The Official Big Creek Mugs

One of the most popular exhibits at the Milwaukee Art Museum is the janitor. Just about everyone loves to pose for a picture with him.  He is life size and very realistic. Here is a picture I took of him in August.

The Janitor

George and Jennifer bought a large coffee mug with a photo of the janitor on it at the museum gift shop. As we were sitting at the table while someone was drinking out of the mug, Andy got the idea to make a mug with Spence on it.  I immediately knew which photo of him I would use. One of my favorite pictures of him.  He was blowing leaves off the handicap sidewalk when we were walking up to the campground.  He paused to say good morning to us and rested the leaf-blower backpack on the water fountain .


Unfortunately, there are not that many choices at Walmart on how many or how they are arranged.  So, this is what we ended up with:

Big Creek, A Closer Look at a National Park Coffee Mug

Uh oh!  I just noticed that the word “a” got cut off of the book cover picture!  Well darn.

I did get the picture and also one of him mowing the grass in the day-use parking lot.b02-spence-mug

Also,  a picture of him whacking weeds (the park calls it “string trimming”). My favorite picture of Spence is the lower one.  I think it shows his smart-aleck personality. He was probably saying, “HEY!! I TOLD you not to take a picture of me when I’m not working!”


Of course, Andy didn’t want to stop there.  We also made mugs for Linda, Boss Larry, and Ranger Heath.  That is with their own pictures on them, not Spence. We drove over to the Cosby campground this afternoon to deliver them.  Everyone was there except Heath, who is working mostly in the Little River section of the park now.

I will also give them each a copy of the book, whenever I finally get it. They are the main characters in it, after all. They all seemed to get a big kick out of their official Big Creek mugs.



May 26, 2016 – Under the Weather – That’s a Euphemism!

I have been somewhat under the weather this week and have hardly left the motorhome, except to sit out in the sun once in a while. All the camphost duties have fallen on Andy. He brought me a poplar one blossom day.

b Poplar Blossom
Poplar Blossom

I did make the campground rounds at least once.  Here are is the campsite of the Michigan couple that was here last year.  They have different friends with them, but the party is still four adults and eight small children. We so enjoyed all the little kids running around the campground last year and here I am stuck in the RV and not in the campground to enjoy them this year. I’m also missing the group of men who come every year for the week before Memorial Day.  They are also some of my favorites.

b Michigan Families Eight Kids
Two Michigan Families – Eight Kids

I was helping Andy set up the screen room over the picnic table when Spence came along and took my place.  I sat back down in a sunny spot.

b Andy and Spence Setting Up Screen Room
Andy and Spence Setting Up Screen Room

I saw a huge bus, think Greyhound size, up in the parking lot.  Andy went to investigate. It was a high school senior class from Ohio on their senior trip. Andy directed the driver to the horse camp day-use parking lot and brought her back home to sit with us while the kids hiked up the Big Creek Trail. Cruz and I discussed driving in here.  Sao is only 37 feet long; her bus is 45 feet. I think I would have told the kids to hike from the entrance rather than try to cross the one-lane bridge. When it was time to leave, Andy rode on the bus and I drove ahead with the car to stop incoming traffic and then call them when the road was clear.

b Cruz the Bus Driver
Cruz the Bus Driver

While we were sitting and chatting, Ranger Ethan drove up with Shannon, seen several times in last year’s logs.  She was a grad student at the University of Tennessee and would chaperone white water rafting trips from school.  She also worked in the park.  She is now finished school and will be moving to Charleston in a few weeks to start her job at Fort Sumter. It will be different kayaking there. She said she walked twenty miles with Ethan yesterday.

b Ethan and Shannon
Ethan and Shannon


September 10, 2015 – Canyonlands National Park

The Island in the Sky district of the Canyonlands National Park is a mesa about 2,200 feet above the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.  We could not see any water though; the rivers were down in canyons within the canyon.

The drive to get there from Moab was a stunning drive up a canyon road and then up onto the mesa. Our first stop was the visitor center where we got advice on where to walk (based on Andy’s abilities) and where to eat lunch. Then we watched the movie.

There is an overlook across the road from the visitor center, so we took a look. Wow, what a view.  I was shocked to see a road below us.  It is Shafer Trail Road and I am not going to be driving on it. I watched a car driving on the road from the left and then disappear below us.  I waited for it to reappear on the right.  When it did, two other vehicles came from the opposite direction around the bend. It caused quite a stir with the busload of French speaking people watching with us.

b View at Visitor Center

But, there was plenty of room and no one fell off the edge.

b Cars on Road Below Visitor Center

The trees at the overlook were loaded with open pine cones that looked like wooden flowers.

b Pine Cones

We drove to the picnic area almost at the end of the road. This was our dining room today.

b Lunch Spot

After fueling our bodies, we drove on to the Grand View Point overlook. The view was amazing.  There is another huge canyon down there at the bottom of the canyon. I think the upper level in this picture is called the White Rim. Four-wheel drive vehicles can drive on the dirt roads down there. The Colorado River is down in the tiny dark streak in the back left. It said so on the sign board.

b Canyon in Canyon

Just to the right of the overlook is the beginning of the one-mile Grand View Point trail along the canyon rim.

b Beginning of Grand View Trail

I did not venture out onto any rocks that had a crack between me and them.  I also did not get too close to the edge.

b Ledge on Grand View Point Trail

There were a lot of very nice steps made of stone.  The trouble was that most of them were high and it was very tiring to walk up them, up or down.  I was tired before we were too far out.  That could have had something to do with the elevation.  We were at 6,080 feet.

b Steps on Grand View Trail

This large rock was at the tip of the point.  Other hikers climbed to the top. We sat in the shade and enjoyed the view 15 or 20 feet lower.

b Rock at Grand View Point

There must be miles of this fencing made from old gnarly trees in the park. We compared it to the split-rail fence that Spence rebuilds constantly at Big Creek in the Smokies.

b Canyonlands Fencing

This is Candlestick Tower.  the park map says it is 5,760 feet.  That means the elevation at its base. It is huge and impressive standing out on the plain below.

b Candlestick Tower

Andy called this Gelato Mountain and decided we should stop for some gelato when we got back to Moab.  So we did.

b Gelato Mountain

We drove to the Upheaval Dome parking area, but did not get very far along the trail when Andy decided that it was to steep and rough for him.

When we got to the stop for Mesa Arch, the parking lot was full and a huge tour bus was disgorging passengers.  We decided to come back another day.