Monday, June 25, 2012

camping trip

we went camping last weekend with our friends, the harmons. it was a great time. joanna picked the campground, and it was perfect. we had trees to keep us out of the sun, grass covered ground (which made for softer sleeping), a nearby bathroom, a creek a short walk away. it was near mount nebo, which made it a littler cooler.

we all got up there friday afternoon and just relaxed for awhile--letting the kids run around, play, explore. we had foil dinners and then made smores for dinner. the harmons made homemade mac n' cheese dinners, which looked fun.

brian found a snake at the creek and gave it to the kids to play with for awhile.

sierra and louisa played in our tent for quite a long time. sierra had louisa laughing really hard, which was fun to hear.

sonny, eli, and w playing in the harmon's tent.

friday night, the adults sat around the campfire and had a good chance to talk, which was a lot of fun. we even sang several of our hootenanies to the harmons, which they liked. and anyone who likes our hootenanies is a-ok by us! joanna sang some campfire songs, which were new to us and really fun. after dinner, brian and jordan told some riveting stories that we all enjoyed.

the next morning, we woke up and had eggs and pancakes. the coleman stove wasn't working, so we opted to make it all over the fire, which worked out surprisingly well. the food was good. i took the boys to try to find the woodpecker we were hearing, but we couldn't find it. we did see a really nice stellar's jay on friday though.

after we cleaned up, we left the campsite and headed out on the nebo loop. it is beautiful up there. we stopped at a place that had bryce canyon-like rock formations, which was cool. we then found a good place to stop and go for a hike. we hiked for maybe 2 miles and enjoyed the nice alpine air and the beautiful scenery.

w, louisa, and eli with a catepillar eli caught.
eli with a butterfly on his shoe. we actually had several butterflies land on us on this hike. i huge yellow one landed on brian's mexico hat, and another big yellow one landed on the front of my shirt. it was pretty cool.

the view from where we stopped to take a break. so amazing.

jordan and b amongst the aspens.

after we got back from the hike, we had a quick lunch and then went our separate ways back home. along our way home, we stopped to see payson lake (we've heard alot about it but have never been there). it was a really beautiful lake with a sandy beach and trees all the way around it. maybe some time i'll take w and s there. it reminded me of lakes back in oregon.

on the drive home, w and s both fell asleep (that has never happened before). we woke them up when we were back in town so we could all go into the DI. as you can see, the fun never stops with us!

a ladies day trip

my mom and i went up to logan a few weeks ago to go to the place where my parents got married (the logan temple) and then to the blue bird cafe where my parents had their wedding luncheon.

we had a great time together. i had never been to the logan temple, and my mom hadn't been there for a long time. we had a good time talking and just hanging out. we don't get to do that very often.

the blue bird cafe was a lot of fun too. i had read mixed reviews about it online, but i thought the food was good, and the atmosphere is neat. it originally opened in 1914, and it has a cool, old-timey feel to it. it was cool to be in the places where my parents were 45 years ago when they got married.

logan is also a special place to me because brian's dad grew up there (and his parents got married in the logan temple too). there was a neat mural in the blue bird cafe that showed logan through the years. i took a picture of the time when roland, brian's dad was graduating from high school. does that look like the logan you remember, roro?

escalante, year 4

On Friday, we finished getting things ready for our trip down to Escalante. W and S got out of school that morning, and the three of us (ok, mostly me) got things packed and loaded in the car. We left town on time and didn’t have to deal with too much traffic. When we got to Torrey, we stopped at Slackers Burgers like we did last year. Of course, this year the good burgers and ice cream weren’t a surprise, but it was still good food and a nice break. William, especially, was quite enthralled by all of the license plates on the walls and ceiling inside the joint.
After dinner, we headed back out on the road and drove through the beautiful aspen mountains on our way to Boulder. Like we’ve done in years past, we drove out on a little ways on a road in the park and pulled off at a pull off to camp. What was surprising, though, was that there was no one else at the pull off. We’ve camped there before with several other groups. With the lay of the land, we chose our spot and put up our new 4-person tent. W and S ran around in the desert shrubbery and sand playing something like cops and robbers. They had a lot of fun running around, and Brian and I got to put up our not-quite-as-easy-to-put-together tent in a lot of wind and hard ground (the hardest part was definitely B having to try to get the stakes in the rock-hard ground). Eventually we got them in (all but one, but we opted to just weigh it down with some rocks and a big piece of wood). We got everything set up before it got too dark.
It was Sierra’s first night in a tent, and that was exciting for her. It was also camping without facilities—so trying to take her to the bathroom before bed was interesting, but she made it. Around 10pm we bedded down. It wasn’t a super restful night (when is camping ever super restful), but Brian and I did sleep some…the kids did just fine.
We got up around 6am on Saturday. We packed things up and tried our luck at the Calf Creek campground. Thankfully, we were able to immediately get a spot (I don’t know where everyone was this year—it seemed a lot emptier than in previous years). Once we got set up there, we drove into town in time to catch the last of the flag raising ceremony before the Sons of the Pioneers breakfast. W and S didn’t want to enjoy the SoP fare (pancakes, hot chocolate, eggs, and ham), opting for bagel with Nutela instead. With their bagels they ran off to look for rocks nearby. B and I sat down with our food and tried to make new friends. We sort of struck out with the first group of people we ate with, but then a friendly couple sat with us, and that ended up being a stroke of excellent luck. It was cold that morning, and after talking with Drew and Mary for awhile, they invited us over to their nearby house to warm up before we headed out for our hike/fishing expedition. We took them up on their offer and sat in their old pioneer Escalante home by their fireplace. They were in their late 50s (Mary) and early 60s (Drew) and are such an interesting couple. They lived 30 years in the Boston area and were such a fascinating mix of urbane sophistication and down-to-earth normalness. I’ll talk more about them later though. W and S along the Escalante River hike.
The grainery we saw at the start of our hike.
After we left their house, we drove back to the Calf Creek area and went on a hike along the Escalante River. Shortly after starting, we saw an old Fremont structure built into the rock wall. That was cool to see—we got to see it up close (a lot closer than we’ve seen other grainery-type structures). Our goal for the hike was to see some new parts of the park, see some petroglyphs, and do some fishing. The Escalante River was really pretty, and it was a nice enough hike until we realized that we were lost, and not only that, but there was a lot of private property around (I’m not sure how you have private property in the middle of a national monument). After a fair bit of frustration we turned around (unfortunately, not seeing the petrolglyphs we had hoped to see). One the way back, I caught a nice-size trout, which then put me on a mission to catch more. I felt like if I could catch a few good fish that that would make up for the bust of a hike. I tramped through the woods alongside the river and tried as hard as I could to catch more trout, but to no avail (I caught 2 little ones, but that wasn’t what I was aiming for). I was actually so keen on catching more that I had a fair bit of adrenaline flowing through my old body. Unfortunately, that didn’t help me catch any more fish. By the end, I was a little scraped up and a bit disappointed that I couldn’t catch more for us.
We then headed into Escalante town and went to a rock shop we’d been invited to at the breakfast that morning. W and S each got a free rock, and we bought a piece of petrified wood for my mom. Then we headed into the Petrified Wood state park right outside of town. We went on a short hike to look at a lot of big pieces of petrified wood. It took awhile to get to the wood, but W and S were excited about it, and it is really cool.
After seeing the petrified wood, we ate dinner quickly before we ran over to the Escalante HS to watch the town play about the saw mill industry in Escalante. It was another play written by a native son of Escalante and was a lot of fun. It was Sierra’s first play, and she was really excited about that too. Our new friend Drew was a lumber jack in the play, and we ended up sitting by Mary and their son John during the play. While I visited the facilities, B talked with Mary and scored us an invitation to Sunday brunch. Drew had told us about some good places to fish, and we wanted to learn more about that, and so Mary just invited us over for brunch. There’s no end to the generosity you can receive in Escalante!
The town play.
After the play, we drove back to our campsite and spent a cold night there by Calf Creek. It’s a beautiful campground, and I’m so glad we got a spot there, but both nights were cold.
Playing at the Visitor Center.

On Sunday morning, we got up and headed into town to go to church. We always look like a pretty rag-tag bunch when we go to church there, but that’s what camping, dust, and no showers do to us. After church we drove around parts of Escalante we’ve never seen before. It’s always interesting to drive around small towns—it gives you a feel for how people live, what they’re interested in, etc. We then headed back to Mary and Drew’s home for brunch.
Brunch was such a lovely experience. Drew took W and S for a walk around the neighborhood to see some animals, which they loved. B and I stayed back and talked with Mary and helped get the food ready. We had eggs and sausage from one of their neighbors, sweet rolls from another neighbor, and fruit. W and S were very engaged by the things at their home (a running machine, chopping wood, cats and dogs, toy cars, cowboy hats), and B and I were very engaged with Mary and Drew and the interesting life experiences they’ve had and continue to have. Mary works with Eastern US endangered species, and the two of them have known a lot of Boston intellectuals. They have many original, signed copies of TS Eliot manuscripts. It was so fun to talk with them and just enter their orbit for awhile. For as intelligent and impressive as they were, they were still so down to earth and easy to talk to. I’ve never met a couple like them before. And their son, John, was fun as well. He willingly gave William a hat that Drew had restored and given to him. They then gave Sierra an old cowboy hat that Drew had restored. W and S were giddy at receiving those hats and wore them a lot during the rest of the trip.
W and S helping Drew chop wood.

S, John, and W wearing their cowboy hats.
Eventually, we needed to leave so we could fit in a hike. We did that—after Drew had told us and shown us some good lakes to go to on Monday to try our fishing luck—and headed out to Hole-in-the-Rock Road. We tried a new hike to Zebra Slot Canyon. It was about 2.5 miles to the slot canyon (and there was a lot of sand, which doesn’t make for the easiest walking), but we arrived and thoroughly enjoyed the slot canyon. It was beautiful with zebra-like stripes along both sides. Thankfully, we arrived late enough that we were there all by ourselves, which was good since it got narrow very quickly.
The bird's nest. So small!
W is an amazing climber. This is the spot where I was sure I wasn't going to make it, and then B gave me a much-needed boost.

I love this picture!
We found ourselves at one spot where W was able to shimmy up ok, then we and W helped S get up, and then I tried to get up. I did ok at first, but then got stuck. I started sweating and feeling scared (“Why am I here?” “I’m going to hurt myself.”), but then Brian gave me a boost, and I made it up. B was my saving grace. I would have given up without him. While we were in the canyon, we found a little bird’s nest with eggs in it. That was a fun surprise.
All-in-all, it was a nice hike, and we had a good time—especially at the canyon.
After making it back into town, we tried to go to a spot where there were supposed to be arrowheads, but it turned out to be all private property. Unfortunately, there were no arrowheads for us, but we did make it back to the campground in time to enjoy a relaxing dinner. Brian and I split a watermelon in half and ate it up (in full disclosure, we did give some to S too). W and S ran around the campground, playing, looking for lizards, etc. They had a good time, and B and I had a good time relaxing together. At dusk we went on a family walk around the campground. We saw some bats and enjoyed winding down for the night.
It was cold again Sunday night, but I was better prepared for sleeping. I slept with all of my clothes on (ie, coat, sweatshirt, hat, socks), and I stayed a little warmer. One thing I did enjoy about that night was our campground neighbor who was playing a Native American-type flute. Whoever it was playing it, played it for a long time, and it was so relaxing. And with the sound of the creek nearby too, it was a wonderful way to fall asleep on a hard ground.
Monday morning we got up and got things packed up. We saw several male Common Yellowthroats up close, which was fun. They are very striking birds, and they were new for us, which made for double the fun. We ate breakfast quickly and got a move on it to the high desert nearby. It’s a place kind-of akin to the High Uintas. As we drove up, the scenery completely changed, and we got into pines and aspens. We also saw two male elk with large antlers walking across the road.
Isn't it a beautiful lake. It got even more beautiful when B caught his fish!
Me and Sierra at the beginning of the hike.
We got to where we needed to park and did about a 5 mile roundtrip hike to a high mountain lake. It was really pretty up there, and the lake was gorgeous as well. It reminded us a lot of the High Uintas. At the lake, W, B, and I all tried our luck at fishing to no avail. We walked the circumference of the lake, stopping to fish at regular intervals, but again to no avail. We finally made it to a beaver lodge and did some casts from the top of that. We were still having no luck, until B’s line made a quick zipping sound as a lot of line quickly went out further into the lake. You know when you here that (which we almost never do), it’s a big fish. B was really excited, as we all were, and worked carefully to not lose the fish. (Honestly, it’s lucky was B who had the bite and not me, because he knew how to change the line and things on his pole so it wouldn’t break.) We saw a glimpse of it in the water as B was working on getting it out. I was worried that it made get caught in piles of wood around, and then the line would break. Arg, it was excited and nerve wracking! Eventually, he got it over to the side of the lodge and pulled it out of the water. Boy, was it a beautiful, big fish! It was a tiger trout, which we had never caught before, and it was big. He was a wily fish too, squirming all over the place. But B had so much adrenaline pumping through him (as he told me later), that he was extra vigilant and careful with that fish: it wasn’t leaving his hands! We proudly took several pictures and then tried to see if we could catch another fish there, but we couldn’t.

Look at the size! Look at the neat pattern too--tiger trout are really striking.
This is for you to notice the girth.
Brian is so happy.
We finished going around the lake. I had a big fish chase my line, but that was the most action I got all day. But we proudly hiked back to the car and made a fire so B and I could eat the fish. The inside was about as pretty as the outside—very pink (aka wild), and it cooked up nicely. It was so much fish that Brian had to polish off my half of it.
Doesn't that look tasty? It looks as orange as good salmon.
With the fish in our bellies, we headed down the mountain and started home. We got home later than I would have wanted, but it was worth it to catch that big fish and eat it.
We had another great trip down to Escalante. Sometimes when we go down there, I think how can we top our first year, or how can we top it when hiked to the upper falls, or when we got into Calf Creek, but we always have an amazing time down there. And new, fun things pop up each year. We are already counting down the days to our next Escalante vacation!