I arrived in Bluff on the 11th day of April, 2004. Unlike Mary Jeanette’s journey in 1913, the trip from Albuquerque to my new home was more or less uneventful. Georgiana, a small, willowy woman of approximately five feet four inches and just over 110 pounds, transported us in a large, chestnut colored Ford pick up with a silvery-gray fiberglass shell affixed to the bed. The size of the truck and its driver seemed incongruous, but the arrangement proved successful as we traversed the nearly 250 mile route.
Twin Rocks Trading Post
Being young and untested, I was not allowed to travel in the cab with Georgiana and her two offspring, Kira, age 7, and Grange, age 4. Instead, in order to avoid an unpleasant mishap, I was relegated to the camper. Although the back of the truck was comfortable enough, I, having already grown fond of them, longed for the companionship of my two young compatriots. That, combined with the uncertainty of what lay ahead, made me more than a little melancholy.
As I pressed my nose to a side window, wondering what the future held in store for me, we left the bright lights of metropolitan New Mexico and headed north. As the moon rose over the Sandia Mountains, we passed through Bernalillo, San Ysidro and Cuba. Turning west just outside the small agricultural community of Aztec, we nipped the corner of Arizona not far from Shiprock and arrived at the border of Utah, my new home state. Although I did not know it at the time, we had passed not too far north of Salina Springs, the destination of Mary Jeanette on her maiden voyage into this still untamed land.
Utah, I had been informed by the beagle living next door, was known as the Beehive State. Its motto is simply “Industry,” and the beehive is proudly displayed on its coat of arms to indicate hard work and diligence. I wondered whether this meant my new owners would hitch me to a plow or make me herd sheep, cows or other livestock. My breed was not meant for such activity I ruminated. I am a gun dog, bred to retrieve downed waterfowl and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties. Menial labor is not in my DNA.
We sailed through Aneth, nothing more than a wide spot in the road, and navigated Montezuma Creek, with its thumping pump jacks and modern high school, eventually passing the Episcopal mission known as St. Christopher’s. In 1942 the Reverend H. Baxter Liebler of Greenwich, Connecticut, traveled through the Navajo lands of southeastern Utah. Stopping in the tiny settlement of Bluff, he learned the language and customs of these indigenous people and later built St. Christopher’s, which became the first Episcopal school for the Navajo.
Only two miles further west and we came to Twin Rocks Trading Post, which is located near the intersection of Utah State Highway 162 and U.S. Highway 191. In the moonlight I noted that the store, and the cafe immediately adjacent to it, were parked at the foot of a monstrous geological formation known variously as the Navajo Twins and the Twin Rocks. Perched on a slight promontory rising above town, these sandstone masterpieces are named for the mythical Hero Twins of Navajo legend. Sculpted by wind and water throughout many mellinea, these towers have stood guard over numerous civilizations, the earliest of which was established in approximately 650 A.D. These silent sentinels now watch over the trading post and the town of 250 modern day pioneers who choose to call Bluff home.
We drove to west entrance of the store, parked the truck and began unloading kids, packages, luggage and groceries. As I jumped from the tailgate to the concrete pad below, I noticed an inscription which read “Dacia Simpson 7-8-94.” That was a name I did not recognize, and it was not until I had settled into life at the trading post that I learned Dacia was yet another member of my family, a daughter from an earlier marriage.
It was at that point I heard a door squeak. Looking up, I spotted him, my new master, Steven P. Simpson, Steve as he is generally known, emerging from the apartment located on the second floor of the building. My heart pulsed. Was he kind? Would he take to me? Would he become this dog’s best friend? Those and many other questions raced through my mind as I stared at the tall, inscrutable figure backlit by the yellow porch light.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team
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