Girl Meets West #5: And So She Melted

If you are new to this tale, you may want to read Girl Meets West #1, #2, #3, and #4 first.

Some places are marked by such distinct topography that it’s hard to lose your sense of place while there; I was reminded of this so many times throughout the trip, including during our drive from Bryce to Zion National Park. I’m a reader by nature, but it was hardly tempting to put eyes to page with all else around me.

IMG_0249IMG_0254After we entered the park itself, due to the size of our vehicle, we needed a special pass to proceed through a tunnel located on the road to our campsite.

IMG_0258IMG_0265Each time a larger vehicle like ours approached, they closed off the tunnel temporarily so that the larger vehicle could use both lanes. I’d hate to travel this way with any sort of regularity, but it works in places where a vacation mindset is ubiquitous.

IMG_0270If any of you are contemplating RV camping in Zion, I highly recommend our site, #44 on Loop B of the Watchman Campground. It was large, close (but not too close) to the newer-looking restrooms (trust me, the ones we visited in a nearby campground left oh-so-much to be desired),
IMG_0272it had a generous amount of river frontage,
IMG_0313and a path picked up at our site’s entrance and ran parallel with the river, leading to Zion’s Visitor Center and the nearby town of Springdale.

IMG_0267Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly face not totally unlike the Carolina anoles commonplace in our part of the world. Glancing quickly at the hook-ups on our site, I smiled, envisioning the not-for-the-claustrophobic RV shower that would soon be all mine.

When I heard LCB finish with the hook-ups and enter the RV, I smiled, grabbed my suitcase and lifted it on the bed. “I’m going to take a shower,” I announced with zest. (Yes, this sounds like it’s straight out of Leave It to Beaver, but I really did. This is how much I love sanitation, particularly when it’s my own.)

LCB gave me a funny look.

“Honey, sorry, but there are no water hook-ups here. We have electricity, but no water or sewage hook-ups, and the holding tank’s already full.”

To clarify, this meant I couldn’t shower because there was nowhere for my shower water to go. This, coupled with the fact that we didn’t have a ton of water left in our tank to take said shower meant that I would not be showering anytime soon.

Then and there, I melted. I had steeled myself through cold, through dirt, through a mental move to Calcutta, and through trouble with the law, all on the hope of a hot shower the next day. I tried to melt quietly, since the formerly small people seemed to think they had hit pay dirt with our large campsite being by the river and all. I went into the bedroom and shut the brown-yet-translucent curtain.

I lay back on the bed and stared at the ceiling that was suddenly annoyingly close to my face. I ran my fingers through my hair, grimacing, ready to reject the unpredictable world of camping forever.

LCB, who knows the woman he married, popped his head around the curtain. “Can you let me know how long you are going to sit in here and mope so I can plan my afternoon?”

In that moment, I wanted to smack that man, and smack him right hard. Instead, I used my words.

I’ll let you use your imagination here a minute.

Seeking a peace the inside of the RV no longer offered, LCB quietly left the RV and went to join the kids down by the river. I sighed and flopped back and forth on the bed, wallowing in my plight.

And then, I dug deep within to a level of personal strength I didn’t know I had, got up off the bed, and resolved to clean up the best a girl could with two wipes and a fresh pair of socks.

This accomplished, I emerged from behind the curtain, pretending that I was pretending not to be ticked at the world, and we set out to scope out the hiking trails.

IMG_0280IMG_0279After we returned, recognizing that the world would become a better place for humanity if he acted heroically, LCB ascertained the location of a dump station, unhooked the RV, drove to the station, dumped our dirty water, filled our water tank, and returned, if not triumphant then at least resolved.

We all have our own version of armor-clad, banner-bearing knights on white stallions.

IMG_0298IMG_0300Post-shower, we hopped on the free trolley that took us into the heart of Springdale, and after picking up supplies,

IMG_0305we headed back to the RV for dinner.

IMG_0322IMG_0323The next day involved more hiking,

IMG_0335IMG_0331and wading in the river.

IMG_0358Late that afternoon, we received visitors.

IMG_0349At first, they stayed across the street,

IMG_0368IMG_0370but then they decided the grass was greener on our side of the street, so they moved our way.

IMG_0383IMG_0390In the evening, we walked into town for dinner and returned to the campsite for our final night in Zion.

IMG_0417The next morning, we packed up and headed south, back toward Phoenix and our last night in the RV.

Posted in Off Island | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Girl Meets West #4: Our Brush with the Law

If you’re new to Girl Meets West, you may want to read part #1, part #2, and part #3 first.

Barring the brush with dehydration, the Lake Powell campsite suited me. It was open and sunny and well-kept, but more importantly, it had full hook-ups. Basically, for the non-campers out there, this means being able to shower and use the facilities as you wish.

This, friends, has been a camping game-changer for me.

IMG_0171IMG_0170So I was in a good place mentally as we made our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. We stopped midway for a little shopping, and landed at our campsite just after lunch.

LCB says a large part of life is about managing expectations; essentially, if you face what we’ll call a less-than-ideal situation but you were expecting the less-than-ideal nature of the situation, all will be well. Well, guess what? Somehow, I’d gotten it into my head that all our campsites had full hook-ups; it soon became clear, however, that this one didn’t have any at all. In fact, the only amenity it really had was a shared water pump.

Well that was unexpected.

Oh, and generators were only allowed on from 8AM to 8PM. Hey, I love the sound of nature and all too, but you know what else I love? I love not waking up cold at 3AM when a perfectly good heat source is available to me.

At any rate, after we set up camp and I rearranged my expectations, we decided to go hiking. For an hour or so, we forged our own trail.

IMG_0198IMG_0195 IMG_0209The views were almost enough to make a girl forget her hook-up situation.

IMG_0212IMG_0220When we reached a sign identifying a .8 mile loop trail, the kids wanted to try it. At this point, my knees were starting to bother me a little due to all the inclines and declines we’d traversed, so I decided to sit and wait for everyone else while they hiked the loop. “How long can it take?” I figured. I planned on twenty to thirty minutes of good quality “me time” sitting on the dirt near the beginning of the loop.

Hey, some of us take “me time” any way we can get it.

IMG_0221Turns out, in an interesting twist on logic, it can take a heck of a long time if the loop doesn’t actually loop you back to your starting point in .8 miles but instead, according to sources anyway, leaves you at the starting point of another loop. Who knew? And of course, as these things go, I didn’t have a map, so I had no way of discerning this. Naturally, I called LCB several times to no avail, since his phone was off on some loop through nowhere, without any reception.

The cool thing was, without either a map or clear signage, after an hour or so, I started assuming that they were all dead or fatally stricken with something, because what healthy person takes that long to do .8 miles?

Two hours or more after they’d departed, after I’d developed a new, multi-faceted life plan that involved moving to India to carry on the work of Mother Theresa since it was now clearly just me in this world, LCB & Company emerged from another direction, weary but smiling.

So in this case, the “me time” turned out to be much more about quantity than quality.

IMG_0236We made our way back to camp, and LCB stepped inside the RV to make dinner while I set the picnic table outside. A few minutes later, I was sitting at the table reading when I heard footsteps. I looked up. A park ranger was approaching our table.

“Ma’am,” he nodded, and continued. “Is this your RV?”

I answered in the affirmative.

“All RVs must run parallel to the road,” he said, nodding his head toward our RV parked perpendicular to the road. “Did you move some of the rocks on the site?”

“Yes, we moved two of them over a bit. We parked that way because otherwise our main door opens right out into the road.”

Afterward, I realized someone before us had probably already moved our rocks quite a bit, because our line of rocks had a large gap in it, whereas the other sites all had lines of rocks that were evenly spaced apart. Our RV fit easily between the rocks even before we moved them; we’d just moved the two that were in our line of foot traffic.

“I know. It kind of sucks,” he conceded, slipping out of his slightly chastising tone for a second. “But (insert sound of returning chastisement here) perpendicular parking and moving rocks are ticketable offenses. You’ll have to move the RV and return the rocks to their original spots now or I’ll have to ticket you. I’ll be back in thirty minutes to check.”

Incidentally, I’m not sure how we were supposed to actually know any of this before the ranger’s visit, because later I combed all the literature we’d received at check-in and found nothing about moving rocks or directional parking rules.

I apologized for trying to keep my kids safe and for not magically knowing the rules. (Okay, I didn’t mention the kid’s safety or the magic knowledge in the apology I made out loud, especially since I got the sense that he was just trying to do his job and that he might be almost young enough to be my son, but I totally thought them.)

Some of us (i.e., me) slept fitfully that night, and we all woke early. As we packed up, the sound of nearby generators violating park rules filled the campground.

Since our RV water supply was limited, we skipped many of our customary morning grooming habits and headed out right after breakfast. Our next stop was Zion National Park, a land flowing with milk, honey, and limitless showers.

Or so I thought.

Posted in Off Island | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Girl Meets West #3: Not How I Pictured This Day

If you missed the beginning of this series, you may want to go back to Part 1 and Part 2 first to read the first two posts of Girl Meets West.

On the way up to Lake Powell, where we’d be spending the first two nights, the formerly small people sat at the table and alternated between bursts of card games, video games, reading, and staring out the window at the cacti-laden terrain that seemed to roll higher with each mile. Midway though the journey, Baby-girl pulled out a small notebook I’d gotten her for the trip. She began writing down all the details of the last two days, stopping to ask clarifying questions from time to time.

IMG_0045IMG_0043By the time we arrived at Wahweap RV & Campground, it was just after dark, so we didn’t get a good view of the lake until morning. I was, therefore, thrilled when I opened the curtains the next morning and saw we were closer to the lake than I’d thought.

IMG_0036Indeed, the view was inspiring enough to convince Baby-Girl to run over to the general store to buy binoculars with her “trip money.” Then we spent some time exploring the grounds and testing out her new purchase.

As a child, LCB had visited Lake Powell and had wished that he could boat the lake. When we determined we’d be stopping at Lake Powell on this trip, LCB immediately mentioned the idea of reserving a boat for one day of our stay.

I’ll just put it this way: They’re mighty proud of their boats at Lake Powell.

But what’s taking out a second mortgage if it makes your spouse happy, right? So I gave him my blessing and he reserved a boat. Are you sensing yet that things didn’t go quite as planned? Because you should be.

First, we got a late start to the day after all our extended breakfasting, exploring the grounds, deliberating over binoculars, utilizing the aforementioned binoculars, and so forth. Second, you know those dreams where you keep walking and walking and it’s a hundred and four degrees out and you’re carrying several things and your whole family is walking with you and they’re complaining about how hot it is and you start to think about how by now you must have sweated out way more than the four glasses of water you consumed that day so you’re probably in the early stages of dehydration and you also realize that your regular workouts may be lacking a certain rigor because when you walk to the bottom of a very, very large hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain and realize you have to walk right back up it again you start trudging very, very slowly and you feel like the hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain might be kicking your glutes (which it is) and then your Baby-Girl asks if you could carry her up because she’s tired and you’d probably break into tears right then but you don’t because you realize there’s no way on God’s green earth that you can carry her right then so she’s just going to have to suck it up like a man and haul her own little self up the hill-why-not-call-it-a-mountain one way or the other and the whole time your LCB is oscillating between audible thoughts that go something like A.) “This is family vacation time so I feel obligated to convince the formerly small people that they’re having fun facing heat exhaustion on their vacation but just don’t realize it yet” and B.) “I asked two different park employees for directions and tried to clarify with them when I suspected they were sending us in the wrong direction to the wrong marina in the wrong state but they told me I was wrong and so in a foolhardy move I decided to trust them since they are after all park rangers who live here but guess what they were totally wrong and now here we are walking a mile in the wrong direction just so we can turn around and walk a mile back to our starting spot so we can then walk another half mile or so in the other direction to the correct marina,” and you have to listen to the whole thing half a gazillion times on your trek to dehydration?

Well, I had one of those dreams while awake.

In a habit I’m sure my family finds endearing, I chose an ill-timed moment during one of our ascensions to share a piece of trivia I’d read in some park literature discussing best safety practices:

“Y’all, did you know six people die here every summer?”

This is also why I’d make a horrible elementary school teacher.

IMG_0073Anyhow, we finally made it to the marina, and of course there were unavoidable problems (i.e., they realized they’d lost the ignition key to our boat after getting us all set up in the boat, so they had to find us a new boat, which took… more time).

IMG_0056IMG_0071IMG_0061But we eventually made it onto a boat with an available ignition key, and ended up having two really good hours enjoying the fruits of our second mortgage.

IMG_0089Afterward, we returned to our campsite, built a fire, grilled our dinner, and roasted marshmallows as the sun dipped low in the sky.

IMG_0131The next morning we rose, packed up the RV, and headed north, to higher and drier ground.

Up next: Our Brush with the Law

Posted in Off Island | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment