Find us on Facebook Pin us on Pinterest Follow us on Twitter

Finding Common Ground: Preservation. Collaboration. Recreation.

Finding Common Ground:
Preservation. Collaboration. Recreation.

jeepThe Jeep was packed and pointed in the direction of Moab. “Baby Blue” was ready to hit the road. My husband, Steve, had planned a four day excursion to break in our new “Baby” - a modified Jeep Wrangler equipped with suspension, lift, lockers, wench, tools, survival kit, an ice chest, and lots of snacks.

We headed north on Cottonwood Canyon Trail east of Kanab, stopping to explore the hoodoos along the way. With the tops off of the Jeep for a splash of crisp air, we meandered along the Cottonwood Canyon Trail ending late in the afternoon at Kodachrome Canyon. Scenic Byway 12 led us to Escalante by nightfall where we checked into a no frills, no wifi, mid-century motel; we embraced the novelty. Dinner at Escalante Outfitters, conversations with locals, and a map was all it took. Moab would have to wait—the Grand Staircase had numerous off-road trails and they were calling.

Growing up in the rural Arizona desert, I learned a thing or two about off-roading. I owned a motorcycle and drove our dune buggy long before my first kiss. In 1971, the Parker Dam Chamber of Commerce and the National Off-Road Racing Association collaborated with the BLM and the Colorado River Indian Tribes to create a 500 mile off-road race. I spent my teen years camping along that race course with friends, watching the lights of the big trucks working their way through the rugged hills in search of the finish line. How I loved being outdoors under the stars...and the roar of an engine.

The 800,000-plus acres of the Kaiparowits Plateau form the wildest and most remote part of the Grand Staircase. It is said to contain the best record of Late Cretaceous terrestrial life in the world. The Kaiparowits also harbors an estimated 5 to 7 billion tons of recoverable coal. Three hours into the drive we discovered Native American ruins. We stood for a moment honoring the space. I photographed the craftsmanship and utilized my lens as a microscope to zoom in on the details. I stood at the entrance of a dilapidated wall that appeared to host a small cave beyond it. I focused my lens, and as I did, two of the bluest eyes I had ever seen rose from the dark. I froze. I could not identify what “it” was but I knew “it” was present. I slowly backed away. Those blue eyes watched my every move then vanished back into the dark. I reflected on the symbolism of that moment; the mutual respect exchanged between myself and the wild.

“Yet the remoteness, the size, the harsh terrain, the heat, the aridity, the streams poisoned with alkali and arsenic, the wind, the silence when there is not wind, the overpowering solitude of the Kaiparowits -- these are precisely the commodities which make it valuable. It is a fierce and dangerous place, and it is wilderness right down to its burning core.”- Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance   

Learning to love off-roading early in life also taught me to appreciate the wilderness and the preservation thereof. Had I not have had the opportunity to explore a myriad of remote areas, I would not understand the need to respect them. Preservation and recreation are often seen as an oxymoron. All or nothing; one way or “no way.” Opinions are either right or wrong; black or white. Few believe that preservation and recreation can ethically coexist. I believe they can. In this issue of Etched, we share with you some glistening examples of just that...places and people working together to not only make the southwest an excellent place for recreation but a place to honor and protect. Our articles reflect collaboration as a conversation. They highlight people who know how to turn down the noise to listen, then turn it up to get things done. Our pages portray projects that emulate social, environmental, and economical responsibility without all of the warfare that has become an inherent part of advocacy.

I was never able to identify those big, blue eyes that connected with mine that day, but I haven’t forgotten them. Nor have I forgotten what it’s like to sleep under the stars, or the thrill of a race car completing 400 miles of the most rugged off-road terrain imaginable. I am reminded of my gratitude for such experiences when the opportunity to collaborate exists and the joy of discovering common ground prevails. Seek and ye shall find.

Darci Hansen
Editor in Chief


It's a Southwest Kind of Season

darci holiday14

It's a Southwest kind of Season...

The brisk morning air, shorter days, and longer nights are gentle reminders of winter’s approach. As one who grew up loving the desert heat, it has taken some time for me to acquire the proper respect that this season deserves. Over the past few years I have come to recognize that the true essence of winter is that of rest and renewal in a redefined kind of way.


Winters were harsh for explorers and settlers who trekked towards the west pursuing gold, religious freedom, and the opportunity to homestead. For those whose journeys ended in the southwest, winters here must have been bliss in comparison. Indeed, the sweltering summer heat provided its own challenges. Hard work, the salty sweat from the brow, and blistered hands all preceded the fall’s harvest. The colder months had their own hardships but the desert’s temperatures helped to ease the pain. Less light equaled shorter days. Winter demanded respite for men and women alike.


During the country’s coldest months, those Weather Channel images of people wrapped in layers upon layers of clothing make me appreciate Southern Utah’s winter. Here, a good pedicure need not be hidden behind attire that resembles the Michelin Man’s suit.


Respite and renewal is revived through our lifestyle. Our world-class golf courses are a buzz with three quarter length sleeves (a.k.a. golf etiquette; no, I don’t play golf but I drive a mean cart). Road bikers line the scenic byways, while the canyons provide the silence that is often unheard the majority of the year. And if your heart desires to layer up, Cedar City and Brian Head Ski Resort are only a beat away. The antidote for the winter blues is just a step or hike outside the front door. 


And so it is, a southwest kind of season. One that celebrates the past, embraces the present, and enjoys the ‘hell’ out of winter. The holiday issue of Etched Magazine honors the quality of life in the southwest; those that create it, the people who live it, and the storytellers that preserve it. 


As the holidays approach, may your time be filled with moments of substance. Gifts may be forgotten but memories are immortal - make sure you experience some. Whatever your faith or belief, pay honor to your holiday with the purest of commitment. Wrap yourself around family and friends. 


And most importantly, our wish for you, “May your dreams become your journey.” From all of us at Etched Magazine, happiest of seasons! 


Darci Hansen, Editor in Chief


The Evolution of Elan

EtchedCreativeLogo black

So much of our childhood is spent dreaming of becoming older. Old enough to ride a bike, old enough to go to school…to drive and to go on that very first date…old enough to move out and pay the bills – wait, what? Bills? Oh, to be young again! 


Life’s evolution is full of wonder.  Although the insatiable desire to grow and learn through experience can be quenched in a single moment, it is those very moments that open our journey to change. Change is the key to evolution. And evolution is what moves humanity. 


While shopping at a locally owned hardware store, an elderly man working in the paint department offered his assistance. I explained I wanted to change the color of some old furniture and was looking for fresh paint colors. He asked why I would want to paint beautiful wood. I explained that I was updating my decor to a more serene surrounding by softening the bold traditional look. He smiled and said, “Oh…I see. Well the beauty of wood is that it will always be your foundation, strong and sturdy. Paint is simply an outward expression of your desire for change.”  


The man then looked at me for a moment and said, “I know you. You are the editor of Élan! It’s a beautiful magazine! When my wife brings home the new issue I quickly snatch it to read myself. I know you began as a woman’s magazine, but I am so glad you didn’t leave us men out—I’ve never read a single story that I couldn’t relate to.” 


He shared his connection to Élan with such sincerity. “Your magazine is like your wood, strong and sturdy in its foundation, yet your ability to add a little bit of paint in each issue keeps my mind swirling with possibilities.” With tears in my eyes, I hugged this gentle stranger who validated our principles for change since Élan’s inception—conscious evolution.


Élan has long outgrown her days of speaking only to women. In fact, I’m not sure she ever really did. Our content has always transcended gender. But she has grown to resonate the history, culture and adventure that has brought civilizations to the southwest for thousands of years. Élan’s pages have become a mirror of time reflecting the social change that, slow as it may be, is inevitable for evolution—and what moves humanity.


Élan has left her mark in time…it has been inscribed in history. To honor her indelible past and celebrate her progressive future Élan will now be known as, Etched. Etched Magazine. 


Etched will continue to share the timeless stories of soul searchers, art lovers, adventure seekers and the culture creators. To further emphasize our evolution, we welcome to our pages The Creative, an extended arts section produced through the incredible spirit of Darren Edwards. Darren and his wife Niki’s vision for the arts aligns synergistically with Etched. The Creative arts section brings an authentically personal perspective to the local arts scene, embracing the ‘here and now.’ This addition provides an unprecedented collaboration and editorial mix for our readers and the thousands who get their hands wrapped around our pages. And so it is - welcome to Etched! Indulge. You will be filled with the substance and inspiration you’ve come to expect from Élan - we’re simply giving you more. 


As to being young…I would go back in time if I could take the wisdom with me (and leave the bills behind). Since that’s not possible, I shall continue along my journey, just as our team behind Etched will, celebrating successes and growing from mistakes. Each day will be another opportunity to embrace whatever evolution awaits us. But I will never forget the moments that changed me because of a magazine called Élan.


Darci Hansen, Editor in Chief


The Summer Issue 2014

DarciSummer2014The Summer Issue 2014
Turn Up The Heat

Turn up the heat. Some like it hot. Ah, it’s a cruel summer, you say? But, oh! Those summer nights! When the temperature begins to rise across the southwest it may take some acclimating before you begin to appreciate how the glorious dog days have a magical way of making us suffer - and love it. 


Receiving my college education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, I spent a good number of years living at high altitude. Truly, it’s one of the most beautiful places to live. But seriously, snow in May?


Spending so many years along the banks of the Colorado River in Parker, Arizona, anything under 100 degrees was considered cool. I don’t recall the details of my childhood home’s interior nearly as much as I do the outside. My dad’s vintage, 2’ tall Jim Beam thermometer hung on the house by our front door. I can vividly describe the coarse but sandy beach of my front yard, the perfectly tumbled rocks under the crystal clear water, and the sun’s ability to charge my inner happiness. At 116 degrees outside, I simply felt alive!


I wanted my children to know the power of being outdoors. Most of our summer vacations were spent camping at ‘the river’, Lake Powell or Lake Mead. Hot? Yes. But we built a shoreline city out of tents and sun shades that provided us with a wonderful living space. Before heading to bed, we’d each dip our beach towels in the water first so we could sleep comfortably on top of a wet surface. Now that my children are grown, I delight in seeing them raise their children as my husband and I did, appreciating our lifestyle in the southwest fully. 


Élan’s Summer Issue is always one of our favorites. It’s like a freshly tossed salad filled with substance. We’ve included some of our personal summertime favorites including exploring new places, trying new foods, and experiencing new things. We take you behind the scenes of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, hiking into hot springs, and flying down a cliff with professional mountain biker, Logan Binggeli.
We can guarantee, the Summer issue of Élan will not leave you standing in the cold!  


Let this be a summer of love - love life, family, friends, and the awe-inspiring beauty that surrounds the southwest. Celebrate the energy that comes from the power of the sun. Take advantage of every minute of the longer days. Because in that brief moment when the sunset lights the sky on fire, then quickly disappears, you’ll be longing for it to rise again...



Founder, Editor in Chief


The Travel Issue 2014

The Travel Issue 2014darcitravel14
When Historic Roads Beckon

Like water to the desert, so is the imagination to the mind. When dry, a single thought, vision or dream can flood our thoughts and awaken the genius within. Children know this space well. Without effort they can transport themselves anywhere, be anyone and accomplish anything. Children believe anything is possible.

I was nine years old when I held a fossil in my hand for the first time during a field trip with my 4th grade class. The archeologist tried to explain how many millions of years old the leaf on the rock was. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the time element but I could imagine being in a world that had no people, no buildings and vast open spaces. “Exactly,” the archeologist said to me, pleased that I could visualize what he was trying to explain. 

Growing up in the desert provided ample opportunity for exploration. A Saturday would be spent with the family in the dune buggy traversing countless dirt roads. I would ride along imagining what would lie ahead...a ghost town, an old mine, a single grave in a remote area...each outing leading to a place and a story which, if unknown, I would create. And, on many occasions, my make believe scenario reflected some element of the historical truth. 


“i am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. imagination is more important than knowledge. knowledge is limited. imagination encircles the world.”  

- albert einstein


Perhaps this explains my fascination with old roads. It is not unusual for me to head out for a day or two and explore a new route. I travel slow enough to take in the scenery, buildings, signs, sidewalks and architecture along the way. 

I use to love sitting in my college dorm listening to my roommate, Geri-Lynn, share the research she was doing for her classes. As a History major, Lynn had me on the edge of my seat with the passion she possessed in each delivery she conveyed. Thirty years later, we still share a zealous lust for history. Her last visit to the southwest led us down countless highways and through the steps of abandoned structures.

The Travel Issue of Élan is filled with articles by people like myself who prefer to ‘take the long way home.’ Each article takes you down a journey to places where those who forged the southwest left their mark along the way. From Historic Route 66 to the old Arrowhead Trail, you won’t have to go beyond our pages to experience them yourself. Even my old ‘roomie,’ Lynn, gives you a taste of one of our great adventures we continue to research, the Olive Oatman story.

When historical roads beckon, take them. Experience the excitement of visiting the past. The road less traveled is a gateway to engage your imagination. Don’t hesitate. Go! The highway is calling you to places longing to share their story.

Founder, Editor in Chief