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High Fiber—Extreme Family Team-Building

Camping trips to the Uintas are usually low-drama, because we don't have to travel far from our home to reach beautiful campgrounds close to lakes for swimming and trails for hiking. This adventure was a little different.

 It all started the night before we planned to leave, which was Saturday, July 22nd. Everyone had arrived to spend the night at our house. Late that night, we discovered our furnace/water-heater room was flooded.* We had 10 people in the house, including four children. We planned to leave Sunday about noon to get a campsite as other campers left after a weekend or week of camping. We knew our destination was without water and had only an outhouse, so we all planned to bathe or shower in the house that night, reserving our trailer water supply for a quick Navy shower about midweek.

After they determined that the leak was coming from the water heater, the men attempted to shut off the intake valve to the unit. It wouldn't work. Our only alternative was to shut off the water to the entire house. So not only did we not get hot showers, we didn't cold ones, either. Each of our three toilets had only one flush. We decided to use our trailer as an outhouse except for emergencies, and to flush when we were able.

Of course, few plumbers work on Saturday night. We decided nothing would be hurt by waiting until we got back to get the plumber to come, so we sent the two young families off with their kids to select campsites at Cobblerest, while we attempted to reach a plumber and schedule an appointment for Friday, our planned return date. (We would have no cell coverage up in the mountains.)

The kids were able to find two campsites side-by-side with access to the brook and away from the road.

 They set up their tents on each side of the picnic table we would use for meals, so they could hear the kids if they woke up while the adults were still up in the evening, and they parked a car in the adjacent campsite to reserve it for our trailer. We arrived while they were still setting up.

On Monday we went to Washington Lake. We found a nice place away from other people, so the pups could run free, chase the ball, go into the water and generally do what water dogs like to do.


I had worried a bit that the dogs would have issues with being manhandled by our youngest grandson, who is three...and good at it! However, the pups endured a variety of tortures at his hands without complaint. Dusty, in fact, seemed to enjoy the rough treatment, as well as the opportunities to run, hike and swim afforded by camping.

 Tuesday morning I had planned to cook a hot breakfast, so I set my alarm for 6:00. While I was working in our little galley, I glanced out the window to find a doe happily munching on the grass and bushes. I grabbed my phone to get some photos. She saw me watching her, but seemed unconcerned. She approached the trailer coming within inches of my window. I put my phone down, so I wouldn't scare her. She craned her neck to peer in at me. We just stared into each other's eyes for a few minutes, and then she turned and returned to her breakfast. I had the sense that she knew I wouldn't hurt her and was enjoying the connection.

Later that day, we went to the Provo River Falls. We had a look at the falls from several different angles, following the little trails in each direction for a good view. The boys took turns holding an extra leash on one of the dogs, a trick I learned from training with Therapy Animals of Utah. We stopped to have a snack.

 (He looks so innocent, doesn't he? Did I say he's good at being three?) I took a group photo.

The following day we took a picnic to Trial Lake. We found a secluded part of the trail around the lake, where the kids and pups could swim. Our 3-yr.-old grandson threw his brother's hat into the lake and had to retrieve it. Our son found a unique way to help him get to it. 

 The dogs had a good time chasing sticks the kids threw into the water. Dusty, in his zeal, actually got in deep water and discovered he could swim.

We had saved the highest destination for last, to give the lowlanders a chance to become accustomed to the elevation, so on Thursday we went to Mirror Lake, which is about 10,400' high. We found a picnic table where we could eat and then swim or splash in the water. After lunch we hiked the trail that goes around the lake, stopping at the signs that described the plants, animals, habitats and biomes present along the shores of the lake.

 I noticed a man fishing and imagined offering to teach him to knit. "I could never learn to knit," he would say. "I just don't have the patience." (From my favorite cartoon in Franklin Habit's It Itches.) It amazed me that people could just sit there and stare at the water for hours, waiting for a fish to bite. 

 For part of this hike, we could see Bald Mountain. DH and I have been to the top of Bald Mountain, but it isn't a good hike with kids or adults who aren't used to the high elevation up to 12,000'. (I've always wondered if we would hear Mussorgsky's music if we spent the night up there.)

There was a lot to do in the campsite, too. When we still had power*, we could go around taking photos. The kids could use their Leap Pads and iPads while I cooked.

 A campsite is a great place to read. All our grandkids enjoy books, and some of the time one of the parents read to them.

Sometimes the two older kids read on their own, either outdoors or in the tent. 

 Or an older one would read to the younger ones.

 When we ran out of water* in the trailer in spite of our efforts to conserve, the brook was handy for bathing...nekkid (which was how the kids swam).

We set up the hummingbird feeder we keep in the trailer, and it didn't take the little birds long to find it. (She's hard to see. Look at about 9:00 for her. Theres another one right below, but he/she is just a blur.)

 We had our own sweet goodies, including S'mores made with vegan marshmallows, thanks to DD.

There were lots of other things to do, such as taking advantage of a handy tree stump to practice your dance moves.

 The two grandkids who had come by car had brought their dolls, Zachary Jr. and Daphne Jr., with them. Baby Ann was added to their family at our house and would return to Wisconsin with them. I brought Dolly along, thinking I might need her to help with the size for another doll sweater after I finished one for Baby Ann. The dolls appeared to have a good time camping as well.

 Dolly's one big adventure was when the 3-yr.-old (did I mention he was good at being three?) threw her across the main room in the trailer. Fortunately, Dolly nailed her landing and was unhurt. (What a trooper!) The kids had a good time with the dolls.

 I didn't get as much knitting done as I usually do when we go camping. The only thing I finished was Baby Ann's cardigan, based on the free Gracie Cardigan pattern from My Doll Best Friend. I made it with long sleeves, because Baby Ann just has vinyl hands, so generally just wears a long-sleeved dress. Otherwise, I just knit it as-written. I finished it on Saturday night, as Baby Ann was supposed* to be leaving with her family the next day, heading directly to Wisconsin from Cobblerest by way of the Mirror Lake Highway.

 Our DDIL finally got to see her moose. This one popped up very close to where I saw my doe. The white arrow points to the bull's rack; the yellow one shows you where his face is. I didn't want to get too close, because moose can be very dangerous if they feel threatened. This one seemed unconcerned.

There were also two (at least) rabbits that put in an appearance from time to time: a large one, possibly a hare, and a small bunny. We don't know if they were the same two individuals or if there were several identical individuals from each species.

*If you haven't noticed the asterisks already, here's a by-no-means exhaustive list of our more important misfortunes by the end of the trip:

The generator stopped working, so we couldn't charge the batteries

Our battery backup for charging devices (including our phone cameras!) ran out of power

The trailer water tank (for washing and flushing) ran dry

We discovered there was no sugar (DSIL had to use hummingbird feed in his coffee)

The outhouses were stinky

It rained sometime during each day and every night

Rocky threw up on our bed

One of the boys wet his sleeping bag two nights in a row

One of the boys developed croup and needed to go to urgent care

One of the boys fell and gave himself a fat lip; there were tears

Our daughter-in-law misplaced her cell phone

Our daughter's family car wouldn't start (major complication, as they were planning on going home from directly from Cobblerest.)

I misplaced my trailer and truck keys

On the bright side, we managed to figure out how to deal with each issue and had a great time. No one was attacked by a bear. The kids didn't set fire to the campground. The trailer roof didn't leak when it rained. The generator can be fixed. The kids had no permanent damage. The cell phone and keys were found. The new water heater and new shut-off valve were installed on Friday afternoon. The car just needed a new battery, which meant the family's departure was only delayed one day. DH and I each have a Golden Age Passport, and we were able to get a significant discount on the week of camping.

Even though there were some tense moments while we jointly worked out how to deal with various "changes in plans," such as how to get nine people, four of whom required car seats, and two dogs back to town in two cars, we had a lot of laughs, good food, exercise and great family time. (I loved the snotty kisses!)

Everyone made it home safely, and the 3-yr.-old got to help fly the plane IN THE COCKPIT from SLC to Seattle.


We found packets of sugar in one of the lockers as we were cleaning the trailer.

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Comment by Peggy Stuart on July 31, 2017 at 7:08pm
Irene, I hope you ended up with fewer mosquito bites!
Comment by Irene Gallway on July 31, 2017 at 5:33pm

This brought back memories of camping with our boys. Sounds like you had a good trip in spite of all the things that went wrong.  I enjoyed the trip with you and your family QWU style.

Comment by Peggy Stuart on July 31, 2017 at 2:20pm

Carol, I guess I threw too much information at you. :-} After the list of things that went wrong, toward the bottom, I mention that the water heater and broken valve were both fixed. Yes, it was awesome, and wonderful to see the adult family members come together to brainstorm working around the problems--as well as the tolerance the little people had for changes in plans.

Rebecca, you should write up your memories. I bet it would make interesting reading. I always tell my kids/grandkids that no one wants to read about your life if you always have everything go your way.

Janet, I'm AMAZED they let the little rascal into the cockpit! Yes, rescuing the hat was pretty funny.

Comment by Janet/MO on July 31, 2017 at 11:44am

Wow, that is a camping trip everyone will be talking about for years to come.  The 3 yr old sounds like he is quite a handful to say the least!  Love the pic of your son holding him upside down by his ankles.  He probably thought that was great fun. 

Comment by Rebecca Sundberg on July 31, 2017 at 9:18am

Oh Peggy - what a great time you must have had in spite of the *'s.  DH and I didn't get into camping until after our children were grown and had left home so we didn't have the excitement of doing it with children.  We have managed to have one camping trip with our DD and her husband - but they have no children.  DH and I did have a couple of trips where "if it could go wrong, it would".  But we laughed our way through them.  Multiple tread separations on the motorhome which required multiple tire changes - and then there was the time that the intake manifold on the motor (right up there in the cab of the motorhome) - blew a hole that resulted in enough noise to deafen a person. The joys of going camping!  Then two years ago - our last trip - (different motor home) a temperature sensor gave out and we limped home 800 miles with it backfiring and overheating.  And believe it or not - I miss going camping. 

Comment by Carol B of ET on July 31, 2017 at 9:09am

Wow what an awesome time with family.  

Is your hot water heater repaired/replaced?

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