We had so much fun exploring the fort - Connor stayed warm and snuggly in the van with Mona!
To celebrate our seventh anniversary, and to enjoy time with the whole family, we made the 50 minute drive South of Monticello to the little town of Bluff, Utah to visit the Bluff Fort. It's a historical site dedicated to the memory of the brave pioneer men & women who created a trail through some of the most harsh country in Utah. Once they drove their wagons down through an unbelievably steep and seemingly impossible crevice in a sheer rock face that is now known as "The Hole In The Rock", they then had to pull the same wagons up a hill known as "Cottonwood Canyon." Once they reached their destination, there was more trial and difficulty as their crops were devastated again and again by the harsh, hot, dry conditions and river flooding in the summertime, not to mention the difficulties they had with the Native Americans they were called there to maintain peace with and be missionaries to. But we are so grateful for the example of their faith & fortitude. Our ancestors (both Jake's and mine) were among those who stuck it out. It was a very humbling experience to visit the recently reconstructed cabins and to stand in the place where these remarkable men & women once stood. Near the visitor's center, there is actually one of the original wagons that made that harrowing journey. I recently have been reading both the historical accounts my relatives left of the journey as well as recent works of historical fiction (which I've enjoyed as it has brought these people to life even more for me.) As I stood there with my hand on that worn, aged wood of that wagon and looked at those wheels I was moved to tears by the spirit of those wonderful people. What a wonderful way to spend our seventh anniversary, with our family members who are still striving to live with the same conviction today as our forbears did! I am particularly grateful for a husband who strives daily to live up to the example they set. I only hope I can continue to nourish my testimony so that it is as strong and steadfast as was the fire of testimony burning in the hearts of those gallant pioneers.
Our first stop was the "Twin Rocks Cafe". Named for, you guessed it - the Twin Rocks. We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Navajo Tacos. A San Juan County treat. Seriously, if you're ever there, you MUST eat one. Either at the cafe in Bluff or on the 24th of July (Pioneer Day!) at the carnival. Yummy!
On the steps of the cafe.
The kids (particularly Clayton) were enamored with this gigantic stuffed bear in the cafe's gift shop.
Exploring the first rock home build at Bluff Fort.
An original Hole-in-the-Rock wagon.
There were both a teepee and a hogan on site. The kids loved the teepee!
Daddy taking the kids for a ride in the mini handcart.
Covered Wagons are Fun! (when you don't have to live in, sleep in with all your siblings & parents or drive one down a precariously steep trail.)
The beautiful Redd Family home.
Peeking around a tree in the backyard.
To read an account of Stanford & Belle Smith's (not my ancestors, but I still admire their spirit and dedication!) descent throught the Hole-in-the-Rock, go here.
If you'd like to read more about the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers, I recommend:
The Undaunted by Gerald N. Lund - masterfully written and a very enjoyable read with some romance and fun mixed in.
Hearts Afire by Blaine M. Yorgason - a 3 book series that I personally enjoyed even more than the book by Gerald Lund. I felt there was more detail and there was a lot of my own ancestors woven into the story. It was exciting for me to read about the personality of Lemuel Hardison Redd Sr. and his son Lem (Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr.) and I was able to see some definite family resemblences in personality as Yorgason took actual quotes and experiences from family histories to build the characters in the story. My father is Lemuel Hardison Redd IV, and I could see how some of the personality characteristics were inherited!