Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation Report, Heaton Reunion

My wish was granted, and Tyson's cousin Brittany sent me the link to her pictures of the Heaton Reunion. First of all, here's a map of our road trip route. Please excuse the rudimentary nature of this map. I didn't want to wait for Photoshop to open, so I did it in Paint. Note: don't use Paint for anything you want to look remotely presentable/professional.

The route of the first leg of the trip is in Brick Red: Logan to Monticello (represented by a blue dot in the southeast corner of the state. The second leg is our journey from one side of the state to the other, in green: Monticello to Alton. You might be wondering, why did you go so far north, only to go so far south again? If you are wondering that, I direct your attention to the gigantic reservoir that interferes with any direct route. Because of Lake Powell, the trip from Monticello to Alton takes a lot longer for us than it does for the proverbial crow. Alton is also represented by a blue dot. It is so small, its name is not on this map. The third leg of the trip is our route home, in yellow-orange: Alton to Logan, by way of Zion National Park. Would you be interested to know we came thisclose to spontaneously extending our trip by a few days and a few hundred miles with a visit to the ocean. It didn't work out, but if it had, you can bet I would have mapped out the route for you in Paint!

Where were we? Ah yes. When we last left our travelers (that would be me, Tyson, Sawyer, and Tyson's cousin Davin Bostwick), it was Friday the 4th of July, and the parade in Blanding had just concluded. We returned to my grandparents' house for a delicious lunch of grilled brats (I don't usually like brats, but these were made of chicken and they tasted good). After lunch, I had to bid my family farewell so we could dash over to the big Heaton Reunion in Alton, Utah. My parents, Kara's family, and the rest of the Rowley crew stayed in Monticello until Sunday.

We had our choice of routes from Monticello to Alton. We could have gone down through Monument Valley (where a lot of those old westerns were filmed), Kayenta, and Page, AZ, crossing the bridge at the Glen Canyon dam before reentering Utah near Kanab. We could have driven through every national parks in Utah except Arches (which we had already passed on the way down). We could have taken dirt roads (the shortest route mile-wise, but definitely not time-wise). We opted to return to I-70, feeling that the better road and higher speed limit would help us make good time. The tour of National Parks route was tempting, and would be a great trip to take someday. But what's the fun of going to all those places if you can't make any stops? I'm sure we missed a beautiful drive, but the drive along I-70 was also lovely, and I hadn't seen any of that country before.

My parents were kind enough to let us borrow their Subaru Legacy Outback. I think the trip would have been close to impossible with the four of us in either the Ranger (no room) or the Sentra (no air conditioning). Davin was just along for the ride, so that he could get to the Heaton Reunion without having to go on his motorcycle. He split some of the gas with us, and provided us with a very useful extra set of hands. When traveling (and especially when camping) with a babe in arms, it really helps to have a helper. Thanks, Davin! I hope traveling with us wasn't too much of a damper for you.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Alton, UT: Alton is a town in Kane County, Utah. The population was 134 at the 2000 census, a modest increase over the 1990 figure of 93.

I think the population may have increased another 20 people or so since 2000. But, there were definitely more than 150 people in town on the 4th of July weekend, because it was Alton's centennial celebration, and the Heaton Reunion. While driving around town, I noticed that nearly every house had a tent set up in the yard (front yard, usually). So not only were all the rooms filled, but the overflow spilled out practically into the streets. We arrived in Alton at about 9pm, just as an old-time country dance concluded in the main town building. I saw lots of two-stepping, and I'm sure I saw some cousins dancing with each other. The band was playing "Good Night Ladies", which I am most familiar with from The Music Man. The dance ended and everyone walked to the end of town (a block away) for the fireworks show. I love fireworks, so this was a treat for me. Sure, this show could never rival Stadium of Fire(trademark)! but I enjoyed it, and so did Sawyer, who was seeing fireworks for the first time. He wasn't at all scared, as I had heard he might be. It was just a tiny fireworks show, but I kept hearing people say, "Wow! I can't believe it! Fireworks in Alton!!!"

Some members of Tyson's family were camping at Rush Canyon, the spot where the reunion would be held the next day. Others had motel rooms in Orderville, and others were staying with relatives. We rudely dropped in on Tyson's Aunt Debbie (not sure if the spelling is right) with no notice, and she was kind enough to let all of us use a room in her house in Orderville. We got Sawyer down to bed and stayed up for a while talking with Debbie and Tyson's Aunt Darla. We needed to be up bright and early the next morning to drive a few miles out of town to Rush, so we could make it in time for the program about William Hoyt Heaton and Persis Esplin Heaton. Rush Canyon is about four miles from Alton on dirt roads. The land is beautiful.

On the drive to Rush Canyon

I'm not sure how often this Heaton Reunion has been held. Tyson said every five years or something like that, and that he hadn't been since he was a kid. It is essentially a six generation reunion. I'll give you the genealogy from Sawyer going back; I think I have this right.

Edward Sawyer Heaton is the son of Tyson Nathaniel Heaton

Tyson Nathaniel Heaton is the son of Curtis Dee Heaton

Curtis Dee Heaton is the son of Earl Burke Heaton

Earl Burke Heaton is the son of George Earl Heaton

George Earl Heaton is the son of William Hoyt Heaton (and Persis Esplin Heaton

Would it have sounded more official if I had said "William begat George, and George begat Burke..."?

From what I heard, this was the last time the William Hoyt Heaton reunion would be held. I'm glad I got to go and learn more about the Heaton family and meet some of Tyson's extended relatives. I won't go too much into the family history. Just get into the pictures. First, to give you an idea of how many people were there, I'll tell you that these Heatons have some LARGE families! Tysons dad, Curtis, is one of 14 kids in his family, and one of his sisters has 16 kids! And that's just in the Burke Heaton line. Multiply that out over a few generations and branches of the family tree, and that's whole lot of Heatons. Of course, not everyone was in attendance. Less than half of the Burke Heaton family was there, but there were still about 50 of us representing! I can't begin to guess how many descendants William Hoyt Heaton has, but there were a few hundred people at this reunion.

The Burke Heaton family in I think the late 1960's. They still had three more sons after this picture was taken. Tyson's dad, Curtis, is in the upper left (blue shirt, gray jacket).

The twelve living children of Burke and Carolyn Heaton, a few months ago. Two sons have passed away.

The morning started with a flag ceremony and a program about William and Persis. Tyson got to participate in a skit about his great-great-grandmother's childhood, and other skits and readings were performed as well. Tyson's cousin Josh (Davin's brother) had painted a scene fro Persis's childhood, and the painting was auctioned off. Before the auction, Tyson gave an impromptu speech about how great it is to be a Heaton, and what it means. later, everyone was telling me how impressed they were with Tyson, and that he should run for president someday. At least he'd have a few hundred Heatons voting for him, right?

Here's part of the reunion crowd doing the typical reunion thing: eating.

Tyson's dad always wears a smile!

Grandma Carolyn

Grandpa Burke. That's a face with character! (And boy, is he a character!)

The reunion included lots of old-fashioned activities like butter-making a log-sawing. Curtis and his sister Darla are trying their hand at the saw. Tyson and Davin won the first round of competition with the fastest time. They were beaten in the championship round by their uncles Tyler and Rod. Tyson would like it noted for the record, however, that he and Davin's first-round time was better than Tyler and Rod's championship time.

Tyson also spent most of the morning manning a huge zipline. Kids were waiting in line for an hour just for one ride. Lunch was a delicious entree of pulled pork, with a huge potluck array of sides and salads.

Family Portrait. I think you can really see in this picture how much Sawyer's eyes and eyebrows look like his dad's.

Dangerously close!

A very fun and interesting part of the day came when a 2nd cousin twice removed (or something like that!) took several of us on a hike to find fossilized leaves. Now this is cool! First, we started up a steep dirt hill until we reached some small sandstone cliffs. Most of us had to be hoisted up. Here's Darla about to get a boost from her brothers.

The view from the hike, looking east to the meadows of Rush Canyon.

Our traveling companion Davin.

Up the hill.

About a quarter of a mile into the mile-plus hike, we learned that one of Darla's kids (I think his name is Ethan?) wasn't wearing any shoes. Tyson carried him piggy-back or on his shoulders for much of the hike. Mostly the little guy didn't want to be at the end of the group with all the "girls", and his shoeless state was impeding his ability to get to the front of the line. Tyson would pick him up and run him up to the front. When Ethan(?) started to lag behind again, the process was repeated. On the way down, he wasn't carried at all. This kid must have some tough feet!

Okay, here's where it gets really cool! We got to our destination at the crest of a hill, and our guide, Carl (I don't know if that's the right spelling), told us to look for sandstone rocks that looked kind of like peanuts, with irregular shapes and rounded edges. He said it would be best to find ones that were kind of the shape of a leaf with a stem. He instructed us to find these rocks, and then tap the edges with a hard rock, or against a hard rock, to weaken the rock and crack it in half. Ideally it would split along a fossilized leaf, leaving an mirror-image leaf imprint on both halves of the broken rock.

Carl says, "Look for rocks that look like this. The edges are weak because of the leaf inside."

A rock-encased leaf just waiting for its treasure to be discovered!

Everyone looking for the special rocks.

This is what you find inside!

The group, ready to hike back down. I'm in yellow, and Tyson was taking the picture.

The lovely view from the top of the hike. That's the little town of Alton in the upper right.

This picture of Brooke's car kind of says it all. The road to Rush was so dusty!

After we returned from the hike, many people had already left, and everyone else soon packed up and headed home. But not us! We elected to camp at Rush that night, by ourselves. We drove to the gas station at Long Valley Junction and had a dinner of pickled eggs, soft drinks, and items procured from the freezer section (Sawyer and I shared a huge package of frozen peas). Tyson, Davin, and Andrew went to shoot bunnies. As you might guess, that is NOT one of my favorite pastimes, so Sawyer and I returned to camp to go to bed. I admit, it was a little creepy being out in the woods by myself so late at night, especially because someone had warned me to "watch out for skinwalkers". Luckily it had been a long time since I had read that particular Tony Hillerman book, so I didn't creep myself out too much. Tyson returned after Sawyer and I went to sleep.

In the morning we had a nice breakfast of oatmeal, then we broke camp and drove to Zion National Park to meet up with our friend Mike Whitelock and his wife Becky. We came from the Mt. Carmel side, and as the car ahead of us entered the tunnel, our car was stopped by a park ranger. They only allow one-way traffic in the tunnel these days, so we thought we were going to have to sit their waiting for all the traffic to come from the other side. But instead, the ranger handed us a baton and asked us to take it to the ranger on the other side. Woohoo! We got to be the last car through the tunnel. We took advantage of our knowledge that no one was coming behind us and stopped at the fabulous lookout points in the tunnel. I'm sure back in the day when the park was far less traveled, people could stop and look out at their leisure, but no one gets to stop anymore. Except us! The views were really awesome! Then, Tyson took the opportunity to drive really fast through the rest of the tunnel to catch up to the rest of the cars. We passed the baton, and no one was the wiser!

Soon we saw Mike's truck and pulled off to the side. He had left a note telling us where to go, so we followed a little trail into a canyon. About a third of a mile into the canyon was a great swimming hole surrounded by red-rock cliffs. I think it was part of Pine Creek. I had the opportunity to do a canyoneering hike in Pine Creek Canyon a few years ago, and it was fun to be back in this area. Sawyer loves the water, and it was nice an warm. Becky caught to frogs, a big one and a little one, and sawyer thought those were pretty neat. We had to keep him from putting them in his mouth, though.

After a nice swim and a relaxing chat on the rocks, we drove to Springdale and had lunch at Cafe Oscar (or Oscar's, I think most people call it). Chips, salsa, and guacamole started us off, and Tyson and Davin had huge hamburgers while I had a pesto chicken quesadilla. (I almost had a hard time typing that, because I always pronounce it "kwesseldillya", so I was thrown off!) Tyson's Blue Bacon Burger and Davin's Murder Burger (enticing name, I know) both had thick-cut bacon that the guys were raving about, and they came with sides of sweet potato fries that I think Sawyer and I liked more than Davin did. Mike, a super-healthy eater who is on a strict regimin of acceptable foods, turned up his nose at most of our meal. He just snacked on chips and salsa. Becky, Davin, Tyson, and I shared a huge brownie sundae for dessert.

After that, we nearly decided to go to the ocean, but boring realities like work, gas money, and the fact that we were in a borrowed car got in the way. We got on I-15 and returned to Salt Lake, stopping along the way to visit Tyson's Uncle Rod and Aunt Shelly in Payson. Tyson and I stayed the night with my mom in Salt Lake, and we got up early the next morning to get Tyson to work in Logan at 10am Monday. Later that day, Tyson got offered a job that may or may not exist, but that's for another post.



  1. Sounds like quite an adventure!

    I want to hear more about the real or not job offer...

  2. oh it was Ian with no shoes! I love your post, still in the process of whipping mine out.