As we were leaving, we stopped to buy a book about the museum’s rock art murals and began chatting with the nice woman at the front desk. It turns out that the museum’s new look is the result of a rebuilding after the sprinkler system flooded the interior. No artifacts were lost and the rebuild is wonderful and includes a neat children’s exploration/education area.
We left and headed south toward Bluff and the petroglyphs at Sand Island. We stopped at Comb Ridge Coffee
and both had delicious avocado veggie sandwiches and iced tea. It's a nice place that sells local art and other cool items. Very rustic building with many interesting details. It was pretty quiet, and the lady who made the sandwiches came out and talked with us about gardening and the trials and tribulations of warding off varmints. It is always fun talking to locals, and the locals in Utah are usually willing to slow down and chat. And they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
It was early afternoon and the glare on the rock art made viewing and photographing difficult. We clicked away knowing that photoshop can do amazing things. Especially amusing was the more recent “Custer died for your sins”…indeed!
Now we needed to decide what to do. We chose to stay in Blanding to see Butler Wash Ruins and Lower Mule Canyon the next day. We decided to devote the afternoon to Hovenweep. It has been on Peter’s list but it is far enough off the beaten path that we’ve never made it. Today was to be the day.
We decided to take the scenic route east out of Bluff on 163 to turn north on 262 in Montezuma Creek. This takes you through some barren country but there is oil there and therefore plenty of activity. It reminded Peter of Avondale, Arizona where he used to live as a kid…rough around the edges and as much a part of the American southwest as the dust itself.
Peter writes, “At Hovenweep, Sharon went to the ladies room, and I went to change into my hiking boots. As I was tying them on, a sudden gust of wind blew a strip of newspaper against the back of my heels. It happened so quickly that it startled me. When I picked it up, I could feel a small stick inside the folded strip of paper. I peeled open the tape at one end and discovered a hand painted arrow with a flaked stone point. It was a tourist item but very nicely done. I looked over my shoulder but I already knew that the small parking lot was empty. In Dine' lore, an arrow is a symbol of protection. Sharon was amused when I showed it to her. It isn’t the first time I’ve been presented an unexpected gift during a visit to the Four Corners area. All I can say is ‘thanks!’”
Hovenweep has some outstanding ruins. There is a rare square tower down inside the canyon. Many of the towers have no doors, just slots or holes in the walls. Perhaps they were entered through the roof. Were they observatories, or maybe signal towers? It is fun to speculate.
There are other ruins in other parts of Hovenweep but we took so long on the loop trail that we didn’t have time to check them all out…a good excuse to come back sometime.
We headed back out the long drive to the main road and Blanding. There were lots of Dine' headed in the opposite direction…probably on the way home from work and school.
By the time Peter had registered at the inn, the girls had determined that the place to eat in Blanding was FattboyZ
. The lady at the inn also suggested it (and their “traditional chicken fried steak") and we’d get a 10% discount since we were staying at the Sunset Inn/Stone Lizard. Since the only other option was a burger stand, we decided to check out FattboyZ.
We were served promptly and when Sharon’s tea and Peter’s lemonade were delivered in a quart Mason Jar, we had some idea that the portions would be large.
Sharon ordered the $8.99 Navajo Taco which was chili served on top of a large round piece of fry bread. It turned out to be good but way too much for Sharon.
Having never had one before and throwing caution to the wind, Peter ordered the chicken fried steak…his first ever. He opted for the traditional ‘white sauce’. It was $12.99 and came with a trip to the salad bar.
The chicken fried steak arrived and appeared to be some sort of steak that had been pounded flat, breaded and then fried in oil. It was covered with the white sauce which seemed like sausage gravy. It was accompanied by onion rings, mashed potatoes with more sauce and, in case you’re still hungry, a couple of thick slices of thick toast.
They don’t fool around at FattboyZ. Peter enjoyed his artery-clogging treat but wondered aloud if he’d make it out the door without a gout attack. Neither of us came close to finishing our meal. And Sharon made Peter scrape most of the white “gravy” off anyways…
We went back to the room and watched a little of the Dems national convention. Peter had a few tense moments when he though he’d lost the memory card that he’d taken out of the camera earlier in the day…the one with all the picture he’d taken so far. He located it under the seat of the car, so all was well.
Up early, and while Peter was perking a pot of coffee outside, Sharon had her own freakout when she couldn’t find her purse. She thought she must’ve left it at the restaurant. It was quickly located behind one of the suitcases where it had slipped out of sight. Though we were wide awake at that point, we still enjoyed a cup of coffee.
Peter went to top off the gas and saw an older gentleman with his 1951 Jeep he’d driven from Wyoming. He was getting ready to “head out on some trails”. You have to admire his pluck!