The next morning, we awoke to some beautiful clouds and decided that instead of spending another day at Zion in the uncertain weather, we would drive home early to visit Colton’s grandpa in Parowan. But first we stopped at the Parowan Cafe, because apparently we were all too lazy to cook ourselves any food this entire weekend… and I’d been craving bacon all weekend and it rubbed off on everyone.The cafe is an adorable establishment, and everything looks like it’s from the 60s, which it probably is. If you’re ever passing through I would definitely recommend a stop there.
Then we stopped to say hi to Colton’s grandpa. Floyd has lived in Parowan for many years, and he will tell you stories to fill several books. We try and visit him whenever we can, since his wife Dixie is in a rest home in Logan, and the rest of his family is also up north with us. We definitely don’t get down there often enough, and it struck us how lonely he must be. He has wonderful neighbors who check in on him daily, and he’s doing pretty darn good for 83 (he water skiied this year… hard core, right?) He also goes to his ‘shop’ every day to work on Volkswagen bugs, which he’s also been doing for many, many years. But that doesn’t replace the companionship of having another person to talk to after dinner and before bed. It makes us all really sad, but it really is so hard to drive four hours and visit a couple days when you’ve got your own crazy life taking over everything. I’m really not looking forward to being old. And it’s not even the old part, it’s the lonely part as people you’ve grown up with and know pass on before you.
We did get some good laughs in though as Floyd related some old War stories (and perhaps some racist stories… he is 83, after all). Bree also had a sliver in her foot so he went to the kitchen and came out with a giant kitchen knife. I immediately started making plans for the nearest hospital to stitch Bree up but he only showed her how to do it and handed the knife off to her. We really need to make a trip down here more often. After our visit, Colton and I made a quick stop at the Parowan Gap. Petroglyphs line the 600-ft tall cliffs, some estimated to be at least a thousand years old. It’s such a bizarre natural feature. The landscape all around the Gap is virtually flat, and all of a sudden the rocks just jut out of the ground. Then beyond that it’s completely flat again. Look at the satellite view of the map below. There’s literally NOTHING around. Oh except the Little Salt Lake. Never heard of it? Me either. Colton’s dad, who grew up in Parowan, told us that you used to be able to find old arrow heads all around the area. Now it is illegal to keep anything you find, and most of it has probably been found. The petroglyphs were fascinating to see. Much of what they mean is still guesswork, but some researchers believe the glyphs and the Gap itself were used as some sort of calendar. There was some construction around the area, and they are currently working on a parking lot for visitors. Colton felt torn about this because you’d always been able to walk right up to the glyphs (we were still able to, probably the first and last time I could get a picture near them) but it will also help protect the area, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are planning on building a small visitor’s center where you can learn more about the glyphs and the natives who used to thrive in the area. As usual, I started romanticizing about the area and the people who made their markings. Was it anyone who could make a mark on the wall, or did you have to be chosen or privileged? Were there ever two lovers who just wanted to carve their names onto the walls, wanting those after them to know of their passion? Did any teenage boys draw obscene marks as a joke? Or was it some old Native American clerk who studiously watched the stars and the rising of the sun and recorded his observations? I wish there was a way to see back in time at the first people who carved onto the walls, and to know what they were thinking. We will probably never know exactly what all the glyphs mean, and I think that’s part of the beauty they hold.
Alongside the glyphs carved by natives, there were also a few modern English characters. Colton and I laughed at this because if the dates are real, this is significant in its own way because whoever carved it was among the first European settlers of the area. I wonder if we could even track down who that was because there really weren’t a lot of people in the area back then. There was also one from the 1930s. If I saw someone carving their initials today I would probably throw a rock at their face, yet at the same time it is something that will also become a part of history as the years go by. Human mark-making is a very interesting thing to me. For whatever reason people feel the need to make their marks in the world so they are somehow remembered, even if it isn’t apparent who it is. Then there are just the bored teens who want to vandalize stuff. That’s another topic though.
As we drove away, I once again felt a deep love of the desert and everything it holds. This is where I’ve grown up, exploring around the sage brush and red rocks of Utah. Although my home is in the suburbs, I don’t have to drive very far to find the raw beauty of a desert landscape set against a background of mountains stretching on the horizon. I love Utah. Even if I move away someday, this will always be home.