hopi National Park Ranger – Patrick Joshevama & his atlatl/ * Return to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast, Baker, Idaho / * Snow on Lost Trail Pass and private plane crash / * Lochsa River rain and rafters / * Clearwater River; the Palouse; and home.

THE STORIES – DAY BY DAY:

DAY ONE [30 May 2012]

Our ten year old Toyota RAV4 was all packed, gassed up and ready to go on Tuesday night. Our alarm clock was set for 4 am. We were ready and anxious to go, so we were both up and getting ready to go, before the alarm sounded early Wednesday morning.

We drove the Interstates from our home in Eastern Washington to exit 208 off I-84, just north of Burley, Idaho. Our destination for the first night was the City of Rocks, Idaho. We had both visited this remarkable area several times but had never come into it from the West (the Oakley, Idaho approach). We were determined to see something new by entering the City of Rocks through Oakley and then exiting through Almo, Elba, and Malta.

We saw lots of activity with big semi trucks hauling out huge loads of "slab rocks" on flat bed trailers in the area around the old town of Oakley, Idaho. As soon as we returned home I got on the internet to read about these busy rock quarries.

The rock they were hauling out is called "Oakley Stone" and has been quarried in the area since 1948. It is a muscovite mica described as "thin splitting micaceous quartzite". It is unique and much sought after. It slabs out to 8 foot sections just 1/2 inch thick and is used as facing and paving stone in the U.S. and overseas. Seems you always run into something new and interesting on road trip back roads.

I knew the City of Rocks was very popular in the summer with international and local rock climbers, so to we made reservations for our tent camping site. We chose site #37, which I had picked out on my first visit to the City of Rocks, as the place I would one day like to tent camp with my wife. We did.

The weather was excellent for our visit to the City of Rocks and we took short hikes and drives to enjoy the area. We used our old four seasons The North Face Mountain 24 backpacking tent to sleep in with comfy REI camp rest sleeping pads. The winds blew strong and gusting that night so we were happy to have the wind protection and stability of the four season tent. We slept well this first night of our 12 day road trip.

DAY TWO [31 MAY 2012]

We survived the strong winds that blew most of the night. Our camp chairs blew over and got hung up in a juniper tree, but no other problems. The sun came out and the seemingly always present "interesting cloud" formations above the City of Rocks made for great views as we took some more short hikes and drive before heading on to our next destination.

We caught the interstate east of Malta and made our way to Dinosaur, Colorado, where we stopped at the visitor center for Dinosaur National Monument. A ranger, named Randy, was helpful when we asked about the road down to the Echo Park campground and what are chances of finding an open campsite.

My wife and I had visited the dinosaur dig and the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, several times before but neither of us had visited the Colorado section. On a couple of previous trips we had this portion of the monument on the "to visit" list, but weather and/or bad road conditions caused us to skip it.

We saw a lots of wildflowers and sweet smelling clover with yellow blossoms, edged the road to Harper’s Corner. We saw two bull elk in velvet in the sage country where it looked more like pronghorn or mule deer territory. We drove to the trailhead at Harper’s Corner and took the short, but scenic, hike out to the point where you can look down on the Green River as it makes a big hairpin turn around Steamboat Rock. We could spot the road down through Echo Canyon and the pull off to Whispering Cave, all the way from the ridge line trail.

After the hike we left the paved road and thoroughly enjoyed the gravel road drive down to the Echo Park campground. As Randy had told us, there were few people camping, just three other vehicles other than ours. All were tent camping like us.

We set up our The North Face mountain 24 tent under some juniper and cooked dinner on our small JetBoil backpacking stove. I took off with a camera to hike up closer to Steamboat Rock, while my wife relaxed and organized our camp. I followed the Green River upstream and was pleased to find the trail went all the way to where the Yampa River joins the Green River. I hiked a short distance up the Yampa River, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Canada Geese were thick along the rivers and their constant honking, whether flying or floating, echoed off the massive walls of Steamboat Rock and the Yampa river canyon. A beaver slapped his tail hard and dove along the banks of the Green River. When he resurfaced and saw I was still there, he repeated his performance with an loud echoing second tail slap and swam down stream.

We sat around a small fire until the stars and bright moon came out, then slept soundly in our tent.

DAY THREE [01 JUNE 2012]

The sun came out and the day started warming up quickly as the day’s first light started working its way down the canyon walls to the rivers. My wife and I repeated the hike up the Green River and Yampa River together so I could photograph with the warm morning light now lighting up the landscape. Echo Park was a big favorite of ours, and we hope to return one day.

We next headed through Grand Junction, Colorado and on to Montrose, Colorado where we got a motel room. There was still plenty of daylight left so we drove up to see the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River from the south rim drive. We hadn’t visited the canyon before so it was another "first" for us on this road trip.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River was difficult to photograph for me, but a spectacular sight, well worth the visit. We returned to Montrose for a good night’s sleep in a motel room.

DAY FOUR [02 JUNE 2012]

From Montrose, Colorado we headed for Telluride, Colorado (one story has it that the name is actually a form of "to hell you ride"… from its lively western history days. Once again, this was a place we had never visited. Ironically, I had purchased a used book titled: "Telluride – from pick to powder by Richard L. and Suzanne Fetter" back in February and had enjoyed reading of the interesting history of Telluride.

I was especially captivated by the story of the story of L.L.Nunn, a short, most eccentric, genius – – who set Telluride up with the first A/C (alternating current generator) in the world in the late 1890s. Like other Colorado gold mining towns Tulluride had its shares of labor unrest, floods, fires, and unique characters.

The town itself was a hoot, just what you might expect of a mining town turned jet set to down and outs digs…a bit of everything for everybody. We drove up to the end of town to see one of the waterfalls electric generating sites; then up above town to see the million dollar "ranch houses" and the unique high altitude runway where our youngest son has flown into before when he was with a charter jet company out of Arizona.

But for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat walking up and down the main street of old town Telluride and people watching: Harley Davidson’s; horse drawn tourist wagons; home made cars; bicycles; a bunch of bins with "everything is for free" sign on it; the clock with "Telluride Time" on it; BMW cars and motorcycles; dogs carrying Frisbees and wearing colorful bandanas; and of course the many "Western want to be" tourists that looked more like tourists than cowboys and cowgirls.

Nice friendly, funky, quirky, soup to nuts, town to visit. We even bought my wife a red fuzzy baseball hat with Telluride, Colorado printed on the front. Had to do our thing for tourism you know.

After leaving Telluride we headed down to Dolores, Colorado (ate a great pizza here) and made our way toward Monticello, Utah. Somewhere around Dove Creek, Colorado, we made a short side trip to check out the Lowry Ruins, once again, a place we had not visited before. In the past we had always cut through to visit Hovenweep.

At Monticello we turned south and set up our North Face tent at spot # 29 in Devil’s Canyon Campground. We reserved the spot for two nights to use it as a "base camp" for a few of the drives we wanted to take in the area. We were concerned with a couple wild fires we could see on the southern flanks of the Abajo Mountains, but there were no high winds during our visit and the fires diminished while we were there.

Carrying our senior citizen passes with us, camping continued to be a real bargain for us. We paid $4 to camp at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument and just $5 a night for a well maintained campsite at Devil’s Canyon. We walked the short nature loop trail and then all around the campground area as we settled in for our first night at this camp.

DAY FIVE [03 JUNE 2012]

Montezuma’s Canyon was on our list to drive for this trip, so that is where we headed the first thing Sunday morning. We drove it north to south. It was about a 50 mile loop when entered near Monticello and exited near Blanding, Utah.

We found the first 20 miles of the drive beautiful, interesting and enjoyable. Slow paced, with ancient and modern cliff dwellings, a few rock art panels and picturesque Southwest canyon country scenery. The second half of the drive was a bit more "pedestrian" and not so scenic.

When we rejoined the highway south of Blanding we headed south to Bluff, for a quick look at the Sand Island rock art panel; Navajo stew and fry bread at the San Juan River bridge near Mexican Hat (where I had eaten several times before). Then we drove up the Moki Dugway route to Cedar Mesa and took another short side trip. This one was to Muley Point, where we enjoyed the slick rock rim and tremendous landscape views.

We returned to our Devil’s canyon camp for a rest and camp meal, then drove up into the scenic high country of the Abajo Mountains just west of Monticello. Everything was green and some of the fragrant purple wild iris were in bloom among the tall large aspen groves in this area. Old Wrangler and I had tried this route for the other direction in March of 2011 and were turned back by deep snow on the road. This drive was snow free and scenic. We watched an old time reel in a foot long rainbow trout in one of the small ponds of the area.

Toward the end of the day we returned to camp; read our books; and got a good night’s sleep with a strong almost full moon, lighting up the interior of our tent with a soft evening’s glow.

DAY SIX [04 JUNE 2012]

We woke early, broke camp, took a short hike through the ponderosa in the area, then headed for Blanding where we checked into a motel room for a couple of nights. We used this day to rest, do our road trip laundry, shop for a few supplies for our upcoming Keet Seel backpacking trip and mainly relax. This was the only day that I didn’t take at least one photograph.

One of our first stops was the local bakery in Blanding. My wife and I ended up talking to the owners (Arlen and Elaine Borgen) and then ordering four cherry scones to be picked up the following morning. I planned to take a couple on our backpacking trip but do to their fine flavor and taste, only one survived for the Keet Seel hike.

As it turned out, the conversations we had with folks at this small town bakery turned out to be one of the highlights of our road trip. Serendipity squared.

When we did our laundry at Blanding, the only other person using the washers and dryers was an older Navajo lady. Several times she offered advice about which machines to use or how to get a stubborn machine working properly (or how tourists, like us, could profit by reading the directions….hmmm).

As she did her laundry and we did ours we gradually visited more and more. Her name was "Daisy Cowboy" and she had some interesting stories to tell. It was one of those chance small town encounters that make a road trip so much fun.

DAY SEVEN [05 JUNE 2012]

My wife went into the bakery and Blanding and there was Elaine with her bright red jaunty baker’s hat on with a friendly smile and a "good morning". "By chance would you have four cherry scones hot out of the oven this morning?". "Sure do" she replied. Once I bought the scones then my wife talked with Elaine, while I started a conversation with Arlen, who was seated having a cup of coffee.

The conversations joined and parted among the four of us and the two young Navajo girls working with Elaine, who also had the red baker’s hats. At times all four of us talked together about the history of the bakery:

From memory: Started about 7 years ago. Young Navajo kids one day asked to borrow money to go to the local movie house in Blanding. Arlen & Elaine instead let them "earn" the movie money by learning to be "partners" in the bakery. The rest is a success story. The young Navajo came up with ideas for chocolate and candy products with a Native American theme. The Borgens taught the Navajo business principles and the responsibilities that come with them.

The state of Utah caught the story and a delegation of the Blanding Bakery entrepreneurs visited the capitol in Salt Lake City. Word spread further and the founding members were invited to the White House to meet President Bush, where they were honored for their dedication to entrepreneurial start up businesses. Quite a trip for these hard working innovative bakers and candy makers from Blanding, Utah. That is the main story as I heard it. There are photos on the wall; the young smiling Navajo workers/owners; and friendly manner of Elaine and Arlen to fill in the rest.

Arlen and I drifted into Native American discussions and were having a focused discussion on books, findings, theories, and ruins…when a fellow walked through the door by the name of Jon Moris (Professor "emeritus" Jon Moris ) walked into the bakery and was greeted as a regular. Professor Moris is the anthropology teacher at the local Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah – San Juan campus (I hope I have most of that right).

Arlen introduced me to Professor Moris and away we went, talking about anything and everything about North American Native Americans. What a stroke of luck for me. Jon Moris, was a most interesting man to talk to. We took a break while my wife and I returned to our nearby motel room with the bakery goods and I returned with a camera and a strong wish to continue our previous conversations.

So there we were: Professor Jon Moris; Arlen Borgen; and I, sitting around a coffee table playing badminton with topics of interest. Elaine and the two cute Navajo girls (Elysia and Aaliyah sp?) took care of the flow of bakery customers coming into the store. Was I ever having fun.

Jon Moris was born and raised in East Africa. He did work with the Maasai there and earned his PhD at Northwestern. He told me of a website where photographers could go to have "books" made of their photograph: blurb.com. He said his son Nathan (living in Switzerland) had used the site. When I returned home I went to the "blurb.com" site and checked out one of the photo books Nathan had created of Central Switzerland (which he dedicated to his dad).

Next the bakery door opened and in walked a casually attired Mark Noirot, a chemistry instructor at the college. With a quick wit and inquisitive mind, he soon added to our ad hoc bakery based discussion group. During all this action I asked for a few photo ops, which everybody there graciously agreed to and participated in. The two young Navajo girls took some of the photographs for us.

After Jon and Mark escaped the round table discussion a family entered the bakery. They wanted to buy some bakery products but spoke no English. Turned out they were Italian and with my limited Spanish, we were able to work together and communicate enough to help them buy what they were after. They also followed my lead when I told them I was purchasing two candy feathers from the young Navajos, which came with a printed story.

Call it luck, serendipity or chance – – this short session around a small coffee table in a bakery in Blanding, Utah, was one of my treasured moments of this road trip. I truly hope that any of you traveling through Blanding some morning, will stop in and hear the story of the bakery first hand and treat yourself to some baked products and some of the chocolate and candy products of the Lickity Split Chocolate entrepreneurs. You will go away with a smile.

Once back in our motel room with my wife, we started organizing our backpacks, based on the latest weather forecast (we used Shonto, Arizona for Keet Seel purposes) and latest food purchases. We packed our backpacks and most of our car camping and traveling gear in our vehicle and set the alarm for 4 am (once again). We planned to leave by 5 am Wednesday morning to make certain we arrived at Betatakin (Navajo National Monument) in time for our required orientation, scheduled at 8:15 am on 6.6.12.

DAY EIGHT [06 JUNE 2012]

Up at 4 am; on the road by 4:45 am; breakfast at McDonald’s in Kayenta then on to the visitor center at Betatakin. There were lots of campers at Sunrise View campgrounds near Betatakin, and lots of folks showed up at the visitor center when it opened at 8 am. We tried to discern the "day hikers" from the "backpackers", who might be going to Keet Seel.

Note: Only 20 people a day are allowed to hike to Keet Seel and then only five at a time can tour the Keet Seel ruins in the company of an on-site National Park ranger. The route, 1,000 feet down into Tsegi Canyon then up Keet Seel Canyon to the Keet Seel camping area and Keet Seel cliff dwellings is 8.5 miles. It requires quite a bit of soft sand hiking and many crossing of a shallow stream, which flows down Keet Seel Canyon. The route is on Navajo land so you aren’t allowed to stray from the main route.

Well to make this short and sweet – – the weather Wednesday morning was beautiful AND it turns out that each and every "hiker" we saw that morning at the visitor center was heading out on the guided Betatakin ruins hike. We were told we were the only two people with a permit for Keet Seel this day. What luck! We would have the entire campground to ourselves and not have another hiker or backpacker in the canyon with us on this particular Wednesday. We were told to check in at the "ranger’s camp" at Keet Seel when we arrived, show our permit, and that ranger Patrick would lead us on a tour of the Keet Seel site.

It took us exactly five hours to hike from where we left our vehicle and the Keet Seel parking area to Keet Seel. We took one 30 minute break on the way in and cached beverages in two places along the way: We cached 88 fl. oz at the foot of the 1,000 drop into Tsegi Canyon and 88 fl oz about five miles from Keet Seel. The rest we drank along the way and took with us (we started with 336 fl. oz in total). A little under three gallons, which for us worked out just perfectly with plenty left over.

We took 16 bottles of diet Mt. Dew (orange juice based with lots of caffeine); 4 bottles of citrus green tea (20 oz bottles); 4 bottles of water (10 oz with Mio pomegranate flavor to add); AND two treats – – 2 cans of cold diet Pepsi in OR insulated beverage carriers. The two caches met I didn’t have to carry the 20 lbs of liquids all that far.

We encountered two small groups of Navajo horses and one solo horse on the hike. Each and every horse was intently curious of our presence and watched us with interest as we passed by. The foals were cute as a button.

You can’t drink the water in the canyon as the area is range for Navajo cattle and horses, and the National Park four wheel drive trucks drive quite a ways up Keet Seel Canyon from time to time as well. Still the scenery and waterfalls make for a very enjoyable backpack. We kept our backpack loads extremely light (no stakes, footprint, or rain fly for the REI quarter dome T2 plus tent – – zero chance of rain predicted for 7 days). Everything else we kept to a minimum as well. I did take a light REI flashpack 18 liter day pack to carry cameras, fluids and first aid kit etc. for my wife and myself, when we left our tent camp and hiked the short distance to the Keet Seel ranger’s quarters and then on to the cliff dwellings themselves, with Patrick.

My wife and I met ranger Patrick at his octagonal ranger’s quarter, a short distance from the Keet Seel Ruins. It struck me as a bit ironic. Max (A Navajo) had given us our orientation and permit to visit Keet Seel. The Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) are now thought to be related to the Hopi and Zuni – – modern day pueblo dwellers in some cases. Patrick is a Hopi, from a small reservation perched primarily atop three mesas on a reservation completely surrounded by the massive Navajo reservation.

Patrick was soft spoken, extremely knowledgeable, patient, modest, and instantly likeable.
An antler tool, a home made large arrow, and what looked like a "prayer stick" sat on a bench where we sat all drinking ice tea. When I asked about the prayer stick, Patrick quietly told me it was an atlatl. Though he didn’t say so, it was obvious that Patrick had carefully and skillfully made both the arrow and the atlatl.

He showed me how it was held then stood up and launched an arrow at high speed out toward the "Keet Seel" sign in front of the ranger’s station. My wife and I were really impressed. He went in the hogan and brought out three more finally feathered arrows and asked me if I would like to try the atlatl. I was intrigued, honored and a little nervous (I didn’t want to destroy one of his hand made arrows with a clumsy effort.

With Robert’s instruction I got the feel of how to hold the atlatl and the arrow, then the moment came for me to launch an arrow. I did. It flew fast straight and far and I can’t possibly tell you how proud I was and how happy it made me that Patrick trusted me to give it a try.

As at the Blanding bakery, Patrick and I explored many topics and talked books, studies, and former expeditions. I was most interested in Patrick’s stories of the Hopi clans, beliefs, and oral history. It was another road trip highlight and just the visit with Patrick and the chance to actually give an atlatl a try. Moments to remember.

After a long porch conversation we were ready to head up to the Keet Seel ruins. I had shown my wife a photo of the access ladder used to reach the ruins themselves, so she knew what to expect, still I could tell she was a bit apprehensive, but up the ladder she went, right after Patrick and I had gone up first. She did well.

It is simple to find lots of information on the Keet Seel cliff dwellings, so I won’t go into too much detail: Tree ring dating indicates that what we see today of the well preserved ruins were made and inhabited before year 950. Around 1272 population, pottery diversification, and use of Keet Seel was at a high. Over 100 people called this cliff dwelling "home" at this time. Then like other dwellings all over the Southwest, the people left. They stored belongings like they intended to come back one day BUT they also burned many of their rooms, for what reason, nobody knows for certain.

Few, if any, remained living at Keet Seel by 1300. Many building styles and techniques (jacal and masonry) can be observed at Keet Seel. It is the ‘beyond obvious function" high ladder ends reaching up high inside the alcove and the HUGE log mounted across the main central entrance to the ruins, that most impressed me.

When we finished the tour we checked out the midden down below the cliff dwellings where every color and style of pottery pieces you can imagine, could be found and observed. There is evidence that much trading took place at sites like Keet Seel (Macaw feather were found here) and that pottery had been traded and sometimes destroyed intentionally during certain ceremonies. In all a fascinating place to visit, reflect upon, and connect with a people that made the most of their environment for a time in the past.

We left Patrick and returned to our camp across the canyon floor. An almost full moon lit the night, and the wind blew softly through the canopy of oak limbs and leaves over our tent. This was the first time we had used our new Big Agnes Q Core air mattresses and I can’t tell you how much we both enjoyed these excellent sleeping pad air mattresses. They weigh about the same as our thin, narrow, long self-inflators but pack up into very small stuff sacks.

NOTE: I have read of some having difficulty BUT first squash all the air out; fold lengthwise into thirds; force the rest of the air out as you roll it up and it will easily fit in the strong small stuff sack provided. I promise.

We talked into the night, gazing at the stars above and discussing our good fortune on this road trip and with life in general. We both fell asleep with smiles.

DAY NINE [07 JUNE 2012]

I woke up early after a good night’s rest. I wanted to get going early so we could hike the canyon in the shaded cool of morning and attack the 1,000 climb up out of Tsegi Canyon before the full heat of the afternoon.

We got a good start and took exactly five hours to hike from our Keet Seel camp to our vehicle (with its ice chest full of ice cold diet Pepsi). I had found (by accident) some quick sand in the shade of a canyon wall on the way into Keet Seel, so we made a point of stopping at the same place for an oldmantravels photo op on the way out. It was a weird experience to have the sand that seemed dry, below your feet turn suddenly to Jell-O, then start to crack and sink.

Hiking out Keet Seel we passed at least 8 other backpackers, heading into Keet Seel. We also passed a National Park pickup truck driving up the stream bed, presumably to rotate another ranger in to take Patrick’s place and/or take in some supplies.

We had intended that our backpacking experience to Keet Seel would be the highlight of our road trip …. and……it was. We both had a wonderful time (and got some good exercise in the process).

We drove back through Mexican Hat, Blanding, and then to Moab (where like after our April Chesler park backpacking trip) we had a HUGE meal and a mango/peach smoothie and Denny’s). We drove on to Green River, Utah where we took long hot showers, changed into fresh road trip clothes, and enjoyed a night’s sleep at a motel there.

DAY TEN [08 JUNE 2012]

We slept in at Green River, Utah then headed up through Price, Ogden, Pocatello, and then on a less traveled road to Tendoy, Idaho and then to the Solaas Bed and Breakfast in Baker, Idaho. It is located under huge cottonwoods near the Lemhi River.

Just south of Tendoy a white tail doe ran without warning from the willows along the road. I was doing 65 mph and everything happened fast. At first I started to break but then sped up and swerved to the right hoping if I hit her at all it would be better to side swipe her than hit her head on. She lost her footing and fell, narrowly missing the rear quarter fender of our car. Through the rear view mirror I saw her regain her feet on the shoulder and bound into the woods. We were very relieved that things hadn’t ended badly for both the deer and for us. A close call, and fortunately the only one of this road trip.

In 2006 I took a road trip with a good high school friend (John). We visited Lemhi Pass and hiked a section of trail that Lewis and Clark had taken. Lemhi Pass is where they had crossed the continental divide heading west and where Sacagawea fortuitously recognized her brother as the leader of the band of Shoshone, who intercepted the Lewis and Clark company near this place. John and I had "found" a B & B (Solaas Bed and Breakfast) on that trip and I really liked the owners (Roger and Sharon Solaas):
www.salmonidaho.com/solaas

William Least Heat Moon, the author of Blue Highways had stayed with Roger and Sharon and his stay is mentioned in that book.

When John and I left Roger and Sharon in June of 2006, I told them I would return one day and I would have my wife with me. So, six years later, almost to the day, a promise kept. Roger and Sharon had a pushy, smart, clever, conniving cat, who tried his best to ingratiate himself to us. Actually I think he wanted us to: 1) let him in the old double story farm house for the night and 2) take him home with us.

Sharon allowed that number one wasn’t allowed BUT we were welcome to take the spoiled, troublesome feline home with us if we wanted. We declined. In reality I think the cat is grudgingly loved, admired and appreciated by both Roger and Sharon, but at least Sharon won’t own up to that.

We had an upstairs room with some of Sharon’s beloved hand made quilts on the beds and a great view of the Lemhi Mountains to the east of us. Another good night’s sleep.

DAY ELEVEN [09 JUNE 2012]

My wife had been a great sport on this entire road trip; car camping in a backpacking tent; taking short hikes; and especially for taking the 17 mile round backpacking trip into Keet Seel and back. Cliff dwelling are after all, of more interest to me than her…so…I wanted to surprise her.

I told her we would travel through Salmon; over Lost Trail Pass; then over Lolo Pass and down to the Clearwater River casino and hotel near Lewiston, Idaho. There we would spend the last night of our road trip in a nice room and she could play her beloved, penny slot machines. She was elated. So off we went.

As we left Salmon and started out climb up Lost Trail Pass I noticed it getting much cooler, and pretty soon there was fresh snow beside the highway. It seems so incongruous having just traveled many miles with the A/C on the car switched on. As we topped Lost Trail Pass and started down the other side, I had to blink twice as I saw a vehicle in the ditch, on the right hand side of the road. Only it was a vehicle. It was a private airplane.

It was damaged but not badly. I pulled over to take a photograph just as a state patrolman pulled up to the scene and started walking up the highway. Behind him was another official car with a man in an FAA jacket.

I read when I got home that it had only the pilot aboard and he wasn’t injured. His story about a "down draft" and forced landing sounded a bit unusual to me. I’m guessing that the snow and low cloud visibility caused a "can’t turn around problem" when flying VFR in suddenly IFR conditions. The internet article said that the "incident" was being investigated.

After passing the scene we saw a U.S. Forest Service vehicle heading to the same scene, so all interested parties will be able to compare notes.

We had off and on rain all the way over Lolo Pass and enjoyed watching the rafters, kayakers, and catarafts float by on the Lochsa River. The water was high and fast moving, and they all seemed to be enjoying the experience even though it was raining.

I had a buffalo burger and split some curly fries with my wife at a road side Farmer’s market. We felt sorry for the vendors, who had set up there, as they were closing up early. Too much rain for many visitors.

We got our room for the night at the Clearwater River Casino and my wife got her time attending the "investment" opportunities as the penny slot machines. I bought a carry out pizza and cinnamon sticks to bring back to our room, and I enjoyed reading and watching the Mariners on high definition TV. A good time was had by all.

DAY TWELVE [10 JUNE 2012]

Drove home through the lovely Palouse country of Eastern Washington.

I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that go with this road trip photo set. I hope they bring good memories to those of you who have visited the places we did and that perhaps somebody out there in flickrland is motivated to visit a place they haven’t been as a result of the photos. Thanks for stopping by. OMT 11 June 2012.

Posted by oldmantravels on 2012-06-16 03:58:54

Tagged: , Muley Point overlook , San Juan River Canyon , Cedar Mesa , Utah back roads , slick rock canyon country , John’s Canyon Road

holocaustic (Bansky)

holocaustic (Bansky)

Lt. Col. Mervin Willett Gonin DSO :
I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere, some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had fallen. It took a little time to get used to seeing men women and children collapse as you walked by them and to restrain oneself from going to their assistance. One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect. It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diphtheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it, one saw women drowning in their own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, and men eating worms as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference. Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand propping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the open relieving themselves of the dysentery which was scouring their bowels, a woman standing stark naked washing herself with some issue soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated. It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the postmortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.

Posted by CA² on 2006-09-16 10:08:00

Tagged: , Bansky , holocaustic , holocaust

The Thing from Another World (RKO, 1951). The story in Screen Captures.

The Thing from Another World (RKO, 1951). The story in Screen Captures.

The Thing from Another World 1951
Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!
—Ned “Scotty” Scott

www.popscreen.com/v/7aMWr/The-Thing-from-Another-World Full Feature
www.youtube.com/v/T5xcVxkTZzM Trailer
This is one of the major classics of 50s sci fi movies. Released in April of 1951, it was the first full-length film to feature a flying saucer from outer space, which carried a hostile alien. The budget and the effects are typical B-grade stuff, but the acting and pacing are well above the usual B levels. Kenneth Toby and Margaret Sheriden star. James Arness (more known for his westerns) plays The Thing.
Howard Hawks’ early foray into the science fiction genre took advantage of the anti-communist feelings of the time to help enhance the horror elements of the story. McCarthyism and the Korean War added fuel to the notion of Americans stalked by a force which was single of mind and "devoid of morality." But in the end, it is American soldiers and scientists who triumph over the evil force – or the monster in the case of this film. Even today, this is considered one of the best of the genre.
Film review by Jeff Flugel. June 2013
There’s not a lot new or particularly insightful I can offer when it comes to discussing the seminal sci-fi flick, The Thing from Another World that hasn’t been written about ad naseum elsewhere. One of the most famous and influential of all 1950s creature features, it kicked off more than a decade of alien invasion and bug-eyed monster movie mayhem, inspired a host of future filmmakers (one of whom, John Carpenter, would go on to direct his own version of the story in 1982), and remains one of the best-written and engaging films of its kind.
Loosely (and I do mean loosely) adapted from John W. Campbell’s novella, "Who Goes There?," The Thing is legendary director Howard Hawks’ lone foray into the science fiction/ horror genres, but it fits comfortably into his filmography, featuring as it does Hawks’ favorite themes: a group of tough professionals doing their job with ease, good-humored banter and practiced finesse; a bit of romance with a gutsy dame who can easily hold her own with the boys; and lots of overlapping, razor-sharp dialogue. Featuring a script by Charles Lederer and an uncredited Ben Hecht, The Thing is easily the most spryly written and funniest of all 50s monster movies. In fact, it’s this sharpness in the scripting, and the extremely likeable ensemble cast of characters, rather than the now-familiar story and somewhat unimaginative monster design, that makes the film still feel fresh and modern to this day.
There’s likely few people out there reading this who don’t know the story of The Thing like the back of their hand, but here goes…When an unidentified aircraft crashes close to a remote research station near the North Pole, Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey, in the role of his career) and his squad are dispatched there to investigate. Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) heads the scientific contingent there, and he informs Hendry that he thinks the downed craft is possibly "not of this earth." A joint team of soldiers and scientists head out to the crash site and find an actual, honest-to-goodness flying saucer lying buried under the ice.
The spaceship is destroyed while the men try to melt the ice around it with thermite bombs, but they find a lone, 8-foot-tall extraterrestrial occupant frozen nearby and bring the body back to the outpost in a block of ice. Dr. Carrington and his crew of eggheads want to study the thing, but Hendry is adamant that it should be kept as is until he gets word from his superior in Anchorage, General Fogerty. It wouldn’t be a monster movie without something going pear-shaped, of course, and before you know it, a careless mistake results in the creature being thawed out of his iceberg coffin and going on a bit of a rampage, taking out a number of sled dogs and a few unsuspecting scientists along the way. The rest of the film details the tense battle between the surviving humans and the coldly intelligent, remorseless alien invader, which seems virtually unkillable, impregnable to cold, bullets and fire…
The set-up for the film, and how everything eventually plays out, might seem overly familiarly nowadays, but in 1951, this was cutting-edge stuff, at least in cinemas. The Thing plays as a veritable blueprint of how to make a compelling "alien monster-on-the-loose" movie. Howard Hawks not being particularly well-versed, or even interested in, science fiction per se likely worked to its benefit, as he ended up making, as he so often did in his other films, what is first-and-foremost a well-oiled entertainment, rather than simply a genre exercise.
Typical of a Hawks film, The Thing is meticulously designed, composed and shot, but in such a way as to appear offhand. Hawks almost never went in for showy camera angles or flashy effects. His technique was nearly invisible; he just got on with telling the story, in the most straightforward, unfussy way. But this easy, seemingly effortless style was very carefully considered, by a shrewd and knowing mind. As Bill Warren, author of one of the best (and certainly most encyclopedic) books about 1950s sci-fi filmmaking, Keep Watching the Skies, notes in his detailed analysis of the film:
As most good movies do, The Thing works in two areas: sight and sound. The locale is a cramped, tunnel-like base; the men are confined within, the Thing can move freely outdoors in the cold. Compositions are often crowded, with more people in the shot than seems comfortable, reinforcing the idea of confinement After the Thing escapes, only the alien itself is seen standing and moving alone.
This feeling of a cold, hostile environment outside the base is constantly reinforced throughout the film, and a real tension mounts when, towards the climax, the highly intelligent Thing, itself immune to the subzero arctic conditions, turns off the compound’s heating, knowing the humans inside will quickly die without it. (The freaky, otherworldly theremin-flavored music by Dimitri Tiomkin adds a lot to the eerie atmosphere here.)
As groundbreaking and well-structured as the plot of The Thing was (and is), what makes the film play so well today is the great script and the interaction of a bunch of seasoned character actors, who toss off both exposition and pithy bon mots in such a low-key, believable manner. This is a truly ensemble movie, and the fact that it doesn’t feature any big name stars really adds to the overall effect; no one really hogs all the limelight or gets the lion’s share of good lines. Hawks was a director who usually worked with the biggest names in the business, but, much as in the earlier Air Force, he was equally at home working with a cast of rock-solid character actors.
All this talk of Howard Hawks as director, when it’s actually Christian Nyby who is credited with the job, has long been a source of speculation with fans of the film. Todd McCarthy, in his bio Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, seems to clear the issue up once and for all (though really, after viewing enough Hawks films, the results speak for themselves):
The perennial question surrounding The Thing From Another World has always been, Who actually directed it, Christian Nyby or Howard Hawks? The sum of participants’ responses make the answer quite clear. Putting it most bluntly, (associate producer) Ed Lasker said "Chris Nyby didn’t direct a thing. One day Howard was late and Chris said,’Why don’t we get started? I know what the shot should be.’ And I said, ‘No, Chris, I think we’ll wait until Howard gets here." Ken Tobey testified, "Chris Nyby directed one scene. Howard Hawks was there, but he let Chris direct one scene. We all rushed into a room, eight or ten of us, and we practically knocked each other over. No one knew what to do." Dewey Martin, Robert Cornthwaite and Richard Keinen all agreed that Hawks was the director, and Bill Self said, "Chris Nyby was a very nice, decent fellow, but he wasn’t Howard Hawks."
Nyby had been Hawks’ editor on a number of films, and Hawks apparently decided to help his collaborator establish a name for himself by allowing him directorial credit on the film. This seemingly altruistic gesture didn’t mean that Hawks wasn’t involved in virtually every aspect of the making of the film, however, and ultimately, The Thing did little for Nyby’s directing career, at least on the big screen (he did go on to a long and busy career directing for numerous television programs, however.)
Bill Self was told at the time that Hawks didn’t take directing credit on The Thing because it was planned as a low-budget film, one in which RKO didn’t have much confidence. But, as critics have been saying ever since it was released, The Thing is a Howard Hawks film in everything but name. The opening scene of various members of the team bantering is so distilled as to be a virtual parody of Hawksian overlapping dialogue. Even more than Only Angels Have Wings, the picture presents a pristine example of a group operating resourcefully in a hermetically sealed environment in which everything in the outside world represents a grave threat. (3)
In addition to all the masculine camaraderie and spooky goings-on, one of the best aspects of The Thing is the fun, charming little tease of a romance between Capt. Hendry and Nikki (top-billed Margaret Sheridan). Nikki works as Prof. Carrington’s assistant and is not merely the requisite "babe" in the film. True to the Hawksian norm, she’s no pushover when it comes to trading insults with the men, nor a shrinking violet when up to her neck in perilous situations. Unlike most actresses in 50s monster movies, she doesn’t utter a single scream in The Thing
and in fact, it’s her practical suggestion which gives Bob, Hendry’s ever-resourceful crew chief (Dewey Martin), the notion of how to finally kill the monster. Lederer and Hecht’s screenplay hints at the backstory to Nikki and Pat’s relationship in humorous and oblique ways, and their flirtation amidst all the chaos adds sparkle to the film but never gets in the way of the pace of the story. One nice little throwaway exchange near the finale encapsulates their verbal give-and-take, as Nikki playfully pokes the temporarily-befuddled Hendry, as his men scurry about, setting Bob’s plan in motion.
Nikki: Looks as if the situation’s well in hand.
Hendry: I’ve given all the orders I’m gonna give.
Nikki: If I thought that were true, I’d ask you to marry me.
Sheridan, a former model signed to a 5-year contract by Hawks, is quite good here, but after The Thing her career never really caught fire and she retired from acting a few years later. The closest thing to a star turn in the film is Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Hendry. Tobey racked up an impressive number of credits throughout his nearly 50-year-long career, generally as gruff, competent military men or similar types, and he was always good value, though it’s as Capt. Hendry in The Thing that he truly shines. He consistently humanizes the no-nonsense, take charge man of action Hendry by displaying an easygoing approach to command. Most of Hendry’s men call him by his first name, and delight in ribbing him about his budding romance with Nikki, and he responds to all this joshing in kind. When things get hairy, Tobey’s Hendry doesn’t have to bark his orders; it’s clear that, despite the friendly banter, his men hold him in high esteem and leap to do his bidding at a moment’s notice.
Many of the other members of the cast, while none of them ever became household names, will likely be recognizable from countless other roles in both film and television. Hawks gave Dewey Martin co-star billing in The Big Sky a few years later. Robert Cornthwaite kept busy for decades on stage and television, as well as in supporting roles in films such as Monkey Business, Kiss Me Deadly and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? John Dierkes (Dr. Chapman) and Douglas Spencer (Scotty) both had juicy roles in the western classic Shane, as well as many other movies too numerous to name. Sharp-eyed viewers will also recognize Eduard Franz, Paul Frees (he of the famous voice) and Groucho Marx’s right-hand man on You Bet Your Life, George Fenneman, in pivotal roles. And of course we mustn’t forget 6′ 7" James Arness (years before becoming renowned as Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke) as the hulking Thing.
A quick note on the "remake": John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), a bleak, grisly and brilliant take on the story, was a box-office dud when first released, but has since attained well-deserved status as a modern classic. While most fans seem divided into two camps – those who love the more restrained, old-fashioned thrills of the original, and those who prefer the more visceral, paranoiac Carpenter version – I happen to treasure both films equally and revisit each of them often. The Carpenter version is by far the gutsier, unsettling one, emphasizing as it does the "trust no one," shape-shifting "the alien is one of us" scenario imagined by John W. Campbell, but the Hawks’ film is the most fun, with a far more likeable array of characters, working together to defeat an implacable menace. Each has its own clear merits. I wouldn’t want to do without either film, and frankly see no need to choose one over the other.
"Every one of you listening to my voice…tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are: Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”
Acting Credits
Margaret Sheridan – Nikki Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey – Captain Patrick Hendrey
Robert Cornthwaite – Professor Carrington
Dewey Martin – Crew Chief
Douglas Spencer – Ned "Scotty" Scott
Eduard Franz – Dr Stern
Robert Nichols – Lieutenant Ken Erickson
William Self – Colonel Barnes
Sally Creighton – Mrs Chapman
John Dierkes – Dr. Chapman
James R. Young – Lieutenant Eddie Dykes
Norbert Schiller – Dr. Laurenz
William Neff – Olson
Allan Ray – Officer
Lee Tung Foo – Cook
Edmund Breon – Dr. Ambrose
George Fenneman – Dr. Redding
Tom Steele – Stuntman
James Arness – The Thing
Billy Curtis – The Thing While Shrinking

Posted by Morbius19 on 2014-02-05 21:18:39

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