Cemeteries and Bear Lake State Park
August 15, 2007

Ogden, UT, Day Four in Century RV Park, Carriage Lane, #80

Three months in our bus.


On Sunday day we rested and hung out around the bus. Sunday evening Dennis’s nephew, Kevin Christianson, drove up from Salt Lake City to see us. He is the son of Dennis’s sister, Marian Schwary. He came to see our bus and then we went out to dinner.

Speaking of meteors, for me Kevin is like a shining light. You know how it is when you meet a stranger and you connect immediately because you seem to be on the same wave length? I’ve met Kevin only three times but he is one of my favorite people. He is about the same age as my son. It is such a treat to be able to spend time with this smart, witty and talented young man.

Kevin works as a computer programmer by day and as an entertainer by night. He styles himself as a musical ch@meleon and he plays piano and sings in a variety of venues around Salt Lake City. (He also plays ukulele, blues harmonica and accordion.) http://www.pianomanslc.com

But I love Kevin because we have a similar sense of humor and sensibilities. Although he has survived some very tough blows, he retains a delightfully lighthearted and irreverent outlook on life. He is warmhearted and we shared a lot of laughs. He gives us energy and he makes me feel young and clever. What more could one ask for from a dinner companion? We had a lovely evening.


Today, Dennis’s son, Bart and Bart’s wife, Char, came down Ogden Canyon from their camp near Huntsville and met us at our RV Park in Ogden. We were ready for our all-day outing to Bear Lake State Park. These places are familiar to Dennis because he grew up here. But he left town in his early twenties and has returned only a few times — just in the past few years. Things have a way of changing in forty years — so much of what we see is as new to him as it is to me.

Bear Lake is about 90 miles to the northeast so we took I-15N to Brigham City. Then we took US-91 to Logan. Here we stopped to look for breakfast and found an excellent local coffee shop called, Angie’s Restaurant where we found comfortable booths, a big menu and very good food. Then we drove 40 miles up Logan Canyon on US-89 and got to Bear Lake about noon.

Bear Lake is a natural lake located on the Utah-Idaho border at an elevation of 5,923 feet above sea level.  It is quite large — about 20 miles long and 5 to 8 miles wide and is 84 feet deep on average. It was formed at least 150,000 years ago by geologic faulting.  Bear Lake is known for it’s unusually rich color — a deep aquamarine blue.  I wondered about the cause.  Later I discovered that the water has a high amount of dissolved solids, mainly precipitated carbonates, which reflect blue light and that creates the beautiful turquoise color.  The water is alkaline with a pH of approximately 8.6. http://wildlife.utah.gov/fishing/bearlake.html

Obviously Bear Lake offers winter and summer activities.  There are a lot of summer homes and RV parks.  Sadly, the lake is very low.  Winter snowdrifts no longer reach the heights that they did when Dennis was young.  Bear Lake offers entertainment at the Pickelville Playhouse, and historic buildings such as the Mormon Paris Tabernacle building, or the National Oregon/California Trail Center (located in Montpelier, ID).  The famous Oregon Trail went through the Bear Lake Valley so I would like to go back to see this center. http://www.bearlake.com/

However, we just drove around parts of the lake and looked at the town. The big draw at this time of year is raspberries. There was a Raspberry Festival at the beginning of August and At the lake, Kevin had told us that we must try the local speciality — a raspberry shake. He said we must also buy raspberry jam. So we felt that we couldn’t leave until we bought some local raspberry jam and tried a raspberry shake. Nothing loath, we tried both. However, purchase of four shakes at Le Beaus, an outdoor fast food window, was an ordeal. It was a very hot day and we stood in a long line in the sun. Finally, our shakes ordered, we stood around on the pavement, waiting for same.

Eventually I asked a young man if I could sit next to him on a bench.  He nodded irritably.  He looked like a sulky teenager and he wore black and he had a noticeable tattoo on his ankle.  He had dark looks with black hair and he was very handsome.  Dennis stood next to me and we speculated on how long we would have to wait.  Suddenly, my young man spoke to me and he said he’d waited an hour and that the famous raspberry shake wasn’t worth it.  I told him I certainly agreed.  We began a conversation.

Barely out of his teens, he has two years of college and is working as a paralegal.  He hopes to move to California to finish his education.  He is engaged and the tattoo is a Celtic outline enclosing the initials of J & R, their first names.  His fiancé was waiting in his truck.  His name is Javier and he is from Argentina and has lived in the states for eight years and went to high school in Utah.  Despite first impressions he was smart and talkative and friendly.  I ended up telling him to check out San Francisco State (one of my alma maters) and to look up my son at Pigeon Point to get more info on the bay area.  He said he would definitely look up Jeff and we parted good friends.  Altogether, the purchase of our shakes took forty minutes.  They weren’t worth it but meeting Javier was.  I could see that we had both energized and cheered each other up.  It goes to show that you can’t jump to conclusions based on first impressions….

We drove home the back way making a big loop for our total drive.  We went south on Hwy. 16 along Bear River to Randolph and Woodruff and then east down the Ogden Canyon on US-39.  On the way we stopped at a Trappist Monastery (1250 South 9500 East above Huntsville) where I found more jams and honey.  I was told that they make and sell bread but the monk in the gift shop informed me in a brief and disdainful manner that they haven’t in the past seven years.  He did not volunteer that they sell a cereal that can be baked into bread.  I bought $16 worth of jams and honey and gave him a twenty.  As he made change I told him to drop it in the jar labeled “For the Poor.”  That was the first time he woke up and actually looked at me.  I startled him.  He thanked me and we left.  (We use the honey in our Vita-Mix fruit smoothies but I can’t explain the jam purchases.)  http://www.holytrinityabbey.org/

We didn’t get back until 5:30 but our day wasn’t finished.  Bart and Char had a surprise in store for us.  They took us to the Prairie Schooner Steak House and Restaurant on Park Blvd.  This place was amazing.  We stepped out of bright light and into a very large and dark room.  I followed our maitre ‘d closely on a path so I wouldn’t make a miss-step.  I felt nearly blind.  That’s the idea.  Suddenly in front of me loomed a huge wolf.  Behind him on the desert sand was a campfire and this was just enough to illuminate chaparral, other animals and an Indian sitting at the campfire.  I assure you I was very startled.  The entire center of this room was dedicated to this scene.  Booths around the perimeter were each enclosed by the canopy of a Conestoga wagon or prairie schooners.  The only other illumination came from the lanterns on the back wall of each booth and the stars in the dark ceiling.

Bart and Char treated us to a wonderfully unique dinner.  I had a “Cowgirl” a delicious filet mignon.  It was really fun to sit in our cozy little covered wagon booth and peer out at the wild desert scene in front of us.  I loved it.  The owners didn’t stint or do this half way.  The effect was 100% and I thank them for it.  We joked, that this is the first dinner we’ve had by a campfire.  And that’s the truth.


Tuesday was a very busy day also.  We combined errands and visiting.  We had an appointment at Ken Garff Ogden Honda on Riverdale Rd. to get the GPS repaired or replaced.  Also we had to have the brakes repaired.  Dennis thinks that the very first time we towed the Honda, the technician who helped us attach the tow had put the emergency brake on the Honda.  We towed it that way and they burned out that very first day.  Dennis can’t imagine that he put on the brakes and forgot to take them off.  I can’t either.  It doesn’t sound like something he would do.  But in any case, it happened and we had to get it fixed.

We also planned to spend the day with Dennis’s 85 year old sister, Lila, who also drives a Honda.  I drove ours and Dennis drove Lila in hers and we dropped our Honda at the service department.  Then we used Lila’s Honda for the day.

We had quite a day planned.  First breakfast — at I-Hops, of course.  Lila needed to buy some strips for her diabetes tester so we went to Wal*Mart where Dennis and I picked up some items also.  Then we bought two bouquets of flowers and two glass vases and gift cards and went on to pay our respects to the dead.  First we went to North Ogden to the Ben Lomond Cemetery (526 E 2850 N). Surrounded by grass and spotted with big trees, it is a lovely cemetery situated on a hill.  We drove up the third of five lanes to the top of the hill to visit the grave of Mary Ellen Barker [Chugg] Walton, mother of Dennis and Marian Walton.


Now here is a sorry little story, so I will pause to digress.  It is the sort of occurrence that haunts families and drives them permanently apart.  Dennis’s mother, Mary Ellen Barker, (1903-1957) married Karl Willis Chugg (1903-1935) and they had four boys, Cecil, Melvin, Glenn, and Orville.  They owned a farm on the slopes of Ben Lomond in Pleasant View.  Ten years later, at age 31, Karl died of a fever and left Mary Ellen, a 31-year-old widow with sons ranging in age from one to nine years old.

Dennis’s father, Charles Herbert Walton, (1887-1974) married Ida Ann Paxman (1889-1930) and they had two girls, Iona and Lila.  At age 41, Ida died and left Charles a widower when the girls were nine and fifteen.  Mary Ellen and Charles were introduced at a church function.  Mary Ellen needed help with the farm and with her boys.  Charles needed a mother for his girls.  They married on 12/23/1936.  Dennis and Lila both agree that the marriage was a happy union.  Charles took over the mortgage and made a go of the farm.  He also worked for the government as a cartographer.  In 1949 Mary put his name on the deed.  Charles helped to raise Mary Ellen’s boys and gave each of them an acre for a home when they grew up.  The couple had two children of their own, Dennis and Marian.

In 1957, at age 54, Mary Ellen died of a stroke when Dennis was only sixteen.  She was married to Walton for twice the amount of time that she was married to Chugg.  But, for some reason the Chugg boys were bitter and angry.  Although Charles pulled the farm out of bankruptcy and had worked it for twenty years at the time that their mother died, the Chugg boys didn’t think that Charles should have the farm.  It seems that the oldest boy, Cecil, promoted the idea that Charles Walton and the Walton kids were not a welcome part of the family.  His brothers followed his lead.

Eventually Charles sold the farm and moved into town.  By the early seventies both Dennis and Marian were married and living in California.  In his old age, the still local Chuggs treated Charles badly and they took his remaining possessions after he died.  Dennis is very bitter about their behavior.  His mother made quilts for each of her children, but Dennis has no mementoes from either of his parents.  He left the church and has stayed away from Ogden most of his adult life.

When Dennis first brought me to the cemetery two years ago, he found that his parent’s original gravestone which listed Mary Ellen, Karl and Charles had been removed.  Charles intended to be buried by Mary Ellen, but discouraged by the actions of the sons he raised, he later chose to be buried by Lila’s mother, Ida Paxman Walton.

A new stone replaces the original with the names of Mary Ellen Barker and Karl Willis Chugg.  It is a large and impressive LDS stylized stone and it memorializes Mary Ellen as the mother of the four Chugg boys and the wife of Karl Chugg.  On the back, in small letters, are mentioned the name of Charles Walton and the two additional children, Marian and Dennis.

The entire scenario is aggravated by the Mormon belief that when you are married or “sealed” in the temple, you are united together in the after life.  Charles will be with Ida and Mary Ellen will be with Karl.  Logically speaking, the children of a second marriage are left out in the afterlife cold.  There is no celestial provision for them to be reunited with their parents.  Changed by the Chugg boys, the new gravestone further aggravates an old wound.

We paid our respects to Mary Ellen and then drove up the North Ogden Pass to Liberty Valley where Lila lived on their farm with her husband of 63 years.  For a time, before the war, the four Shaw boys worked a section of land, 640 acres, in partnership.  Blair Shaw rests peacefully in close proximity to his old farmhouse, the home of his father.  Who today can say they were born, lived and died in one place?  Although the Liberty Valley Cemetery is not new, (the first burial occurred in the late 1800s), Blair actually donated some of his land to the cemetery along the fence line.  There are three acres of level land with incredible views of the surrounding mountains.  I love the rural directions to find this pretty cemetery: “South of Old Red Church off of North Ogden Pass.” http://history.utah.gov/apps/burials/execute/viewcemetery?id=WE0801

BLAIR R. SHAW (1920-2006)

We paid our respects to Blair and then went back to Honda.  I drove Lila home and Dennis met us later after getting a rental car.  The Honda was not ready. Both back wheel brake disks and the rotor had to be replaced. No warranty, of course.

That evening, Bart’s daughter, Kayla came to visit us with her six-year-old daughter, Jillian.  Jillian chose I-Hop so we went there for dinner and caught up on news.  Kayla is Dennis’s granddaughter and Jillian is his great-granddaughter.  Recently re-married, Kayla looks healthy and happy.  Jillian ate an inordinate amount of sugar. With so many diabetics in the family, this worries me. Jillian says that fairies live in weeping willow trees.  Fortunately, there are two big beautiful ones at I-Hop on 12th St. so we waved at them as we left.

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