The road trip that wouldn’t end, camping portion

So here we go … Day Two. As I mentioned yesterday, I got up early. I saw the race. I had some excellent coffee and a wonderful conversation. I felt GOOD about the day’s possibilities.

And then it got BETTER.

I never take a road trip without consulting Roadfood. They never fail me, and once again, they came through. We passed through the tiny, adorable town of Salina, Utah, and stopped for lunch at Roadfood-endorsed Mom’s Cafe, a place where even the hamburger buns are homemade, fresh, every day.

Joe's still grumpy, but he spotted a "scone" on the way in and this cheered him up.

Now you see why I put "scone" in quotes. It's more like a sopaipilla, which is Joe's favorite thing in the universe ever since he got back from Chile a few months ago. Well, that and candy of any kind.

This burger is so delicious, you'd think it could save an entire road trip. You'd be wrong.

Next we stopped by this raging river to let the dogs take a walk. It was finally starting to feel warm, which is magic for someone like Joe, who’s been in the middle of a long Jackson Hole winter for the last five months. Joe took off his shirt and laid in the back of the truck. The dogs and I explored the edge of the river. The dogs swam! It was great!

And then we got to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Here’s the problem: it was National Parks Week, when entry to the park is free, meaning the place was PACKED. We drove into the campground area, and Joe’s unravelling began. Well, actually, it began back at the park ranger station, where the ranger told Joe that dogs aren’t allowed on any of the trails, which, admittedly, sucks. THEN we got to the crushed campground. By that time, Joe was beside himself. Fortunately, my phone still had the tiniest bit of battery power, which I used to find the closest dog-friendly campground, Red Canyon, a park that has pretty much the same beautiful scenery without the national park hoopla, and hallelujah, dogs can be anywhere in the park, as long as they’re leashed (and we all know how well THAT goes over).

But when we arrive to Red Canyon … it’s closed. Doesn’t open until May. And it was 3:30 PM. We had nowhere to camp and it was going to be dark soon. Joe was nearing total meltdown.

We decide to drive to a state park that my phone says is also dog-friendly. It’s about twenty miles away, and neither of us are feeling all that optimistic about it. So when we pass this dirt road that seems to lead off into Red Canyon, we decide to check it out. Suddenly we’re excited. We don’t need a stupid CAMPGROUND!

We pass a site with a few trucks and RVs and keep going. It’s a good thing they were there because an hour later, they totally saved us. See, I thought we were excited about this new campsite possibility, but Joe, he was really still freaking out. And this extreme level of stress inspired him to yank the truck over a huge muddy ditch. And get us stuck.

If a human being could spontaneously combust, this would have been the moment. Joe, not me. I was fine. I mean, no … I was HORRIFIED, but I was calm. Joe, less so.

But Joe, he is a worker. It doesn’t matter how upset or angry or COMPLETELY LIVID he is, Joe goes straight to work, which is exactly what he did in this situation, too. He some discarded metal chair legs – I am not even joking – and trying to dig the front of the truck out. Seven seconds into this project, he jabbed these chair legs into his hand, and that’s when I decided I’d walk away. (I’m now realizing he should maybe have a tetanus shot. He’s going to make fun of me for suggesting it, but I will anyway… )

I headed down to the RV/truck guys to ask for help, and before I was even a mile down the road, one of them appeared on an ATV and offered to go give Joe a hand. The only other thing I could do at this point was get Muzz out of the way. Muzz is four, you see, and he can be … underfoot. Especially if he senses tension. So I took him off up a mountain for an hour or so to remove BOTH of us from the path of destruction. We had a gorgeous hike and when we came back, the truck was free and Joe was pitching the tent. We set up camp and went for another gorgeous hike. Everything would be FINE now. Of course it would.

Joe wanted to do something for the nice RV guys, so we stopped on our way to dinner to ask if they needed anything. A gallon of milk. No problem, right? Of course it was. Until everyone within ten miles was sold out of milk. We went to four different places before we found milk, the last place being this giant tourist souvenir shop/grocery store. I flat refused to let Joe even get out of the truck and went in to get the milk myself. I even bought him a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg while inside. When this didn’t cheer him up, I knew we were doomed.

We ate something terrible and went back to the camp site, where we kind of enjoyed a fire for about ten minutes and then proceeded to have the coldest, worst night of sleep ever.

See, Joe? You really did smile at least ONCE on this trip.

You should know that Joe was WAY colder than me because he gave me his REAL sleeping bag while he slept in this terrible novelty Magic Hat gift-with-purchase sleeping bag. Poor guy. And what’s worse … I was STILL cold. In addition to his sleeping bag kindness, Joe also got up early (partly because neither of us slept) and had a huge fire going when I crawled out of the tent. There was zero need for discussion. We decided to pack up everything and head out.

I didn’t have so much optimism on the third day, and though we did have coffee at a stunning little cafe Joe’s mom discovered …

Kiva Coffeehouse

… I still knew it was time to go home. Somewhere before Salt Lake, I suggested that maybe we should just push through and go all the way home. Fourteen hours after I brushed my teeth – shivering – by Joe’s giant fire, we finally made it home. We slept for the NEXT fourteen hours, and then everything was fine.

The gist: Joe and I will always be friends. And that is because we will never take a road trip together ever, ever again.

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6 thoughts on “The road trip that wouldn’t end, camping portion

  1. Ah, a real camping trip! That’s how you build memories.

    Did Dad and I ever tell you about the time we camped on Lake Lanier and it froze, but we were kept entertained by the Vietnam Veterans camped nearby getting into a shootout with the motorcycle gang?

  2. Juli, it was that boy scout trip that you and I took stuff up to for them, then we left them there at the lake and went straight to some restaurant that served hot soup. It was so cold that night. Don’t you remember?

  3. Well, your photos look lovely, except for the one where the truck is stuck in the mud. This trip sounds like it is straight out of National Lampoon’s Vacation. I thought at one point you might tell of walking through the desert with a t-shirt wrapped around your head, singing “I love a parade.”
    To any dog owner’s defense, traveling with dogs is perhaps similar to traveling with children, except they are less accepted by hotels and restaurants. It’s not easy, as noted by your posts.
    I’m sorry the trip was a bust. Camping is not all it’s cracked up to be. But damn, that Cafe Joe’s looks amazing. Can’t wait for you to be back home!
    Safe travels sweet friend.

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