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Missing Time
Posted In: Personal Accounts  3/2/11
By: David Wasden

The year was 1991, November, we were returning from a 10 month stay in Tuscon Arizona, we meaning myself, my two daughters Rebekah, Rachel and my girlfriend Joni. Joni had taken a position as an intensive care nurse at the University of Arizona Medical Center, her second sabbatical after becoming a traveling nurse.

Being a family of vagabonds, our trip to Tuscon from Salt Lake City was uneventful, other than thoroughly enjoying the transition from the extreme cold of January's weather to the gradual warming as we migrated south through the small towns of southern Utah and northern Arizona. It was good to be on the move again.

Given our wandering tendencies, we had all traveled to many areas of the west, southern California, Oregon, the Washington Coastline, Idaho etc. But, without question, Moab and the surrounding desert was our favorite (stronghold.)

I had previously established a desert camp back in 1988, far from the order of society, in search of solitude and a deep desire for the last remnants of natures pristine despot. I had found it! It was only 18 miles out of Moab, yet it's location, at the base of an enormous cliff, on the descending steps to Bartlet wash was ideal! The height and breth of it's position offered an unhindered panoramic view of the entire valley below, my camp nestled on a sandstone shelf, in the great cliff arm of Marijuana Butte.

The name had been affectionately given the butte by the towns' people of Moab years ago, when a returning plane from Mexico, laden with it's controversial contraband had miscalculated it's latitude or necessary accent to clear the butte, crashed, spilling it's payload across the desert landscape. The news spread quickly to the Moabites, who feverishly, assembled their rescue gear and traveled in haste to the crash site, collecting its contents.

The butte offered a protected environment in which to establish my sanctuary. As stated, I originally had come to the area in the summer of 1988 with my truck and self-contained overhead camper, pulling a 10x8 flatbed trailer, I built, which carried my tools, bicycles, motorcycle, camping gear, water barrels, and all the essentials for survival during my stay. The camp evolved over the next 3 years adjusting to my improvements, leveling and sifting the sand, channeling runoff from the deluge of water plummeting off Marijuana butte during the August Monsoon. It was an awesome sight watching the countless water falls pouring from the cliff heights and filling the many waterways as they descended to the wash below. It was a pristine, sacred world and I immersed myself in it.

Now 3 years later and having graduated to a 30ft travel trailer, and having served two nursing sabbaticals with my girlfriend Joni, we were on our way back to camp.

Early Friday morning, my daughter Rachel and I were traveling together in my 1980 Chevy Truck, pulling the trailer. We had gone on ahead of Joni and Rebekah, who would be joining us on Sunday. It was a two day journey from Tucson traveling north along route 89, then east along highway 160 circumnavigating the Hopi, Navajo Indian reservation. From there we turned north on 191 to Moab and then finally to camp. About at the half way point we pulled off into a large turnout next to the highway to spend the night, had a nice breakfast the next morning and then proceeded north.

The trip was a very pleasant, with only one mishap, a flat tire on the trailer. I especially enjoyed having the company of my daughter, who seemed to blend in so well to her rather eccentric father's lifestyle. She was a natural, fresh expression of my rather off the grid view of reality. I can say quite honestly, she was the best witness to the world I had assembled, that I could possibly have asked for!

She was with me on nearly every level. I guess you could say that I trained her well. From changing a flat tire to exploring the outback on motorcycles,(a very skilled rider), floating the Green river on a raft, hiking, rock climbing, canyoneering, searching the washes for stones, to assembling camp, Rachel was there, assisting, contributing and helping me arrange a safe and operable vantage point to this profound desert.

The skies were clear and distinctly blue, when we arrived, contrasted against the white sands in the wash below and the glimmering red glow of the distant cliffs. It was good to be home!

We stood together gazing at the beautiful silent landscape, breathing in the essence of what now had become a treasure, stored in our minds and hearts. To be present again in it's beauty, the thoughts, experiences, memories and feelings of the last three years, bubbled to the surface. We took a deep breath, turned and looked at each other, both knowing the pleasant task of re-assembling our camp was once again at hand.

We both knew where all the items and equipment were hidden, so without a command or request, we both headed in the direction of our secret cache. Out of the hidden crevices, out from behind boulders and junipers, we gathered our water barrels, our hoses, generator shelter, tarps, picnic table, grill, awning poles, rakes and shovels.

In the hours that followed we worked side by side in silence, each of us intuitively knowing what the other needed, to spread a tarp, raise an awning, pitch the Springbar tent, position the picnic table, rake and sift the pine needle cluttered sand. Rebuild the outdoor, sandstone framed stove and once again re-construct the channels to draw the rainwater, away from and around the camp.

It was the labor of love. We were reconvening, re-immersing ourselves back into a world that very few people ever have the chance to visit, much less live in!

The sun was now setting in the all too familiar distant landscape. Nearly a 100 miles to the west, watching the sun surrender to the evening, you could see once again, the darkened skyline buttes that framed our sacred world.

Hunger and the November chill was beckoning us to go indoors. I turned on the heater and as the air warmed, we both set to preparing our evening meal.

We had unconsciously established an unwritten rule in the past 3 years, that we would begin our trek to Moab always in early spring from wherever our winter stay and stationed us. Either from Salt Lake City, Saint George, Utah, Oregon, California, Washington State or in this case Arizona. It was usually late March we would return for the season, which lasted until late into the fall, or our standard rule, to break down camp at the first snowfall.

This year it was different. We had moved to Tuscon in late January and because of Joni's nursing stint, it brought us back to camp in November, our usual time for departing. No matter, we were more than happy to be here and were looking forward to what little time we had left before winter once again set in.

We retired to our beds, weary, yet content, and mildly sore from the days work. Morning came with the old familiar patterns, the great shadow of the cliff face, slowly receding from the valley floor below as the sun rose above it's crest. During summer, it was usually around 10:30 to 11:00 am that the sun would break over the edge of the cliff, but this late in the year, the camp might not see full sunlight until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. So, after breakfast, we busied ourselves with cleaning the trailer, making our beds, vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen. When it warmed up a bit we continued our task of setting up camp.

Around 3pm Joni and Rebekah showed up with a friend traveling with them named Henry. He had come with them needing a ride to Salt Lake City to meet up with his family. After our greeting and reunion we all had lunch together, but they soon had to continue on to Salt Lake.

The arrangement was that Joni and Rebekah would go on to Salt Lake to her home in Holiday and while Joni worked at Primary Childrens Hospital, Rebekah would stay at her house, waiting for Rachel and me.

We had planned on leaving camp on Wednesday around 10am. After they left we pretty much spent the rest of the day doing small tasks, relaxing around the campfire, enjoying the solitude. Early Monday morning we hiked to Morning Rock (a boulder sitting at a point on a shelf just below the top face of the cliff which provided an amazing 180 degree morning view of the valley below and seemingly endless horizon. This was a tradition that we all shared when first coming to camp after a long absence. We would all climb the rock slide to the ledge, which traversed along the cliff face to the where Morning rock was resting. It was a rather a precarious feat, walking along that narrow outcropping, about 100 feet up, cautiously making our way to that shelf.

Once there, it was wide enough to relax, let our hearts slow down at bit, then maybe visit the spot where our names were engraved in the sandstone or maybe challenge ourselves to boulder climb Morning rock. So, we made our traditional climb that morning, sitting atop this awesome boulder and watched the new day begin.

After returning to camp, as the day warmed, we began reacquainting ourselves with our old haunts. A visit to the miniature Indian village (created by a younger Rachel), the face carving in the sandstone of a very distraught confined man.(carved by Eric Hawkey) A visit to Evening Rock, Saddle Rock (an outcropping protruding from the upper face of a very large boulder, where the kids would dare each other to sit out on and loudly proclaim their feat of bravery!

And a visit to the Cave. An original depression in the face of the cliff, about 100 feet up,on the same route to Morning Rock It had a sloping floor, which I determined along with the great effort of my children, could be made into a sizable, usable cave with a flat floor. A large rectangular sandstone slab was situated near the back of the cave and if it could be pushed out to the opening, it could serve as a sitting place and a vantage point, a pedestal, so to speak, for perhaps quoting poetry or meditating. Getting the slab out to the opening seemed easy enough, so I thought! My plan was to bring 2, 2x4x8's, my 8 ton jack, my 18 volt skill saw and a lot of determination!

I set myself to work, positioning the jack between the cliff wall and the slab. After some effort I managed to get it in place and began jacking. It moved! I pumped the handle, inch, by inch as it slowly moved toward the opening. When the jack reached it's maximum length, I would compress it back down, measuring the new distance, where I cut a length of 2x4 to place between the jack head and the slab, repeating the process. It nearly took most of the day! (This was done in the early years after finding the camp.) which is another story!

I did manage to move it into the position I wanted and it did indeed make a great ledge, for which to sit and contemplate ones existence.

The next task, was to fill the sloping floor with sand! I filled all the openings at the base of the slab with sandstone rocks gathered from the ledge and surrounding area, so as to not allow the newly placed sand to escape by draining out. Then I returned to camp recruiting my four children. I told them to bring the five gallon buckets we had, fill them with sand obtained from a small sand dune, then carry them up the rock slide, along the ledge and into the cave. It took two days! We did complete the task and it turned out beautifully! The floor was soft and level, with room to spare! In fact I even pitched a small tent in there with rollie mat, camp chair, blankets, sleeping bag and pillow.

This was to give each of my budding children the opportunity to experience solitude on a new level. They did each take a turn of camping in that cave alone and returned with a new sense of self and a more confident feeling of who they are!

I have always promoted the idea of knowing oneself, but how many people actually spend any real time with just themselves, isolated in such a vast and quiet place? I have and my children have. It's an amazing experience!

Monday was also enjoyed in the same manner and on Tuesday we decided to ride our motorcycles to the remote municipal airport 11 miles (as the crow flies) north east. This meant traversing the sandstone shelves, following the dry wash tributaries flowing into Bartlet wash riding along old jeep trails, crossing springs and riding through big cottonwood stands. The purpose was to call Joni and Rebekah on the airports only phone and pretty much confirm our intentions to leave the next day. Our return trip went smoothly and arriving in the late afternoon we proceeded in breaking down the awnings, securing our valuables and buttoning up the camp for our absence.

After dinner and some light reading, we went to bed. It was around 3am, we heard what sounded like voices calling our names. It seemed to be coming from across the slickrock near the entrance to our camp. David!............Rachel! Came the calls. It was a little shocking to say the least, hearing our names called out through a very dark night! Rachel heard them first, then I did and with a little hesitation I turned on the outside trailer light. We saw through the window a deep layer of freshly fallen snow, reflecting back from the light. I opened the trailer door and looked out, straining to see beyond the light's radius. Again we heard the voices calling our names! ........Dad!.........Rachel!

We knew this was Joni and Rebekah! We could hear the sound of their footsteps crunching in the new snow as they approached and eventually could see a small light coming from the flashlight they were carrying.

As they came into the trailers light, they exclaimed!......... “Are you guys alright?” “Why didn't you come up to Salt Lake?” (as they stamped their snow laden shoes on the step, entering into the trailer)..........We couldn't understand what they meant! Their eyes were full of fear! We tried to explain. “We were coming, we were leaving in the morning!” ..... “In the morning?” “Do you know what day it is”, Joni asked? I said, “it's Wednesday morning!” She said “no it's not, it's Sunday morning!” “Sunday!, I exclaimed!” looking at Rachel, who had the same bewildered look on her face!...... “Yes, we have been worried sick about you and wondered why you never showed up!” “We waited through Wednesday, then Thursday, and then on Friday we really started to freak out that something bad had happened to you!” “We left Saturday afternoon after work and drove all night to get down here!” “Why didn't you come up?” We were baffled! So were they! We had no explanation! To us it was Wednesday morning and our plan was to get up, pack our things, eat a light breakfast, then drive up to Salt Lake. It was not the case! Something had happened to us!

We had lost 4 days and had no recollection of them! We continued our stranger than strange conversation, trying to piece together the events preceding our leaving and just what had happened! Rebekah said, that after we didn't show up late Wednesday afternoon she called Joni to try and figure out why we hadn't arrived. Joni suggested that probably we had gotten distracted having fun exploring on the motorcycles, came home late and decided to come on Thursday. So, they waited! Thursday came and went with no word. Friday was the day “we thought of calling the Highway Patrol and report you missing!” But, since Saturday was Joni's last day at work and she got off in the early afternoon, they thought, “we may as well just drive down and try and find them.” Finding us in camp was both a relief and a great puzzle! We talked and mused over the mystery of it all, then that evening, we drove back to Salt Lake. Within the next 2 weeks, we went back down, disassembled the camp and moved to Salt Lake for the winter.

Nothing was to be the same in the following weeks, or months for that matter! Rachel and I both had reoccurring nightmares! Were we abducted? God only knows! But, in the weeks and months that followed, whether it was our imaginations projecting stored fantasies from talking about it so much,

UFO movies etc., or they were real recollections of the experience, we just didn't know, but either way, we were seeing the little gray dark eyed beings nearly every night!

In those so called dreams, we would awaken, feel completely paralyzed, barely able to move only our eyes, yet we could see these little, hideous creatures standing around our beds staring at us! Is it true! Were we taken? Neither my daughter or I know for sure, but it would seem a real probability given the dreams and paranoia we experienced following that very unusual time frame!

We did return to camp in late March and throughout the summer when I would become so restless from unexplained anxiety, sleeping in the trailer, I would try to sleep in the tent, only to stare out at the stars through the screened windows, watching them expand and seemingly draw closer.

I even remember one night becoming so terrified that I jumped out of bed, ran out of the tent and into the trailer, seriously expecting a UFO was descending out of the night sky and was going to take me before I reached the safety of the trailer.

It took about a year for our minds to finally settle down and our life to return to somewhat normal. I can't speak for my daughter Rachel, but since that time, I have developed a fascination and almost an obsession to learn all I can about the UFO phenomenon and similar experiences people have had.

I have witnessed two very distinct sightings since that experience, both again with other people present. The first was in 2006, in Hurricane, Utah sitting with my son Jonathan on our outside patio furniture talking together. Looking out at the western horizon over St. George Utah, the sky was illuminated by the city lights, which faded into black as you looked skyward, with a background of stars.

Off the horizon within the illumination came two very bright lights, moving slowly, traveling side by side, one being slightly ahead of the other. They rose higher into the starlit night and when they reached around 11 o'clock they stopped! That's when it caught our full attention. We both had assumed that it was just two planes leaving the St. George airport heading east. We stared in amazement for several seconds, when they both in the exact same maneuver, shot straight up and disappeared!

The second sighting was with two friends, Andy and Lea. We were returning from D.I. Ranch near the Nevada, Utah border, exploring the option of moving out to a small homestead the owner had offered us. We had stopped by the natural spring to fill up our water jugs and then continued our journey homeward. After about 20 miles, traveling under a very clear night sky, we rounded a bend just after crossing the bridge over the Santa Clara river. I looked up and saw, once again two very bright lights, sitting motionless against the backdrop of the now darkend red cliffs just above the Piute Indian reservation. I exclaimed! “Look you guys at those lights!” We were awestruck! Just then our view became blocked by a large mound of rock and dirt, as we ascended the hill toward it. We crested the hill only to discover they had disappeared! We were left in amazement of just how bright they were and how quickly they had vanished!

What does this all mean? I have often wondered why some people see them and some don't. Is it random? Or is there some kind of connection with these phenomenon? We watch television programs, documentaries, videos and read articles posted on the internet and they seem real enough, but still it leaves us wondering if it's just the attention we give it or is there is any truth to their existence? Is it merely like the characteristic of buying a Volkswagen bug, or any certain brand of car and having never really noticed them before, but suddenly you see them everywhere! Fixation? Maybe it's that simple! But, what I can tell you is this, we saw what we saw and what happened to my daughter and I, really happened! Will we ever fully know the truth? Probably not, but if we share this story with others, perhaps with their knowledge and possible similar experiences, we can slowly begin piecing the puzzle together and just maybe form a picture for all of us to see and perhaps one day understand.


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