Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Kanab, Utah-Home of the Wave and Bob.

"The village which had been started only a year or two was laid out in the characteristic Mormon style, with wide streets and regular lots, fenced by wattling willows between stakes. Irrigation ditches ran down each side of every street. The entire settlement had a thrifty air as is the case with the Mormons. Not a grog-shop or gambling saloon, or dance hall was to be seen; ordinarily the usual disgraceful accompaniments of the frontier town."

Frederick Dellanbaugh from his book "Canyon Voyage" written in 1871

Well, Kanab hasn't changed much since those heady pioneering Mormon years. One doesn't visit Kanab for a steamy Las Vegas nightlife. It's about the Wave. 

I'm here again to test my luck in trying to score a coveted Wave permit. I went 0 for 2 last year. This year I'm hoping for a hit. I would even settle for a bunt single. From last year's sorry disappointments:

Kanab is a clean pleasant town consisting of about 4,500 friendly white folks. After dropping Barley the Van off for an oil change. I wandered around on a dappled sunshine spring day.

The Kanab tourist office drew me in. I'm a map nerd, and I needed alternative hiking information in case of more Wave disappointment. 

I was also hoping for another meet up with Jerry. (A true western character) From last year's post.

Instead of Jerry, there was Bob. He was resplendently dressed in a turquoise string tie, a western cut shirt, creased blue jeans and electric blue eyes. This picture was topped off with a black Stetson cowboy hat. He sported a welcoming grin as well.

I made small talk and asked about Jerry. 
"Jerry retired from the tourist office. He's beginning to show signs of dementia." 

This saddened me. In the course of one year how much a person's life can change from vibrant to doddering. 

However, I began to notice something about Bob. He had western character written all over him too. I donned my "cub reporter" hat and I began my interview.

"Did you grow up here?

"No, but I spent most of my life in southern Utah. I was born near Bryce National Park in an old homestead. My grandmother was a midwife. We moved to Saint George where I went to high school."

I pressed on smelling a blog scoop. "Then what?" He was warming up to me.
"I joined the Navy and worked sonar on a Destroyer in the Pacific theater. Those were good times. We once harassed a Russian sub for days until a typhoon hit. Then it wasn't much fun."

"A typhoon! What was that like?"

"We saw thirty foot waves. We just headed right into them and watched as the water crashed down on the ship. The seamen standing watch were given a shot of rum before and after their four hours of getting water logged." 

"Did you get seasick?"

"Not that time. I only got sick once and that was when I was hungover. I spent four years on ships. Later on it wasn't the same. The younger sailors were getting stoned on the fantail!" 
He mentioned that with a wry smile. 

After thanking him for his service to our country I continued. 

"What do you do now for fun?"

"Well, I've always been a thrill seeker. I've boated most of the rivers in Utah. Want to see a photo of me in the Virgin River Gorge?" 

He pulled out his I Phone and dialed up a snapshot of a younger Bob. In the photo, there he was (from the waist up), with one oar in a maelstrom of frothy water. No boat!

"Where's your boat?"

"It's there. It was a small boat and made of plastic. The whole thing was about six-feet long. I had to bail a lot. We would run the gorge a few times a day." 

What a guy! Even though his Navy days are done, this land locked westerner still found an outlet for his water needs. 

"I'll be floating the Green River in November too!" All this from a 73 year semi-retiree.

I picked up a few maps, thanked Bob for his time and continued my wandering.

Kanab is also known as "Little Hollywood." Many western/cowboy movies used this red rock country as a backdrop. Why even a Teflon-coated president once strolled these same streets. 

Wish me luck in Round Two of the Wave!
Early morning in Kanab and the coffee is brewing.


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