Day 84 – Camping Preparation
Tuesday was very busy and we decided that we would get ready to go camping on Wednesday through at least Thursday. This was going to be a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it is has been a long time since we’ve gone camping without a tent trailer—which is already equipped with sleeping bags and a source of heat (a very nice source of heat I might add [a forced air heater]. But… since we’ve sold our mode of transportation that allows us to borrow my brothers trailer, and since we didn’t want to start a family world war 3 in asking him if we could borrow his vehicle we decided to go tent camping.
Not a huge problem until we realized there were going to be issues. We’ve always been junk food campers and our new life-style would not allow us to indulge in those same types of foods now. However; my wife and I were both brought up under the school of thought that pretty much requires roasted marshmallows for the kids. OK… so I was also brought up that you needed a good amount of coke, beef jerky, oreo cookies, hostess anything (although I guess that would not be possible this time even if we wanted them since they filed for bankruptcy), Cheetos, salsa and chips, etc. If it was bad for your health then it darn well came with us!
The other issue would be the tent… well… I remember at one point we did have a tent, but after searching for at least an hour for it we determined that we must have left it in Virginia when we moved back from school because of a trailer weight issue (the tent wasn’t the only issue but it was a pretty good weight—a story for another time). We also realized that we don’t have sleeping bags of our own, nor do we have pots that allow us to cook over a fire, nor an ability to heat anything up over the fire.
A quick trip to Wal-Mart on Tuesday night and we had our sleeping bags and new cast iron skillet (which is something we wanted to get anyway), and then a quick trip to my sisters house to borrow a tent—apparently not a world war 3 worthy item as compared to a whole vehicle—and then off home to try to get a bit of sleep. I chose the absolute cheapest sleeping bags I could that were rated for temps ranging form 40degrees to 60degrees. I figured the Temperatures were supposed to stay over 40 and close to 50 or higher so we should be fine (that’s in Fahrenheit by the way).
Day 85 – The Drive
We wanted to make sure we were out the door at about 10:00am on Wednesday night because the drive to Topaz Mountain was at least 3 hours and we wanted to be there with plenty of time to set up the tent. After a fairly sluggish morning and another run by me (yes I ran again and did pretty awesome) we were packing our goods. It is a different animal when you consider what you can and can’t eat when camping. We can’t have hamburgers or hotdogs but we can have all the vegetables we want as well as steel-cut-oats and eggs. We packed a cooler with all our goodies and then we were off… and only 1 ½ hours late too!
One other thing that is a travel necessity is a nice ice-cold coke sitting on my lap as I drive along with all the good snacks I mentioned above to keep my stomach company. The munching helps keep me distracted and awake while we travel down the road. There was no such snacking or drinking this time. I had some water and a few pieces of celery as well as some rice cakes to boot—awesome! Awesome! Times! The drive was over 3 hours we even had to stop at a Wal-Mart on the way down because we realized we didn’t have charcoal or firewood and a few other items such as a spatula that would work camping—oh the joys of tent camping for the first time in years!
We stopped at a small gas station about 40 miles before Topaz Mountain so we could find out where we needed to go to find the topaz. To our surprise the women behind the counter had no clue where you needed to go. The only thing they could tell us is that you needed to find “The Cove.” “OK… so any idea how to do that?” we asked. “No idea” was their response. It wasn’t that they were being rude or even being mean they just didn’t know where we needed to go. This worried us a little but we figured we’d be able to find the right place so we continued.
We kept watching for the little sign that would tell us when we needed to turn off the road to get to the mountain. Once we went about as far as we learned we needed to go we peeled our eyes and found the small wood sign—marked with plenty of bullet holes from the hunters who must have been bored at the lack of things to shoot—and we turned.
The road was rough, but I’m a great driver ;-) so I continued at a good clip driving like I was in an off road rally race kicking up a huge wall of dust behind and around us as we traversed the pot-hole covered road. A few miles later we saw tents set up in some camp-sites. Now this is a term I use lightly because they were only campsites in the sense that there was a fire pit (albeit homemade) and some tents or campers were set up. This area is privy to what is referred to as “Dry Camping” which pretty much means there is no running water, no toilets or outhouses and no garbage facilities you bring it in and either have to bring it out, burn it or bury it (I’ll let you imagine what you would need to do with any certain item or substance while camping).
We were getting ready to pitch a tent (still having no idea where this “cove” area was) when a lady was driving toward us in her car. I flagged her down and asked her “do you know where we can find the topaz?” She quickly responded: “sure… follow me!” We promptly obeyed and turned around to follow her. As we got going further and further from where we were—and seemingly further and further into the middle of no where—my wife and I both started speculating that she could very well be some psychopath who was leading us to our demise far out in the middle of no where. We had to laugh because we were so quick to trust somebody without too much thought of the consequences. I suppose sometimes you have to go with your feelings. Although… maybe it would have been smart not to ignore this lady’s bumper sticker (“Guns don’t kill people, I do!”)… ;-) So this last bit is not true, but it would make for a better story… wouldn’t it?
As we rounded some corners we noticed that were entering what appeared to be a huge cove—we must have found “The Cove!” She pulled off to a “campsite” and we pulled just across the road to another one. My wife wasted no time in taking the kids to rock hound for topaz and they were off while I set up the tent and got dinner going. Great dinner! Turkey sausage with onions potatoes and peppers! We had so much left over that we invited “psychopath lady” (who turned out to be a really nice teacher from close to the same area we are from) and her family over for some good grub and marshmallow roasting—for my children not for my wife and me L
Our skillet worked GREAT! We had tried to cook with charcoal on the ground—which by the way brought up another great item to add to our tent camping list; a platform to cook on—but that wasn’t working well at all so I ended up putting the skillet right in the fire. Other than the black soot that gathered on the pan it turned out really really good. It is also amazing how easy it was to cook and clean a meal like that. I suppose the 3 months of cooking from scratch really put a perspective on cooking while camping (it’s something I can handle).
It started out cold when getting ready for bed so I turned on the heater we brought with us… yes I did say a heater, it’s the “Little Buddy” heater by Mr. Heater and is suppose to be safe for indoor use. However; I’m still a little nervous about using it in a tent while sleeping so I only planned on using it to get ready for bed before turning it off to go to sleep—it didn’t take long to realize it was going to be a cold night. The sleeping bags we had bought definitely didn’t seem like they would keep us warm, but by this time our kids were asleep and so we wanted to make sure they were staying warm even though we weren’t.
Both kids were little furnaces—their sleeping bags were the same size as ours but their bodies were nice and warm leaving us to think they would be good all night so we laid down to sleep but could not get warm. I tried lifting the heater up onto the bed for a few minutes to let it get inside our sleeping bag (which we had zipped together with each others to stay warmer) but almost popped our blow up mattress from the heat exhuming from the heater. Got as warm as I thought I could and then went to sleep.
Day 86 – All Night Long!
It wasn’t an hour or so after getting to sleep that my youngest son began to scream out in pain. I must have been completely and utterly asleep because the sound jerked me awake leaving me slightly discombobulated and groggy. I thought I heard my wife say that he needed to go pee or that he had gone pee. Now up to this point it had been the coldest I remembered feeling in a long time and my only thought in the state I was in is that the only thing that would make it worse is for my 4 year old to wet his bed—I just knew it would be a LONG night.
Without thinking—or even saying much—I immediately jumped from my sleeping bag without a thought or worry about how cold it was at that moment. I leaped over my wife, who was well awake by now, and grabbed my screaming son and picked him right up out of his sleeping bag. So now a daddy—who is not quite sure what he’s doing but pretty sure he is about to have a little boy pee on him—grabbed a son, who had no clue what was going on, and ripped him out of bed.
I immediately ran him to the door of the tent, unzipped the tent and pulled his pants down to his ankles. I tried to lift both of us out the small opening in the door but almost dropped my half naked son so I had to set him on the ground. This would have been bad enough if it had been in the tent, but this was on the COLD COLD ground outside, I quickly stepped through grabbed my son of the ground and held him in the air at such an angle as to let the pee stream go away from the tent and clear away from both my son and me.
As I’m holding him in the air he is still screaming and all I could say is “OK… go pee pee.” He looked at me and, in a very angry voice: “I DON’T NEED TO GO PEE PEE DADDY!” with his tears still streaming and still not sure what he was doing. Now being the smart—semi conscious—man that I am I would not relent and asked him 4 or 5 times to go pee pee, but got the same response every time, until my wife said “sweetie… I don’ think he needs to go pee pee.”
It was then that I realized I had just made a night terror worse by doing what I had done. Feeling the affects of the cold on me now I knew I needed to get back in my sleeping bag, and if I was feeling this cold then I knew that my 4 year old was freezing. I decided to pull him into the sleeping bag with my wife and me. For some reason he decided he wanted to stay right up against me through the rest of the night so I was warm for the most part while my wife couldn’t come within about 1 foot of him before he would say: “get away from me mommy.” I never could adequately explain to him why mommy couldn’t get away from him when they were both in the same sleeping bag.
We survived the morning but with it being so rough I was really hoping that both my boys would sleep in. No such luck! They both woke up just before 7:00am, it was about 7:15am when my 8 year old kept asking me what time it was. Now as far as he is concerned anything after 7:00am is morning and he would want to go out of the tent, so I did something my wife and I never do with our kids (at least very very rarely) I lied to him. I told him: “It’s 6:15 buddy just go back to sleep.” This worked until about 8:15 when I had to come clean because my 4 year old kept asking: “If it’s night night then why is the sun coming up?” I really didn’t have a great answer and had been lying long enough that morning so I told him the truth.
We spent a good few hours during the morning rock hounding and found some pretty good pieces of topaz. Before our terrible night last night we thought we would be able to stay one more night before heading home so we decided to save the steel cuts for the next morning so this morning we had eggs and some turkey bacon—mmm mmm mmm!
After a few hours we packed up camp and then got ready to leave, my wife made some tuna mixed with vegenaise (vegan version of mayonnaise) using it as a spread over some rice cakes. I almost lost my wedding ring today—as we were cleaning up I realized my wedding ring was missing and thought for a minute that I had lost it in the desserts of central Utah. After a few prayers and some quick searches we found it in the tent—which I had had problems with earlier.
The drive home was AWEFUL! I was so tired. My 4 year old and wife were sleeping, my 8 year old was reading and I was almost nodding off (and it was early in the afternoon!). When we stopped at the gas station I wanted so bad to get a coke or a 5 hour energy but just resisted. It was a hard ride home, I don’t know how I survived (Name that old rap song). It was tough but snacking on cacao nibs and pine nuts as well as drinking plenty of water did the trick.
Needless to say we didn’t do much after we got home—only unpacked the stuff we knew would go bad over night. Had a quick HUGE salad, since our eating habits were so bad (although much much better than other camping trips) and pretty much went right to bed.
Day 87 – Catch Up
Today was a big catch up day—it started really slow—it took until 8:30am to get out of bed and then to get going felt awful. We must have gotten some good sun because I did feel a bit of heat exhaustion (or at least had some symptoms of it). We made lemon almond pancakes this morning and found out how full of calories they are! Because the almonds are so calorie dense one serving of these pancakes is almost 500 calories, so we were a little less excited about adding the maple syrup.
Energy stayed pretty stagnant all day, even when trying to clean out the car and clean up the house a little—didn’t really feel like we got a ton done, but still a good day.
Day 88 – Day of Rest
Ok… so it’s Saturday and not Sunday, but mostly still felt like a day of rest. In our church there are 2 times each year that the leaders talk to us (as a world wide congregation) but we are able to watch or listen over the Internet or watch on a local TV station in Utah. My wife had a 10-mile run this morning and I went to pick her up as we listened to some of what we call Conference on a local radio station here. She made an awesome time so I thought that I should run for part of my day.
I had the best mile I’ve ever run—or at least that I’ve ever tracked while running—a 7:50 mile (only a 3 mile run and had an average pace of 8:16 so still an awesome run! We did some left over pancakes and some tuna vegenaise sandwiches but using pancakes instead of bread. Conference ended up being really good today and I went with my brothers to a meeting for the men tonight. We make it a tradition to go out to eat after this meeting so we all went to Sizzler (it’s been a long time for me).
Pretty good, but I wasn’t too careful about what went into the food unless it was obvious so we’ll see how tomorrow goes. The worst thing about tonight was when I picked up my brother. He immediately told me that my breath was “AWFUL” (and actually later he said “worse than awful”). When I asked what it smelt like he said: “garlic.” Now my wife and I have been swallowing a good amount of garlic so this is what I was worried about—smelling like something and not realizing that I do.
What made it worse was meeting another brother for the night who also said “oh your breath stinks!” Great… my mind was occupied the whole night about my stinky breath which couldn’t be fixed even by taking 4 or 5 really strong mints. Thank goodness later—after dinner—both said my breath didn’t stink anymore. So now I know… If you’re going to garlic up your breath then make sure to eat something soon after doing it, otherwise you’ll end up stinking out your friends!