Family Camping Trip: Fail

I’ve been wanting to do some family camping for a while now and, after some indecision, we ended up booking a camp site at Flaming Gorge in Eastern Utah. I thought it was two hours away when I booked it but it’s four. That was almost enough to keep us from going but we couldn’t get refunded and couldn’t even get anyone to take the reservation for free so at the last minute we decided to just go for it. Unfortunately, by the time we left it was 5PM so we were in for a long late night.

Maps? We don’t need no stinkin’ Maps!
So off we went but, like the nerd I am, I though “We don’t need maps because we have our fancy phones that have 4G data and GPS. We’ll be fine!” I was half right. The GPS and data lost signal during a big chunk of the trip and we ended up going straight when we should have turned in Vernal. We drove 45 minutes down the wrong road before figuring out that we were heading the wrong decision. There goes an hour and a half.

We also stopped in the amazing metropolis of Duchesne (pronounced Dew-Shane – population 1,700) for dinner but the pickin’s were slim. We went to a place called “Pizzaria”. Original. It was all kinds of creepy. There were fake flowers planted in raised flower beds outside the front. Dozens of them. When we went in there was a 12 year old at the register that looked like he just woke up. Then there was the old man (Eldon) who wouldn’t stop talking to us. He was actually quite nice but we kind of just wanted to eat. He kept grabbing his belly and saying how good the pizza was, claiming that his belly was evidence. 12 Year old Egbert finally got our order and then we sat down to eat. They neglected to give us plates, forks, knives or napkins because they were distracted by how well their fireworks booth was doing next door. Anyway, we hurried and ate. Addie through her plate in the garbage when we finished but the garbage turned out to be a huge garbage bin full of water to catch the drips from the ceiling. Mmmm, soggy pizza crust. As we left, the old man walked out with us and he kept asking Aani “Are you sure you can’t leave your Dad or Mom here with me?” We burnt rubber on out of there.

Katrina was hating this trip already and I just wanted to get there. We saw a KOA sign and pulled in to see if anything was available. Nope. Unless we wanted the deluxe RV spots that included all the hookups and cost something like $78/night, we were out of luck. I was kind of glad, honestly, because we paid for our reservations at Flaming Gorge and I just wanted to get there. Much to Katrina’s chagrin, we journeyed onward. My GPS said we only had like 28 minutes to go. An hour and a half of winding roads later, we found it! So we stayed at the Antelope Flats campground, arriving just after midnight.

Beauty Rest
Obviously the kids were tired but we got them up to help us set up the tent. We had the monster 10’x18′ mobile-home up in a matter of fifteen minutes or so and we loaded in our stuff and got ready for bed. Fortunately we had a mostly uneventful night, except for poor Katrina, who could hear the air leaking out of our air mattress all night. We sank and sank until we were both looking like the old people in those posture-pedic commercials – bent in half in bed, though we had no remotes to straighten us back out again. Ava, who was sleeping in between us, seemed just fine with it. On a positive note, she was very tired so she was snuggly, which I love. For a while she lied diagonally across my chest and had her chubby little cheek nestled into my neck. I loved it. She’s a sweetie.

Oh yes – I’m forgetting one major detail. Katrina had a murderous toothache this entire time that tylenol just didn’t seem to alleviate. She was suffering from two teeth (one on either side) that were relentless. Poor girl. So that was quite an issue through the drive, then through the night. Fortunately it let up some on Saturday.

Saturday Morning. The calm before the storm.
Saturday Morning. The calm before the storm.

Sunburns and Hailstorms
The next morning we had pancakes and eventually made our way to the “beach”. There were no actual beaches so we had to hunt around for a spot to get into the water and we found a pretty good little spot, though it was a strange mixture of sand and sharp rocks so there were a lot of stubbed toes and such, but it was really quite nice otherwise. We lathered on the sunscreen and mostly managed to avoid getting burned though most of us got at least a little burned. No big deal. Then we started seeing some clouds. After a few hours at the beach we decided those clouds looked a bit menacing so we headed back to the tent.

By the time we got there, it was full on storming – hailing like the end of the world. We left the rain fly off the tent so that it didn’t bake inside the tent but that was a bad move. The inside of the tent was completely soaked – puddles everywhere and all of our stuff was drenched. We were through with camping, so I stripped back down to my swim trunks and took the tent down in the pouring rain.

There was no point in folding it up or anything so we just wadded the whole mess up into a ball and stuffed it into the van. It was all covered in sand and huge piles of hail. We didn’t care. We were done. Away we drove, waving goodbye to Antelope Flats and camping in general. Good riddance.

Home Sweet Home
We made it home in the allotted four hours or so – much better than the way out. All of our stuff was soaked, the van was a mess and we were all pretty tired. We decided to class up our neighborhood by spreading our tent, tent fly, sleeping bags and other soaked goodies all over the lawn. Our yard was looking good. Fortunately, however, that did the trick. Our stuff dried out and now we just have to fold it all back up. Katrina’s just about done with the laundry (there’s a ton) but the washing machine is leaking a gallon of water with every load. That’s my “Happy Birthday America” job – fix the washer. Joy.

As we hightailed it out of the campsite, I said “All I wanted was for us to have a fun family experience.” While it was no dream trip, it was certainly memorable. I thought I’d better write it down, lest we should forget any precious details. 🙂 Katrina says we’re never going camping again. I hope that’s not true.

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