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The Day the Creek Disappeared

BY ANITA HOLMES

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Along with my family, I've experienced what I believe to be two alternate reality-type spacetime slips. It took place on a never-to-be-found-again Oregon beachfront. The second occurred in southern Utah near a high mountain stretch known as Duck Creek.

After my husband's untimely death from kidney cancer in 1992, I relocated my family from eastern Oregon to New Harmony, Utah. This tiny little burg is just 15 miles south of Cedar City and 30 miles north of the state's banana belt, St. George.

How I loved my years there. To the west was the great Pine Mountain and to the east the western rim of Zion National Park, where the massive Navajo sandstone formations known as Kolob's Fingers burn red in the evening sun. Surrounded by national parks, the kids and I could jump in the car with a picnic lunch and within 60 minutes be settled at any number of incredible sites: red cliffs, turquoise lake waters, in a stand of aspens, at Cedar Breaks, or along the shores of Duck Creek on Cedar Mountain.

One of our favorite picnic treks was just off of Highway 14 heading up Cedar Mountain, east of Cedar City. Between Cedar City and Duck Creek (at the crest of Highway 14), there is exactly one road that heads north off of 14. It will eventually take you to Panguitch Lake.

We enjoyed exploring along this road, and a few miles from the Highway 14 intersection, would often stop at a creek at the foot of a hilltop clothed in aspen. There was a metal plaque mounted next to the creek near the road, sharing a brief history of the area.

Over the years, we spent many a summer afternoon, blanket spread out next to the creek, picnic basket filled with oven-fried chicken, homemade brownies, potato salad, and soft drinks. We'd hike up to the aspens, swish bare feet in the ice-cold creek, and just plain enjoy the solitude, soft breezes, and sunshine of our special spot on Cedar Mountain.

The summer before I left Utah to teach in the Alaskan bush (June 1998), friends from Juneau came to visit. One afternoon we loaded up the car with kids and my trusty old picnic basket to explore Cedar Mountain.

Before hiking Cedar Breaks and sloshing in Duck Creek, we planned on eating our lunch along that little creek off of Highway 14. But that's when things got strange. We couldn't find it. We spent 90 minutes driving up and down the length of that northerly road three times and could not find the creek. The hilltop aspen grove was there, but the little bridge crossing the creek, the post-mounted plaque, and that bloomin' creek were no where to be found!

We finally settled for eating a belated lunch at Duck Creek. I was flabbergasted at our inability to find the creek! To date, we've not been back up Cedar Mountain to have another shot at locating it; the next year we moved to Alaska where I completed my full-time teaching career in 2011.

But one day I will definitely travel back up Highway 14 east of Cedar City, and try to determine which reality is currently extant - the one with the creek or without it. By the way, we have photos of me, the kids, and our remarkable old hybrid wolf, sitting smack dab along the rims of the creek as proof that it was indeed there!

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