Notes from Westwater

Mysterious writing of the ancient inhabitants of San Juan County.  Courtesy photo
Three of the figures were leaping, left legs extended, right legs leaving the ground, arms out for balance; one was skipping; one doing yoga, and one twirling like an alien ballerina. Next to them, a much larger, square anthropomorph wore an antenna-like headdress, earrings or pigtails, and a...
Polly Skousen Sloan, the mother of the late Ruth Palmer, with the graduating class from the LDS Nursing School in Salt Lake City in the early 1900s. Polly is in the back row, third from the left. Courtesy photo
After Ted’s oldest sister opened a tiny, blue velvet bag, she tipped out a rose-colored garnet ring into her palm. The band was large and spun around on her finger when she tried it on. “This is my grandmother’s ring,” she announced. “Grandma Polly’s. She had extremely large hands although when I...
Kenidee, a new friend of Merry Palmer, enjoys exploring the wonders of Westwater in the heat and the cold. Merry Palmer photo
I wore long underwear, a sweater, a plush jacket, a purple down coat, and an ancient pair of gold snowpants. To top off my outfit, I wrapped a winter scarf over my head and around my neck and donned purple-framed sunglasses. I was sure I looked just like Jackie Onassis—for those who remember her. I...
Thousands of snow geese on the long way home.  Merry Palmer photo
“My home is Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” – Billy Graham The big freeway sign flashed a warning: “Interstate 70 closed in western Kansas, limited parking available west of Salina.” We were on our way home after spending Christmas with my side of the family. Our last...
Frozen foliage in Westwater Canyon serves as a reminder of the season. Merry Palmer photo
“Christmas is not as much about opening presents as opening our hearts.” Janice Maeditere Westwater sparkled as Kenidee and I started down the trail early Sunday morning. On Saturday, we’d had an unusual fog which cloaked the entire area. That moisture now created crystals which transformed even...
The Outlaw Trail to the top of Tank Mesa. Ted Palmer photo
The phrase, “This is what the living do,” looped over and over in my mind as we walked up the trail toward Ranger Canyon, not far from Bluff. We’d done a little exploring among the sandstone bluffs in November on previous trips, and we’d been amazed by their beauty. However, on this expedition I...
The incredible Procession Panel on the east side of Comb Ridge. Merry Palmer photo
Nothing prepared me for the Procession Panel despite all the rock art my hubby and I had seen over the years. The Procession Panel is a famed tableau carved in a cliff face on the east side of Comb Ridge, and, as its name indicates, portrays a procession of three long lines of people from the west...
The spectacular expanse of Comb Ridge forms the backbone of central San Juan County.  Merry Palmer photo
Tumbleweeds, cheatgrass, and Russian thistles impeded our passage as we trudged toward the ancient road in Comb Wash. They posed even more of a challenge for Kenidee, our little schnauzer, who hopped over, sidestepped, or scooted under the prickly weeds, some of which had blown into piles as big as...
The beauty of Warm Springs.  Ted Palmer photo
We could hear the loud pulsing noise even before we rounded the corner, a noise that didn’t belong in Red Canyon. The sound startled us, and as we kept walking up the wash, it grew louder with every step. Earlier that morning, Ted had parked the 4 Runner in Red Canyon and unloaded our little ATV. I...
Merry and Ted Palmer at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Courtsey photo
Years ago, I traveled with my family and best friend to the United Kingdom. We took buses, trains, and taxis to reach our destinations as we toured England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. One stop remains vivid in my memory—the York Minster in York, North Yorkshire, England. Workers began...

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