Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heber Valley 2011

The girls got up early Friday morning and sat in the front room on the camping gear. I don't know what time they got up. I got up at 8:30 and found them there.

"MOM! Good, you're up! I don't think we even have time to have breakfast. We'll have to eat breakfast at camping," Rachel told me.

Then I dropped a bomb on her—Daddy was at school and we wouldn't be going camping until Daddy returned from the aforementioned activity. Both girls showed me their well-practiced "sad" faces but I forced them to eat breakfast at home, anyway. And thus began what was potentially a very bad day. The girls were so antsy to get on the road and had a hard time containing that energy. It spilled out of their every seam, mostly in the form of fights, temper tantrums, and general ill-will. 

After Grandma and Grandpa left it got even worse. Somehow the girls had been under the impression that we'd all be waiting for Daddy to come home from work so when Grandma and Grandpa left early it kind of shattered their world. I promised the girls that Daddy would be home soon but they spent most of the interim crying/chanting, "Camping! Camping! Camping!" anyway.

It was a happy, happy moment when Daddy came home. We loaded up the car in two minutes flat and were on the road before you could say, "Get in the car." Literally. The girls got into the car the minute he walked into the house without so much as saying hello to him. They passed him on the threshold from the garage to the house and buckled themselves in while he and I loaded the car. No last-minute nagging necessary.

Fortunately one of the girls fell asleep on the way out there. We left right at her nap time and it was quite clear that she needed a nap so I'm very glad she took one. I wish her sweet big sister would have done the same but we can't have everything, can we?

This year we were in Camp Abish, which is right off of Lake Legacy. I was surprised at how green everything still was—when we went in 2006 it snowed; last year the trees had already begun changing colour; this year everything was still as green as could be and because of all the rain we've had this summer the lake was still full to overflowing. We were told the lake usually dries out sometime in August. 

Camp Abish also seemed so secluded compared to the other campgrounds we've stayed at (Esther in 2006 and Bertha Stone Reeder in 2010). While we were putting signs on the cabins for the "big kids" from the BYU ward we noticed a number of deer. Apparently two does who live in the area both had twin fawns this year and the little deer families like to feed around the lake.

The certainly weren't very skittish. We were probably only fifteen feet away from this deer.

One of the campsites in Camp Abish has yurts instead of cabins, though the yurts were very cabin-like. They were dodecagonal in shape, to mimic the roundness of a yurt, and had a wonderful skylight in the roof, but were made of the same wood the cabins were made of and were filled with the same bunks that the cabins had. Truth be told, we kind of like the layout of the yurt better than the cabins—they still sleep sixteen people but the common area seems much roomier and the sleeping quarters seem much more private.

For the first little while we were there (an hour or more), Miriam would cheer, "YAY CAMPING!"

Forgive Andrew. He thought I was taking a still picture so this is his take-the-picture-already face. It was pretty funny. 

We were so close to the lake that it wasn't even funny. The map said it was a "0.1 mile hike" from our camp to the lake. The truth was that you could almost fall from the trail behind the pavilion into the lake. It was that close. Okay, not that close, but almost!

We wandered around the lake for a little while until we found the sandbox.

It was kind of a weird sandbox since it was just a raised box full of the same sand that the beach of the lake was made of and it was filled with a motley collection of sand toys, most of which were broken. It was like a giant graveyard of sand toys but my girls were in sand toy heaven.

We built sandcastles and made roads for trucks to drive on. We dug deep holes and panned for gold.

Unfortunately we didn't actually find any gold. 

Eventually Rachel got tired of playing in the sand and went back to the pavilion with Andrew. I stayed behind to try to convince Miriam to leave the sandbox without a fuss. I don't know why I found it at all surprising that she didn't want to leave. She's my little sandmonster.

What I should be surprised about is that she didn't eat any sand the entire time we were playing! She must be growing up. Or maybe lake sand just doesn't taste as good as sea sand or playground sand or Goblin Valley sand

Once I got her out of the sandbox we only got as far as the volleyball pits before she was down and playing in the sand once more. By mere coincidence, Grandma happened to walk past and I was able to convince Miriam to run to her, leaving the sand behind. For now.

We went back to the pavilion where the girls ran around, their screams of pure joy echoing around the empty room. Miriam then stopped running and said, "Hi, deer! Hi, deer! Hi!" It took us a minute to find the deer she was talking about, but there it was, just a few feet away from us, calmly showing her little fawn how to forage for food. 

We didn't see any more of the deer after the "big kids" arrived. I think we were so noisy that we scared them off. 

Before we left I printed off some camping themed worksheets from Home School Creations and 2 Teaching Mommies. We didn't get through all of them, but we did take a little break from running around in the woods to do some quiet activities. The girls certainly enjoyed the counting clip cards and the camp spelling worksheet. I brought our game of Bananagrams so the girls could use the tiles to spell the words. The tiles promptly got scattered all over the ground, of course. 

Miriam seemed much more interested in the pouch for the letter tiles than anything else at first but after watching Rachel work for a few minutes she decided that she could do it, too.

She started picking letters out of the pile on the ground—but not random letters. She was actually searching for the correct letter and putting it on the correct square. I was impressed—even if she was singing "three, four, five, seven, eight, nine, two, ten, eleven, shirteen, chicken" while she was doing it. Miriam can sing her alphabet as well but apparently doesn't quite know the difference between letters and numbers yet. 

As far as we can tell "chicken" is the number sixteen, but we're not entirely certain. 

Both the girls were very proud when they finished spelling their words, though Rachel started getting bored and in order to finish up quickly started putting random letters on her sheet.

I told her that she only had one sheet left to do and that she should finish it properly so that she could know she did a job well done from start to finish. So she started over and did it correctly. 

The word she's working on up there is "compass," by the way. I'm not schooling my children on profanity or anything, but I may have laughed out loud when I looked at this picture. I didn't even notice how prominent the last three letters of "compass" were when I was taking the picture, but with c-o-m-p covered with tiles they really stand out, don't they?

After we cleaned up the tiles we did some colouring (for Miriam) and some sorting/patterns/cutting/gluing (for Rachel). They worked with their backs to each other but occasionally had to spy on what the other one was doing. And I can't tell you how much Miriam wanted that glue stick. "Glllllllue!" she kept crying. 

So Grandma carted her away to help set up tables and keep her out of our hair while Rachel finished her worksheets.

By then the "big kids" were starting to arrive—some of them arrived with big news. Two of them, specifically. They had driven up together and on the way they pulled over and got engaged. Rachel apparently didn't find this news very exciting and insisted that we go hiking "deep, deep, deep into the forest." So we did. 

We hiked over the boulders separating our campsite from the hiking trail and walked along the "Legacy Lake Loop," which, as its name suggests, runs along the perimeter of the lake. 

Rachel wanted to find a cougar. 

I didn't. Andrew was doing homework in the cabin and thus had no say in the matter.

The girls were so funny walking along the trail. They kept turning around and saying, "Come on!" 

Rachel would say turn around and say it to Miriam.

And then Miriam would turn around and say it to me.

I hold out great faith that one day these girls are going to be really good friends.  

But I'm not holding my breath while I hold my faith, though. That could be dangerous.

Let's see...we got back to camp and the girls played on the boulders for a while longer until Grandpa invited us to go play on the road. "Could I interest you in playing on the road?" he asked, "To give directions for people driving here, of course." Our campsite was seriously so hard to find. We had to turn around three times and ask for directions from missionaries passing on four-wheelers twice.


Rachel thought this particular rock looked a lot like the rock that Ariel splashes up on in The Little Mermaid, so she kept pulling this mermaid-esque pose.

So we left our mermaid-splash rocks and went to play on the (side of the) road, waiting for the "big kids" to drive up looking lost and confused. We successfully helped a few cars arrive before we had a little accident. Miriam was playing in the ditch and while she did so was narrating about her life.

"Climbing. Climbing. Sliding. Rock. Jumping. Climbing. Uh-oh! Pee pee! Now!"

By then it was everlastingly too late to jog her to a potty. She was already in the act of wetting her pants. This coming from the girl who has stayed dry five nights in a row. Seriously?

Fortunately Grandpa had, by this time, sent that recently-engaged couple to relieve us of our duties so we sneaked away to help Miriam change her clothes. I made her walk all the way back to camp.

I think she had a case of the too-much-funs and didn't think to tell me that she had to go potty sooner. Or maybe she just thought better of it—taking a potty break would have stopped all the fun!

After changing her clothes we headed straight back into the wild outdoors. We were going to see if we needed to re-attend to our direction-giving duties on the road but got sidetracked by the sand where we had fun examining some deer tracks. Very closely.

We slowly made our way to the sandbox again, where I enjoyed the peaceful solitude of the lake while the girls enjoyed the sand.

Rachel told me that she could tell the sandbox was big because everybody gets their own personal space. When I asked her to repeat that for the camera she didn't. But what she did say was still funny. Near the end of the clip Miriam announced she was playing "cooking show" (credit Grandma for that one) and Rachel joined in saying, "All you do is cook the personal space..."

She certainly is a goofball.

But, boy, do I love her smile!

Miriam is equally goofy and equally precious. She wanted to show me how she can "shake sand so fast!"

Miriam plays so intently and with such focus that she's a little easier to photograph than Rachel, who buzzes around the whole sandbox while she plays. This is Miriam explaining to me, the audience of her cooking show, that you "put sand in here." Later we were supposed to dump and shake the sand into a bowl. She's a good little cooking show hostess.

We played in the sand pretty much clear til dinner time, which didn't happen until nearly 8:00 PM. Both the girls were requesting to go into the cabin, which was both warm and full of beds, but not before s'mores! Grandma and Daddy made some special s'mores for the girls because the "big kids" weren't quite ready for s'mores when the girls were. They were delighted, even though the s'mores were made in the oven instead of over a campfire. I kind of like camping without fire—it creates much less stink and thus much less clean up.

For example, I didn't have to rush to wash the girls' favourite blankets before putting them to bed because their blankets didn't come home (absolutely) filthy and smelling like smoke.

The girls had fun playing on the bunks before we tucked them into bed. Andrew slept on the top bunk and I slept on the bottom.

Rachel slept on the other bottom bunk and Miriam slept in her pack'n'play, but only for half of the night. She spent the other half of the night sharing my bunk. I had to put her on my pillow beside me because my foam pad is so narrow that we both don't fit on it—so I put my pillow between my foam pad and the wall and Miriam slept there. It's telling how narrow my mattress was, isn't it, that my pillow could fit on the bed beside me...without being folded or squished in any way. It was a long night—the girls took turns waking up to howl about one thing or another—but I've come to expect that when we go camping.

You might be wondering why I didn't take Rachel's mattress pad since it appears to be as wide as the bed. That would be because it's only half as long as the bed—it's a thin foam pad so we left it folded in half to give Rachel a little more padding between herself and the wood plank.

I'm just glad we thought to borrow extra foam pads from my mom because last year we only had one mattress which I believe I shared with both of the girls for most of the night while Andrew slept on the plain board. This year was much more comfortable, what with only one child in bed with me and mattresses all around!

In the morning we woke up and packed up and then had breakfast. There were bees all over the place—you could hear the woods humming with them—but in the morning it was so cold so they weren't really flying around, or even moving around. They'd just sit there, alive, hoping that the sun would warm things up so they could go along their merry little way collecting honey.

When Rachel finished her breakfast and stood up we noticed that she had been sharing her chair with (and nearly sitting on) a bee the whole time. This bee, as a matter of fact:

Later we went for a quick hike and Miriam had a bee hitch a ride on her sweater—Andrew found it at the end of the hike. We have no idea how long it was on her but were certainly glad it didn't decide to sting her because it was clinging to the collar of her sweater, right by her pretty little neck!

The hike we went on was just a quick .7 mile hike around the Legacy Lake Loop. Andrew didn't think we'd have time to do it because we had to get back to BYU to do a few things today but I'm glad the girls and I were able to convince him to go because it was really quite fun.

Rachel wondered if this tree had been chewed on by a beaver. We told her that we thought it had—obviously a saw was involved at some point as well but there were a lot of other trees that looked like they had been hauled off by beavers. Several other hikes in the area include "beaver pond" in their description so I'm assuming we aren't too far off to assume these trees could have been harvested by beavers. Not this particular tree, obviously, but others that we saw.

Rachel also really liked this bridge. There were a lot of water striders on the creek and Rachel said that it was "like the bugs fall into the water and turn into pretty things, which is weird because bugs usually aren't pretty." I think she was talking about the ripples that water striders make as they dance across the water.

Miriam was so exhausted from not sleeping that she kept zoning out on Andrew's shoulders. She loves to play with his ears and hair when she sits up there.

Near the end of our hike we came across a big, fat snake that, thank goodness and alhamdulillah, was not a rattler. I don't know what I would have done had it been a rattle snake—flipped out, probably.

When we got to the end of our hike I told the girls to say goodbye to camping. Rachel took one last longing look at her surroundings. She concluded that she liked camping.

Miriam started crying and needed Mommy to hold her so there isn't a picture of her saying goodbye to camping. Parting is such sweet sorrow.


  1. We were at camp Abish too! :D We saw the yurts (we were in the cabins) and thought they looked cooler. :D Looks like you guys had a blast - that sandbox is to die for in my family.

  2. How funny! We actually didn't stay in the yurts, either—we stayed in the big, huge pavilion thing.