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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Kirby and Butch Jensen take a quick nap after lunch during a cattle drive from the desert lowlands to the high mountain pastures of the Tavaputs Plateau, Saturday, June 14, 2014.
Kirby: Don’t bury me at Rock Creek Canyon — shoot me instead

By Robert Kirby

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Jul 13 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jul 13 2014 01:37 pm

Last summer, Sonny and I rode along a ridge on the Tavaputs Plateau looking for a place to dispose of me.

I wasn’t dead yet, but it was something I thought needed considering. Given my age, associates and interests, it could happen any moment.

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We picked our way through sage, aspen and mountain flowers. We passed the silent reminders of ancient Fremont habitation, names carved into trees by Greek sheepherders nearly a century ago, and the scene of one of the earliest reported UFO cattle mutilations in Utah.

Eventually we reached the end of the ridge. Here Rock Creek Canyon dropped nearly 5,000 feet through pine and rock to the Green River. The Green River wasn’t quite visible below, but standing tippy-toe we could almost see Kansas to the east.

Me: "Right here. This is perfect."

Him: "My backyard is way easier."

Yet again I explained that this was serious. What we were planning was illegal. Sonny countered that all worrying about the law would be done by him. I’d be the dead one. Besides, getting rid of me in his backyard would give his chickens something to do.

Jeez, how hard is it to honor a friend’s last request? It’s not like I asked to be snuck into Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, or Napoleon’s Tomb.

All I want is my ashes shot out a cannon into Rock Creek Canyon. Simple, right?

It wouldn’t be the first time we shot stuff into Rock Creek Canyon, including apples, gumballs, cow bones, coconuts, dead mice and a frozen turkey.

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Note: All of that stuff is biodegradable. What could be more ecologically friendly than five pounds of what used to be me? If some government agency or earth hugger gets mad about it, they can try and find me.

I’ve been in love with Tavaputs Ranch for years, ever since owners Butch and Jeanie Jensen invited me up to help them with their cows. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. It’s probably as close as a guy like me will get to God.

Next to sitting in my backyard with a grandkid on my lap, I’d rather be on the Tavaputs with a day of work behind me, the evening sun shining through the trees, and hummingbirds snapping by like Minie balls.

I’d have to get permission from Jeanie, of course. Butch said it’s OK with him if Sonny shoots me into the canyon, but it might be better if he just left me out somewhere for the bears.

But Jeanie’s the real boss. Nobody messes with the ranch without her say-so. There might be some reason why she doesn’t want me cluttering up Rock Creek Canyon.

There’s also my wife. She’s not real happy with the idea of not knowing exactly where I am even if I’m dead. Toward that end we’ve discussed my last wish at length.

She wants me buried in a normal people cemetery with a headstone where the grandkids can visit, a place where she can join me when it’s her time. She is most definitely not being shot out of a cannon.

We’ve discussed it at length since Sonny and I visited the ridge overlooking Rock Creek Canyon. A consensus was reached in which most of me will be buried in a cemetery, and part of me Sonny can shoot: my brain.

Me: "Thanks. It suits my bipolar nature. I love the idea of my mind spending eternity in Rock Creek Canyon."

Her: "And just think, you can do all of that with a BB gun."

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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