Visiting Cousins

Published 3:52 pm Friday, May 26, 2017

I have six first cousins, with only one living in the south.   We all remain remarkably close despite living thousands of miles apart.  This past weekend Mary Lou and I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Martha and her husband, Peter, who have lived in Southern Utah for over 30 years.

It is a strikingly beautiful place.  Their home backs up against the border of the Dixie National Forest.  The area was settled shortly after the Civil War, but its name has nothing to do with displaced southerners.

The Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, envisioned the area as a place where cotton could be grown “like in Dixie”.   Coming from southwest Georgia which is nearly perfect for growing cotton, it is hard to fathom how anyone could have ever thought it would be a fertile place for cotton or anything else.

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It is a desert-like area with small towns located wherever there might be a water source.   Peter and Martha’s home is downstream from a creek that originates up in the mountains at a large spring.  It is supplemented by the snowpack that begins not too far up the winding gravel road running by their property.

A short drive quickly results in dropping temperatures.  The high temperatures at their home during our visit was 80 degrees, but the quick change in altitude going higher in the mountains would drop it down to 50.  Snow had fallen a couple of weeks earlier and was still visible on the various peaks.

The highlight of our visit was a trip over to Zion National Park, with its peaks visible from their home about 35 miles away.  We took a back way into the park, one that would never be known by the average tourist.

The road was a single lane that had been blasted into the steep slopes.  The double cab pickup trip often seemed perilously close to the edge often with a sheer drop hundreds of feet at any given point. 

Not once did we see a guard rail until we arrived at a main road on the other side of the park hours later.  Thankfully, we only passed two other vehicles during our ascent up to the mesa. 

There is much more vegetation on the mesas located at the top due to the cooler temperatures.  There are springs that provide water allowing cattle to graze.  I suppose these are happy cows as they enjoy amazing views in almost every direction.

We stumbled upon a small cemetery located on top of a hill on the mesa.  I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to be laid to rest for eternity.  There was literally a view in every direction, a 360 degree panorama whose beauty could never be accurately captured in a photograph.

In fact, I doubt any of the dozens of photographs I took did the places we visited justice.  The different colors of the mountains stood in contrast to each other and yet seemed to change right before your eyes as the sun moved across the sky.