Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

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"Morning Foraging & Wildcat Willies Breakfast"


This is only the morning segment of my entry today.  I awoke at dawn and after making myself some tea, enjoying the quiet of the morning and watching the early light illuminate one peak then another, I found I was hungry.  It seems my four-legged friend had the same idea!  I think this is a White Tailed Deer, but not sure.  I know the Mule Deer have longer ears, but this one has pretty big ears!  The deer here are comfortable around humans, but I know even not to get too comfortable with them.  They’re wild, beautiful creatures but can be vicious if scared.  She paid me no mind as I maintain my distance and enjoyed her beauty.


I splurged and did my morning foraging at Wildcat Willies Ranch Grill and Saloon, where wagon wheels, rusted spurs and six shooters grace the wall and old time country music keeps you company.  The food is good, comfort food with some concession to us health-conscious travelers by way of homemade granola and fresh fruit!  Cowboy coffee (with the grounds) is in abundance!  If you’re looking for a place to eat that goes way beyond the food in terms of heart and soul, you must eat at Wildcat Willies for breakfast!  You MUST chat it up with Grant and Shandy too or you’ll really be missing out on some treasures of Zion.


My waitress, Shandy, was incredible!  Youngish, 27, and she knew more about the area than any guidebook.  8 generations or so grew up in this valley, taking her family back to the early 1800s, all of those still living, right here in the Zion Valley still.  She said no one cares here about keeping up with the Joneses, and if someone needs it, the whole town in there to help out.  “Family means something here,” she stated.  In fact, she’d gone away to college and came right back because “You just can’t find that sense of family out in the big cities.”  The stories she could tell about history of Zion, which was actually called some Native American name beginning with a K, were utterly fascinating.  She herself was pretty amazing-- a single mom, having raised her child since 19 in the LDS church, no less... Her life story was one of courage and guts, and not a complaining bone in her body.  She shared her wisdom with her coffee, and you felt like you gained a whole new insight into the area not usually afforded the casual traveler.  She sort of took to me as I was an (older) single mom traveling alone, saying she hoped that one day she would be like me.  Well Shandy, if you’re out hunting deer with the guys to put food on the table for your daughter, you’re already ahead of me! 


The other waiter, Grant, perhaps owner, is like a grandfather to Shandy, and she calls him gramps.  He wears a sheriff badge and knows as much historical and geological information about Zion as any park ranger, which he dispenses with robust humor and a booming laugh.  “Ya all have yerselves a great one now, ya hear!” follows each group to the door as they head out towards a day hiking.  


Today I’m headed for Walter’s Wiggles and Angels Landing.  It’s been 11 years since I made that climb to the highest peak.


Below is White Throne with morning sunlight and below that, the Virgin River, only a 150 mile river, but it has shaped Zion Canyon for 1000’s of years.  Everywhere you look you see evidence of the path of water on the walls of these great rocks.



Virgin River through Zion Canyon (below)




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