Friday, August 02, 2013

The real one this time. Also, trust, but verify.

Over July 4th weekend, we decided to take the kids camping.  We figured they're old enough, they love being outside, and it would be fun.

We decided to go to Steamboat Springs, up in the north-central part of the state.  It's a beautiful town up in the hills, and spectacular in the summer.  High alpine meadows full of wildflowers, lots of stuff to do, and a good arts/music scene.  Sam Bush, whose music I've loved since high school, was doing an outdoor concert the night we were due to arrive, so we were excited to be up in the mountains out of the heat, in a pretty, relatively lush area, listening to music and doing fun things.

J called the Colorado parks and rec department to reserve a campsite in one of the state parks, and they put us on a site that they said was about 20 miles outside of town.  Perfect.

We loaded up the car and started the drive.  The kids were crazy-excited and we were all looking forward to a fun weekend.

The drive, which is about 3 hours or so, is beautiful.  Even just 20 minutes outside of Denver, we were all hit once again with how we live in such a gorgeous place.  We sang songs and played hysterical games of 20 Questions (it was Zeke's turn and we were all stumped and asked for a hint.  Zeke said, "it starts with a 'b' and rhymes with 'wutton,'" which for some reason had us all in stitches).  We looked out the window and admired the scenery.

When we were about 30 minutes outside of Steamboat, I plugged the address of the campgrounds into my phone so we could get specific navigation to where we were going.

My phone told me we were still 3 1/2 hours away.

"What the fuck??"  I said.  "J, are you sure that's the right address and name of the campground?"

"Yeah, I wrote it down on that piece of paper.  The lady said it was in a town just outside of Steamboat."

"And you're sure it's 'Rifle'?"

"That's what she told me."

For those of you not from these parts, here's a map of Colorado to give you a sense of what we're talking about.  "A" is Steamboat.  "B" is Rifle.  The route from Denver to Steamboat is in red, and from Steamboat to Rifle is in blue.  Plus, Steamboat is up in the mountains and is cooler and greener and prettier.  Rifle is in a very hot and dry part of the state -- no alpine meadows full of wild flowers or anything like that.

In other words, not only is Rifle Gap State Park not "just outside of Steamboat," it's fucking NOWHERE NEAR STEAMBOAT.

J felt really awful about not double-checking the location before we left, and I was a bit miffed, but honestly, why shouldn't he be able to rely on the person you get on the other end of the line when you call the State of Colorado's official parks department, to reserve one of their official campsites in one of their official state parks?  People come here from all over the world to ski and hike and camp and fish and mountain bike.  The people at the parks department have clearly dealt with folks who don't know Colorado well; they should be relied upon to tell people accurately where their reservations are.  So even though J was beating himself up a bit, it wasn't really his fault.

But in any event, what to do?

We decided to go to the visitor's center in Steamboat to figure out what our options were.  When we told the lady there what happened, she was incredulous that we had been told that Rifle was just outside of Steamboat.  She gave us a list of local campsites and we started calling, but of course, on July 4th weekend, there wasn't an available campsite anywhere.  We then called the U.S. Forest Service and asked what our options were -- they said that we could camp anywhere in the national forest boundaries, but because of fire restrictions (we've had some bad wildfires this summer, if you haven't heard), we wouldn't be able to make a fire.  Fires are only allowed in officially sanctioned campsites.  So we wouldn't be able to cook or roast marshmallows or anything like that, which would rule out a major reason that Josie was even interested in camping (marshmallows).  That seemed like a pain in the ass, especially with the kids.

I said to the kids, "we can see if we can find a hotel room to stay in.  We can still go hiking and do things like that, but we won't be sleeping in a tent or anything."

The thought of another 3 1/2 hours in the car was a bit more than I could fathom.

"NOOOOO!  Mama, we want to go camping!  Pleeeeeaaaase!"

I looked back at them.  "We've already been in the car a long time.  We'll have to be in the car for another long time if you want to camp.  Do you understand?"

"We'll be good, Mama, we promise!!  We want to camp."

I looked at J and sighed.  "You up for it?"

"I am if you are," he said.

"Ok, let's do it."

So we got back in the car and drove another 3 1/2 hours to Rifle.

At least we got to drive through Glenwood Canyon, which is stunning.

We finally got to Rifle 7 1/2 hours after we left Denver.  The kids were amazing in the car.  I sulked a bit because I really wanted to be in Steamboat, but I got over it.

And as far as the kids were concerned, this was the greatest trip they had ever been on.  There were chipmunks!  And lizards!  And sleeping in a tent!  And a fire!  And dead animal bones!  And swimming!  And waterfalls!  And caves with bats in them!

We had so much fun that we decided to go camping again, this weekend.  To Steamboat. 

The real Steamboat.

1 comment:

  1. The photos are gorgeous....You DO live in a beautiful place! The shot of Zeke looking kind of smug.....splitting image of his Dad! Glad you finally get to see Steamboat. What a story!!