Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mountains and Canyons

The Family together

Refreshed, the pre-sunrise start to my short drive day (400 miles), and the thought of driving to visit my friends, Daphne & Carlos maintained my energy and excitement as I twisted through the Rocky Mountains with the sun beginning to peak over the sharp crests. Down the west slope and onto the desert floor past Capitol Reef National Park brought me a feeling of being very close to home. The ranches, farms, and the desert open range were much different than my visions through my windshield for the past three weeks. One more gas stop and I would be pulling into Mount Pleasant, UT.

Lovely vintage house in Mount Pleasant
Once I dropped off the western slope of Colorado I gave a courtesy call to my friends and told them my approximate time of arrival. Carlos said they had a veterinarian appointment around 3PM at a ranch just out of town to look over their new quarter horse Daphne rescued. I promised to do my best so I could see "Holly".  At 1PM I pulled off the interstate onto the state road pointing directly north. The road was populated with small Mormon communities linked together with large grassy sheep and cattle ranches. Surrounding the valleys were the massive Wasatch Mountains crowned with snow. Just after 2PM I came upon the "Maverick" gas station signalling me to make the next left turn, count three houses on the right and look for my friend's cars. With pin point accuracy, I pulled up to a nicely maintained ranch style duplex, the home of Daphne and Carlos Peinado. Together this couple wrote, produced, directed, filmed, and edited the heart wrenching documentary "Waterbusters", a story how the US government relocated the Mandan tribe by dissecting and scattering it's residents throughout the US with not much more than bus tickets to destinations totally unfamiliar losing their identities and strength.
Winter still biting away

I was warmly welcomed by Daphne and soon after Carlos exited from his Volvo station wagon having just come from finishing out a day of winding down his school year. Carlos is a multi-media instructor for a private international high school where most students don't have English as a language and only about 10% are local students. It's been a learning experience for him to teach without a common language. I learned a new term..."Project Based Learning" is the vehicle used to teach these students. 

Winter revisits top of Horseshoe Mountain
Jumping back into his car, I got a quick tour of Mount Pleasant and soon we pulled onto the dirt road dividing the tall grass pastures populated with horses of many colors and markings. The horse docs had just arrived ready to check out Holly and give her a couple vaccinations. Carlos approached the fence while most of the herd curiously walked over to meet Carlos to which he lead Holly through the gate.

Within minutes the examination was done and we returned to the house where Carlos and I caught up on each others adventures, experiences, and the daily hum drums of life. It's fun to enter into Carlos' world of tech and creativity for he is always looking to be experimenting with ideas and equipment for photography and film. He has a great opportunity to create another film and was excited to share this news with me. We had some dinner and shared more stories then it was time to turn in for Carlos still had a long next day of meetings and reports to complete. Daphne and I planned to take a drive into the mountains the next morning.
Zie Brat ist Wundervar

Before departing the house, we all agreed to meet for lunch around noon at a German cafe in a town south of Mount Pleasant. Carlos took off to school and Daphne got to ride in Cheeky, who I could tell was excited to test herself in the Wasatch Mountains. We drove north out of town through the small community of Fairview, then turned east on SR31 and began out assent up into the Wasatch Mountain range. The aspens were just beginning to leaf out but old mister winter didn't seem to want to leave today. The dark deeply bruised clouds had a menacing threat of snow and once we reached the summit of Horseshoe Mountain, the icy snow began to fall creating such a wonderful drama, I couldn't have asked for better weather. Both Daphne and I were quiet with awe at the beauty that was offered on this day. We could only venture so far because of the time limitation to meet Carlos for lunch so I turned an invigorated Cheeky around and descended the same way we came. In our short drive about we came upon a sign explaining this was the site of a recent discovery of the remains of a Wooly Mastodon that is now housed in the Fairview Museum. The researchers said the beast was frozen so solid for thousands of years that when they excavated the animal, the flesh was still intact and let off a rancid smell of rotting meat.
Professor Carlos  and Miss Daphne

Now for lunch...retreating south through Fairview and Mount Pleasant we turned off to the left to a quaint little community of Spring City. The early settlers in this town were mainly of rough Swedish decent and soon were directed by the Mormon's to change their ways and they could have multiple wives and have as many children as humanly possible. This was most likely an easy sell to these pioneer Scandinavians. Oh yes, lunch...we all met up at the "Das Cafe" where I had the traditional bratwurst that satisfied my inner heritage.

Horseshoe Mountain
Later Carlos showed me about his campus classrooms stocked with the most advanced lighting, cameras, sound studios, and editing equipment. He then had me view a film project his students took ownership of called "The Classroom". This made for TV sitcom was based upon the style of "The Office". It was quite cleaver and well done. His students wrote, filmed, and acted in each segment. For Carlos this was a brilliant breakthrough regarding how to get kids interested and participate together in a project. Soon we returned to his house for dinner where afterward we all began packing for our journeys. Both Daphne & Carlos were leaving in a couple days to spend the summer in New England.  One last note about this part of Utah. Colorado may have the Rockies but for pure scenic beauty, Utah is much prettier.



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