Idle Thoughts from Mt. Waas
Highway 95...
Feb 28, 2013 | 835 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It is a little more than 130 miles from my house to Hanksville, Utah, by way of Highway 95. Highway 95 is relatively new. It was completed in 1976, and is known as a bicentennial highway. It is a wide, smooth ribbon flowing through some of Utah’s most spectacular scenery.

One of Highway 95’s greatest appeals is the solitude found along the route. If you choose the right time of day and the right time of year, you can travel the entire length of Highway 95 and see fewer than a dozen cars along the way.

A few days ago our second daughter and her husband came to visit. The womenfolk were going to be working on a quilt so my son-in-law and I decided to go for a ride out on Highway 95. He had only been as far as the mouth of Arch Canyon in the past, so most of the country would be new to him.

I was looking forward to taking my son-in-law out into that country. I have well over 50 years of history out there, which means over 50 years of stories. I first went out to Red Canyon in the late 1950s to work in the Radium King uranium mine. One evening after work, another young miner and I decided to drive down White Canyon to Hite on the Colorado River by way of Fry Canyon.

We weren’t intending to cross the river, but when we pulled up to the bank, the ferryman came across to get us. We apologized for the mistake. As we were visiting with the ferryman, another car came from the Hanksville side. We got on the ferry, rode across to get the other car, and brought it back.

I have always been pleased to have ridden across the river on the ferry. It was only a few short years later that the ferry site, along with Hite, was covered by Lake Powell. Today, there are two magnificent steel bridges spanning the gorges of the Colorado and Dirty Devil rivers.

In the old days, when I worked in the Radium King as a single man, and later, in the Hideout Mine as a young married man, the main road out there was rough and twisty. It looped around the head of one deep canyon after another. It seemed like it took forever.

Modern Highway 95 was cut and blasted through the high places, with the low places filled in. It is fast and smooth, if you have a mind to drive fast. I heard of some young men who covered the distance from Hanksville to Blanding at extreme speed, driving an older Nissan 240 Z. (My youngest son had a 240 Z. It wasn’t him.)

Some of my best stories of that country ought to not be told in polite company. It’s a pity, too, but that’s the nature of mining and miners‘ stories. I told my son-in-law how it came to be that the home address on my bachelor’s degree transcript is Fry Canyon, Utah.

I told him how I shot a big, mule deer buck off the west Bears Ear, how I climbed the east Mossback all alone one day, where I took photos of a beautiful desert bighorn ram, where there are petroglyphs on a big boulder near the highway, the places where you can cross White Canyon, where you turn to go through the Blue Notch and can go down to the lake, and how I spent a night alone down there.

We stopped a couple of times to look at things of interest. We were in no particular hurry and had no particular destination. We ended up in Hanksville, where we bought hamburgers at Blondie’s. So far, we had seen only 10 other vehicles on Highway 95.

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