Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Smith and Morehouse Reservoir

July 11-15 we went camping at Smith and Morehouse Reservoir.  I had a dentist appointment at noon, and we were supposed to leave when I was done.  We had not done enough preparations ahead of time, so it took a lot longer to get out of town that we had thought it would.  We didn't leave until about 3:00.  This was basically a girl's trip.  My mom was coming, I was coming with my two kids, and my sister was coming with her three youngest.  Isabelle asked why her brother and cousin got to come.  I said it was because they were too little to stay home alone.  My dad came the first day to help us set up, but he had to work the rest of the week.  We'd never been to this camp before.  My mom's friend told her about it.  Originally we were going to Washington Lake, which I hear is really nice, but it is higher up in the mountain and was still muddy from snow melt.  Our camp host said that they usually get into the campground about the first week or so of May.  They were unable to get in until the second week in June this year.  We thought it was a really nice campground, and it only took about an hour and a half to get there.  My mom packed up at her house and then stopped by my sister's house and my house to pick up our stuff.  Since we packed at the last minute we kept thinking of things we had forgotten.  We finally left, but I had to go back to my sister's house to make sure her garage was shut, which it wasn't.  Since I was in the neighborhood I went to my house and grabbed a couple of things I forgot, like the bedding for my air mattress. My dad, who was driving himself, also had some errands to do, but we figured that those of us in cars wouldn't have trouble catching up to the trailer, which was slower.  I caught up just after we passed Morgan.  We got to the turn off in Oakley and my Dad still had not caught up, so we had to wait a little while for him.

Finally we made it to the campground and our camping trip could begin.

Day 1 - June 11th

The first thing you always have to do when camping is set up camp.  We had two options for camp sites, and we drove between the two a couple times before deciding on site 18. It was a little more isolated and had a nice meadow behind it.  We liked 27, but it was right by the river, which made me nervous with so many little children. W e set the tent up under some trees on the edge of the meadow.  The kids were all really excited and were bouncing all over the air mattresses.  When everything was set up we made dinner.  Then we debated about a campfire.  My dad wanted one because it was the only night he was staying.  He could not seem to get the fire going however, and it ended up being a small pitiful thing.   That first night was not bad and everyone slept well. 


 Day 2 - June 12th

I did not want to wake up the other campers at 6:00 in the morning, so when Tristan started fussing I quickly grabbed our things and headed up to my mom's trailer to make a bottle.  After my mom got up we decided that we should go for a walk.  We went around the lower loop and looked at all the camp sites.  We discussed which we liked and which we didn't.  Shortly after we got back, everyone else got up and we had breakfast.  A good part of the morning my Dad spent showing my Mom and sister how to take care of things on the trailer.  I think that this was the first time my mom was using it without my dad there.  He was a little worried about us coming home alone, but we said that we could handle it.  After he left we had lunch and headed for the Dam.  We went up through the upper loops of campsites and found the trail leading to lake.  The trail was a little bumpy, but not too bad.  I don't think that my stroller was built for that kind of abuse, but it did pretty good.  It was Tristan's nap time and he didn't even make it past the pit stop at the outhouse (which smelled horribly.)  At the end of the trail there was a berm.  My sister had to help me carry the stroller over it.  The lake was very pretty.  There were several people fishing along the bank.  We wanted to go down to the spillway.  The kids had a of fun walking down, pausing to pick up rocks, posing for pictures.  Isabelle was a little bit cranky, and the other kids were "bothering" her.  We decided to head back to the parking lot.  The others took a lot longer down at the spillway than we thought they would.  We wanted to go back to camp, but I couldn't get the stroller over the berm by myself.  The forest service was finishing up work on the road and it was actually smoother than the trail.  I decided to walk back on the road.  It was only a half mile, and there was very little traffic.  We were almost back to camp when my heart dropped down into my stomach and I quickly pulled the stroller and Isabelle back.  I told her to stay with the stroller and I crept forward.  Yes, I had seen what I thought I had.  A large bull moose eating lunch just off the side of the road.  What was I supposed to do?   If I went back, I might miss everyone else.  I had heard stories about how dangerous and unpredictable moose were.  If I went forward was a putting my children at risk?  After a minute or so of panic a truck pulled into the campground.  I was feet from the entrance.  The moose was showing no interest in anything other than his lunch. I took Isabelle's hand and crossed to the opposite side of the road (as if that little bit of distance would make a difference.) We went slow and steady and the moose never budged.  I felt much better when we got to our campsite.  Unfortunately my mom had locked the trailer and there wasn't much to do.  We really wanted a snack. It was about a half hour later when everyone else got back.  I told them about the moose and showed them the pictures on my camera. (I would have loved to have something with better zoom at that moment.  Something like the giant lens my husband had taken to Africa.)  The rest of the day was mostly uneventful.  We played games, had snacks, made dinner.  We were planning on making a fire to roast marshmallows. Like my dad the night before, my sister did her best to build a fire, but it just wouldn't burn.  Once the fire starters were gone the logs just had these tiny flames.  Finally my mom went and collected some wood from a fallen tree she had noticed earlier in the day.  She put that on and the fire took off.  The wood we had brought from home was a plum tree or something and was really hard wood.  It burned, but very, very slowly.  Once it finally got going, we enjoyed singing, roasting, and warming around the fire. It gets surprisingly cold in the mountains.

 Day Three - July 13th

We brought our bikes and bike trailers with us, but we hadn't gotten them out yet.  We wanted to check out the trail to the lake before riding on it.  Today, we had promised the children would be bike day. Shortly after finishing breakfast it started to rain. I got Tristan down for a nap and we started playing some games.  When was the bike ride?  When Tristan wakes up and it dries out a little.  The nap continued and guess what - it is raining again.  The bike ride never did happen. In the afternoon the sun came out and it looked like we would have a nice evening. We took the kids out to the meadow to blow bubbles, but across the meadow chomping on leaves, was that same moose again.  We decided to do bubbles by the trailer instead.  Later I saw him wander up a trail on the other side of the road.  Apparently he hangs around the camp ground a lot.  While the sun was out,  I went down to the tent to inspect the damage.  My tent is starting to get old.  It is nice, but beginning to wear.  Its waterproofing seems to be mostly intact.  That would be everywhere except the floor.  Anything that had been on the floor was sitting in a soggy pile.  Isabelle's only pair of jeans, my make-up case, the air mattress, all sitting in puddles. I did have the great idea of taking the bedding and spreading it out on  my car.  First it was in the sun and second my car is black and pretty warm from sitting in the sun.  It worked pretty well to dry out the bedding, except that some clouds started to head back in.  I took everything off the car and put it inside, where it was warm and oven-like. My mom and sister were trying to get dinner cooked.  We were having potatoes and chicken in the dutch oven.  Not an easy task to keep the briquets going in the rain.  After dinner my mom and sister went down the mountain to check in with their husbands at home.  I made a fire.  I had collected more wood during one of the dry times of the day.  I started piling it one it a standard campfire style.  I was building it on top of the leftover briquets from dinner, and some of the sticks were starting to smolder.  I considered trying to start it without using any matches, but decided that was too much bother. I put in two fire starters, By the time I got the first one lit, the one one the other side was already starting to smoke.  I really could have started it without a match. The others took longer to get back than I thought they would. I was worried that the fire would go out before they got back.  We didn't' spend a lot of time around it, but it was nice to have a fire on a chilly, drizzly evening.  Because of the state of my bedding and being worried about my baby getting cold, I decided we would sleep in the trailer.  Before bed my mom decided to try making popcorn in the dutch oven.  It worked well and was a lot of fun.  Every time she would open the lid to check on it, popcorn would go flying everywhere.   We put the table down to make up the bed, and the kids got really excited.  They said it was a boat. They were having too much fun on the boat to go to bed.  It took a little bit of work, but we did finally get everyone settled down.  It helped when my sister and her kids left for the tent.  She had a double high mattress and her stuff didn't get wet.  We could have all fit in the trailer, but it would have been a tight squeeze and she said she really preferred the tent.

 Day Four- July 14th

I woke up early Thursday morning to a beeping noise, which I worried about a little bit, but I decided if it had been something important it would have beeped more than once.  When we got up we found that we were out of power.  My dad had a new solar panel that is hooked to the batteries, so we shouldn't have been out of power, but there hadn't been much sun the previous day.  My mom thought we were out of gas too, but it was just a switch in the wrong place.  My parents had just got a new generator, but it was still in the box and my mom didn't know how to use it.  After several readings of the instructions and a little help from a friendly neighbor we did get it working.  By that time Tristan was ready for a nap.  Hoping for a long nap, we set up the game Ticket to Ride.  It is one of my favorites.   Tristan's nap turned out to be pretty short.  We put him in the booster chair with snakes and were able to finish the game.  In the afternoon, My mom and sister again needed to make phone calls, so while they headed toward town, I taught card games to my niece.  We played California speed, I tried to remember the rules for regular speed and rats, and I showed her several versions of solitaire.  She didn't know you could play solitaire with cards.We decided it was time to take a trek down to the outhouse.  We couldn't wash our hands because someone had hooked a hose to the faucett and was using it to give car washes.   There was a whole line of cars.  I thought this was really funny.  Who cares how dirty your car is while you are still in the mountains.  I started talking to one of the girls who was just standing around watching.  It turns out the forest service had provided the hose and nozzle.  They had treated the roads with magnesium something rather.  It helps them stay smoother and nicer, but it ruins paint finishes.  We headed back to camp to watch for my mom so that we could tell her to head down to the car wash.  There was a teenager who was volunteering to do all of the car washes rather than helping set up his family camp.  He said that my mom's was the hardest of the cars to get clean.  I think that it was because she had multiple days of dirt crusted on her undercarriage. After that it was time for dinner. For desert we had a banana creme pie I had made. We played Carcassone.  The kids had fun, but they didn't like it as much as we thought they might.  They are still a little young.  They were also anxious to put the table away and play on their boat again. 

 Day Five -July 15th

Today was mostly just packing up and going home.  It sounds much more simple than it was.  Actually it went pretty good for the most part.  I got the tent down and kind of put away. In the morning I hauled stuff out into the meadow to get some sun.  The tent however still had some wet spots.  I didn't put it in the bad since we would have to put it up again at home to dry.  My mom and sister went through my dad's check list for the trailer.  When we were basically ready to go, we got all the kids in the car to ride over to the next campground to check it out.  To get there we also had to drive past the reservoir.  It was really pretty and we liked the campground.  We will definitely come to one or the other of them again.  The other campground is bigger, but a bridge is broken and half the sites are closed.  We headed back to camp thinking that all we had to do was hitch up the trailer and pull out.  It turned out that we had a flat tire.  We had a pump, but its cord was not long enough to reach the plug in the car.  Even if we unhitched and moved the car there wasn't room to back it where it needed to be.  Luckily the camp host had a pump that ran on battery.  Finally we pulled out and were able to head home. 

It was a nice trip, and we had a lot of fun. I could have done with a little bit less rain.  I would have also have liked to ride the bikes, but by Thursday evening when we had a chance to ride it wasn't worth unhooking them just to pack up again.  We should had ridden them that first day. 

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