Last spring we decided to take one last family camping trip before buying a flock of chickens. We were excited to be getting chickens, but they need daily care and would make it much harder to take extended vacations, so we wanted to make this last camping trip special. Dad wanted to camp in the San Rafael Swell in the deserts of southern Utah. The rest of us were skeptical — especially my Mother, who was raised in the Mohave Desert. After our last family vacation to the beautiful, lush, greenness of Mount Rainier, we doubted we would really have much fun camping in a hot and barren desert; but Dad convinced us that it could be scenic too, so off we went.
It took two cars to fit camping gear for our group of eight, and I was nominated to drive one of them. I still felt fairly new to the world of driving, but the worst thing that happened during the seven hour drive was three cars that pulled between me and the jeep Dad was driving, when we entered the freeway near the city of Provo. Fortunately, I had studied the map carefully, so I recognized the exit where I was supposed to leave the freeway, and was soon back in my comfort zone — tailgating Dad.
It was late when we arrived at our campsite in the San Rafael Swell, but I quickly saw why Dad had wanted to camp there. Gigantic rock formations loomed on every side of the campsite, making it feel like we were standing at the bottom of a giant, rocky bowl.
I could barely sleep in anticipation of climbing on those rocks in the morning. Finally dawn came. We ate breakfast, grabbed our canteens, and headed for the highest peak near our campsite. From there we had an excellent view of the surrounding valley. On the way back down we couldn’t resist snapping several photos of us sitting in “the teeth,” which was a cavity in a rock face that had thin bars of rock extending from top to bottom in the opening, like long fangs.
We explored the rocks near our campsite that day, and the next day we drove over to nearby Goblin Valley. Goblin Valley is filled with red and lumpy, upright rock formations that look like goblins. We had no end of fun climbing all over these formations as wells as some much larger ones in the far side of the valley We even found a cave in one of the larger formations that extended quite a ways back and proved to be an interesting challenge to navigate.
When we got back to camp that night, we were saddened to think that our adventures were almost over, as we planned to head home in the morning. But during that night a sudden rainstorm came up, and it drizzled throughout the next morning. We wasted no time getting ready to leave. One of my sisters held an umbrella over the cooking eggs and bacon while the rest of us scrambled to take down the tents.
Before long, our train of two cars was leaving the San Rafael Swell. It did feel good to be heading for home and modern conveniences, though we had such a good time camping. As I guided the car through the driving rain, I wondered why we had worried so much about not having any fun at the San Rafael Swell. My only regret about our camping trip was that we weren’t planning to go back!
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