Castle Valley Comments
October 3, 2013
by Ron Drake
Oct 03, 2013 | 1810 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A lot of people were saddened to learn of the passing of one of Castle Valley’s modern-day pioneers. Patt Plastow passed away Sept. 21 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. She was a resident of Canyonlands Care Center in Moab for the past couple of years.

Patt and her husband Pete, along with their three lovely daughters, Suzy, Tina and Missy, moved to the valley in August 1978 from upper New York state and quickly assimilated into our community. Her three sons, Jim, Mark and Bill had already left the home to attend colleges and LDS missions when the Plastows moved here. Patt was a member of the Castle Valley Branch of the LDS Church and served in many capacities in the branch as well as in the community and county, including the Castle Valley Town Council and the Grand County Board of Education.

Pat was always happy, friendly and polite, and was always seen with a smile on her face. As it is with our other community pioneers who have passed on, she will be missed but will remain in our memories with fondness.

* * *

When I was out splitting firewood last Saturday afternoon, the drone of an aircraft above the valley reminded me that the annual “Mother of All Boogies,” – the annual Skydive Moab Festival held in Moab, was in progress last weekend. And sure enough, the sky was soon filled with colorful parachutes with brightly colored streamers trailing behind them as they descended into the valley.

And that also meant that Mike Messick and Julie Wentz were hosting a barbecue at their home on Pace Lane. The way most people got there was to literally “drop in” by bailing out of a perfectly good airplane and gliding into their backyard. The plane went over a couple of times and carried about 23 skydivers each time it passed over the valley. They keep a limit of two planeloads so the event doesn’t get out of hand.

Some of the “high performance” skydivers make a loop just above ground level to increase their momentum and skim along the ground at high speeds for as long as possible before touching down, which creates a great spectacle for those watching on the ground. Some choose to free-fall for a while before opening their chutes, but most like to do a “hop ‘n pop” where they open their chutes as soon as they leave the plane. That gives them a 10- to 12-minute descent to the ground to enjoy the scenery.

Messick said skydivers with thousands of jumps to their credit say the Castle Valley jump is their best ever because of the spectacular beauty beneath them. The shadows of the late afternoon sun enhance the experience. “It blows their mind away,” he said. Julie has nearly 1,300 jumps to her credit and Mike is nearing 700 jumps. They get together with their group somewhere around the country many weekends during the year and do from 50 to 70 jumps annually.

* * *

I didn’t think the federal government shutdown would affect me very much this Tuesday morning when it became a reality, but my drive into Moab that morning proved differently. There seemed to be more traffic than usual on state Route 128 on the way in at 9 a.m., but on the way home three hours later it was much worse. It seems that people in Moab are sending tourists up the already overcrowded Colorado River Road.

With the closing of Canyonlands and Arches national parks, visitors are looking for other attractions to visit, and Negro Bill Canyon seemed to fill the bill. The parking lot at the trailhead was full, as was the parking lot across the road. Cars were parked along the river road on both sides as people flocked to visit Morning Glory Arch at the end of the canyon. Later in the day I saw more than normal traffic on Castleton Road, with cars parked along the side and people taking pictures of the scenery.

I was caught in a similar situation during the shutdown of 1995-96. Pat and I were visiting Honolulu during the Christmas holiday back then and one thing on my things-to-do list was to visit the USS Arizona that was sunk during the beginning of WWII in Honolulu Bay. We were able to walk around the beautiful grounds of the museum but we couldn’t catch a boat over to the Arizona Memorial. There were plenty of other things to do there so it wasn’t a big loss, but I would have liked to see it.

Pat and I spent part of Christmas Day and the day after snorkeling in Hananuama Bay, visited the Polynesian Cultural Center, hiked in the lush jungles and many other fun things to make up for the loss of the Arizona.

And speaking of SR 128, remember that the nighttime closures of that road will go into effect Oct. 6 between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. The contractor needs the full width of the road for work crews to set their cranes so they can install the girders on the final portion of the new bike path that will run alongside the road.

If an emergency occurs east of the construction site on SR 128, or in Castle Valley or Professor Valley, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office should be called at 911 so the dispatcher can notify the site of an emergency and have the road opened up.

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