Travel Photography Great Basin
drive to Calf Creek, north of Escalante, and find a coffee shop overlooking
the river - a view of the canyons. I am the only guest.
It is the Kiva
Coffeehouse's first day of business. Red earth, pillars of douglas fir,
wooden chairs, built on site. "I'm sorry but our coffee machine is
broken. No mocha, no cappuccino."
"Regular coffee is fine."
"And we don't have any desserts. Don't look at the dessert menu."
Granddaughter was the waitress. She was apologizing for everything.
"Oh, let me wash that knife for you. It's not dirty, those are just
"Don't bother," I said, "I haven't used silverware in days."
"It's on the menu, but, sorry, we don't have it."
"What do you recommend?"
Granddaughter, and daughter, had just reopened Kiva Coffeehouse. I gathered
that Father had died shortly after the coffeehouse opened, that daughter
and granddaughter had moved back to Cedar City to reinvent life, that
Kiva Coffeehouse burned in the sun for three years until the two of them
had left ordinary life to begin an adventure and complete father's dream.
Father was a genius, and also Mr. And Mrs. Albert Einstein's interpreter
for ten years. He had become a master in Japanese gardens, and still dreamed
of the Southwest, which he first witnessed at the age of nineteen.
both look young for their age - that eternal look of people in Utah -
healthy, innocent, with good air to breathe. So many city people are pickled
from alcohol by age fifty, burnt and wrinkled from sun and smoke; the
youthfulness is almost a spectacle: "We have a ranch in the Escalante
canyons," said granddaughter, seating herself at my table.
"I saw two snakes last night," I said, "I hate snakes,
they scare me."
"When I was in high-school, we were swimming in the (Escalante) river,
and a water moccasin bit this boy on the hand. They took a knife and slit
off its head, but they couldn't get the head off."
"So what'd they do?"
She explained that they had squished the skull and forced it off the hand.
"He had two holes in his thumb after that."
I said, "I've been hiking in the desert for a couple years now, a
perpetual novice, I am always afraid of snakes. I don't know what to do.
I see them, I go running, I freeze up. Last night, I jumped in a river."
"What kind was it?"
"A racer, I think. Little green thing. They aren't poisonous, but
they bite like mad."
"What was the other one?"
"I knew it wasn't a rattler. But I wasn't sure what it was."
"I hope so," I said, looking in the guidebook, "but I wasn't
sure, so I tried to get it out of my way. I threw sand on it. That didn't
do anything. Pebbles. He didn't wince at the pebbles. Sticks, nothing
to hurt him, just small ones. Took ten minutes, finally lifted him off
the trail with a stick. I trucked down the trail for about twenty feet.
I kept thinking he was gonna pounce."
She apologized for the coffee.
"The coffee is fine. Are people still upset about Escalante becoming
a monument?" I asked, a rough topic for this area.
"Yes," she said. "If they didn't make it so big, it wouldn't
have been a problem." I wanted to know how the people in Escalante
felt about the Monument. It was obvious that in its fourth year, little
had changed. The hikers and boaters that pass through this area spend
little, and being outdoors-types, are very clean. No more trash on the
streets than before. No trouble.
| White House Trailhead, Escalante, Utah