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Stories from Kanab

heinz-treacle.jpgToday in the grocery store, in Kanab UT, Eleanor discovered treacle in a can.

Now, you might wonder why treacle can be found in a town with only one pizza restaurant and a pair of small grocery stores.   I’ve never even seen treacle before.   I’ve only read of it, mostly in references to being “treacly” meaning overly sentimental.

I always thought treacle was some sort of sweet syrup, like molasses, and in fact that is true, but apparently there is a treacle pudding as well.   And, like all good things, you can get it in a can courtesy of the Heinz company.

But why here in Kanab?   Treacle sponge pudding is the sort of specialty food item that would be hard to find even in a major metro area.   People actually order it online from website like English Tea Store, and UK Goods.   We can only assume its presence is the result of the influence of huge numbers of British citizens who miss the comfort foods of home while they are exploring our national parks.   The “British Invasion” has never stopped since the Beatles first landed here, and this is proof.

So of course Eleanor bought a can.   She says it is because of references in the Harry Potter books that she chose it, and bypassed the Spotted Dick (another British pudding).   I’ve had Spotted Dick (insert joke here), and it’s actually quite good if you can bring yourself to ask the waiter for it.   Best to do it in England or Wales, where nobody will laugh.

Today while getting a haircut at the only barber shop in town, I heard a bit of local lore from the barber.   If you are in Kanab, I recommend this place because he gave me a good haircut and a good chat.   (He says the haircut is $2 and the chat is $10.)   As I mentioned yesterday, a lot of western films have been shot in this area.   He himself was in a couple, as an extra.   Once he was even dressed up as an “Indian” and rode bareback amongst a crowd of other extras.

He also told me that Robert Redford was here for a couple of movies way back when, but he doesn’t shoot movies here any more.   Why?   Because of a coal mine.   Apparently there is a lot of high-quality coal under the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.   Locals wanted it mined and burned in a power plant, but a long-time battle prevented this until President Clinton resolved it by declaring the land a national monument.

But before that happened, in the 1970s,   Redford entered the debate on the side of the environmentalists who wanted to stop the coal mines.   Kanab residents hung him in effigy, and not surprisingly, he took it a bit personally.   “I tell people, it’s never a good idea to hang someone in effigy,” said my friendly Mormon barber … and I had to agree.

Just about a quarter-mile from our campground is another Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat’l Mon. visitor center.   Apparently there are several, each with a different emphasis.   Looking for something to do in the afternoon besides work, we went over there and discovered that the BLM national monument has a “Junior Scientist” program much like the Junior Ranger program of the National Park system.   So now Emma has that to occupy her in addition to her usual home schooling.   One thing she’s learned already is that there are a lot of dinosaurs in the monument.   Even the scientists have been surprised by how many have turned up, and now say that the monument has the highest concentration of dinosaur fossils in the world.

All of these random items combine to one conclusion: Even in a tiny outpost in the desert like Kanab, there are things to learn and unexpected experiences if you just dig a little bit.   Kanab is such a small town that we can drive from end to end in about five minutes, and that includes the stoplights.   We’ve seen virtually every block of town now, and it didn’t take long.   But digging into all the stories and characters is like trying to hike every canyon hidden in the plateaus above us.   We could spend years here and I think there would still be surprises ahead.

392 Responses to “Stories from Kanab”

  1. David & Denese Lee Says:

    Hi Rich, We also spent some time in Kanab and stayed at the Crazy Horse Campground. David also visited the barber and enjoyed the conversation. We heard some very interesting stories. Also visited Coral Pink Sand Dunes…..the sand really is PINK! Following your travels in Utah is helping us to relive memories of being there and wishing to return soon!

  2. terry Says:

    Rich, now that you’ve discovered treacle, maybe you can find some treacle brittle (kind of along the same lines as peanut brittle).

  3. Brad Says:

    Oh, I see- I send you a can of spotted dick, and then you just go hog wild for puddings in a can. Next will be “soused hog’s face”.