A Superb Owl Sunday

One quasi-religious holiday has adherents across many socioeconomic groups, ethnic and racial groups, and where people plan the festivities months in advance.

It’s both surrogate warfare and a celebration of American consumerism and capitalism.

And it’s popularity has no equal in current American culture.

I am, of course, talking about the Super Bowl.

We participate in the rituals, and much like the “Easter and Christmas” Catholics of my youth, even the most casual football fans will attend the high holy day around their friends’ large screen TV to consume nachos and chili. I occasionally took part in this type of communion on a few occasions after a ski tour. Seeing my friends with some good food after skiing always proved enjoyable.

But, much like the lapsed Catholic I am with Christmas and Easter mass, I have not attended a Super Bowl gathering in years.

Instead, we spend our time outside.

This year proved no exception.

Joan and I met up with our good friends Holly and Dan in Helper, UT, and rented a cabin (heat! hot water! and a small kitchen!), and we went up and down Nine Mile Canyon, perhaps one of the most famous corridors for rock images in the world.

Holly and Dan site steward a site in this famous canyon and would show us the sites that are perhaps less known.

We met them at the turn-off for the canyon, drove up together….and had to turn around as a plow got stuck on the road! We quickly did “Plan B” and went to the always-interesting USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum.

Its collection of natural history items and its Fremont people artifacts (many from Nine Mile Canyon and nearby) give much background for the place we would see Sunday instead.

The pottery, the older blanket, and the figurines give context to the buildings and structures we see in our travels through this part of Utah.

Piling Figurines By Brian Lee (Markarian421) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3011582

After a full day in the museum, we checked into our cabin, went out for an enjoyable dinner, and caught up in the evening.

The following morning, with a road clear of snow and plows, Holly and Dan guided us into this area Joan and I had not seen previously.

First stop? The Great Hunt Panel. Perhaps the most well-known site in the canyon and the Southwest USA overall, it’s captivating, with many details abounding on the panel depicting sheep and bison and what appears to be a hunting scene, as expected.

A person can see something new with every visit.

There’s no way to see all the sites in this canyon in one day, but our friends did point out sites barely visible from the road, where a zoom lens on the camera (or binocs) comes in handy.

And though the canyon features mainly drives with pull outs along the road, there are a few places to stretch out the legs and walk.

A mixture of Ute, ranching, Fremont, and possible “retouched” ones?

A few lesser-known and obscure places were shown to us as well.

And, of course, we did see some superb owl images, as appropriate for the day.

The area has a complicated history, of course.

In particular, some of the oldest images were once on private land, and the (former) owners let their displeasure over trespassers get known very bluntly.

Many sites are well marked. As most sites are on or near pavement, the signs and many guides make the area a perfect introduction to seeing the ancient images.

A few images reward patient observation and may look familiar to objects seen elsewhere.

If you have the time and find yourself in SE Utah, spend a day in Nine Mile Canyon. Price, UT (and nearby Helper) make a base with plenty of services and offer a quieter attraction to those seeking to see a unique and stunning cultural part of the SE Utah experience.

Joan and I only saw a small portion of all there is to visit in this stunning area, and I know we’ll return.

Perhaps another Super Bowl Sunday?

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