I could hardly hold my tongue.

October 22, 2017

I was pleased that Jeff and I were invited to go camping with our son, Rob, his wife, Marseille and their 6 children. As the previous post indicates we have some nice new equipment that makes camping so much easier and more comfortable, I want to do more of it.

But when after driving a little less than 3 hours we pulled into a dusty, rather desolate wash, I could hardly believe my eyes. No water, hardly any flora but for some scrubby cedars and not enough fauna to tempt a buzzard.  I kept a cheerful face, hoping that I simply hadn’t seen enough to appreciate why we had driven past lovely autumn canyons with laughing brooks and peeping deer and squirrels to this desolation. The girls bathrooms looked suspiciously like large rocks or for the boys, scrubby little bushes. (There is an outhouse about 1/4 mile from where we camped.) But the only water is the water you bring yourself.

Rob pointed out the old Uranium mines up on the mountain. Hmmmm. I’da brought my Geiger Counter to check out the campsite, if only I’d known.

We roasted hotdogs and made smores. Things were looking up. The sun went down and the kids went to bed. The night was utterly still and the dark, moonless sky revealed a heaven carpeted with stars. It seemed late in the season for shooting stars, but I saw four, two of which had orange tails as they burned out in the atmosphere.

The magic of the place began to work on me. . . or maybe it was just the radioactive dirt under my feet.

In the morning, we enjoyed instant oatmeal and hot chocolate with some of the gourmet syrups and melting marshmallows. The kids rode their bikes all around the camp and we hiked to the top of the mountain whose shoulder we had camped on.

Ancient Pictographs Near Goblin Valley

A cozy ledge for Christopher to meditate upon

Jeff has had a lot of adventures in his Indiana Jones hat.

(I have no idea why the server rotates some of my photos 90 degrees. I tried rotating them in the edit, but they come out in the same position, no matter how I insert them. I’m too tired to keep messing with it.  I hope you’re using a laptop and can rotate it. But the last one of Michael looks pretty awesome with him standing on his hands!)

But the fun really started when we drove a few miles to Goblin Valley. We stopped on the way to oogle the ancient pictographs. We could see a cow something with an un-cowlike tail and head wearing a saddle of sorts, a man with a dead deer and another man with a spiral shield. There were buildings, I guess, too.   

Meditating Shaaman? He watches over Goblin Valley

But Goblin Valley itself is a geological wonderland with nooks and caves and hoodoos and strange fantistical formations. If Dr. Seuss ever designed a playground, this would be it.  This fellow meditated so long he turned to stone!

This fellow looked pretty cheerful about being turned to stone

Beth Stephenson climbing the walls at Little Wild Horse Canyon. Even Grandma can’t resist!

This fellow had to take a break from meditating.

Joseph and Matthew on a natural windowsill.

But it’s not just a kid place. In fact, some of the formations are not kid friendly. But young and old alike scampered all over the place, challenging our bodies and courage. 17 month old Zachary grinned from Marseille’s backpack most of the time, but yearned to be set free to clamber up some wild stone serpent or exotic seeming Mars-scape.

In fact, NASA has tested Mars related gear there. Movies have been filmed there too, (I think Rob said it was Galaxy Quest)

Cute Marseille with her oversized Goblin, (Zach)

It’s true that there is no more flora or fauna there than near our campsite. The stone has been shaped by wind and water but the water now visits only in the form of flash floods. The ever-present wind whips dust and grit into the eyes until you get back into the higher more intricate natural mazes.

It was a ton of fun to explore and had the kids not been so little, a perfect place for the best EVER game of Hide and Seek or Sardines. The place is huge extending miles until a cliff drops off into flat, nearly featureless plain.  Rob was the host of a fantastic adventure!

That night back at camp, the wind was up and we had to improvise with our dinner. Instead of the planned foil dinners, we cooked the whole mixture in a dutch oven on the fire. It turned out wonderful with just chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions cut in small pieces and a bottle of barbecue sauce poured over the top.  Hunger works wonders with camp food.

Someone had  “mistakenly” drunk up the Sprite intended for the cobbler. (They had poured it into a water bottle for protection.) But the “cobbler” (a cake mix stirred with a cup of water and a can of cherry pie filling) was tasty, too.

I had brought a different sleeping bag than the one I’d used in Washington. This one seemed warmer and more suited for cold weather. I knew it had belonged to one of my sons, but for some reason, had been rejected by him.

I soon found out what the unnamed son objected too. It LOOKED warm, but with the temps dropping into the 30’s, I was cold even with a hood and several layers. At least my feet were warm in their wool socks.

I still love our Marmot Limelight tent. It stood up to strong winds and the ventilation is great. The shape is so convenient, too, we have room in the 3 man for Jeff and  me and our stuff.

Big to little bridges in Little Wild Horse Canyon, UT

This is a tame pose for little mountain goat Makayla

Michael posed for me, but he was fearless climbing the walls!


The next morning after fire roasted bagles and more hot cocoa we drove back near Goblin Valley to Little Wild Horse Canyon for a hike. It’s a narrow slot canyon, but is easily passable, even for the small fry. There are many places where we could climb the walls and our tennis shoes stuck to the bare sandstone so well that we could ascend the steep walls with ease. Even the little guys loved climbing  the stone walls, hiding in nooks and crevices and trying to outdo each other in daring.

As we tore down the campsite to come home, I found myself thinking of how much my other kids and grandkids will love Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon. I just HOPE we can get our great campsite back again. . .

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