Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Life on the Mountain

August 8, 2008


I started my job as a Dam guide this morning, and am typing this blog from my cozy little tent. The day started with an awesome commute up the mountain, about 41 miles total from Vernal. It was overcast and it rained last night, so as I was driving up, listening to Abba and the Bee Gees, the air was fresh and cool, there was no traffic on the road, with the exception of a young buck alongside the road. He was just watching as I drove by, and his horns were covered in “velvet,” or fuzz. As I turned off the main highway and headed down towards the dam, I passed nearly a dozen young rabbits that were darting back and forth across the road.


The view of Flaming Gorge was amazing as the sun was coming up over the red rock canyons. I learned from my job that it was named Flaming Gorge because when explorers first found it, the sun was shining on the red formations and they said “That gorge is aflame.”


This has to be one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever had, as well as one of the most interesting. There are about six of us dam guides each day, taking tours down every 20-30 minutes. It took me about 10 minutes to master the tv’s, cash register, safe and literature in the gift shop, then I spent the day shadowing other dam guides. It seems pretty easy, as long as we touch upon the important points and dates, we can add as much or as little to the tour as we want. I’m excited to try my hand guiding all alone tomorrow.


Most of the crew consists of young women who were raised in Dutch John, a small town with about 300 people, just a couple of miles from the dam. There’s a couple, Russ and Anita, who started last week. Russ is an old sea captain and they spent 20 years on boats in various seas in various parts of the world. After Anita got skin cancer, they decided to get off the water, and have been camping their way around the world for I think the last ten years.


We were rained out of tours today, because of course, the dam, containing a power plant and transmitting electricity at 158,000 volts, (dam tour fact) is a bad place to be in a thunderstorm. So we spent the afternoon visiting with the tourists, including a bunch of bikers on their way back from Sturgis. They were looking to buy some patches to add to their leather vests, but we don’t sell them. Fortunately for them, we do have a bunch we hand out to the children who have completed the dam tour trivia facts. So they were happy to get them and told us stories of their travels to pass the time.


Apparently the cops know I’m in town, because I’ve been followed by a Dagget County Sheriff every time I leave the campground. At first I thought they were trying to harass me, then I figured out they probably just wanted to know who I am, being the new girl in town and all. Not the ideal way to meet men, but what the heck.


Because of homeland security and the danger of somebody blowing the dam up, we have two to three deputies at the dam all day. Before we take a tour into the dam, we call them to come search everyone and get them through the metal detectors. So they pretty much all know I’m here. One of them pulled into the parking lot as a tour was ending, and I heard him talking to another tour guide. “That must be the new girl,” he said. “Yeah, today’s her first day,” she said. “Did you hear she’s a writer?” he asked. “Yeah, I did know that,” she said. “Guess she came from Salt lake and writes for the Vernal Express now,” he said. “I think she was at the Salt Lake Tribune,” she said. “I was in the paper a coupla times, for cop stuff,” he said. I could tell from his tone that he didn’t want to brag but couldn’t help it a little. Then the people on the tour heard the conversation and a couple started telling me about their kids/grandkids/themselves who had been the subject of newspaper stories. My head swelled a little as the conversation turned to me, but, being the good Dam tour guide I am, I referred them back to the fish at the bottom of the dam.


I set up camp pretty well, although I cursed “Ozark Trail,” the makers of the tent I borrowed from Kathy. I won’t repeat the many cuss words I used in the 45 minutes it took me to get the tent up, but they  WILL be getting a SCATHING LETTER! After setting up camp, I made a sandwich and read a magazine while I ate at the picnic table, then I went for a walk around the campground. It is definitely full of men, although being a weekend, many of them have big women attached to their arms. Incidentally, there were several good looking men who came through the dam today, but they had dozens of boy scouts attached to their hips. So I made nice with the campground host, Milt, (I’m not staying in the lesbian run campground because it was full,) who gave me a campsite next to his. It seems to be a quiet campground, so I’m going to enjoy a good night’s sleep before I go searching for coffee in the morning.

August 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Hi There,

    This is the first time I heard the term “Dam Guide”.
    I think the adventure you can have with any tour guide is very unique and exciting. I always take a tour guide when I travel to a new destination.

    Dave C

    Comment by Dave Cunningham | August 20, 2008 | Reply

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