It’s a warm September morning. You’ve just awoken, and the sun is cresting the horizon, reflecting off of the red rocks as you peak through the sheers hanging in your window. You can already tell it’s going to be a gorgeous day. You check the clock by your bed. It’s just before 6 am.
You crack the window, and like clockwork you hear “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” being sung into the echoes of the mountains. Life truly feels like a musical, a piece of art, and that is all thanks to Jerry Ehlers.
Jerry Ehlers (1940-1988), full of love and full of life, was often the talk of the town and a man that was loved by everyone. In the mid-70s, he moved his wife and 10 children to Castle Valley, Utah, just a few miles outside of Moab, onto a bare piece of land. In order to pay his bills and support his family, Jerry painted. His murals can be found all throughout Castle Valley, Moab, and other nearby western cities.
In 1976, just as Jerry and his family were settling in, the building that is now the Expedition Lodge was finishing construction. Jerry painted murals in every room for $65 per room, which equates to about $300 per room today.
In 2016, when new ownership and management took a hold of the building, there was much that needed to be done to transform it into the Expedition Lodge. Many walls needed to be torn down, and the space needed to be reinvented. However, when owners discovered the paintings, they knew that they held a story. There a was a past here, it was a true glimpse into the 70’s, a calm place to rest your eyes, and a brief view of land that had scarcely yet been touched by man. It was nature, it was art, and it was Moab. They knew the paintings had to stay.
Now framed in reclaimed barn wood, the paintings remain the focal point of each room so that all travelers get to experience this piece of history. Though the world around us continues to advance, here at the Expedition Lodge, we love these little opportunities to reflect on the beauty and stillness of what once was.