Rocky Mountain High

Three days after returning from the coast, we packed up the recently unpacked car and headed south-west to Utah for Davids' family reunion. Our first day was spent at Lagoon amusement park in Layton. We arrived as the gates opened and hit the first ride... Wicked.

The ride is a dual LMSs powered (Linear Magnetic System) that launches you instantly to 55mph and 110' up a tower, pushing you back into your seat and what feels like all the air out of your lungs. Once over the top, it's straight down again before heading towards the twists, turns, and a spiral loop. In all the ride lasts roughly 45 seconds, a drop in the bucket compared to the hour-long wait.

Midway through the ride, our oldest son Devin, half-laughing half-screaming yelled, "This is wicked!" It was the favorite ride by all who were old enough- or tall enough- to enjoy it. D.J. and Maddy were daring in their own right and rode every ride offered to them.

(Left to right: Maddy, Devin, David, Stacey, D.J.)

I have always wanted an old-fashioned picture of our family to hide amongst the antique photos of great-great grandma's, even greater grandpa's, and every obscure relative in between on my walls. As you can see, my kids didn't have a hard time understanding 'don't smile' from the photographer. It took a little over an hour to get into our clothes and positioned in the little western shack the studio was housed. It was at least 95 degrees outside and with just a few oscillating fans inside... well, no wonder everyone was sporting down-right dirty looks at the camera.

The next day was spent boating on Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville. Between four boats, everyone who wanted a ride got one. The boys are much more daring with their cousins and tried a few new tricks on the knee board and that extra 'bounce' on the tube.

My brother-in-law Dennis, introduced me to wakesurfing and I'm proud to say that on my first attempt, I was up. It took awhile to find my 'sweet spot', the area of wake just off the stern that will keep the board in perpetual forward motion, but once I did, it was a whole lotta fun! Wakesurfing is easier than wakeboarding in my opinion. If you crash, you crash. No board to smack your head on or enough speed to clean you out better than the prep for a colonoscopy. Yeah, you know what I mean. I'm slightly disappointed that our boat is not a full inboard, which makes wakesurfing without the rope virtually impossible. I have no desire to chum the water.

Our third and final day was to hike up to Ben Lomond and Willard Peaks. Grandma and Grandpa, back in the day, rode horseback up to the peak where Grandpa then proposed and began building the 26 member-strong family that we are now.

The older kids and adults left Grandma behind to watch the littlest of farmers while we hiked and were to meet us a Maddoxs' burger stand in Brigham City around one o'clock that afternoon on our way back down.

There are not a lot of physical things that scare me beyond rational reason, but I will admit that the severely primitive 'road' we traveled on brought me to tears, literally. Our caravan consisted of a full-size, quad-cab truck, quad-cab 1/2 ton, and three Yukon XL's- one being a brand new Denali. By no means are these vehicles small and though they fall into the off-road, SUV category, I never want use my Yukon to 'its full potential' again.

Starting off as a decently maintained, one lane gravelled road, my nerves were calm and there was no need for the 'holy crap' bar that was primarily used for hanging air-fresheners on the dash and the upper left of the windshield. A few bumps turned into a lot and what little width there was dwindled as we climbed above the tree line. Instead of circumventing the major obstructions (rocks, tree stumps, and more sharp rocks) it became a case of which one would cause the least amount of damage to our undercarriage and keep us from rolling down the side of the mountain.

On the widest sections of trail, we would carefully pass gawking four-wheeler enthusiasts which made me feel even better about our mode of transportation. My father-in-law inadvertently made matters worse my saying things like, 'this road looks like hasn't been taken care of in years', 'they haven't been grading this... I remember a much better road', and the best line of misguided comfort, 'I don't think cars are supposed to travel up here anymore.'

I kept hearing how close we were, that there was a parking lot and we would hike the rest. HA! With each crest of mountainside, I hoped to see pavement (this would be the irrational part) and that the worst was over; unfortunately, those winding, twisting trails had no end in sight. Forget the 'holy crap' bar- forget the car- I'll walk back down, thank you very much.

Reduced to tears, completely helpless in the situation, I waited for the end of it. We reached Willard Peak, the highest of the two at 9,764' and tried to appreciate the view of Willard Bay and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Cache Valley to the north and Pineview and the surrounding small towns from which the trek started, to the southeast. There was still more to travel and still more tears fell from the thought of it.

By the time we reached the so-called parking lot (a wide dirt patch on the saddle of the mountain) it was time to stretch our legs and walk the remaining distance to Ben Lomond Peak (9,712'). Not only have we ventured to the home where the deer and antelope play, shabby-white mountain goats were frolicking along the rocky cliffs as if it were the local Playland at McDonalds.

(D.J. and Maddy at the trail head.)

(Ridge line trail to Ben Lomond Peak)

(Looking southwest to Salt Lake City, Ogden directly below)

When we returned to the car and ate what snacks we could find (it was well passed 1:00) my sister-in-law noticed that our front, drivers' side tire was as flat as the mornings' pancakes. After a lot of direction from multiple supervisors, the spare was securely in place and the caravan set off down the trail.

I closed my eyes, plugged my ears, and held my breath; waiting for the familiar smooth ride of asphalt. Another flat tire, a hole in our washer fluid tank, thoroughly melted brake pads, and an hour and a half later, sweet-industrialized civilization.

We had planned to head back to Idaho after family pictures, but considering the days events we extended our stay for one more night. In all it was a great trip and we look forward to next years' reunion at Lake Powell.