Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 - The Year in Review: Life in Our Parking Lot

The large gravel parking lot serving Twin Rocks Trading Post and Café often functions as Bluff’s Town Common. It is the local meeting place to start or end parades, welcome visitors from around the world, rest your horse or your Harley. It is wide enough to turn around huge semi-truck trailers, tour buses, or horse trailers. Our parking lot is also the place where more selfies are taken (with the Twin Rocks in the background) than perhaps any other location in San Juan County, Utah.

Susie and I live in the apartment above the Trading Post, and at any hour of the day or night, one of us will tell the other to come and see what just pulled into the parking lot. Bluff is a town of only 265 individuals, but the world seems to want to stop here for a visit to the Trading Post or a meal at the Café. Below are only a small selection of the scenes from our entertaining front yard in the past year.

The open Kokopelli doors of the Trading Post presents the perfect frame to watch life in the parking lot. This year it served as the staging area for the annual Utah Navajo Fair Parade.

Any time of the year (except the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day when we close), the lot can be jammed. The winter of 2017 was extremely mild and this shot in early January was one of the few occasions of snow.

Last April saw the first Founders Day celebration in Bluff’s history and the parade began at Bluff Fort and ended up at Twin Rocks. Floats, musicians, pioneers, and princesses made this location their final destination on Saturday morning.

Parades of another kind are the large groups of rental RVs that gather at the Post. One day last summer, 31 vehicles arrived together, parked within inches of each other, and their passengers enjoyed a meal at the Café. Each of the RVs sported an identical Danish flag in its rear window.

A paradise for selfie photos, as many as eight or nine buses arrive nearly every day in the tourist season, and the first duty for every visitor (even before the mandatory rest room break) is to depart the bus and start taking pictures. From our upstairs window, we enjoy watching people performing wild contortions, leaping into the air, and mugging for the camera.

Not every day produces 51 Harley-Davidson motorcycles in our front yard, but Hogs are not unusual guests. Large groups of French and German tourists frequently come to the U.S. and rent Harleys for cross-country tours. One group last summer even brought along a film crew to document their Southwestern adventures.     

Horses, dogs, and the occasional sheep are let out of their trailers to take a rest break of their own. We often run out of the Post to warn dog owners about the nasty little stickers called Goatheads as they let their pooches out for a little relief in the side yard.

An amazing array of unusual vehicles grace the parking lot, and some of them defy descriptions, like this Easy Rider hybrid. Last fall, four rare Bugatti automobiles, valued at $2.5 million each, parked for a quick lunch break, and then roared elegantly away

The rock formation, known as the Navajo Twins, is reflected in a front window of one of the many tour buses that park out front. A stunning number of foreign languages, including Chinese, Russian, German, Danish, Norwegian, Japanese, French, and even New Yorker, can be heard. 

For the annual Navajo fair parade, Twin Rocks was the place to be. In the early morning, floats were constructed, horses saddled, and Navajo princesses climbed on to truck and car roof tops to receive the applause of their loyal subjects.

Susie’s 2017 “You’re Not Going To Believe This” Award goes to the medical helicopter that pulled into the parking area one evening. Stripped of its rotors, the whirly-bird was being transported on a giant flatbed truck to somewhere.

It was not on fire, but it looked like it. This heavily loaded movable light show pulled into the parking lot last week, just in time for Christmas. The truck driver stopped long enough for a good dinner and a short nap. When he fired up the big rig to depart, it appeared that the entire area was on fire.

I have learned to keep a camera ready at all times, as it has become my personal mission to document the various comings and goings in the parking lot. As Susie said shortly after we moved here 18 months ago, “Bluff – this place is different.”

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