Online Publishing

Upon my return from time with a daughter and a grandson in Glacier National Park I discovered Amazon had decided not to absorb any of the cost of publishing my novel.  Therefore I have elected to published on-line and in paperback through Amazon, but without their financial help.  I should have the details worked out within a week.

© 2016 Robert Dwyer
Glacier National Park, 2016

Bears Ears (continued)

© 2016 Robert Dwyer

The proposed Bears Ears National Monument continues to be discussed, particularly in San Juan County, in Utah generally, in the western U.S, and throughout the country. As a part of this discussion expressed in a news clip of a young woman from San Juan County who stated she was opposed to the creation of the monument because it took away some of the freedom enjoyed by the citizens of San Juan County. I agree. It would. For example, the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) would be further restricted.

While I was volunteering with the Forest Service on North Elk Ridge I rode into Dark Canyon seated in a side-by- side next to a man from northern Utah who was scouting for elk. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I also noted that ATV drivers had torn up huge sections of the riparian areas.

I would regret the loss of the freedom to drive an ATV into Dark Canyon. I also regret the damage done to Dark Canyon by the exercise of that freedom. My argument with the young woman in San Juan County is that where I lay my head at night does not give me the “freedom” to use the resources of Dark Canyon to the detriment of others. The freedom to wave my arms ends where someone else’s nose begins.


Thank You

Enough people nominated Dark Canyons that Amazon has now assigned the transcript to an editor. The book received nominations from people on both coasts, the southwest, and probably some from other parts of the country.  Maybe it got a few nominations from other countries.  Thank you all for your support. Amazon should let us know within a week or two if the book will be given further consideration.  Watch the blog for further updates.

Dark Canyons

Dark Canyons (Read my book.)

Please consider this a blatant pitch to encourage you to read my book.  I need a bunch of votes to help Amazon decide to publish it on line.  The book is a Western.  I know, Westerns aren’t exactly in vogue these days (seven percent of the marketDark Canyons) but it relates to modern issues and besides, it is what I wanted to write.

If you want to read the first three chapters, click the link below.  If you like what you read, please nominate the book by clicking the appropriate button.  If Amazon selects the book you will receive a free e-copy of the full book.


Gun Safety

The following is a paragraph from my journal, dated almost a year ago. I seems every bit as pertinent now. I would like to address it to my friends who have guns for self protection.

August 2015

I’m trying to figure out why anyone thinks stricter gun control is a bad idea. Does any private citizen need a handgun? If someone broke into my house I don’t think I would shoot him (or her) if I could. Nothing I own is worth my life or anybody else’s. Poser: What if someone wanted to steal my granddaughter? For that I would die – or kill. So . . . how many people must die so I can have a gun in the house to provide for the unlikely possibility that I will need it to prevent the abduction of a grandchild from my home? No matter how careful I am with a firearm I think the likelihood of a grandchild being injured by a firearm, mine or someone else’s, greatly outweighs the likelihood that my grandchild will be saved by my having a firearm handy.


Handguns in the Wilderness

(a reaction to the recent shootings in Florida)

© 2016 Robert Dwyer
.380 Handgun

A couple of years ago a hiker found this .380 handgun on the trail near the Forest Service cabin where I spent my summers and left it at the trailhead with a note.  I unloaded the gun and passed in on to the Wilderness Ranger. The ranger informed me later that the gun had been returned to the owner. I wondered what the owner thought he was going to shoot with it.

 © 2016 Robert Dwyer
area of handgun discovery

During the nine summers I spent in the mountains I saw many people strapped with handguns. Old men, young girls, teenage boys.  They made me uneasy even though I have always been fascinated by guns.  Dad had guns.  I used to read through old stacks of The American Rifleman by flashlight in the basement. To avoid being drafted into the Army I joined the Marine Corps (OCS 4-66), where I shot expert with the .45.  I became familiar with many types of firearms and carried a .45 for most of my 13 month tour, quite a bit of it in the jungle.  For some time I didn’t feel completely “ready” without a firearm.

I no longer love guns, at least not in my head. When a forest friend told me an ATV driver had put his hand on his pistol when my friend stopped to talk with him I wondered what the ATV driver was thinking.  Whatever it was, luckily my friend was not of the same mind set.  (“Judge, I had to shoot him.  He went for his gun.”)

I’ve read the Second Amendment.  I’ve read District of Columbia v. Heller, and several cases that cite it.  I believe the Supreme Court has decided that people have the constitutional right to arm themselves for self-protection.   But that doesn’t make it the smart thing to do.  How dangerous is a gun versus how many people you think you are going to save?  The argument seems to be, “If he hadn’t had a gun, more people would have been killed.”  Yeah? And if nobody had a gun?

I don’t think it is a legal questions.  I think it’s cultural. And time for a change.

Bears Ears National Monument?

© 2016 Robert Dwyer
The Doll House (Bears Ears)

The first time I visited the Doll House (above) in the Bears Ears area of southeastern Utah was three years ago. My Forest Service supervisor (I was a volunteer) wouldn’t tell me where it was, and I only found it after inquires and a couple of four wheel drive explorations.  I had the site to myself.

The last time I visited, more than a year ago, there were 100 people in the “parking lot,” a circle in the sagebrush at the end of a deeply eroded user-made two-track.  The building was still pristine, but visitors were leaning on the walls and propping their children on the window sills for snap-shots.

I’m not sure a National Monument for this corner of Utah is the best idea but if something isn’t done this uniquely intact structure will truly be a ruin, like so many other ancestral pueblo sites.

© 2016 Robert Dwyer
crumbling wall (Bears Ears)


© 2016 Robert Dwyer
Tower Ruin (Bears Ears)

Mountain Call


An internet page I visited regularly listed volunteer positions with government agencies throughout the country.  I was recently divorced, near retirement age, and anxious for a change.

One of the posts, listed under a “Camp Host” heading, practically jumped off the screen. Most campground hosts have to provide their own accommodation in the form of a travel trailer, a fifth wheel, or at least a camper on the back of a pickup.  I didn’t have any of those.  Most camp host locales are next to the pavement or can be reached by all-weather roads. This camp was so for back in the woods that a “rustic cabin” was provided and the road was subject to washouts.  A four-wheel drive vehicle was recommended. I had just purchased a used Ranger 4X4.  The camp was in a national forest on the edge of one of the largest official Wilderness Areas in the US.  Spring water was piped to a spigot near the door.  Heat was by wood stove.  Cooking by propane.  The ad stated that the area was “primitive and seldom visited.”  In case the reader had missed it, the last sentence contained a warning: “Remember, it’s primitive and remote.”  The perfect ad.  No one who didn’t qualify would bother to respond.

I called the number listed and started asking who I needed talk to.  As soon as the Forest Service employee who would eventually be my supervisor said, “OK,” I called my current boss and quite the job I’d had for 18 years.

As time goes by I hope to use this page as a forum for discussing the meaning of “wilderness” and the role of citizens and government in the use of public lands.  If I am successful I expect strong opinions, but I hope they will be expressed with civility.


Sometimes We Get Second Chances

Robert Dwyer

Back in the mid-morning of my life, when all things were still possible, I crashed my motor bike and broke my left collar bone.  A minor setback, at any time, but that broken bone kept me from a summer on horseback in Idaho’s Salmon/Challis National Forest where I had been offered me a job on a crew searching for old survey markers.  “Can he ride, Doc?” asked my best buddy.  My buddy, like me, had grown up on a steady fare of TV westerns.  I got the joke, but the pain in my shoulder, and the more intense pain in my heart, kept me from laughing.

So I missed my ideal summer.  What followed was college graduation (English major), the Marine Corps (Vietnam), Law School (University of California), Marriage (Pam), five adventuresome, accomplished and loving daughters (I don’t mind being spoiled), and career(s) of sorts (insurance industry regulation, law practice, federal hearing officer).  Somewhere along the way I managed to write a weekly newspaper column, a few magazine articles, and a short story that won the Mystery Writers of America award for best first published short story.  Pam and I flew to New York to accept the prize.  I never quite finished a novel.

Retirement was followed by divorce and a desire to seek a calmer lifestyle for a while. tipped me to a volunteer job with the Forest Service in–the Salmon/Challis National Forest.  I spent six summers sleeping in a 16×16 A-frame cabin, hiking in the Bighorn Crags, and eating wild trout three times a week.

Other second chances abound.  For example, the next three summers I lived in a Forest Service cabin on a ridgetop in southeastern Utah.  This cabin had electricity, and I finished my first novel.

I wonder what other second chances are waiting.