Thursday, July 24, 2008

P In A Tent (also titled: Happy Pioneer Day!)

As promised in our last post, we’re traveling backwards in time. Tim has the ability to go back in time - in fact, let’s clear up a common misperception: Superman got the idea from him. As the mercury in Vegas approached the 110s, we were itching to get out of the valley and break in our new tent. We spent a few days considering our options and checking in with weather.com to see what would give us the most relief. The debate came down to Big Bear, CA or Zion National Park, UT. Big Bear would have been cooler but given that it was almost the 24th, we honored the pioneers and trekked to Zion. This pioneer child refuses to walk, but loves to sing. Of course it was only June, but it can be hard to remember, living outside of Utah. The weather was forecasting highs in the lower 90s so as crazy as it might seem, it was enough to sound refreshing.

Zion has two camping options in the park. Campground 1 accepts reservations and usually fills up early since some people have the ability to schedule more than 3 hours in advance. Pure insanity. Needless to say, we missed the handcart on that plan. Campground 2 is right next to Campground 1 but is first come, first serve. (During the summer, policy should be first come, soft serve.) Leaving after work on Friday and getting to Zion before dark, much less finding a camping spot, wasn’t an option. So we got everything packed up, and hit the road first thing Saturday morning. At least as first thing as we will ever achieve, which this time was about 8:30 a.m. and downright impressive.

We rolled into the Park around 11:30 a.m. and were sweating bullets that we might not get a campsite. For the record, anybody that was hoping to get into one of the National Parks by tricking the rangers with your REI membership card opposed to the $80 park pass, it’s worth a try, but we think that they’ve taken training for this very thing. Very sharp. We eventually found the right card amongst all of Tim’s lunchtime punch cards and they let us in.

The experience of finding a campsite was similar to any news footage that we’ve seen from the neighborhood Walmart the day after Thanksgiving with the large white trash Americans being replaced by large white RV’s. After a few awkward “I don’t think we’re speaking the same language” standoffs, we finally managed to find a site that would meet our 24-hour needs. After setting up the tent and Paisley’s new Pack ‘n Play, it was lunchtime.



It was at about this time that we realized that those sweated bullets probably didn’t have anything to do with campsite anxiety. It was hot. High 90s hot and climbing. On the drive up, Paisley had taken full advantage of her back seat DVD player and her favorite movie, A Bug’s Life, which meant that after lunch, she was ready for a nap. This is where the high temperatures really hurt us. It didn’t take long for the tent to leave an impression on us. Big wet impressions on our Thermarests so we moved Paisley and her Pack ‘n Play outside in the shade. Although in the shade, there was way too much stimulation for her to fall asleep.

In our bare bones packing, we had included a few thermoregulation items such as a little hand held battery powered fan and a spray bottle that we combined to make a rustic camp mister. Every time we sprayed Paisley the cool shock would cause her to make the cutest gasp followed by a huge smile. Brandi had also found this bandana for Paisley at REI that’s stuffed with a bunch of tiny gel packs that you soak in cold water and then tie around your neck, just like the pioneers. Once we accepted that these would only work so well, we decided to load up the car again and take a drive through the park in the comfort of AC and the sounds of adventurous ants. Paisley slept like a bug, but if you’re familiar with Zion, it’s not all that big. Especially since they only let you drive half of it these days. After about an hour loop through the tunnels and back, it wasn’t long before the three of us were sitting in an idling car stomping out a nice big carbon footprint in one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, for the price of a nap. And it was totally worth it.


The biggest revelation during the car ride was the thermostat reading on our dashboard. 104 degrees. So much for the forecast. Once Paisley woke up, we loaded her up in the backpack and took the 10-minute walk up to the weeping rock to take advantage of getting dripped on. Unfortunately, due to the shuttle system, it took 45 minutes to get there and another 45 to get back.

By the time we had made our way back to camp we were just in time for dinner. We had brought the camp classics: firewood, jalapeno brats, pasta salad and smores. It was really hard for us to justify building a fire when it was still so hot, so we threw the brats on the hood of the car for a few minutes. Really though, the fire and dogs weren’t ready until like 10 o’clock. Despite our hunger, it seemed earlier because Paisley refused to go to sleep. From inside the tent, she could see the flames from the fire and wouldn’t lie down. She ended up back in the car for another round of A Bug’s Life…you know, because she wants to be an entomologist. We’re pretty sure she gained a new appreciation for bugs and nature since with all the windows rolled down the TV screen was acting like a high tech bug zapper without the zap. A Bug’s Life in 3-D. Just as importantly, we finally gave all of our neighbors a chance to enjoy the outdoors as well with some well deserved silence.

Once the temps started to rise again the next morning, Brandi took Paisley into town to pick up some more ice for the cooler since we had plenty of extra food while Tim stayed back to pack up camp. Paisley took advantage of the opportunity and took a quick nap during the drive. Once we got the car all loaded up, we found a parking spot and took the shuttle back into the canyon to take another hike. This time we set our sites on Lower Emerald Pool. Having forgotten that the lower pool is nothing more than a puddle, we were well on our way to the Upper Pool before we realized our mistake. It was hot and we knew that Paisley was roasting considering the final stretch is pretty exposed. We eventually found the Upper Pond and took advantage of the cool water and shade. Paisley’s bandana probably saved her. She usually hates stuff around her neck and face but didn’t try to pull the bandana or her hat off once. The poor kid was so exhausted that she fell asleep face down in the carrier on the return hike. We had to wake her up at one point just to ensure that she was only sleeping.

We made our way back into the valley and after traversing the Virgin River to cool our feet off; we walked over to Zion Lodge and grabbed some lunch while one of the rangers taught us about rattlesnakes. We made our way back to the car and back to Vegas. Since we were too tired and full the night before to break open the smores, we decided to try an old trick Brandi had invented a few years earlier. Dashboard smores.The end product is different than normal smores because the marshmallow doesn’t really toast, but the chocolate totally melts. Funny, but not quite as funny as watching a certain someone trying to dig up a certain plant in front of a certain small town high school on the way home in an attempt to beautify our front yard.

Even though the weather turned out hotter than we expected, we had a fun first family campout and it seems like Paisley is a natural pioneer. And by our fermenting smells, maybe even a natural hippie. As the sun disappeared, Paisley fell asleep just before the mean bugs showed up again. We closed the weekend to the sound of bugs in the back seat and bugs hitting the windshield.

16 comments:

Mollie said...

Since when are you so funny? Which one of you writes these, by the way?

cropstar said...

Sounds like fun!
But MAN, I'm sweating just thinking about how hot it was!

CaraDee said...

Wow, that sounds a little bit like hell to me. But Paisley sure had a good time! Good for you, and good luck the next time around. And the pic of P & B is SO cute.

Daisy Paige said...

Loved reading this! We're taking Grayson camping for the first time out at Powell next week and I'm a little nervous about how he'll do in the heat. Thankfully, we'll be sleeping next to a giant swimming pool which always offers some relief.

PS - the shuttle system in Zion does kinda suck when you're local and you just want to get in, do a hike, and get out. But thinking back to the craziness of when cars parked up and down all those roads makes the slow shuttle ride totally worth it.

Shannon said...

I admire you guys. I've always loved camping and always used to mock non tent campers. However, now that I have little ones again I just can't bring myself to camp in a tent. I don't know if it's the fear of being so pregnant and unfomcortable every summer, or the fear of the heat inside the tent causing little ones to skip out on extended sleep.
It's truly a shame because we don't own any kind of trailer so we've skipped camping altogether. I'm such a bummer on the family. I figured we should just buy a small tent trailer for me and the rest of them can tent it the way camping was truly meant to be. (Before I got old and grumpy)

gurrbonzo said...

Haha! I'll have to try those dashboard s'mores...! You are not the first person to make that guess, and it would be pretty funny if it were true, wouldn't it? I had to change it bc I was quickly informed that "little people" is the preferred term.

Bethany said...

Paisley sure is a trooper.

This was so fun to read... I was laughing throughout. Thanks!

grandma ricks said...

You are both pretty brave. Just wish you had a big station wagon to pack up with a carrier on top. Love, Mom

Rachelle said...

Doesn't camping with your own kids give you knew appreciation to how mom and dad ever did it with 5 of us?? It sounded like you guys enjoyed the trip dispite the blistering heat. Come to Colorado and go camping with us...leave your fan and squirt bottle behind but don't forget your coat!

Cheeseboy said...

I remember camping/trips with Tim throughout my childhood and I even think I remember him falling asleep in my back-carrier thing. He was a little heavy for me, but boy was he cute.

steph and brent said...

Thanks! I can't wait to see your house when the painting's done.

Tracy at Our Journey said...

Wow!Looks like a great time...wish it was cooler for you though.

Allison said...

hello? I think it's about time for a new post here!

Jamie said...

I like the new look of the blog!

Allison said...

Ohhhh, I love the new background. Where do you find these? I just use the ones provided by blogger and they are kind boring. Got your message on my site. I know my mom said that all of us were out of cribs by the time we were 2 as we were crawling out anyway. I'm with you though, I can't see G staying put in a toddler bed. I guess we will find out soon probably!

Shannon said...

I sure wish you blogged more.