Camping in Utah

We made it back alive! Based on the weather we’re having today, however, we shouldn’t have come back at all. 108˚F with 20% humidity. Gag and then pass out.

So we planned this camping trip with friends, they were all gonna carpool and share a cabin, rent a boat for the day, see Bryce, so on and so forth. Then everyone canceled on us, couldn’t get days off, whatever, and what not. After being temporarily miffed, I was ok with that; decided we were going regardless and gonna have a good time. 

So we canceled the boat and the cabin, got a camp space instead with the logic that despite money being tighter than a drum, we needed the trip. (I weighed my reactions to being broke when we got back vs. not going at all, and that settled it). Two days before we leave, the friends wander back into the picture, asking about departure times and if a German Shepard will fit in our car with two more bodies and our entire collective camping gear. The day before departure, we picked up two more. So now we’re a ragged band of 6, all arriving at various times after dark to set up tents half way up a mountain in Utah. We arrived first, with a borrowed tent we’ve never seen or set up before (ours finally died after the last trip), and using our Yukon’s headlights for light (her name is Winnie the Strong, by the way), spent an hour fooling with it, trying to get it to stand on its own. Once we finally got the thing constructed (nicknamed “Bitchy and Complicated”), we realize we’ve killed Winnie’s battery and she won’t start. She wouldn’t even try. Normally this wouldn’t be too big of a deal: we’re not out in the boonies by ourselves; we’re in a campground full of fancy RV’s owned by a couple of rascally Brits – somebody’s got jumper cables. We are, however, parked right where our friends need to set up their tents…and it’s the middle of the night. So then we wait. It’s rubbing up against 11pm Nevada time and still no sign of our friends, neither of whom have ever been where we are or driven that winding mountain road in the dark (when every deer on the planet comes out). I gave up and went to bed. Honey had a plan to push Winnie out of the campsite, across the road, and outta the way until morning. I figured he could handle it.

All our friends made it in about 30 minutes apart and even found the campsite. They woke me up enough to hear Winnie’s engine turn over under her own power, which amazed us both. Our car is smarter than we are, apparently, and hence the moniker “the Strong”. (Her name is Winnie because my license plate ends with ‘WNY’).

Our first day in the beautiful 75˚F weather was spent collecting firewood and frogging about in Dixie Forest, visiting our ‘love tree’ where we carved our initials back in 2007, eating too much at the Bear Paw Café, and playing chess. I had a lapse in judgment and sat in the sun in my underwear without sun block for probably 45 minutes; and yeah, Irish girl that I am, burnt to a crisp. My nickname was Burnie McLobster from then on. We tried to catch the amazing sunset from our favorite spot (called North View) but all the wind was kicking up dust and making it hazy. When we came back, the 7th camper had showed up and we moved down to his site for the campfire – there was a family reunion on both sides of our camp, so 20 people where sitting around their fire, drinking and singing ‘La Cucaracha’ to some questionable guitar playing.

Day 2 we lost two campers (they had to go home) and tried shore fishing. Honey got frustrated pretty fast and we opted to rent a boat after all. We got a small pontoon for five people and two dogs. I caught a fish, but broke my line before I could get him in the boat…which is when we realized we left the net in the car. Nobody even got a bite the rest of the day. I’ve never had good luck fishing there, no matter what bait, lure, or junk I throw in the water.

Day 3 was check out. I thought for sure the other couple would head for Bryce Canyon, since she’s never seen it and it was part of the original plan. They headed home after breakfast instead. We headed back the way we came, trying to avoid going into Zion the back way and being charged for passing through. We went back down to Cedar City to top off the gas, and then took a gamble that paid off a 100-fold. We took an unpaved track called Kolob Reservoir Road. Like Honey said, it’s not really one of our trips until we do something like that – wander off the beaten trail and go exploring. It’s where we’re most comfortable, just us two out frogging about. It was gorgeous beyond belief. We stopped and took pictures in several spots and came out behind the lake, which is only a short hop down to Spingdale right outside Zion’s front door. We went to Oscar’s Café, as is tradition, and had the green chile pork burrito. Did a little wandering in the shops close by to walk it off a little before heading out. We stopped at the apple orchard place, which we’ve driven by probably 6 times, never when they’re open, and bought ginger peachy butter (which I could gladly eat from the jar with a spoon).

We made it back. Winnie did awesome. And I’ve discovered a handful of things: 1. I want to dabble in metal arts like wind sculptures and chimes, cuz my budget isn’t flexible enough to stretch around $500 worth of perfectly tuned Pacabel chimes nor will it be anytime soon, 2. we’ll have to find ways to road trip despite the recession – it’s therapy I can’t pass up.

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