A few years ago Fred and Debbie Woods of Mesa, Arizona commissioned me to paint a large painting representing some of Debbie's pioneer ancestors who were called by Brigham Young to leave Utah and move to Arizona to farm and create communities. In 1879 250 men, women, and children, with 80 wagons and 1,000 head of cattle, traveled with teams of horses in a wagon train until they came to the vertical red cliffs of Glen Canyon. There was a small cleft in a sheer cliff and it took 6 weeks of picking, chiseling, drilling, blasting, and digging and hauling dirt to construct an almost impossible steep path down to the Colorado River 1200 feet below.
I drove from Mesa, Arizona north to Page, Kanab, Utah and finally Escalante, Utah before taking my small rental car on a 50 mile dirt road south to actually see The Hole In The Rock. It was winter and some dark clouds were on the horizon and some local folks told me the little car probably would not be able to make the whole trip. I went about 30 miles until I came upon an extremely muddy area of the road. I continued about a mile and could see two things; I could easily get stuck, and if I did I would probably spend the rest of my would be short life on that road as the clouds had begun to close over and were delivering the beginnings of a serious snow storm. I turned around. It's a good thing I didn't have a four wheel drive vehicle as I would have been foolish enough to try the road. Even a four wheel drive vehicle would have gotten stuck.
On the way back to Kanab I painted a couple of sketches of the area and indeed, the snow began to get pretty heavy.
Back at my studio I did some research and found several photographs of different views of The Hole in The Rock. Gathering models (my son-in-law, and some other young men) I plowed into the painting showing the wagons plunging down the trail being held back by men holding ropes.
It is a story of people with true grit and sand (fortitude and determination). Soon I'll tell you about a new book coming out that tells this exciting saga.