Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter at Bluff Fort

This past weekend, I pre-packed an Easter basket, checked out a book on tape from the library, and drove down to Bluff, Utah in the southeast corner of the state. Bluff’s first annual Easter egg hunt was being held at the old Bluff Fort.

I took off Friday afternoon and arrived at the Desert Rose Inn & Cabins in Bluff around 10:00 p.m. Let me just give a shout out, quickly, to the Desert Rose. Wonderful. Beautiful rooms with old-fashioned quilts on the bed and Navajo art on the walls. Decks outside had seating for guests to enjoy an amazing view of the Bluffs. The original Hole in the Rock pioneers wish they’d had large, air-conditioned rooms with internet and ESPN waiting for them when they arrived.

I first became acquainted with Bluff Fort through the Hole in the Rock Foundation, a non-profit historical preservation society working to preserve the history and share the legacy of the Hole in the Rock pioneers. I admit, five years ago, I’d never heard of them. But recently they’ve been getting a bit more attention. Author Gerald Lund wrote a historical fiction novel, The Undaunted, set against the backdrop of the grueling Hole in the Rock trek, and LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland has recounted the amazing tale of Stanford and Belle Smith at a couple of stake and regional conferences.

Not familiar with the story? It involves an intrepid band of pioneers attempting to settle in the Four Corners area to establish good relations with the local Native Americans tribes and bring law and order to a lawless corner of the state. It also involves lowering an entire wagon train 1,000 feet through a narrow slit in the sandstone wall of a cliff. And that’s just part of their harrowing adventure. You can read more about the Hole in the Rock trek here.

The pioneers finally established a settlement in an area surrounded by remarkable sandstone formations; they named their settlement Bluff Fort. Only one of the original cabins still stands, but the Hole in the Rock Foundation has rebuilt the fort including reconstructions of the old meeting house and 14 log cabins, each one built to commemorate one of the original settler families. There is also a visitors center, a hogan, a teepee and numerous covered wagons, including one of the original wagons to come through the Hole in the Rock.

Visitors can tour each of the cabins and go inside the meetinghouse. The visitors center even has pioneer costumes, and tourists can dress up and pose for pictures on the covered wagons. Bluff Fort is located along highway 191. They receive thousands of visitors every year, many from countries as distant as Denmark, Japan, Australia and France. Guests really get a hands-on historical experience. One French tourist left this comment in the log book: “We love this little town. Very interesting for us, it’s better than western movies!”

Easter weekend, Bluff Fort held their first annual community Easter egg hunt. It was a wonderful mix of locals, tourists, and hundreds of candy-filled eggs along with other treats hidden all around the fort. The festivities concluded with a community pot luck lunch.

Bluff Fort is amazing. It combines history with breathtaking scenery; it makes a great mini-vacation or weekend getaway. I so many photos that I overloaded my memory card, but you can go see beautiful, high-quality images of the fort at their Facebook page. Be sure to click “Like.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

See Us on Studio 5!

Monday, April 18th, was a big day for "Been There, Done That." The blog was featured on Studio 5! (Channel 5, 11:00 a.m. MST)

You can watch the segment by clicking here.

Hosts Brooke Walker and Darin Adams could not have been more friendly and helpful. That goes for all of the stage and production people at Studio 5. A special shout out to producer Mallory for putting it all together and my friend who helped me with the props, what I should say, transportation and moral support.

Studio 5 asked me to pick five shops that were "hidden gems" that sparked my creativity. It was hard to limit myself to just five, but ultimately I chose three shops I've written about previously (Central Book Exchange, Beehive Tea Room, and Planted Earth) and two I have yet to feature on my blog (Decades and Elemente).

I provided Studio 5 with photographs for the segment. As a matter of face, I inundated them with photos. They couldn't use all that I sent them, so I thought I'd post a few here. I had a couple of models show off some vintage clothing I got at Decades, and you can see their pictures below.

"C" looks gorgeous in an Asian inspired silk jacket with vintage pillbox purse, and "A" is fresh-faced and adorable in vintage sweaters. And super hip "girls" model vintage eye wear from Planted Earth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Uganda Exhibit and Fundraiser

April 15, 6-9 p.m. 15th Street Gallery, SLC (1519 S. 1500 E.)

I have a friend who has carried rocks up a mountainside in Nepal to build an elementary school. She’s accompanied shipments of books and computers to Cambodia and created revenue-generating partnerships for widows and orphans in Uganda.

She knows how to party…

…and so when she tells me the party is Friday, April 15th, 6:00-9:00 p.m. at 1519 S. 1500 E. in Salt Lake City (15th Street Gallery), I’m there. This Friday seven local artists are joining forces with Berr Beads and a children’s art project organized by Trent Alvey in cooperation with Asayo's Wish Foundation to put on an art exhibit and fundraiser with proceeds going to benefit orphans in Uganda being sustained by Asayo’s Wish Foundation.

Ugandan children have created dolls with fabric and native elements like seeds, twine, etc. which will be for sale with 100% of the proceeds going back to Asayo’s Wish.

You may have seen gorgeous, colorful paper bead necklaces being carried in boutiques and shops like Shade. These “Berr Beads” (Berr means “good” or “I am well”) are hand rolled by widows and single mothers in Kaberamaido, Uganda who have joined together to create a self-sustaining cooperative. Berr Beads will be having a blow-out sale at Friday night’s fundraiser with 100% of the sales going back to economic development programs for the widows.

Finally, local artists Susan Beck, Justin Diggle, Steven Larson, John Sproul, Trent Alvey, Jenevieve Hubbard, and Lenka Konopasek have contributed works of art with 20% of the sales going to support Asayo’s Wish Foundation.

A highlight of the night will be an address from Sarah Asayo herself. Sarah’s story is remarkable. Uganda has been torn apart by decades of civil war, disease, violence and poverty. When Sarah was a girl in Uganda, her family lost their father and their home. The family moved from place to place, sleeping on floors and going days without food. They were some of the fortunate ones in that they eventually made their way to London and created a new life. Sarah was able to get a university education and eventually move to the United States. Now she works to provide for impoverished orphans in Uganda who face some of the same life-threatening circumstances that she did.

You do not want to miss this opportunity to hear from a remarkable survivor and humanitarian.