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Etched Travel Issue 2017

The Desert. The Dust. The Drive. The Cowboy

darc cliffI love to walk. And not just a little. I have ‘steps’ to get in (if you are checking ‘yours’ now, you get it). But my days best lived are when I choose to walkabout. I wake to my early morning pace with my “peeps.” And about every 72 hours, I begin to yearn for a trail to explore. I embrace each and every step of what becomes a journey, taking in what Mother Nature has put out. For that moment, I am free. Thomas Jefferson said, “…Habituate yourself to walk very far.” And so I have; from the historic streets downtown to the surrounding red cliffs and canyons in between. What I glean most from walking is best worded by naturalist and author, John Muir: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

Walking is a way of connection for me… to the earth, to my health, to my friends, and to my soul. I use my feet as my form of transportation whenever I can. Not too long ago I headed out from my house to pick up my car from a service center. I walked along some of our city’s busiest streets. I found a sense of empowerment by not being in a car racing to the next red light. Despite all of the traffic noise I oddly felt alone. There was no one else walking in sight. It was just me and a few head of cattle dotting the sporadic parcels of farm land that remain nestled between homes and buildings. The noise level faded as I visualized the streets before pavement, the views before buildings, the hillsides before homes, and the horses before cars. There was an emptiness in thinking about industrial evolution and the many things that a growing community loses in spite of the benefits. The signs that reflected an era when the streets were bustling with people and the cowboys rode in on their horses have been replaced as has the culture from only a century ago.
The invitation to join southern Utah cowboy, Brent Prince and “the crew” for a dutch oven dinner was far too good to resist. It was a chilly spring afternoon atop Little Mountain. Looking down, the green fields surrounded by the stoic lush trees conveyed the country setting that was once similar to the downtown area where I reside. “The crew,” as Brent refers to his friends, consists of a group of industrious horsemen (and a few women) who, by virtue of their passion for sustaining the cowboy way of life, share an undeniable kinetic energy that was just plain easy to fit into. I listened intently as we sat around the campfire. They reveled in the stories of their horseback riding excursions into the wilderness. They recalled some of the cattle drives they’ve been on, helping out their fellow rancher friends. The laughter was grand. The comradery was sincere. The need to roam drives these men back into their saddles. Even I, a hippie of sorts, felt connected to the crew because of our shared need to be free, whether on two feet or four.

No vision of the American West is complete without the cowboy. His Golden Era was short (1866 to 1886) but the culture was indelible. He was hardworking, honest, and a true survivor. Despite Hollywood’s depiction, skilled horsemen were culturally diverse; one cowboy out of every four was black, and one out of every four was said to be Mexican. And then there were the Indian cowboys. These men rode the range together and drove cattle across some of the most barren but beautiful lands of the desert. Etched Magazine takes our Travel Issue on the road to the places where the Native Americans lived and the cowboy barely survived. From the scenic routes to the ‘remotely located’, the pages of Etched reflect the past fused to the present through history, music, art, and the love of a lifestyle.

I continue to ‘get my steps in’ along the busy city streets but now take the time to stop and chat with the cows. I’m cherishing what signs remain left from the settlers of the area. I appreciate the new development and businesses that have allowed so many to partake of life in the southwest. Sometimes I still get a little sad by what has been lost through growth. But I walk. And I think. Then I walk some more. Comedian, Ellen DeGeneres talked about her grandmother who also loves to walk. She says,“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.” If only I could live so long and wander so freely! May we all keep moving, in one direction or another, without losing sight of where we’ve come from.

Darci - Editor in Chief


Etched Conservation Issue 2017

Etched Conservation Issue 2017
Chasing Water... The Lifeline of the Desert

It was 1968. After signing a land lease with the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), my family would ultimately trade highly urbanized southern California for the vast and barren desert of Parker, Arizona. It was only a few hours away, yet worlds apart. To give you an idea of the landscape, Major General George Patton trained his troops for warfare in the vicinity during World War II. The most extremes of the desert could be found in this region and it would become my new normal. The caveat? The Colorado River.

DarciFishingLife on “the river” was easy ... and peaceful. Dad taught my brothers and me survival and how to live off of the river. They hunted fowl in the backwaters. We fished off our dock. Mom taught us to appreciate our view. I could tell you what time sunset would be because we watched them nightly. If a monsoon was rolling in, we would bet when it would hit based upon the calm before the storm on the water. When Headgate Dam opened its gates, I knew how long it would take for the river to rise. On the days the gates didn’t open, it was as if my friend couldn’t come out to play.

My front yard contained the seventh longest river in the country and the Southwestern states’ largest producing water source. But as a kid, the relevance of the mighty Colorado was irrelevant. I joyfully sat, swam, floated, and skied with ‘her’. In the summer heat, I lived in the river; in the winter, I hiked along her shoreline. I love the river—it runs through my veins.
My dad documented our relocation beginning in 1968 by creating photo albums. I have held onto those memories tightly since he passed away. Recently, I pulled out all five of the albums, this time, while sitting on my own dock along the Colorado River. The river runs deep ... deep through the soul. As I look out across the nearby Mojave Reservation I am reminded that the river has been an important source of life for Native American groups for over 12,000 years. I can’t help but wonder how the rising demands on the Colorado’s limited supply are threatened by a warming climate that shrinks its alpine source.
During an interview for the Arizona Republic, Doug Kenney, chair of the Colorado River Research Group stated, “Cities will have to grow within their means, through conservation and by paying farmers to save and transfer water. When the river already falls short of supplying everyone who has a legal right to it, there’s no sensible way of taking more from it.”

DarciDockI’m not a scientist, but a trip to Lake Powell and Lake Mead will remind you of the water level that once was. The Conservation Issue of Etched, Chasing Water, connects you to the lifeline and landscape of the Southwest. In our pages, you will meet Pete McBride—a writer, filmmaker, photographer, adventurer, and explorer whose passion for the Colorado River has manifested throughout his work. Catch up with the Nature Conservancy and their latest projects directly connected to preserve the Colorado River from the states who drink from it. Wander Highway 93 through the lens of Nick Adams who so uniquely provides perspective to the erosive beauty along the route. Whether your chasing water or the pavement, this issue of Etched goes deep into the stories and places in the heart of the desert.

It’s been over forty years since I fell in love with the river. I still sit along its shore, watching the water flow by only now it’s with my husband and our grandkids. We witness the brilliantly colored sunsets unfold. As a fish jumps out of the water and the light catches the ripples, I feel my dad’s presence. All because the river runs through here ...  and through me.

Darci, Editor-in-Chief


Once Upon a Time...

DarciHorseRideOnce Upon a Time...In a West Filled with Promise

One of the many joys I received from my ‘larger than life’ father was his ability to tell me a good story. He was filled with them. Some were true; most were legends; and a few were outright fibs. Regardless, I would listen intently as he engaged his narrative skills with an insatiable sense of allure, humor, and heart. My husband, Steve, whose mother also conveys a fabulous tale, has become an exuberant storyteller in his own right. I savor the moments of his storytelling to our own children. From one generation to another, this is the journey of our family’s tales. The details may vary on occasion, or may even be re-written along the way, but they are our stories.

I, personally, have an abundant inventory of tales in my own repertoire. One that has come up often is the story of my 8th grade Equine Science class. Like many children, I had a fascination with horses, yet had never been exposed to one. I spent the months leading up to that class, visualizing myself bonding with my classmate’s horses. Conversely, this is where my story ends. In one semester (72 days to be exact), I was nibbled on, bitten, and thrown to the ground more times than I care to recount. In other words, I would have preferred to clean up after the horses than to ever get back in the saddle. End of story.

Forty years later, that story still haunted me. As an animal lover and advocate, and someone who truly loves the freedom of being outdoors, how in the world was THAT my story? Friends closest to me were aware of this particular tale and offered up the chance for me to change its ending. First came the text from June: “Celia Rencher is launching The Cowgirls Secret and will be taking a small group of women by horseback into the outback of Capitol Reef. Want to go?” Capitol Reef?! The outback?! D*#n June! She went right for my juggler. Few things inspire me as much as being ‘out of this world’ and she knew it. Then came the text from Carmen: “I signed up to go with Celia and June. You’re going, right?” Ugh, seriously?? I text Cyndi (surely she would tell me how insane camping without a hot shower for five days would be): “Hey Cyn, Carm and June want me to go on this horseback thing into Capitol Reef. Wanna go?” Her instant response: “YES!” Scared beyond dirty words, I agreed to go and succumbed to the fact that it would be an opportunity for me to “re-ride” my history.

Celia had created the ultimate camp, far from roughing it. She had also hand-picked horses based on our varying experience. Mine was named, McGee. He was an older, well-trained horse with a gentle demeanor. As we saddled up to ride on Day 1, my heart was in my throat. Wranglers, Lizzy and Karen, reminded me that a horse is extremely intuitive. “He will feel whatever you feel,” Lizzy said. If a tank of oxygen had been handy, I would have partaken. Instead, I took a deep breath and I swung my leg over the saddle. Away we rode along our first trail. I found solace in softly singing to my horse, ‘Me and Bobby McGee.’ The ride ended perfectly. My fears were subsiding.

Day 2. With the intense rains from the week prior, the creeks were running high. On this day we would venture into a canyon, weaving in and out of the water. I surprised myself with my skills to maneuver McGee (or perhaps he was maneuvering me). Either way, I was gaining confidence. After the challenging morning ride, I felt accomplished. Our group meandered back along a curvy, treelined trail. McGee was getting tired and lagged a bit behind the group. I took advantage of the slow pace and pulled out my phone to take a few pictures. Sure enough, I dropped it. I stopped McGee and quickly jumped down to grab the phone. By this time, the rest of the horses were out of sight. Trying to hurry, I stepped into the stirrup, shifting his weight into the branches of a dead tree. Rightfully spooked, McGee took off, but without me. I can only imagine the horror on the women’s faces as my horse came flying around the corner without me. I got up. My backside was covered in mud but nothing was broken… except my spirit.  Concerned, Celia suggested I ride double with a wrangler back to camp. It was enticing for a moment, but my gut knew better. And I knew McGee didn’t mean to leave me in the dust. “I am not letting history repeat itself. I came here to ride. I am riding back.” And that was that. End of story.

The Holiday Issue of Etched pays homage to the stories of the West and the those who have created them. Interpreted from Native American tales, Wild Wisdom (pg 38) shares the connection between Native American cultures and their respect for the animal kingdom. Journey back in time to the history of Harrisburg, in Echos of the Land (pg 56) and not to be forgotten, the 50th Commemoration of Vietnam (pg 64). Put yourself into my Capitol Reef journey from the perspective of six inspiring women in, The Cowgirls Odyssey (pg 68). The Holiday Issue of Etched is a collection of tales from ‘Once upon a time…’ intended to share culture, generate respect, and cultivate understanding.

Human life depends on the stories we tell: the sense of self that those stories impart, the relationships formed through shared stories, and the sense of purpose they generate. Gather round the table, the campfire, or the tree this holiday and tell your tale. Don’t deny your loved ones an opportunity to see the world through your eyes. Share your fairy tale. Because “Once upon a time” comes around all too quickly.

Darci, Editor-in-Chief


The Believers: Ideas & Ingenuity

DarciGreenThe Believers: Ideas & Ingenuity

I take my drive through town a little slower now that the kids are back in school. It’s an interesting site to me to see some happily skipping their way along the sidewalk while others drag those twenty-pound backpacks filled with books behind them.

I was one of those weird kids who loved school. A complete overachiever, my teachers had me pegged on day one of class as someone who would work equally as hard on my assignments as I would on socializing. It became no surprise to my parents when my report card would come home with straight A’s and a redundant note stating, “Darci is an excellent student. She also enjoys assisting others in the classroom, sometimes just a little too much.” It was hard for my parents to be disappointed when I had good grades. Mom would say I was just a communicator. Dad would say, “You have been blessed with the gift of gab.” Both believed that someday my “gift” would serve me well—as long as I used it for good.

While working on this issue of Etched, contributor June Pace and I met with our friends and associates, Kent Hayes and Garry Morris, to discuss their artistic endeavors including the American Motion Picture Society. The conversation gave way to a delicious lunch and stimulating conversation. Each of us, coming from quite diverse backgrounds with varying political, religious, and societal perspectives, truly appreciated the opportunity to engage in an intellectual discussion without judgment. Collectively and respectfully, we listened, learned, conversed, and created. As we wrapped things up Garry noted, “Sincerely, this was a fulfilling afternoon.”

I’ve thought a lot about Garry’s sentiment since that day. Has today’s rhetoric disabled our ability to engage in a quality conversation with people who possess different ideas? Isn’t part of making a true human connection about the willingness to appreciate one another’s thoughts and dreams even if they aren’t the same as our own? I believe respecting diverse perspectives should be second nature; or simply good human nature.

Some of the greatest ideas and inventions to come to fruition are manifested through some level of interaction with another person. I know I have an extraordinarily long list of individuals who have cultivated ideas within me. Family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and my co-workers, in particular, have all sparked ideas that inspired me to dream ... and to act. Some of those ideas were given purpose and value and evolved into something good—including this magazine. I believed in them. I learned that there is no room for ego or vulnerability when embracing the genius of collaborative thinking, just believing in the process. Nothing ventured is indeed nothing gained.

The Fall issue of Etched is all about “the believers,” the people who have tapped into their own or another’s  ingenuity and used it for good. See how the Aspen Ideas Festival came to be and the prestigious list of speakers who embark on the singular task of generating ideas for making the world a better place. It took inventive thinking to come up with an event such as NEWH Las Vegas’ Glamp or Nevada’s Burning Man—polar opposite ideas yet both with fundamental purpose. From the preservation of a historic icon, to the Salt Lake Medium, people are conversing with one another (or with the universe) to manifest ideas.

The jury is out on whether or not I have truly used my “gift” to the best of my ability. Being named “Most Optimistic” senior in high school led me to believe that I was headed in the right direction. But I’ve had many dreams since that time. My choices haven’t always aligned with them. But the human connection ignites my soul. I believe, that there are many meaningful conversations I’ve yet to have which will offer up countless ingenious ideas lying in wait. Just imagine all of the ideas that could be waiting for you.

Darci, Editor-in-Chief


Etched Outdoor Issue 2016

DARCIWATERFALLExplore the Canyons
Escape the Ordinary

There is no place else in the world like the American Southwest. I am open about my love affair with the profound geological beauty of this place. It is one, big, fat, amazingly grand wilderness. The elements are harsh, but the gravitational pull is real.

The southwest has five seasons, including the monsoons. From June to late August, the desert spontaneously produces dramatic weather including heavy rains, winds, and lightning. While I appreciate that the monsoons resuscitate parched vegetation and suppress sweltering heat, they can also mess up plans for a backpacking trip.  

It was early summer. Etched Magazine’s Editorial Assistant, Vicki Christian, our friend, Shelley Cox, and I had our three-day hike into the Grand Staircase-Escalante’s Coyote Gulch planned. Knowing the dangers of the monsoon season, we watched the weather intently. A series of storms had settled in. It was raining and we knew the dangers of flash flooding in the canyons. But our backpacks were staring at us as if to say, “Let’s get out of here!”. And, so we did.

With the decision to not hike the Gulch, we headed out with no plans except to let the wind carry us where it may. It was late, so we spent the first night at Bryce Canyon (a mere hour drive), pitching our tents just outside of the park. As I laid there that night, listening to the rain, I realized that part of what I love so much about the elements of the southwest is its spontaneity ... it’s much like mine.

The following seventy-two hours could not have been more perfect. The clouds provided shade as we hiked to the bottom of Bryce Canyon. No matter how many times I’ve been there, the hundreds of majestic pillar-shaped hoodoos in the most vibrant of colors leave me breathless.

From Bryce, we made our way up Scenic Byway 12 staying the night in Escalante. We played in the rain at Devil’s Garden before chasing the storm further up the 12. By our second day out, the sun began to shine along our hike up the Escalante River Canyon. As we explored the area, we discovered a variety of petroglyphs and other signs of primitive life. We felt a deep appreciation for finding this sacred space. We sat quietly on a ledge and watched the sunset. The surrounding red cliffs of the canyon were ablaze from the Alpenglow, a sharp contrast to the dark clouds that had hovered earlier.

On our final day, we rose early to hike Calf Creek Canyon. The monsoons had disappeared and we could already feel the heat. The path followed the creek, winding between it and the smooth canyon walls where Native Americans had left pictographs centuries ago. Near the trail’s end, the lush vegetation gave way to a massive waterfall flowing over from Upper Calf Creek. This was Lower Calf Creek Falls. We threw our clothes off and went running like little girls into the frigid water, a haven in the heat.

The landscape of the southwest is truly phenomenal. Some of its best secrets are hidden within the walls of its canyons. The Outdoor Issue of Etched takes you to places that many may never see and few will experience. Travel with adventure photographers as they take you to the Paria River Canyon and down into the Grand Canyon. Rappel one hundred feet through twisted slot canyons. And when you’re ready for a change of scenery, travel with Etched’s photographer, Nick Adams, to Las Vegas for a one-of-a-kind experience with Punk Rock Bowling.

A lifetime isn’t enough to explore this desert’s vast wilderness. Regardless of the elements, there are always more canyons calling. And so it is, my love affair with the American Southwest continues... in sync with spontaneity.

Darci, Editor in Chief