So our second trip of the summer was to beautiful Bear Lake on the border of Utah and Idaho. If you’ve never been you are truly missing one of the most beautiful lakes God has created in the US. It is Caribbean blue and has nice sandy beaches and is located high up in the Wasatch mountains. In the winter you can snowmobile and do lots of other fun winter sports up there. In the summer it is heaven. It’s never too hot, but always hot enough. We camp in a cluster of trees right off the beach. We have made this a yearly tradition in our family. Now I’ve told you how wonderful Bear Lake normally is, let me tell you how horrible it was this time around.
We expected some rain when we headed out on Thursday morning. The forecast said there would be rain on Friday and that Saturday would be clear. Thursday was blustery and cold, but warm enough for a camp fire and to set up camp. We were not prepared for the after affects of a monsoon. The wind was horrible the rain was unrelenting. We decided to go to a nearby cave where they give tours and to drive around the lake. By the time we reached the other side of the lake it was too late to go hiking. We decided to go to a local pizzeria. The food was really great and yet the rain kept coming down, right through their swamp cooler and onto our table. We were finally able to go back to camp, it was still raining but we had a plan to sit and play games in our huge “water proof” tent. It is really hard to play cars in 2 inches of water though and so that plan was terminated. We also were not going to be able to sleep there because our bedding was soaked!
We packed our kids in the car and frantically broke camp. It took 2 hours and we were drenched by the end, our kids were sick of being in the car, and we still had 1 1/2 hour drive to my mom’s house where we had decided to crash for the rest of our trip. My parents just happened to be out of town this particular weekend and offered us their house so we could still sort of camp out, and hit a couple of local places and still enjoy our weekend. We had a friend and his nieces and one of their friends with us. So we had a total of 12 kids and 3 adults on this trip. To get to my parents house we had to drive through 2 canyons in pretty treacherous weather. My parents live at the mouth of the second canyon. We had driven almost the entire way to my parents house, we were 5 minutes away, when we realized that there were police cars all over the highway turning traffic around. They weren’t letting any cars through at all. There was a rock slide in the canyon and there were 2 car sized boulders in the middle of the highway. They turned us back in the other direction and it took us an entire hour longer to circumvent the canyon. On the bright side I did get to hold my friends new born baby because the detour went right by her house. I called her, she met me on the porch, I held Emmy for 2 seconds, jumped back in the car and headed to my mom’s. It was worth the detour to see Emmy’s cute face. We did finally get to my mom’s at midnight our 1 1/2 hour drive was closer to a 3 hour drive.
You know most people would have given up on this trip by now, but I was determined to have a great time. My kids had missed some school for this trip and I was going to make it worth it. Saturday we had to set up all our stuff to let it dry out, it took all morning. But we managed it and got everything repacked and under a tarp just in case the down pour made a return trip too. We decided since the weather was awesome we would go swimming. We decided to go to a place called Crystal hot springs. It is this natural mineral hot spring and there are pools built around it for swimming. We jumped in the car and drove the 30 minutes to the springs, and just as we got there marble sized hail started falling from the sky and the springs were closed because mud washed off the hillside into the pools. We had to wait 45 minutes for the filters to work their magic. Again, most people would have called it quits, but not this gal, we played phase 10 in the car and waited. The girls got a nice little nap. The sun came out it was going to be nice after all…..and IT WAS! We swam for several hours and played games in the water. The kids got a slide pass and spent a munch of time on the water slide it was awesome.
We had decided that we would go to my brother’s house and roast hot dogs and make s’mores in his fire pit. He lives close to our parents and has lots of fun kids stuff in his backyard, it was wonderful, our weekend had thus far been salvaged.
At this point I need to warn you the rest of this post is not about our trip at all, it was how this memorable weekend turned into a tragic one.
We had just finished cleaning up our dinner mess and jumped in the car. Our cell phone was dead and had been charging inside our vehicle. I looked at it and noticed we had several missed calls from Vaughn’s siblings, they rarely call so we knew something was up. As I was getting ready to call one of them our phone rang again, it was Vaughn’s sister Natalie. She was relieved to reach us they thought we were at Bear Lake and that they wouldn’t be able to get us on the phone until Sunday. Then she told us That Vaughn’s step mom, Ruth had been in a horrible car accident with her 15 year old grandson and they had both been killed instantly. To say we were in shock is an understatement. Vaughn’s mother was also killed in a car accident only 9 years ago. Natalie told us that his dad was at the hospital in Brigham City (the same town my parents live in). We were only 5 minutes from the hospital. We left the kids with some friends and ran over to see Vaughn’s dad. It was a very difficult night the similarities to Vaughn’s mom’s accident were unreal. It felt like we were reliving that awful time as well. Our hearts are broken for Ruth’s sweet family that were experiencing a double tragedy that night. We were able to stay there as a family and support each other. I love that our families were able to come together that night.
Now back to our ruined trip. I would be so disappointed if I couldn’t share what a HUGE blessing our ruined camping trip was. If we hadn’t been rained out, if we had made it through the 2nd canyon 10 minutes sooner on the way to my mom’s. I am so grateful that the storm forced us to head home. I’m grateful that we weren’t in the canyon where the rock slide was, when the rock slide was, we missed it by just a few minutes. But I’m also glad that the rock slide happened, because without it we may have decided to go the rest of the way home instead of staying at my mom’s. (Also, no one was hurt in the rock slide) I have not figured the purpose of the hail storm, but I’m sure it helped us in some way.
I will be eternally grateful that we were at the hospital with Vaughn’s dad. It was incredibly difficult to be there and to see someone we love that way, but we can do hard things and come out stronger and better because of them. I’m grateful for a loving Father in Heaven that helped us through a really rough time, and is still helping us through it.
Memories aren’t just made in happy occasions, and we have had a very memorable summer.