Monday, October 30, 2017

Goblin Valley: What are You Going to Remember in 10 Years?

There were two common refrains of this year's Fall Break adventure (aside from the whining of children):
  1. What are you going to remember in 10 years?
  2. Let's just embrace the adventure we're on rather than the adventure we thought we were planning.
You guessed it - our fall break did not go according to plan. And on fall break, as with all of life, we are learning to embrace the adventure we're on.

It started in the magnificent city of Wellington when Rainy, our beloved if not dependable 87 Volkswagen Vanagon, started exhibiting issues. We and our very gracious adventuring companions, the Knappenbergers, stopped to assess the situation and after lunch at the fantastic Wellington gas station (they have a pizza place and a Subway and a milkshake machine - we could basically eat there forever) we decided to pause for the night.

Fortunately, Wellington is the gateway to Nine Mile Canyon, 45 miles (don't be confused by the name) of petroglyphs and pioneer ruins. The Knappenbergers insisted that they had been wanting to visit Nine Mile Canyon for a while (I told you they were exceedingly gracious) and we found a campsite, left Steve to fiddle with Rainy, and headed into the canyon.

The petroglyphs were really very cool. I'll admit, the children's interest waned after the first, say, 5 sets, but they stayed pretty positive. I think it vastly helped the girls' state of mind that they got to ride in the back of the Knapps' truck with their older friend and a dog. Girl heaven.

The canyon was beautiful, as evidenced by the photos:

We got back, made a fire, put on our Waluigi costume (hey, at least he's wearing his Halloween costume more than once), and hung out at our very nice campsite. It wasn't the adventure we thought we were signing up for, but it was a very pleasant (if a bit too educational for some of our tastes) day.

The next morning we packed up and began the second half of our drive to Goblin Valley. It turns out that 6 people and 2 dogs and all of our camping crap makes for a pretty full van!

I should mention that we also realized that we had forgotten the meatballs for the next night's spaghetti dinner. Thinking that the Wellington gas station might have something suitable, we stopped by. I had the bright idea that Subway had meatball subs, and maybe they'd just sell me the meatballs. I was clearly not the first with this idea - lovely ladies at the counter promptly filled up a soda cup with meatballs, executed their cash register judo to get the total to work quickly (1 foot long meatball sub + 3 orders of extra meat - 1 foot long meatball sub) and instructed me, without missing a beat, that forks were right behind me. Puzzled, I explained that I didn't intend to eat said cup o' meatballs but instead they were for the evening's dinner. They gave me a, "suit yourself" shrug and I was on my way.

Sam taught WanYing various methods for solving a Rubic's cube and we were all passing the time very happily when Rainy started acting up again. By this point we were pretty darn close to Goblin Valley, so we decided to tough it out and just get there.

Unfortunately, toughing it out ended up meaning taking the rutted dirt BLM road a bit too quickly, which ended up digging the front edge of the trailer into the ruts, which ended up snapping the tongue off of the trailer. Oops.

Plus, the wind was blowing somewhere between 20 and 4 billion miles per hour. Which ended up meaning that the air was pretty much just a giant sand cloud. Tents were maytaging all around us, our mouths were gritty with sand... it was not the adventure we thought we were signing up for.

We persevered and climbed on the hoodoos around the campsite until a plan was formulated: The menfolk would venture into the mighty berg of Hanksville and the womenfolk would take the childers into Goblin Valley to climb.

Shockingly, it turned out that the same wind in our campsite 2 miles from Goblin Valley was also in the valley proper. The dogs didn't mind, and Sasha enjoyed chasing my hat around the hoodoos every time it blew off of my head. The rest of us struggled a bit.

Mercy be, the good folks of Hanksville (specifically, Curtis the Contractor) found a length of pipe that would fit in the tongue, drilled and bolted it in, and even gave Steve and Zach the drill bit so they could bolt in the receiving end. God bless kind folks.

The Knappenbergers ended up (wisely) leaving us since a night in a very blustery popup sounded terrible, and we all hunkered down in Rainy, read, ate our meatballs, and passed a chill and very pleasant evening together. It can be awfully pleasant to have nothing to do.

Mercifully, we awoke to clear skies and still air. We enjoyed our breakfast, climbed a bit more around the campsite, and then drove to Crack Canyon for a family hike.

It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day, and we were grateful for every moment of it.

And home we headed!

Of course, the adventure we were on (significantly different than the adventure we had planned) meant that Rainy would experience engine trouble on the way home, also. We got to stop at the jerkey stand on the side of the road (equal parts pleasant and mildly disturbing), got to eat a leisurely dinner at the Wellington gas station (three times in three days!) and ended up spending almost an hour in the Helper Catholic Church parking lot while the engine cooled and Steve rewired the running lights so they wouldn't turn off when he cycled the engine to reset the computer.

Through it all, the kids were troopers and we were (mostly) able to embrace the adventure we were on. I remain in awe of my husband's mechanical skill, his cool head in frustrating situations, and the fact, proven over and over again, that we can get through just about anything together.

Besides, what are you going to remember in ten years? The camping trip that went exactly as planned? No way!

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