On day two of my road trip, I pushed farther than expected, which gave me some extra time on day three. That meant I could make two stops that had seemed interesting when I looked at the map while planning the trip: Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, and the Sand Island Petroglyphs.
The first stop was in Blanding, Utah, As I walked up to the museum, I heard a turkey gobbling. Sure enough, this handsome boy spotted me and displayed his fabulous feathers and gobbling even more. An employee was there and encouraged me to feed him while she got a photo. The turkey changed his colours while I stood there, hoping to get even more adoration. It worked.
The woman with the turkey explained that the indigenous people who lived here in the past thousand years or so raised turkeys for their feathers. Not for meat, as I had guessed. She said that it was too expensive to feed and raise a turkey to adulthood (since food was scarce), to simply kill it and eat it. They kept them alive as long as possible, and used their down to make clothes and bedding to keep warm in the very cold high desert. They also used the large feathers for adornment. Their pottery and petroglyphs include images of turkeys and turkey tracks, revealing just how important turkeys were to them. I had no idea and found all of this quite interesting.
The small, unassuming but very high quality museum was an unexpectedly great stop. It was $5 to enter and stay as long as I liked. They told me that it is not only a museum to highlight their particular area, but also a repository for ancient artifacts from all over Utah.
When I paid my entrance fee, the staff member at the museum’s entrance told me they had an actual kiva on site, and I was excited to see it. A kiva is a gathering place used when communities reunite to perform rituals and ceremonies among the Ancestral Puebloan peoples. I had heard about them and had seen photos, but had never seen one up close. I was astonished and thrilled to see signs encouraging me to climb inside and explore this one.
Down the hill from the great house and kiva is an art installation that I found remarkable.
I had spent enough time at the museum and it was time to go. I drove till I arrived at an interesting little exhibit called Bluff Fort in the tiny town of Bluff where a Mormon Elder told me how to find the Sand Island petroglyphs. Oh, I have neglected to mention that this is Mormon country, and they are everywhere. Also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I used to be one, through much of my childhood, but no more. It is a dominant religion from southern Idaho stretching south through Arizona.
The folks at the museum told me these petroglyphs existed and with help from the folks at Bluff Fort I found them without any trouble.
Like the Modoc wall of petroglyphs Pedro and I had visited about a year earlier, these were protected by a fence that kept all visitors well away from the wall. I admired them for some time.
The elder at Bluff Fort told me that if I explored in the opposite direction, I would find more. I turned around and looked behind me.
I decided what he must have meant was that the red dirt road I had come down had been to the right of the paved road, and the other petroglyphs were probably to the left of the paved road. I drove that way and looked all around but found nothing. No worries, I had seen plenty and was happy. It was time to hit the road once more.
I was very close to the Arizona border, so I hopped back in the Jeep and headed for my next stop: Petrified Forest National Park.