Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Kiwanis Creature

Mt. Timpanogas from the Utah Lake
Almost everyone Utah Valley knows the legend of Timpanogas, but I do not speak of Indian maidens today...no. Today I speak of a strange beast known as the Kiwanis Creature.

Pleasant Grove was originally known as Battle Creek, commemorating a skirmish between settlers and Indians. But the name was changed, and the "G" on the mountain stands for the "Grove" in its name. Now I will direct your attention to that "G" and ask you to follow a path down and right to the base of the hill, where, there is a little pavilion over Kiwanis Park, hence the creature's name.
You see, after the tragedy of Battle Creek, the ghosts of those natives who perished were ill at ease and said to wander the city of trees seeking revenge. Hearing their anguish and taking pity on them, a monstrous guardian of the land came up from his hiding place deep in the mountain and promised to take their rancor onto himself if they would but be calmed a pass on to the next world. Now the Kiwanis Creature roams Battle Creek and claims victims from the descendants of those who brought pain and misery onto native peoples of the land.
His body is like that of a man's, but his shoulders and head are that of a great stag. He wanders in the shadows waiting to inflict vengeance upon those that encroach upon his territory. 
Beware the Kiwanis Creature!

Commodore Clegg to the Bubble-up!

The wind kicked up a bit last Thursday, but not so much to prevent a little trip to the Utah Lake. My brother Shane fished while I took a can of oysters with me on my boat, the Seagull, for a cruise... or row rather. The Seagull is one of three (rubber) vessels in my fleet.
This is the season for Shane and I. About this time of year, the white bass start spawning and for as long as I've been here, the best place to capitalize on that has been the "Bubble-up" near the old cooling ponds of (the late) Geneva steel mill. I'm not really a fisherman, and have never got as excited about it as enthusiasts like my brother, but I've always loved being here on or in this lake, and the Utah Lake is the only place that I've ever come fishing by myself.
Sometimes, I'll bring one of my rafts out here at night, tie a rope with a bag of rocks and anchor myself, then I'll just lie here floating and listening to the birds. I'll bring an audio book on an mp3 player or take a nap. I'll look at the black surface of the lake and imagine a glowing castle emanating the soft glimmer of lights, and the distant music of amusement and roller coasters. I imagine the reflection of night time firework shows and lovers holding hands in their light. And when night falls and the people return to their homes, the quiet darkness of the lake will resume.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The White Fenrir of Utah Lake

Late on a cloudy night in the late summer of 2001, Dax Fossum and I were having a discussion in the street at 15-- W. 860 S. in Orem. We were about to part when we heard a sound from the north that sounded unlike anything we had ever heard before. If pressed to compare the sound, I would cross it between a baby crying and a didgeridoo. It sounded about 60% biological and 40% mechanical. Needless to say, we were horrified, too much so to investigate the ghostly sound. I drove directly home and locked the doors behind me.

Fast forward 3 years. Dax and I were back at the same place, playing a board game with Steven and Andrew Walters along with Scott Bouche. Somehow, our discussion turned to our childhoods in Springwater Park, and Steven began telling us of a very strange encounter he had experienced with Shane Romrell, Stephen Jolley, and Cameron Johnson about a half-mile west. The boys were exploring an undeveloped field one afternoon when from the distance, the weeds began to shake and part before the path of a rapidly approaching creature of some sort. It was about the size of a large dog, and they were able to make out white fur above the grass. The boys were unsure what to make of the approaching beast but when it emitted a peculiar sound, they were filled with terror and immediately fled with all haste. Steven said only that the sound was difficult to describe until stumbling upon a reasonably close simulation in a Mars Volta album. Scott happened to have the particular album in his car, and played for us the following sample as directed by Steven:


Though not a perfect reproduction, the sound was close enough to be certain that the noise we both heard on separate occasion and with separate witnesses was the same. So, my fellow adorers of the Utah Lake and its lovely environs, I warn you now, that guarding it is a creature, most fearsome and marvelous. Beware the White Fenrir of Utah Lake!

Friday, May 27, 2011


With all this nostalgizing I've been up to, I began to wonder just when it was that this tree got planted on the banks of the Utah Lake. I did a little hunting and found this image, taken in 1913, of the Spencer Junior High basketball team. Third from the left stands Joy O. Clegg, my great grandfather. I picked grandpa and grandma's brains for a while this morning and learned that in 1905, Joy came from Heber with his family to homestead in what is now the west half of UVU to Geneva Road. I checked the population at the time and all of Orem had just a few hundred citizens. The 2010 census recorded Orem's population at 88,328. 

I set my birthdate on facebook to 1905.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Audubon 6th graders

American Kestrel
In the spring of 1995, Mr. Hunt took his class on a field trip to the shores of the Utah Lake.There, two scores of prepubescent ornithologists set out with  plastic lens binoculars and a checklist to solidify their unit on birds.

Common Loon... check!
Western Meadowlark... check!
Ooooh, a Marsh Wren... check!
Western Grebe... check!
Mallard... check check!
Cinnamon teal... check!
American Coot... check check check check. Yes, Taylor, we've got that one, check!

I remember seeing a fox and pheasants away from the marsh in the fields. I really got into it. It coincided by chance with a scouting project that took our troop back to the same place for the same reason. I'm not sure why, but the universe deemed it necessary to pound the study of Western North American birds into my young brain, and the best place for that was my lovely Utah Lake. I have one more memory from Mr. Hunt's bird watching adventure though. It came not on the shores of the lake but after the yellow bluebird bus took us back to Vineyard Elementary. I never saw anything like this before or since, and it was eerie that it happened on the day of our birding field trip, but I saw on the sidewalk path leading up to our classroom, a small hawk, lying on the cement and heaving rapidly. Mr. Hunt carried the wounded raptor into the room and cleared off the old table where he kept the teacher editions of our textbooks. He did what he could to save the bird but it had crashed to fiercely into the glass and soon died. It was an American Kestrel. Teary eyed girls and and somber looking boys, reluctantly checked one last box from their list and we gave the noble bird a funeral.

When the Lunar Island comes to fruition, the bridge that leads to it, the ferries that will surround it, and all that comes in and out will be made to maintain the beauty of the Lake, and we will, in memory of my friend the Kestrel, relentlessly defend against rodents as well as attaching those goofy stigmatized bird stickers on glass and highly reflective surfaces. I love birds. Like little dinosaurs flying around, their proud brows and piercing eyes... my friends on the lake.

I am finishing up a class right now in the David O. McKay education building at UVU, which as I have mentioned before, was converted from my old Vineyard Elementary. This particular class is actually held in my old 6th grade classroom, and I sit where the teacher edition table used be. That little Kestrel's been on my mind...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Utah Lake

an image of the Utah Lake from utahvalley.com
If you ask the average resident of Orem what their opinion of the Utah Lake is, the answer will not usually be so enticing. The Utah Lake Watch describes it as the victim of waste, litter, treated sewage, household chemicals, oils, toxins, heavy industry metals, pathogens, sediments, and runoff from grazing livestock. There are also rumors of a hybrid Piranha introduced at some point! The water is naturally shallow and thus somewhat turbid. But... it's beautiful! If you've ever been along the shore on an October morning and witnessed the calm waters reflecting the lavender mountains that watch over the lake, you'll know what I mean. Now, I'm not going to go and take a drink of the water, but I adore how the lake looks, sounds, and feels. And every time I drive down University Parkway, I admire its unique beauty. I also look out and see on an island waiting to be built, a gleaming white castle crowning the lake and beckoning visitors. The Lunar Island. It is part of my dream to draw people back to the water, to pass over the lush marsh that lines its coast, and crown the city. I want to bring people closer to appreciate it, and hopefully to in turn encourage them to participate in projects to further clean and protect it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Orem City

Brittany and I in front of grandpa's house

That spot as it stands today
I find this city to be completely beautiful, convenient, and nostalgic. My earliest memories of Orem come from the sorrowful time after my father Kerry died in storm at sea, off the coast of California. We returned to Orem to live with my dear grandfather and namesake, Vaughn. In those days, this quaint spot on quiet little 800 South was grandpa's small farm. I used to get in trouble for sneaking out and playing with the pig or the goose near the pond. UVU was still a small trade school across the way and Vineyard elementary was a brown brick school down the road. Today, UVU is a full fledged university and I now walk across a soccer field that was once a pond I fished in to arrive at the UVU education building adapted from the school where I attended K-6, and cross the sidewalk where I remember learning to tie my shoes in front of UVU's school college and university partnership building which used to be the house I grew up in. This is the city where I want to build the Lunar Island. I may leave from time to time and travel to other states and countries across the world, but I will always return home to Orem, Utah.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The time has come...

As many of you know, my dream in this world is to build an artificial island on the Utah Lake in my beloved Orem, Utah, and to construct a beautiful and innovative amusement park there. I have my work cut out for me, I know. Anyway, I'll need your help. And you can start by going here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/pc/download
and downloading the kindle reader for your pc if you don't have an e-reader already, then going here:
and downloading The Lunar Post Office, or other titles from the Lavenscorpe Seed collection. Then immerse yourself in my world and enjoy!