VinZant Family

This Website was estabilshed in order to share information and stories of my family history.

ArVee The Tree

This is the story of ArVee the tree. This story goes back many years when my wife and I bought this old 73 Dodge Pace Arrow class C motorhome. After a year of use in the pacific North West we decided to take a trip to the Southland. Well as many here in the Northwest know we don’t do so well in the summer heat of the southwest and for our motorhome it was no different. Our trip started by heading south on I5 then taking the northern pass across California to northern Nevada then south to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. So far everything seamed to be fine but after spending the day at the Grand Canyon and as we headed west to California our head lights began to dim. Then the engine sputtered and quit. I determined that the charging system had stopped working. It was getting dark and we where stranded in the middle of nowhere along side of a busy road in Arizona. This brought back memories of a childhood trip with my grandfather. Fortunately I had brought my battery charger and so I fired up the generator and using an extension cord I ran it out the window. I lifted the hood and hooked up the charger and plugged it in. As I waited for the battery to charge up I looked at a map and noticed that the town of Kingman AZ was about 80 miles further down the road. I had to make a choice. I could wait out the night and fully charge up the battery. Then drive in the morning through the desert in the hot morning sun without any air conditioning. Or I could drive all night with as much of a charge as I could get. So I used a bungee strap and strapped down the charger, started the RV and with dim head lights and the generator running, I drove until the power level dropped too low to go any further. I just sat back in the chair and closed my eyes for about 15 minutes then took off again. I can’t remember how many times we had to stop but we rolled into Kingman just as the sun began to rise. As fortune has it we left the highway right in front of an auto repair center. The family explored the surrounding town while I took a nap waiting for the shop to open. Oddly enough it was an easy fix. The voltage regulator which was bolted to the transmission had come loose and was not getting proper ground. All was fixed and we were on our way to continue our trek to our final destination. But that was not the end of our troubles as we made our way out of Arizona and into Death Valley California and over the pass into San Bernardino. The engine began to smoke and I lost oil pressure. So we made another pit stop. I drove to the nearest auto parts store and took a survey of the engine. I noticed that there was a lot of oil around the intake manifold so I made a judgment call that I needed to replace the intake manifold gasket. Fortunately I did bring all of my tools. Those that know me know that I always try to “Be prepared”. At the auto parts store I bought a new top end gasket set. Hours later we were back on the road. Sad to say the rebuild did not fix the problem. Through all of the heat and stress that was put on the tired old motorhome the rings failed and now we where looking at a full engine rebuild or replacement. I still had to get the family back home to Oregon and we did not have the money to repair the motor. So I just bought a case of oil and limped all the way back to Oregon adding oil as we went. We made it home safely and I parked the RV in the back yard next to the shop with hopes to fix it when time and funds came available.

So what does all of this have to to with a tree named ArVee? Well let me go on with the story.

It was an unusually hard winter and we had a silver thaw. For those that don’t know what that is… it is when it’s cold but not cold enough to snow and it rains. The rain freezes to everything. It its very beautiful but it plays havoc with trees. They tend to drop branches and even fall from all of the added weight. A medium sized tree came crashing down and fell across the motorhome punching a hole in the roof. The temperature rose and the rain continued to fall and by the time it stopped the entire motorhome was soaked inside and out. The debris was cleaned up but the motorhome was beyond salvage. So there she sat for many years. Over the years a small seed found its way into the hole of the roof and took root in the rotting plywood and insulation and there it grew. It did not get very big do to the fact that it was not planted in soil and it was getting all of its nutrients from the rain and the rotting plywood. Finally came the day when we were able to find someone to haul away the motorhome. You would not believe how hard it is when no one wants an old motorhome that is mostly made of wood. We finally found a metal scrapper willing to disassemble the motorhome and take away the metal leaving the wood for me to deal with. Not ideal but better then looking at it for more years to come. As the the crew of scrapers began to tear the motorhome apart they where amazed at the tree growing out of the roof. The crew had to go to another job and left. I stood there looking at the old motorhome, its frame bare like a huge beast stripped to its bones, and the small tree that had been growing there for years. I admired the tenacity of this little tree and how it had grown there defying all odds. It was not a great tree for it was small for its age and stunted from having to live off the little nutrients it could get.

It reminded me a of a parable about sowing your seeds. “Some seeds fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.…”

“This seed fell on an RV and there it grew.”

Well who am I to let this miracle of nature fall to the scrappers axe. So I got my ladder and climbed up to the roof and cut back the tin and removed the tree. I was amazed at how large the root system was. It had wound its way throughout the roof and was even growing into the cushion of the loft bed. I had to cut away some of the root just to get it free as it was hard fastened to its host. I placed it in a large pot and filled it with fine potting soil. The poor tree went into shock and lost all of its leaves. Well I thought to myself I can do no more. All I can do now is wait. Well here it is a year later and the little tree is sending out new shoots so I guess it is not giving up yet. It goes to show no matter where you grow up, you just need to have the will to succeed and sometimes rely on the help of others, but in the end it is all up to you to grow.


From ruin comes life.


Story by; David E VinZant Sr.


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Latest News

The latest news is my first VinZant grandson was recently born. He is our 10th grandchild and the only one that’s lives near us so I now have a new fishing buddy.

Three generation photo

Dad, Grandpa & Grandson

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Hello world!

Well a new year and a new look.

Over the next few months I hope to complete the renovation of this site. I have started to use a new web tool called Word Press this tool will help me better maintain the site. I have already converted two of my other sites to WP and now I can concentrate on this one. Please bear with me as I work forward to providing a better more user friendly site.

David E. VinZant Sr.

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Bob Vin Zant Hero.

Bob Vin Zant Hero.

Hero tells how he ran off attacking grizzly bear

He’s credited with saving the life of a Utah woman in Alaska attack

By Jason Bergreen
The Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 07/26/2008 01:00:15 AM MDT

Click photo to enlarge

Robert VinZant, here with his daughter, Andria, frightened… (Photo courtesy of the VinZant family)

Robert VinZant heard what he thought was a drunk person laughing and having too much fun.
But as he stood near his truck in the parking lot of the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing, Alaska, Wednesday night, the 43-year-old oil field worker realized just how wrong he was.
“I heard a bear growl, he said by phone Friday. “It was really deep.”
VinZant is being hailed as a hero this week for saving the life of 21-year-old Utahn Abigail Sisk.
An 8-foot-tall grizzly attacked her about 11 p.m. Wednesday, ripping part of her scalp off and dragging her several feet from a dirt road near the lodge where she works this summer.
VinZant, a guest at the lodge, instinctively ran toward the growling, which was coming from a hiking trail between the Kenai River and the deck of the lodge. As he crested a hill, he looked down and saw the grizzly.
“I saw the bear actually on top of her pinning her down,” VinZant said.
The Wasilla, Alaska, resident yelled and ran at grizzly, which stood on its hind legs and stared at him. VinZant stopped. He yelled at the bear again and it shuffled off toward the river.
Sisk was conscious but the bear had bitten her scalp and back. “I could see there was quite a lot of blood,” VinZant said.
When VinZant bent down, Sisk said something about wanting to see a bear and something about her face being numb,” he recalls.
VinZant ordered his 15-year-old daughter, Andria, back to the truck to get his .44-caliber handgun. She returned with the gun and then ran to the lodge for help.
“I opened the door and pretty much screamed at the room, ‘Dial 911, there’s been a bear attack,’ ” Andria VinZant said.
As guests, including a nurse, poured out to help, Robert VinZant guarded the trail in case the grizzly returned.
Sisk was transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage where she underwent emergency surgery Wednesday night. Her mother said Friday that she was doing well.
VinZant, who happened to be at the lodge for a work retreat when the bear attacked, said he was planning to visit Sisk in the hospital.
VinZant is a gas plant operator and volunteer fireman in the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay and has lived in Alaska for 27 years. This was not his first encounter with a bear, but it was his first time running one off.
“I questioned my sanity after it was over,” VinZant said. “I ran at a bear with no weapon.”
Andria said she is proud of her father.
“I look at it and I don’t know if I could have done what he did,” she said.

News Article from ADN

Woman recovering after Cooper Landing bear attack

KENAI PRINCESS: Victim, 21, is a summer hire from Utah.

By JULIA O’MALLEY Published: July 25th, 2008 01:38 AM
Last Modified: July 25th, 2008 04:51 AM

Lani Vin Zant picked up her ringing phone in Wasilla late Wednesday night. The only thing on the line was her 15-year-old daughter Andria, sobbing.

Click to enlarge, Abby Sisk

” ‘Mom there’s a lady and she was attacked. Dad scared the bear away,” Andria choked out. “There’s so much blood.”

Moments before, Vin Zant’s husband, Robert, had scared off a brown bear as it attacked Abi Sisk, 21, a Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge housekeeper, working in Alaska for the summer. Sisk was badly mauled and spent Thursday in surgery at Providence Alaska Medical Center. She was listed in critical condition Thursday evening but was expected to survive.

Alaska State Troopers said Robert Vin Zant, a gas plant operator for BP in Prudhoe Bay, probably saved her life.

Vin Zant and his daughter were rafting on Thursday, but Lani Vin Zant told the story she heard over the phone as it happened.

Andria and Robert arrived at the Kenai Princess in Cooper Landing after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, she said. After parking, Robert heard what he thought was laughing in the woods nearby. It quickly turned to screams. He followed the sound. Yards away from the lodge, on a trail, he could make out the hulking form of a brown bear standing on the body of a young woman.

The bear had her head in its mouth.


Sisk came to Alaska this summer because she wanted adventure, her father Stan said Thursday by phone from the family home in Logan, Utah. The younger of two children, she worked as a cleaner at a local hospital, saving money for college, singing on Sundays at church. Her parents encouraged her to take the job so she could get out of the small town where she grew up.Just days before, she’d called her parents and complained that she was the only person around who hadn’t seen a bear.

As soon as he saw what was happening, Vin Zant hollered at his daughter to call 911 and get his gun from the car, Lani Vin Zant said.

Andria ran inside the lodge for help and gave her father his gun. Then she called her mom.

Mom stayed on the phone with her for an hour.

Robert Vin Zant tried to make himself loud and big to get the bear off Sisk, he told his wife.

“He put his hands out and came running at the bear as fast as he could. The bear went up on his hind legs looked at him, and then the bear dropped again, back to all fours, like it was contemplating dinner,” said Lani Vin Zant.

Vin Zant charged the bear again and it ran off. Sisk lay on the ground, her scalp torn and her brown hair wet with blood.


At home in Logan, the Sisks got word that their daughter had been attacked by a bear and had a major scalp injury. Doctors were trying to stop the bleeding.

“We were praying at 3, 3:30 in the morning that her life would be spared,” Stan Sisk said.

Then the phone rang again. It was his daughter. She was groggy but talking.

She’d been heading home from a hike, her father said. She bent down to look at a flower.

“She heard something purring in the bushes,” her father said.

Then the bear was on her, ripping into her. She went limp, trying to play dead. The bear let go. She waited. The lodge was so close. She started to move. She hadn’t waited long enough. The bear was on her again. That’s when Vin Zant heard her scream.


Dan Michels, the lodge’s general manager, got to Sisk within minutes of the attack. It was raining. She was already circled by emergency personnel, who were trying to stop the bleeding from her head.

She’d been bitten in the buttocks and leg as well, her father said.

A helicopter couldn’t get into Cooper Landing because of the crummy weather so Sisk had to go by ambulance to Soldotna where she was flown to Anchorage, Michels said.

“Obviously there’s going to be some trauma,” he said “There was a little bit of shock.”

Sisk has a beautiful singing voice, Michels said. She would sing while she made beds and people often would stop to listen. She also has a great sense of humor, he said.

“Tell my mom I saw a bear,” she joked, as the EMTs were taking her away.

Sisk’s mother flew into Anchorage Thursday, her father said.

Abi is expected to be in the hospital for a week at least, Michels said.

“She literally had a large portion of her scalp ripped off,” her father said. “By the time they got it back on, (the doctor) is dubious whether it’s gonna take.”


Bears are common around the lodge in the summertime, especially at night, Michels said. All the employees go through bear training and, though some trash isn’t in bear-proof cans during the day, all trash is locked behind an electric fence at night, he said.

Larry Lewis, Fish and Game wildlife technician, walked the trails Thursday with troopers but found no sign of the bear. Cooper Landing has more than its share of human/bear encounters in the summer, in part because of the large number of seasonal visitors and the great bear fishing in the shallow streams off the Kenai River, he said.

The bear was likely surprised by Sisk. She was by herself and probably wasn’t making a lot of noise, he said. The bear was acting to eliminate a threat. It was a little unusual because Sisk was so close to the busy lodge.

” I’m sure she felt safe there, I would have felt safe there, ” Lewis said. “It’s just a bad situation. It’s pretty classic wrong-place, wrong-time.”

This is the second bear mauling of a seasonal worker at the Kenai Princess in recent memory. In 2005, another 21-year-old employee was grabbed by a bear and dragged, but she fought furiously and escaped injury.

Once Abi Sisk was on the way to the hospital, Vin Zant took the phone and talked to his wife. He said he was covered with blood and very shaken, she said.

“I heard someone come up to him and thank him for his help. He said he just did what he thought anybody would do.”

News Video

Aditional articles

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Mike & Ashley’s Wedding

What’s this in Michael’s hand. Who is that standing next to him?
For the answer to these questions read on.
Click image to inlarge

The answer is that’s Mike’s lovely new wife Ashley and that is there marriage certificate. Mike and Ashley where Married at 5:00 PM Wednesday February 27, 2008 at the Washington County courthouse in Hillsboro, Oregon Witnesses where Ashley’s parents Woodrow and Diane Broadnax, Mike’s father David E VinZant Sr. and His uncle Thomas VinZant.

Click image to inlarge
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