Love At First Wave

Dec 5, 2013

The wave, love story
LoAnne and Dale Barnes met at the Wave in Southern Utah. Here they share their story.
Credit STORYCORPS / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

LoAnne and Dale Barnes told their love story in the StoryCorps booth in May. The two met by chance in St. George after retiring.

LoAnne: So when I got ready to retire, I thought, well- I should look into Southern Utah. I was a high school librarian in Seattle, Washington and I used to come back to Southern Utah every spring vacation.

I retired in 1997. I'm LoAnne Barnes, I'm 76.

Dale: When I was a Boy Scout, we came down to St. George on an outing. It was cold in Wyoming, it was juts after Memorial day, and we got down to St. George and it was just perfect weather. It hadn't gotten real hot and I thought, 'Wow, this is paradise. I'd really like to live here.'

I'm Dale Barnes, I'll be 80 in December.

So after I retired from Questar, I came down and looked all around the area, and found a lot out in Leeds.

LoAnne: So when I came to St. George, I thought, I'll go in to the BLM and find interesting places to go. And they happened to be looking for volunteers. So I signed up and have for many years worked as a volunteer at the front desk.

I was in a position where I could find out interesting places to go. I'd always heard about this place called the Wave. It's on the border between Utah and Arizona. They limit the number of people that can go there, because it's very fragile geology. It's thin fins of sandstone that resemble a wave, a huge big wave that you'd see in the ocean.

One of the colleagues that I worked with said, 'I reserved six tickets for my family and they can't go. I've given away five of them, would you like to go?' And I said yes.

Dale: She had sold the tickets to my neighbors. They had one ticket left over, and they asked me if I would like to go.

LoAnne: Well here was this gentleman, the others were couples, and he seemed to know where he was going. The others were unsure. He had the energy to keep us all moving along, because some of this is not an easy walk. It was three miles in and three miles out.

Dale: When we first started out, I thought, 'Well, she's not very friendly.'

LoAnne: I thought, 'Well, I'd like to get to know this gentleman better.'

Dale: So she lined up different things to go sightseeing.

LoAnne: The condors are released on the vermillion cliffs, and I knew about that from the BLM, so we took a trip down to see the condors. There was some rock art up the canyon in the Kaibab. One thing led to another and we decided that we would like to share life together. So when we decided where to get married we thought, 'why not go back to the Wave?'

We got permits for my daughter and her husband and we had the local Bishop get a permit, so we had five permits, five tickets and we walked back out a year later in January and were married at the Wave.

Dale: That's how we ended up getting married, and we've had a wonderful life since. We've been married a little over 10 years now.

LoAnne: I think you can probably sense that the landscape we live in is a very important part of why we're here. There's places to go here that I could not possibly walk to. So we've done a lot of ATV-ing. If anyone had told me more than 10 years ago that I'd be riding an ATV, I'd say 'No, that's not my style at all.'
Dale: At first, LoAnne didn't. She said, 'I'm just happy riding on the back of your machine.' I said, well, what happens if you and I go for a 30-mile ride out somewhere and it quits? I said it's a long walk back.

So reluctantly, she said, 'Well, Okay.' She got a machine and drove that 1,500 miles and-- it was a basic machine-- and she said, well I want a better machine. So we got her a better one. She's now driven about 7,800 miles on ATVs. Which is quite a distance.

LoAnne: And I wouldn't have been able to do this without Dale.

Dale: Also, we're only five miles from a lake, and in the summer the water is 80 degrees and it's really fun to water ski in 80 degree water. I still enjoy water skiing. I learned to slalom water ski after I retired and I plan to do it till I drop.

LoAnne: It's important to us that our grandkids develop a love for the land.

Dale: We take the kids hiking quite a bit when they come down. There's so many beaugiful areas to take them hiking.

LoAnne: We want them to enjoy being on the land.The most valuable thing I can do for this land is to instill in the next generation, a love of the land. That's an important thing for us to do in our time.

Dale: We've taken the kids down by the Virgin River, and lucked out. We saw three turtles that one day with the kids.

LoAnne: Yeah, desert tortoise.

Dale: We've had a great 10 years together. It's been wonderful and see if I can water ski for ten more years.