Sunday, August 29, 2010

Camping at Bear Lake

They call Bear Lake "the Caribbean of the Rockies." I don't know who "they" are, but they failed to mention that, though it has the color of the Caribbean, it still has the climate of The Rockies!

Last year we went up to Bear Lake to do the Bear Lake Classic Triathlon (Olympic). We thought it was so beautiful, but it ended up being too cold for the kids to swim, and we didn't really spend much time there. We decided we'd try it again sometime when we'd have more time, and hopefully warmer temperatures.

Don't ask me why I scheduled our trip for the same weekend this year then. I should have learned that this is not a good weekend to visit Bear Lake.

I had been planning on doing the Bear Lake Brawl Half Tri before I got pregnant, which was this weekend, but that's actually not the reason I scheduled it for this weekend. We were going to go with my brother and sister-in-law and this was the best weekend for them that still had camping spots available.

I'd been watching the weather forecast up there for a couple weeks leading up to this weekend, and I was really hopeful because it had been sunny and in the 80s the whole time. The whole time, that is, until this Friday when it started saying Thunder Storms with temperatures in the 70s. No!

It was actually raining here as we packed up to go on Friday, but I was still hopeful that it would be ok up there. It's about a 3 hour drive from Salt Lake up to Garden City, and our campground actually turned out to be in South Eden so we had to drive around the lake another 10 miles or so. Our campground wasn't the one where they had the tri last year (and this year I think), so we just had to hope it would have a nice beach.

It was nice and warm when we got there, and we walked down to the beach right away to check it out. It was pretty nice, but probably not as nice as the other place. It had sand, though, and that's all the kids cared about so we we were happy. And it was really pretty - when the sun was out.

We headed back to camp to get our tent set up and start dinner. My brother, Shane, and his wife, Heather, had just arrived too. Ethan got everything out to set up the tent and it looked like I had brought the tent poles for our other tent! Ethan was very upset about maybe not having a tent to sleep in, and I just didn't know what we would do, especially since there was definitely a storm blowing in. We couldn't all sleep in the Jeep! Pete and Shane figured out a way to get part of the tent set up with the poles we had, though it was only one little tent out of our 3-tent compound and only the kids would fit. Pete and I just folded the seats down in the Jeep and put the air mattress in there for us.

By now, we had gotten dinner started and it was starting to rain. It was raining pretty good for little while and we had to hold chairs over the coals so the rain wouldn't put them out! Finally, just around the time dinner was ready, and when my sister, Katie and her boyfriend, Ryan, got there, it stopped raining! We had been pretty worried about where we would eat since all the kids were hiding in the tents or cars, but it turned out being alright while we ate and we got to see a deer run by on the beach!

We got a fire going and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores and peach cobbler and had a great time sitting around the fire talking. The sky was clear and we could see all the stars so I was, again, hopeful that the storm had passed. Katie, Ryan and Shane all left between 8:30 and 9, having to work in the morning. I put the kids in their tent, all snug in their sleeping bags with Mindy telling them stories, and they went to sleep so good! No problems at all. I couldn't believe it!

Pete and I went to sleep in the Jeep a little while later, and I cracked the window so I'd be able to hear the kids if there was a problem.

After a few hours, the storm started. It was raining buckets, the wind was shaking the tents like a dog, and the thunder didn't help to create a nice peaceful night. I would probably have been really comfortable and slept fine in the Jeep, if it were just Pete and I, but I had the kids to worry about. I just laid there waiting for someone to start crying, and sat up several times during the night to make sure their tent was still in one piece.

Finally, at about 3:00, I did hear crying. It wasn't Elle, as I had been expecting, but Mindy and Ethan. They were both crying and saying that they were scared. I was worried they would wake Elle up, but when I got in there, she was just sleeping soundly, hugging her doll. So sweet, as if the tent weren't shaking like crazy all around her, being pounded on by rain. I got them calmed down and stayed in there with them for about an hour. I thought about staying there the rest of the night, but I was just on the ground with a fleece blanket. At one point, I put my arm under Ethan's pillow and got my sleeve all wet. I scooted him down and made sure his sleeping bag was under him so he wouldn't feel the wet. Then I got back in the Jeep to try and sleep for a few hours, luckily it had stopped raining, but it was still really windy.

Heather made breakfast in the morning, which was really nice not to have to think about anything. I tried to help her out with her kids as much as I could, since she was alone with them. I asked the kids who thought this was the best camping trip ever, and despite the stormy night that the adults all found to be a nightmare, they all raised their hands! At least it will be a memorable one!

At around 9 or 10, we started noticing triathletes riding their bikes on the street just above our campsite so we went up and cheered for them for a while. Durning the night I was thinking, "Man, I'm glad I'm not racing tomorrow!" But when I was watching them all ride by, I was wishing that I was with them, and wondering where I would have fit into the mix. Cheering is the next best thing, though! I wonder how many of them had also been camping and didn't get any sleep!

After that, we went down to the lake, but it was getting all cloudy and windy again so I didn't quite feel like swimming. The kids mostly played in the sand with their jackets on or towels wrapped around them. Again, we'd failed to come at a time that was warm enough to really play in the water! Dang. The sun did peek out every once and a while, and that felt really good. That's when I'd pull my camera out because when the sun's shining on the water it transforms from a regular lake to a beautiful turquoise blue.

My favorite thing from the whole trip was when it was lunch time and we wanted to roast hot dogs, but we were all out of firewood so Pete was looking around for wood he could use. Suddenly Ethan comes up from the beach dragging this huge branch behind him! What a go getter! I wish I would have taken a picture of that, but here he is helping Pete get the fire going.

It was also just great to watch Elle and Aria play together.

The kids all had a great time and didn't want to leave when it was time to go at 2:00, but we had a long drive home ahead of us.

I don't know if we'll give Bear Lake another try or not. (or camping, for that matter) I can see that it could be beautiful and really fun, but it's kind of a long drive to risk it. We'll see, maybe we'll go earlier in the summer next year. Or maybe we'll just go to California or North Carolina to a real beach.

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