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A Birthday Cake For Canyonlands

By Bennett Owen

Candlestick Tower, Canyonlands. Credit: Alaskan Dude

"We glide along through a strange, weird, grand region. 
The landscape everywhere, away from the river, is of rock."

— Explorer John Wesley Powell, 1869.

On September 12, 1964, President Johnson officially declared Canyonlands a national park. Expanded over the years, it now comprises 527 square miles of southeastern Utah... an area slightly larger than Delaware.

In the parlance of geologists, “The park is characterized by sedimentary rock, which has been deformed by anticlines, synclines and monoclines.“  Yikes! It was the miners and cowboys of a bit more wistful nature that lent more imaginative nicknames to the outcroppings and chasms…

Mesa Arch –

Credit: Kloppster

Island In The Sky –

Credit: Rick McCharles

 Credit: Rick McCharles

Horseshoe Canyon –

Credit: Wolfgang Staudt

The Maze District –

Credit: deltaMike

Needles –

Credit: Rob Lee

Canyonlands isn’t on the A-list of national parks, probably because the most spectacular scenery is only accessible by four-wheel drive, horseback or foot.  And the remote backcountry can literally leave the unprepared adventurer “between a rock and a hard place.” A truth Aron Lee Ralston found out the hard way.  Outdoing anyone who ever left their heart in San Francisco, this is the guy who left his hand in Canyonlands…here’s his own account of a life and death decision and believe me, if you’re at all squeamish I’d suggest you just don’t watch…



Last Weekend – Labor Day the My-West Way 

By Bennett Owen

Summer going to the mountains…Summer going to the lake…Summer going to the Rodeo…Summer staying right home.  Any way you look at it, summer’s almost over. Here are our 10 favorite Labor Day detours…

10 – Climbing Mount Whitney – At nearly 15-thousand feet it’s the highest mountain in the lower 48…and some say it’s the highest walk-up summit on the planet.

Lightning Shelter/Hut on Summit of Mt. Whitney. Credit: peretzp

09 – Ellensburg, Washington – The Ellensburg Labor Day Rodeo is one of the ‘old rodeos’ and is also ranked among America’s top 10 – celebrating its 75th year.

Credit: fxp

08 – Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho – Wagon Days - Commemorating the region’s mining past, the Big Hitch Parade is one of the largest non-motorized parades in the west, featuring an authentic, 20-draft mule jerkline.

Ore Wagons. Credit: Mountain

07 – Grants Pass, Oregon – Rafting the Rogue River, one of the most gorgeous and exhilarating rides in the west.

Sunset on the Rogue River. Credit: Derek Severson

06 - Bandera, Texas – It’s a weekend southwest Texas spectacle in the ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’, but the thriller is the Running R Ranch Cattle Drive…with a herd of real Texas Longhorns.  (There’s also an event called ‘Cow Patty Bingo’ but we didn’t really want to know about that!)

Credit: Running R Ranch Facebook page

05 - Meeteetse, Wyoming – There’s a band playing at the Cowboy Bar, that’s a good enough excuse.  But the town has also celebrated a three-day barbecue on the same weekend for 99 years now. As one cowboy says, “The hay is in, and it it’s not yet branding and sorting time. Time to see friends and catch up.”   Sounds good to us.

Rodeo Queen from nearby Cody, Wyoming. Credit: newrambler

04 - Take the “High Road” route from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico - Start with breakfast at the Taos Diner on the north end of town.  – Santa Fe, by the way, is the oldest capital city in the US, founded in 1610.

Credit: j.s.clark

03 – The Grand Canyon Railway – Start at the Historic depot in Williams, Arizona, built in 1908 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad…and from there embark on a two and a half hour trip through the high desert. The Grand Canyon Depot is one of three log train stations remaining in the US. 

Grand Canyon Railway. Credit: obfusciatrist

02 - Jazz at Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado - Steely Dan will be playing there. Someday when I get the bill listing hours wasted listening to rock and roll, The Dan will be edged out only by Neil Young.

Steely Dan. Credit: commercialappeal

01 – Dillon, Montana – Montana’s Biggest Weekend, the Labor Day Fair and Rodeo.  Anyone who’s been with us a while at My-West knows the special place Dillon holds in our hearts.  And this year, Uncle Jules and Aunt Bonnie are the Grand Marshals of the Labor Day parade.


So, have a great weekend, and drop us a post card, wherever and however you spend it!



Everything’s Better With Blue Bonnets On It

By Bennett Owen

Credit: Sodahead

OK, this post comes with a proviso … the unwritten rule of journalism which is “never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” 

Credit: Sodahead

We received these gorgeous pictures purporting to be of a western Texas highway, fairly bursting in bucolic, byway blue, only with closer inspection revealing something with a buzz far more dangerous than bees in your bonnets. 

Credit: Sodahead

We can’t vouch for the photographs’ veracity but are posting them nonetheless in hopes that one or more of our intrepid readers will confirm them as at least in the realm of possibility!

The final two pictures are NOT for the faint of heart!

Credit: Snopes

Credit: Snopes


The Five Loneliest Roads in the West

By Bennett Owen

“Who loves loneliness loves it alone …”

-    Robert Hunter         

To paraphrase the nursery rhyme, ‘solitude is very sad – outta gas is twice as bad.’ With that in mind, you might want to top off the tank before you try the following five highways. In fact, you’ll more likely spot a UFO than oncoming traffic:

5. I-94 in North Dakota – From Moorhead on the Minnesota border to Miles City, Montana – 400 miles of flat and endless prairie, with only the state capital, Bismarck to break up the monotony.  Well, that and ‘Salem Sue’, the world’s largest Holstein milk cow…a 38 foot high monument to the local dairy industry…perched upon the only hill you’ll see in the next hundred miles.

Credit: Jimmywayne

Credit: jacdupree

Credit: Becky Platt

4. US 95 from Blythe to Needles, is considered the loneliest highway in California with no major towns and mostly barren desert with little sign of human activity. But the road DOES have bragging rights as one of the only highways stretching all the way from Mexico to Canada. For a leg stretcher, check out the “Blythe Intaglios”, some massive ancient drawings embedded into the desert floor…also described as “one of the few redeeming features of Blythe, California…”

Credit: mrjoro

Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry

Credit: El Kite Pics

3. US 395 from Lakeview to Riley, in south-central Oregon. Starting just across the California state line, this route takes you through some very bleak high desert country.  One recent traveler reports, “I didn’t see more than two cars in 100 miles,” although he admits it was midweek! But if it’s lonely landscapes you’re after there is much to be had. And like bookends, the only two roadside attractions are the ‘Manmade Geyser’ in Lakeview and the ‘Big Ball of Twine’ in Burns.

This area is so remote, we couldn’t find a picture, its seems that even the Geyser has run out of steam.

2. US 278/43 from Dillon, Montana to Lost Trail Pass, Idaho. You will follow the Lewis and Clark trail through some of the most picturesque mountain scenery you have ever encountered. But keep your eye on the road because you will also see road kill. Lots of it. Skunks, porcupines, antelope, deer … the moose tend to walk away from such altercations. The loneliness sets in at about Badger Pass, with long stretches of natural nothingness all the way to Idaho. You’ll want to stop at the Big Hole Battlefield, where the great Nez Perce warrior Chief Joseph taught a tactical thing or two to the US Cavalry.

Credit: ©.

Credit: ecorover

1.     And yet another hat tip here to our My-West man on the road, RJ Burns. Most people will tell you that highway 50, running west to east through Nevada, is truly the loneliest road in the US. But RJ tells us it’s bumper to bumper compared to route 305, running north and south, from Battle Mountain to Austin, Nevada. As he describes it … ”88 miles and I have never seen anyone out there.”  In fact it’s so lonesome there’s not even a roadside attraction. The nearest is “White King, The World’s Largest Polar Bear” in Elko. But that’s a long ways away.

Credit: wattsupwiththat


So, and now it’s your turn! Send us your suggestions for lonely road honors … always better if you provide the pictures to prove it. We’ll post the best of the bunch!

Signing off with “It’s a Long Lonely Highway” by Elvis Presley ...


BAR NONE – Round 1 – The Cowboy Bar, Meeteetse, Wyoming

By Bennett Owen

“I drank my share of whiskey…and someone else’s too…”

-    Anonymous Patron         

Credit: zampano!!!

Credit: ©

To enter the Cowboy Bar you’ll have to pull on a rifle barrel …

Once inside, your first impression will be the Copenhagen lids lining the ceiling …… the copious collection of firearms adorning the walls

Credit: ©

… and some well-placed warning signs … But it’s the bar that will truly capture your attention.

Credit: 3obryans

Produced by Brunswick-Balke-Collender … a 12-foot high neo-classical showcase, hand-crafted by Italian artisans for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition of 1893 and then shipped to the wildest corner of Wyoming by a couple of Canadians who opened the Cowboy Bar in Meeteetse. 

There wasn’t much to the town then ...

Credit: ©

And still, the place attracted a veritable VIP list of misfits, castaways and luminaries of their time.  Butch Cassidy was arrested here in 1894 … having run afoul of one of the west’s biggest and blood thirstiest cattle barons, Otto Franc (More in our upcoming series, 10 Germans Who Won the West).

As prohibition took hold, the liquor was delivered in milk canisters and the Sheriff simply “picked up his mail at the bar and looked the other way.”

Credit: ©

Legend has it that Al Capone’s personal chef served his parole in Meeteetse and took quite a liking to the place.

By the mid 1930’s high-flying Amelia Earhart was spending time here and … well, more about that in tomorrow’s post … 

Credit: ©

The bar is indeed well stocked, in part because it also serves as a liquor store. But the bartender confides most of the clientele tend to favor the wide selection of beers and the ever-popular “Sagebrush.” 

Current owner, Jim F. Blake, is a historian and poker player who wouldn’t confirm rumors of 56 bullet holes in the bar.  But he’s full of stories including the time a howitzer was brought in to fulfill a faithful patron’s dying wish …

The place is quiet and pleasant enough on a late afternoon … fairly dripping with untold history. But one of the regulars mentioned an “incident” a few days back that bunged up our host’s prize antique piano a bit. As if to remove all doubt about the boisterous clientele, Jim then unsheathed a one million volt stun gun … the crackle of the arc alone shied us all back a few feet.  

Credit: ©

Yes, the occasional horse still gets rode through the place and Jim says the last shooting incident involved an out of towner with a hat and a slogan that riled one of the locals who promptly used said cap as target practice.

“The funny thing” Jim says, “is that tourist is now a regular here.”