Thanks to my sister Sue, who researched etymology of hoodoos for me. This is one reference she found: “American aboriginal peoples of the northwest picked up the word hoodoo from English-speaking fur trappers and, like them, used hoodoo to refer to any malignant creature or evil supernatural force. That's how it came to be applied to the curious columns of earth or rock.” Quote from Bill Casselman on books about origins of Canadian words.
This holiday weekend the weather has not been particularly advantageous for tourists in this part of Utah. There have been heavy thunderstorms off and on, and that inhibits the outdoor activities for holiday travelers. Although it meant we could not enjoy riding the motorcycle, we used the pickup and found some very interesting activities to do. We visited a free movie set museum in Kanab and walked around some of the many sets used in the hundreds of TV shows and movies made in this county of Utah. The owners make their profit from their gift shop and the many foreign tourists who come there by the bus load. They serve chuck wagon suppers for them in their attached restaurant, and in addition, have a western clothing store next to the souvenir store. Entrepreneurs extraordinaire! We also went to Moqui Cave, a souvenir shop and museum built inside a sandstone cave near Kanab, but only poked our heads in; when we found they wanted $10 for us to tour the cave and see their exhibits, we decided we would skip that opportunity. The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was kind of interesting. We didn’t actually pay to go inside the park since we could see lots of tall sand dunes outside it. There were dozens of RVs dry camping outside the park and many 4 wheelers riding on the salmon-colored dunes. Off-road enthusiasts have 1,000 acres of play area and hundreds of miles of trails in the park. There is a campground inside too, so maybe someday when we come back to this area, we might camp there for fun. Another find today - an independent entrepreneur had placed a table in an empty lot right at the state line of AZ and UT, and on the table were many hand made AZ sierra sandstone objects d’art and items such as coasters. The artist had left a metal can with a slot in it next to the table, and had prices written on each art object. What an honor system! We had passed this unusual table several times this week during our travels, so on Saturday we stopped to look more closely at the offerings. They were priced very reasonably, so we choose four coasters and a carved stone arch sculpture, and placed our money in the can. The artist had not been to empty the can for at least a few days; we could see several bills inside. I hope he/she comes back soon to retrieve his/her earnings!
Our favorite stop Saturday was at Pipe Springs National Monument, established by in 1923 to memorialize the exploration and settlement of the Southwest. Located in far northern Arizona, a little south of Kanab, Utah, and surrounded by land operated by the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation, this national monument explains the use of the natural spring that helped the Paiutes and Mormons survive in the high desert region. American Indians, Mormon pioneers, plants, and animals have all depended on the life-giving water found at Pipe Spring, making this area an oasis in the desert. The Pauites now operate a museum at the monument that explains their history, culture, lifestyle, religion, relationship to the settlers, and their struggles to survive as a tribe, while the monument offers a look back at the life of the Mormon settlers who lived in the area from 1870 – 1895. The Mormons established a “tithing ranch” where the Mormon leadership-owned cattle were kept, and where the manager of the ranch also ran a dairy operation. We toured “Winsor Castle,” built by Mormon manager James Winsor in 1870. Winsor’s two story stone home was built into the hill and on top of the natural spring, and because of a fatal previous Indian attack on an earlier Mormon settler, the home was fortified in case of Indian raids; however, there were never any attacks after the home was built. The ranch flourished for awhile, but overgrazing the high desert grasslands led to a decline in the area’s ability to sustain cattle, and in 1895, the Mormon leadership sold the no longer profitable ranch to private citizens. The Pauites were awarded land for their reservation in 1907, but although the reservation surrounds it, the ranch itself was not part of the reservation. The US government and Pauites now operate the gift shop and museum jointly. We found this park to be very well organized and educational. There were volunteers and rangers to answer our questions, and interpretive signs and audio info were available as well. We talked awhile to one of the volunteers since we may want to do that type of volunteer work someday ourselves. Most volunteers at national parks and monuments are provided RV space and utilities for an exchange of usually 32 hours of work a week, and we think that may be something we’d like to do in the future – but we still have to decide where we’d like to work and then apply! We also enjoyed talking to the gift shop manager, and learned more about the types of jewelry made by different Arizona and New Mexican Native American groups, as well as about the dyes used in traditional Navajo blanket weaving. Did you know that cochineal bugs living on cactus produce a red-colored acid that the Navajos used to create a deep red dye used in their beautiful hand woven blankets? The fun and interesting trivia we learn just by asking questions and listening!
After lunch Sunday, we drove to Kanab and Fred bought a new black Stetson crushable cowboy hat at the movie set museum/gift shop/western store. We drove east on highway 89 to see the old 19th century Pahreah town site and site of Paria movie sets - we knew they’d been burned down by arsonists in 2006, but the site is near the old town site and cemetery so we thought we’d go see it. The old town was established in 1865, flourished for a few years, but failed after several floods made it too difficult to remain in the frontier town. Both the town and river were originally spelled Pahreah after a Pauite word, but the spelling was changed to Paria by John Wesley Powell when he made his survey maps in the 1870s. When we got to the monument that explained more about Pahreah, we discovered the road we thought was gravel was only dirt, and it would be a five mile drive in and then out again, just to see the cemetery. We decided against that ride, especially since it looked like it might rain again, and with a 2 wheel rather than a 4 wheel drive truck, we’d been warned not to try to go on any unimproved roads, especially if the roads were going to get wet. Instead, we drove back to Johnson Canyon Road, which had been recommended to us as a great scenic drive, with 16 miles of paved road followed by 15 miles of gravel road. The road went into the canyon, past the vermilion cliffs and into the white cliffs which are part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It was a very pretty drive and the gravel road was no worse than the gravel road I drove every day when driving from the farm to work back when we lived on the farm. While on the canyon road, we saw tumbleweeds racing across the road and getting caught in the fencing, small ranches with cattle and horses trying to graze on the high mountain meadows, and the remains of the old sets from the Gunsmoke television series; the sets are in disrepair now, waiting for someone to restore them. Bet those busloads of French and Germans would like to see those sets too! It was a relaxing, enjoyable ride through the rugged countryside. Back at the RV park, we loaded the motorcycle and enjoyed visiting with some new neighbors who are both retired educators from South Carolina. Tomorrow we leave the ranch and head north to our next destination.