Wednesday, March 20, 2013



A balanced rock of Navajo Sandstone marks the entrance to Seven Mile Canyon, near Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

A Visit to Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah with Author Craig Childs in October 2008

Recently, I received a message from Dr. Terry Swanson regarding Seven Mile Canyon near Moab, Utah. In part, it said, “Hello: I was trying to find info on the “Snake in the Mouth Pictograph” and came across your blog regarding Seven Mile Canyon and your trip there with Craig Childs.

I am a retired Boeing engineer and spend a few days each year in the Moab area and even more time in the
San Rafael Swell, Cedar Mesa areas. I have been to more than 400 rock art sites, belong to the Utah Rock Art Research Association (URARA) (meeting in Moab, October 2013) and the Arizona Archaeological Society, so I respect sites and never touch anything.

Author Craig Childs reads from his field notes at Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Reading your description and seeing you were on the North side of Highway 313 in one of your photos I looked around Google Earth and thought the location might be as depicted on the enclosed image. Best Regards! Dr. Terry Swanson


It has been over four years since I last visited Seven Mile Canyon. I did make one attempted to visit there in April 2012, but the access points had changed and barriers prevented easy access. That day, I had insufficient time to park and hike Seven Mile Canyon on my own. With the new questions raised here by Terry Swanson, I hope to visit Seven Mile Canyon again in 2013.

To answer Terry’s questions about our 2008 Seven Mile Canyon hike, I searched Google Maps for the Utah Highway 313 turnout where we had parked that day. I located it about two miles southeast of the U.S. Highway 191 junction, heading toward Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point.

Prior to 2008, I knew of Utah Highway 313, but not about Seven-Mile Canyon. Not knowing where our driver was heading that morning, I was surprised when he stopped the van at a stub road on the east side of Highway 313. At that point, we were not more than twelve miles from Downtown Moab.

An ancient dancer opens her arms to the spiral of infinity - petroglyph at Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Where we stopped, there were no signs or other markings. In order to find the place again, I photographed the Canyonlands Field Institute Van and our leader Craig Childs, with distinctive natural features in the background. If you search "Craig Childs" on Google, my close-up photo of Craig from that spot appears on the first row of the images results.

That day, we visited two major sets of petroglyphs. The first set was just across the highway, in a small, boulder-strewn canyon. Around the lower edge of the canyon wall, we saw many casual markings on the rocks. It looked like ancient graffiti in a picnic area. Near the end of that brief sojourn, I hiked up on the rock pile and took a photograph looking down on our whole group.

Two sales reps out for a joyride at Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah 2008 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)After crossing back over the highway, we followed a path through some tall, reedy plants. Growing as they did on the outside bend of the arroyo, even in October there was sufficient water beneath to leave mud on our boots. It was a tangled mess, with only a limited passageway back and forth between canyon and road.

Later, much to our surprise, a couple of sales reps, out for a joyride in a Chevy drove past us in the arroyo. Somehow, they had driven through the wet and reedy area, not caring about the finish on their company SUV. From there, the two men drove up the sandy wash that comprises much of Seven Mile Canyon. As I learned in 2012, vehicular access from Highway 313 to Seven Mile Canyon is now blocked.

Author Craig Childs points the way to Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)On one side of the watercourse, we found a wooden-rail fence that resembled a long hitching rail for horses. With the lonely fence standing at the base of a small escarpment, its original purpose was no longer obvious to me. In this ancient place, the rail fence became a mysterious, yet recent archeological feature.

In October 2008, the area appeared wracked by drought. We found no flowing or standing water at all. The only surface moisture was in the muddy area at our entrance to the canyon. In the upper reaches of the arroyo, only thorns and tumbleweeds grew. Around the area, large cottonwood trees had died, while others looked stressed, dying-back almost before our eyes. Although the drought around Moab continued since 2008, that one section of cottonwood trees and brush has thrived. The 2012 Google Earth photo of that place shows thick brush and mature trees.

That cottonwood stand is the place where upstream thunderstorms go to die. When flash-floods in the stream-bed are large enough to bring water to the thicket, much of it is absorbed in the alluvium. If you zoom-out on Google Our Confluence 2008 writing group stops for a rest near a mysterious rail fence in Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Maps, our hiking spot is the largest green space for miles around.

In ancient days that was true, as well. Prior to the Great Disappearance, we know from tree-ring data that the Colorado Plateau enjoyed a wetter environment. Over millennia, this one patch of greenery could have housed and fed people from many cultures. A mix of ancient and newer styles of rock art in Seven Mile Canyon bears out this thesis.

Upstream from the green space, a small side canyon juts away from the arroyo. Next, we visited that dry grotto. In the rainy season, or during a thunderstorm, water pours over the edge of the mesa above, creating a Garden of Eden in the protected alcove below. When we were there, the pool at the bottom was dry and only one stressed out plant of any size was alive in the immediate area. Imagine that space in ancient times. Was it a bathing spot for early residents and visitors? With the profusion of the ancient rock art on the walls of the grotto, I could see that it was once a well-populated Author Craig Childs, In his element, deep inside Seven Mile Canyon, Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)place.

That day, we spent our time looking, listening and writing, all in the lower reaches of Seven Mile Canyon. At one point, Craig Childs asked us take off our shoes and walk barefoot in the bottom of the sandy wash. “Just feel the Earth beneath your feet”, he said. My field notes from that day read as follows. “As I walk up canyon, I feel hard sand beneath my bare feet. Rather than enjoying my journey, I think about my destination. Will I know it when I find it, or should I just walk on? Now I look up from my writing place and realize that it is here, in this canyon, among these shimmering cottonwood trees that I do belong”.

Soon it will be time for me to look again upon Seven Mile Canyon. I plan to do so in May 2013. If you go, be prepared to spend three or four hours in the canyon. Even if you hike no farther up canyon than we did in 2008, your encounter with the Spirit of the Ancients will be well worth the effort.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013


My Book: "Walking Through Time" …a new kind of online novel.

Click a thumbnail below to enlarge the image.
Plush Kokopelli is the last and final Hostess Twinkies spokesmodel.Plush Kokopelli at the dollar slots, Atlantis Casino, Reno, Nevada.Plush Kokopelli wheels his personal ATM to his Suite at the Atlantis Casino, Reno, Nevada.Plush Kokopelli is asleep at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Reno, Nevada.
Kokopelli Wins Big In Reno, Nevada
Click the map to drive to this location with Jim!
Reno, NV




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Kokopelli Wins Big In Reno, Nevada

Can the Superheroes Protect Greater Canyonlands?

Reno, NV, March 5, 2012 Author: Jim McGillis
Inside Wigwam #7 of the Cozy Cone Motel, it was late evening. Moabbey the Coyote sat intently before his Apple Power Mac G4 Cube. As the claws on his forepaws clicked over the keyboard, the 4-D chromatic-hypersphere display snapped into focus.

"You are not going to believe this," Moabbey barked over his left shoulder. "I think I located Plush Kokopelli. He is at the 4-Star Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, in Reno, Nevada."

As Coney the Traffic Cone and Silver Girl approached, the 4-D chromatic-hypersphere display automatically switched to reality mode. In no time at all, they traveled from Wigwam Village in Holbrook, Arizona to the Atlantis Casino floor in Reno, Nevada. From their new vantage point, the superheroes could walk all around Plush Kokopelli. However, Kokopelli's shift to the fifth dimension made it impossible to communicate with him. As the scene unfolded, all that they could do was to observe.

Watching Kokopelli feed silver dollars into a slot machine, Silver Girl asked, "Where did Kokopelli get all of that money? Last time I saw him, he was at Burning Man 2012, prematurely setting fire to the main temple."

Just then, Coney stepped in and said, "I know where Kokopelli got all that money. After all, Im his agent."

Plush Kokopelli, with a C.Proietto Amalfi Coast oil painting as backdrop was the last and final spokesmodel for Hostess Twinkies.

Plush Kokopelli - Last & Final
Spokesmodel for Hostess Twinkies

Moabbey turned to face Coney and Silver Girl. "Agent... You are Kokopelli's agent? Coney, I think you have been living off junk food again".

"Well, in a way you're correct" replied Coney. "When Hostess Brands was on the verge of bankruptcy, their Twinkies mascot... you know, the one with a cowboy hat and boots, jumped off their box and quit. Since Twinkies are one of my favorite foods, I called Hostess and soon enough, Kokopelli got the gig as their last and final mascot. And for my commission, I get a lifetime supply of Twinkies".

Moabbey looked down his long snout at Coney, standing below. "I hate to tell you, Coney, but Hostess took you for a ride. They shuttered their bakeries. There will be no Twinkies for your old age"

Looking over Moabbey's shoulder at the chromospheric display, Silver Girl interjected, "What about Plush Kokopelli? He is still at that slot machine, placing his bets".

"Don't worry about Kokopelli," said Coney. "Even if I never see another Twinkie, Kokopelli has plenty of cash. It seems that management at Hostess had been hording coins for years. When the banks closed their accounts, Hostess paid a spokesmodel fee to Kokopelli in silver dollars. There were bags of coins. In Reno, the Atlantis Casino is the last place in town that has actual dollar slot machines. See, Kokopelli is feeding silver dollars into the slot right now."

Plush Kokopelli using his silver dollar payout from Hostess Twinkies to play blackjack at the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada
Plush Kokopelli - Atlantis
blackjack table, Reno, NV
Silver Girl chuckled. "Kokopelli already owns Moab Bank. With his luck, before the night is over, he will own the Atlantis as well. Look, he has moved to the blackjack tables and he is winning big."

As the three superheroes watched, Plush Kokopelli cleaned up at the slots and card tables. By then it was getting late, so Kokopelli wheeled his own personal ATM up to his suite. Since time does not affect Kokopelli as it does the rest of us here in our 3-D time-space reality, he was in and out of the Jacuzzi and sleeping peacefully on his pillow before anyone knew it..

"What do you think Kokopelli will do with all of that money?" asked Silver Girl.

Just then, the telephone rang inside the fibrocement teepee. Clicking the speakerphone with his forepaw, Moabbey glanced at the display to confirm who was calling. His voice crackling on the line, it was the Other. "I understand that you superheroes have come into some money or at least Kokopelli has. I need your help, and some of that money, too. Old Energy is making an all-out attack on Moab and Greater Canyonlands. They are drilling and fracking for gas, planning tar sands and potash mines and denying the watershed effects of a planned nuclear facility".

"I get it," said Silver Girl. "This is the cause we have been looking for. Years ago, we all met for the first time in Moab. This vacation at the Cozy Cone Motel is over. We need Kokopelli back home, at Moab Ranch. Once he arrives, Ill ask if he will donate some money to help secure a future for Greater Canyonlands National Monument. Years ago, didn't we promise to save that place?"

"You've got it, Silver Girl," said the Other. "See you all in Moab this spring". Then the telephone line went dead.

Moabbey had the last word. "With my Power Mac G4 Cube, I should have no trouble contacting Kokopelli. The last we saw, he was asleep in his suite at the Atlantis. I hate to wake him up, but protecting Greater Canyonlands is important".

To be continued...

Email Jim McGillis
Email Jim McGillis

Greater Canyonlands National Monument - It's Now or Never



Delicate Arch - Symbol of Arches National Park and Moab, Utah - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Greater Canyonlands National Monument - It's Now or Never

Recently, Ms. Sheri McLaughlin sent information about natural gas and other mineral exploitation in San Juan and Grand Counties, Utah. Sheri’s friend, Kiley Miller lives in San Juan County and keeps close tabs on gas leases, illegal off-road vehicle activity and other threats to peace, quiet and a natural environment. Following is Kiley’s email to Sheri.

From: Kiley Miller
Subject: Oil & gas leases sold Moab, UT BLM
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2013, 10:00 AM

Less than fifteen miles from all three arches pictured below, large-scale "fracking" of underlying rock structures threatens the stability of all natural arches and balanced rocks - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The BLM did not defer many protested parcels including the hotly contested Parcel 042 just above the Moab Valley, which threatens numerous watersheds. The Moab area is under threat of massive industrialization from oil & gas development along with a proposed tar sands mine, potash mine, Green River Oil Refinery, & Green River nuclear facility along with a 24-mile oil & gas pipeline - starting at the gates of Canyonlands National Park, and then down to U.S. Highway 191 just north of Moab.

If you want to get involved, please get in touch with the groups I have listed below along with Utah State political figures, President Obama & write letters to the editors of newspapers & news publications.
Thanks so much-
Kiley Miller
Moab, Utah


Delicate Arch - The symbol of Moab, Utah is vulnerable to nearby oil & gas exploration and production - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Following is the resource list that Kiley Miller provided. Wherever possible, I have provided links to an appropriate internet resource or email address.

A recent article in the Moab Sun News – “All BLM Oil & Gas Parcels Leased”.

The website of the Canyonlands Watershed Council – at FarCountry.org

The website of Living Rivers – at LivingRivers.org

The website of – Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance -at SUWA.org

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park, Moab, Utah is vulnerable to nearby oil & gas exploration and production - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Letter to the Editors of – the Moab Sun News – at publisher@moabsunnews.com

Letter to the Editors of – the Moab Times – at editor@moabtimes.com

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Juan Palma: Utah State Director
email: jpalma@blm.gov
Jeffrey Rock Smith: Moab Field Office
email: jeffreysmith@blm.gov
Beth Maclean: Moab Field Office
email: bmaclean@blm.gov

Grand County Council – Through unilateral action, the current council is on record as opposing Greater Canyonlands National Monument.
email: council@grandcountyutah.net

Landscape Arch lost a large section of structural rock in an earlier rock fall - Click for detail of thinnest spot - (http://jamesmcgillis.com)San Juan County Commission:
email: bbadams@sanjuancounty.org
email: plyman@sanjuancounty.org
email: kmaryboy@sanjuancounty.org

Thank you to Kiley Miller and Sheri McLaughlin for sharing this valuable resource list. Now it is up to the reader to get involved. Without your help, Greater Canyonlands will remain unprotected from gas drilling and fracking, tar sands and potash mining and the watershed effects of nuclear facilities. Please help secure a future for Greater Canyonlands National Monument. If you contact any one of these resources, please tell them that Kiley Miller, Sheri McLaughlin and Moab Jim sent you.