Admittedly, I never gave much credence to memories. They were of course in the past and could not compare with the present — or so I thought. It has taken a lifetime to acknowledge the value they embody. Even now, I am trying to capture the magnitude of this sentiment.

 

Let’s just say that certain things will never happen again. As my children begin their families, I try to impress them to make memories every day, because they will have a life time to remember and cherish them repeatedly. Remembering our past helps us appreciate and shape our future loving it right now.

 

The best way for me to share this claim is to demonstrate it, I suppose. So enjoy with me a memory I have and relish every day. My hope is that because I have written the incident down, remembering this significant change in our lives will serve me well throughout the rest of my life:

 

In our pursuit to “move to the country,” Mother searched many advertisements and newspaper articles for land. Most descriptions in the paper portrayed hidden treasures with majestic landscapes, a beautiful country home, and a crystal-clear lake with a stream. Except for a few spots, what Mother usually found when exploring these “treasures” were lifeless hills, junky wooden sheds, and a large mud hole at the end of a ditch. But she didn’t give up! As a family, we visited a few of the most promising locations, but none of the parcels we examined ever felt right. As with some of the other family’s endeavors, this one seemed doomed to failure. Or was it?

 

Castle Valley, via Wikipedia

Early in the year 1976, Mother responded to an advertisement for land which she had read about in the newspaper. While the rest of the family went on with their normal lives, Mother and Robyn took a trip to southeast Utah to get a firsthand look at the offerings. This trip seemed to me pretty much the same as the others, except this one lasted a couple of days. But when Mother returned this time, there was something different.

 

As Mother told us about what she had seen and heard, we saw in her eyes and heard in her voice the trembling of excitement and glimmer of hope that this was the opportunity for which we had been searching. She described a beautiful green valley, large cottonwood trees, towering red rock cliffs, and even nearby ponds and a stream. The land was affordable, and nearly the entire valley of parcels was available for our choosing. “This time is different,” she promised. Robyn glowed with equal excitement, which soon radiated to all of us in the form of unbearable anticipation. A trip was planned; provisions were made; and a chapter in the history of the W. Richard Stucki family began to unfold. Our lives were to be changed forever.

 

Climbing into the car for our journey to see the acreage (called Castle Valley) was like boarding a time capsule to discover our future. Somehow, as our car passed through the streets and houses of our neighborhood on our way to explore the ‘promised land’, I knew that the neighborhood we left that day—where our family had worked and played and lived for 23 years—would soon no longer be the backdrop to the stage of our lives.

 

We traveled south past Orem and Provo, into the Spanish Fork canyon. We continued up and over Soldier’s Summit to Price, Green River, and on toward Crescent Junction. At this time, the main highway flowed directly through the center of these small cities. I remember thinking how small and remote these little towns seemed. We turned south on I-70 at Crescent Junction taking US 191 toward Moab and the Arches National Park. Mother explained that we were nearing our destination and our anticipation soared, but quickly the sun plunged toward the skyline. It was early evening when we passed Arches and crossed the Colorado River Bridge. “Just 25 miles up this windy road, and we’ll be there,” Mother encouraged. 

 

Now, I’m not too proud to say that although I wanted to believe in this ‘promised land’ about which Mother had spoken so highly, I had only seen desert, dirt, and cactus for the last 150 miles of our trip. My faith in a beautiful green valley was waning just a bit, but when we turned on to the Colorado River road on the last leg of our journey, I noticed the terrain indeed did change—from red sand to red rock! Our doubts soon turned into comments like “This is it? You brought us all this way to see these rocks. I thought you said there was green!” but Mother’s excitement only increased, “Wait, just wait. We’re almost there.”

 

The sun had fallen below the red rock cliffs and the shadows were tall and long. Interesting shapes filled the contours of the landscape, stretching across the winding road and down to the river. Often the water crept very close, and other times it fell out of sight far below the road. The anticipation grew as the car wove back-and-forth on the river road. At last we rounded a corner and gazed upon the beautiful White’s ranch beside the Colorado River, our doubts and jests soon turned into unbelief and amazement. “How could this green ranch lie here in the middle of the desert?” Cattle and horses covered the acres of green alfalfa. Large cottonwood trees surrounded small cabins and a mobile home, and nestled beside corrals, tack sheds, and a tractor was a small clear-running stream. Mother told us that this was the same creek that ran through the valley we had come to see.

 

It was growing darker rapidly now, except for the mammoth, solid rock cliffs directly in front of us. The towering, red rock crags glowed fiery red like a burning bush. The sun had dropped far beneath the horizon behind us and now the only formation tall enough to catch the sun’s rays was this tremendous ensign before us. This red rock spectacle burned more vividly and brightly that night than any other time since. Mother said then that it was a sign from God welcoming us to our new home. I believe that to be true.

 

Soon we came to the bridge at White’s ranch that crossed over the small stream. We continued along the river road until we reached the Castle Valley turn off. As we drove along the steep and narrow, one-lane highway, our anticipation and excitement grew. The winding road traversed back-and-forth until at last we reached the summit of the hill and slipped down into the valley. The feeling I experienced at that moment, I will never forget. Seemingly from nowhere, a beautiful, green valley stretched before us. Enormous cottonwood trees, rich green pastures, and rustic cabins and barns appeared below. Thousands of acres of ground were surrounded by a red cliff fortress. The rock cliffs extended up to the La Sal Mountains and were swallowed up in the luscious, green foliage. At the upper end of the valley stood a small mountain with the characteristics of a volcano, called Round Mountain, and the little stream meandered for miles down the length of the valley.

 

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With nightfall fast approaching, we stopped at the sales office and were told we could set up camp near the old homestead at the bottom of the valley. It was dark by now, and we found bats living in the old cabin, so we chose to place our sleeping bags under a canopy of trees. Exhaustion soon overcame anticipation, and we quickly drifted off to sleep. 

 

Morning came quickly and when we awoke, a herd of horses had wandered carefully into our camp and surrounded us. They sniffed our sleeping bags and snooped around curiously. The horses remained calm until we awoke and started to get up, then they galloped away. The children were elated. And although this encounter with the horses was brief, it was just the beginning of many hours of fun and excitement with these beautiful creatures…

 

Well, that is a taste of the experience and really just the beginning, See this link for more, but most importantly, begin writing your story down for you and your posterity to enjoy.

 

Happy trails. 

 

 

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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