This year our family trip goes down as the most exhausting trip ever. But we have some good stories to tell. Maybe in another year or two, I might be able to laugh about how dumb I was to think we could camp anywhere with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old twin boys.
Besides family camping, the resident Captain and Blueberry Pie planned to climb King’s Peak, and we had a family reunion to party at.
Blueberry Pie flew out to Utah a week early to go to a diving camp at BYU.
The Captain was super excited because we purchased a new family tent (The REI Basecamp 6) plus some fun LED twinkle lights to hang in the tents. Our plan was to have the older girls sleep in his 3-man backpacking tent and then us and the four youngest kiddie pies would sleep in the new tent.
We packed Wednesday night, and I thought we were doing well and would get to bed by 8:30pm.
I didn’t factor in that the Captain hadn’t yet packed his gear for backpacking up King’s Peak. So by the time that was done, we went to bed at 1 am. But everything was in the van ready to go, and the cooler was full of delicious food. Pasta salad (with bacon), carrot and celery sticks, mint oreos, lots of Doritos, and most importantly, a tin foil dinner for each of us to eat the next night at our campsite. This would save me from assembling dinner on Thursday night. We could just pull up to the campsite, light the charcoal, and dinner could cook while we set up camp. It would all be so simple and relaxing.
You see, the resident Captain, wanting to make things easy on me, had reserved 2 hotel rooms in Laramie, WY, for Thursday night. But I talked him into canceling that reservation and reserving a campsite at Curt Goudy State Park instead. That would save money and there was a playground for the kids to play on and, in theory, run off all the energy they would have from sitting in the car all day. As I described above, I had a brilliant plan to make dinner and camp setup a breeze.
We began our drive early Thursday morning, about 5:30 a.m.
Almost immediately, Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie began puking. The puking did not stop.
It’s a good thing we had a roll of heavy duty trash compactor bags in the van.
Then the power cord to the car DVD player stopped working. All our new movies, purchased specifically for entertainment on the trip could not be enjoyed. Everyone was so sad not to get to watch “The Croods,” “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimmaron,” “Chitty, Chitty, Bang! Bang!” and “The Music Man.”
Due in part to the fact that whenever we stopped for gas I had to change the Scooter Pie’s diapers as well as sometimes Baby Bean’s diaper and clean up someone who had barfed, the trip took longer than it should have.
The Captain washes Windows too.
By the time we finally got to our campsite, it was almost 9 p.m., not 6 like we planned. Tamale Pie was also feeling sick by now. As we got to the campsite, we saw signs that a new burn ban had just been posted. No wood or charcoal fires allowed. That meant that all our delicious tin foil dinners could not be cooked or eaten. I was really regretting those hotel rooms, delivery pizza, and the probable coin laundry in the hotel basement.
Because Blueberry Pie was already in Utah, and Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie were sick, that left only Cherry Pie, Me, and our intrepid Captain as able-bodied workers. Banana Cream Pie, Baby Bean and the Scooter Pies took all my resources to keep safe. The Scooter Pies spent their time stuffing rocks into their mouths as fast as possible. Baby Bean ran everywhere like a crazy squirrel, with Key Lime Pie tossing pine cones after her. Banana Cream Pie, being sick was rather more querulous than usual. (Which is a lot.) Cherry Pie alternately helped me and helped her father as she saw needs. I was many times grateful that evening that she was not sick.
Despite the fact that we couldn’t eat our scrumptious foil dinners, there was lots of pasta salad left. So anyone who felt well enough to eat still had something good, albeit cold, for dinner. It took a couple hours to get the tents set up, but the evening was very pleasant and the breeze and the lake view were especially nice. I kept thinking that I should be a lot more sad about all the trip fails of the day, but the weather was so perfect that I was still enjoying myself. The new tent was so spacious and nice. I love the big vestibules on each side and the extra tent poles that keep the tent from distorting in high wind. The babies took turns waking up in the night so I was able to take care of them without help. I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep, but this is what I expect when camping. However, the Captain did not sleep well and was disappointed to still be tired in the morning. (I am always a little annoyed when I’ve been up with babies all night and the Captain has the gall to announce that he “didn’t sleep well” but it’s a fairly frequent occurrence in my life, so I’m used to it. )
In the morning, we packed up camp and headed on down the road to the trail head for King’s Peak where we would meet Blueberry Pie and his uncle. We lost about an hour of time because the cap to our gas tank broke, but we still got to the trail head in plenty of time. However Blueberry Pie and Uncle were late. Finally, as rain threatened, the Captain set up his tent, and the kiddie pies and I left him there and headed on to Salt Lake City, where we planned to spend our days in comfort while the men folk backpacked up and down the mountain.
The girls and I spent the next 2 days in Salt Lake City, hanging with cousins and having a nice relaxing time. Except for that Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie continued to be sick and unable to keep any food or drink down.
The Men got back from the mountain at around 2 a.m. Monday morning. When it was a more reasonable hour for getting up, I cleaned out our van and loaded all our gear back into it. At about 10, we loaded all the kiddie pies into the van as well, said goodbye to our cousins (and begged forgiveness for bringing our nasty flu bug) and headed south to Bryce Canyon. Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie were still throwing up, and I was starting to get worried about them dehydrating. I’ve never had children sick for so many days in a row.
It was about a 6 hour drive down to Bryce but the exciting thing was that my awesome sister Katie, and her four boys met us there and camped with us. We cooked hotdogs for the kids and delicious chicken and veggies for ourselves. Katie’s boys play lots of crazy games camping, so Key Lime Pie was really having a great time. Also, Katie had some prescription strength anti-nausea medicine and both of my sick children were finally able to keep food and water down for the first time in 5 days. That was such a relief!
My four babies (the scooter pies, Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie) continued to be super high maintenance and required constant vigilance from multiple people. Baby Bean found a mud puddle and swam in it. I began giving the Scooter Pies larger rocks to chew on, hoping to prevent them from choking on small ones. But they rejected the safe rocks.
The weather was much colder than it had been when we camped in Laramie. Subsequently, none of the 4 baby pies slept during the night. I had to wake up the Captain and then Blueberry Pie to help me take care of all the fussing babies. It was torture. The Captain was now going on his 5th night of camping and almost no sleep. As the sky began to lighten with the morning, the Captain said to me, “I never want to go camping again.” I myself had been thinking, “I will camp no more forever.” But the Captain loves camping, so I was a little surprised that he felt the same way. I realized that though we have camped many times with babies, there has never been more than 2 toddler/babies, and I could handle all the murderous part myself. But I couldn’t buffer him from 4 toddler/babies and so everyone was miserable. The Captain just wanted to cancel the rest of the trip and go home, but I begged him for one more day because I didn’t want to miss the Wednesday Activities at the family reunion.
After getting camp cleaned up, we went to Bryce National Park and picked up JR Ranger packets for all the kids.
Baby Bean pushes buttons
Banana Cream Pie is serious about getting her JR Ranger badge.
The scooter pies are not paying attention to the ranger discussion about telescope lenses.
We drove through the park, but it was very busy. We had trouble finding any overlooks that had parking space. But we did get to see the Natural Arch, which was spectacular. The kids worked through their books and earned their badges, and we piled back into the car and headed back north to Ephraim Canyon for our family reunion.
The road from Bryce to Ephraim is slow, pot-holed, and full of curves. That was not a fun drive. Scenic, I guess, but on the back of many sleepless nights, it was just more torture. We got to the reunion just in time for dinner, which was delicious. We also lucked out and there were enough bunk beds for us and the babies to sleep inside. The Captain put in his ear plugs and had the first good sleep of our vacation. I had just fallen asleep when the Scooter Pies woke up, and so I put them in my twin size bunk with me. However, the space between the bunk and the wall was just big enough to let a baby fall off the side, so I couldn’t sleep after that for fear that one of them would fall off. I just lay awake holding them and waiting for morning.
Wednesday morning I got to help with breakfast. I made some pretty delicious breakfast casseroles, if I do say so myself.
Then we took the kids to a nearby pond for swimming. It was the grossest, stinkiest pond I have every seen. Banana Cream Pie (who I remind you is only 4) said with great disappointment when she saw the pond, “I thought you said we were going swimming!” Luckily, one of my uncles brought his huge river raft, which was tons of fun to play on and saved the day.
Then we left the kids back at camp and told them to be good and the Captain and I went to the Manti temple. That was the highlight of our whole trip for sure.
I had hoped to find a laundromat later in the evening to wash the throw up clothes that had been solid on the drive from Salt Lake to Bryce (before Aunt Katie hooked us up with drugs.). But though we did find a laundromat, it was closing by the time we got there. I was pretty disappointed. Instead we just went back to camp and put the kids to bed. Thursday, we took a little hike with the kids and then Captain went back down the mountain and washed all the laundry while I talked with my family and chased the twins and Baby Bean. She spent most of the day digging holes in the dirt and I just let her.
Friday morning, we left the reunion early because the Captain Wanted to get home by Saturday night. I felt like a big bum leaving early, but I had been lucky to wheedle those 2 days. Also, I was pretty tired of chasing babies around in the out-of-doors. Going home sounded pretty good.
We stayed in a hotel on the way home. And it was great. While I cannot predict the future, I feel that family camping may decline significantly therein.