Flash Floods in Moab

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Flash Floods in Moab

As Brevitt and I emerged from the Canyonlands backpacking trip I had to mentally prepare myself for the next phase of the trip. I had rallied Wade and three other families to come meet us in Moab for more camping, thus appointing myself as the official scout for the perfect camp site. I have always longed to stay extensively in the desert so I was ready to rise to my self-inflicted challenge.

When I finally found the ideal site, I was slightly embarrassed to get out of my flaming Vini-Man. I approached the group of tousled boys gathered at the campsite and coyly asked them if they were staying or leaving. They animatedly told me that it was all mine since they were just lunchin it. It could have gone one way or another and I was thankful that luck was with me for the first time this entire month. Not only did they invite me in but they also protected me from the predatory Jeepers who kept driving past the site like sharks circling a meal. I amused them with stories from the last time Wade and I were camping directly next to a monstrous rock which attracted the Jeepers like an over sized magnet. We overheard comments like, That one just bout made me wanna throw up in my mouth or Duuude, toss me a beer, I need to eliminate my fear. I needed to kick back a beer just to watch. It takes a courageous person to navigate those steep rocks in a Jeep.

I wrestled with my Kelty tent as I set it up in a torrential rain and windstorm offending myself with my own odor, desert du jour. Wade would have been appalled if he had been there to witness his wife moving the tent from one spot to another in a feeble attempt to make it appear as though a professional camper had been there. Finally, sopping wet, stinky and exhausted from the heat, I put rocks in the tent so it would not blow away and went back down to collect Brevitt from the public pool.

We checked into our charming bed and breakfast that Wade had encouraged me to reserve. Know thyself, he warned me. You are not as rugged as you think you are and you will be grateful for a place to shower and a night of clean sheets before you head out again to camp.

I forewarned Brevitt that the Inn did not allow children under the age of ten and that this would be the perfect opportunity to practice his manners. We took showers, jumped on the bed and went to the Peace Tree Caf for dinner. I gagged on my wheat grass shake and Brevitt had a tough time swallowing the melon chunks in his smoothie. I suddenly understood that bumper sticker, “Health Food Sucks”.

On the way back to the Inn Brevitt saw a low rider car blaring music. Look at those freaks mommy, and after pausing to reflect he said, Their car is just like ours. We were laughing at how absurd our family must look sometimes loaded up in Vini-Man with loud music blaring when suddenly Brevitt started running with his legs apart. When I inquired as to what in Gods name he was doing he explained that he had once again overdosed on sugar at the pool and needed to get to the bathroom fast. We ran together to stave off the impending explosion but alas did not quite make it. It was a good thing that we had a bathroom to clean up in. FYI: Brevitt drafted and? signed a release giving me free license to write about him whenever I wish.

After the trauma, we cuddled in bed listening to the pouring rain very thankful that we were safe and sound inside our cozy room. The next day we ate a lovely complimentary breakfast in an intimidating quiet breakfast room. We had a tough time suppressing our desire to talk loudly and make flatulent noises. I pocketed four of the delicious homemade carrot muffins in honor of my grandmother, who had a quirky habit of “borrowing” memorabilia from the nice hotel rooms she frequented in Europe. When they asked me if I cared for a bag, I mumbled that I was fine with them wrapped in a napkin in my pocket book and Brevitt and I ran off hand in hand.

The next day, refreshed and clean, we drove up to our campsite and huddled in the tent to stay out of the rain until Brevitt felt compelled to climb over the rocks and play cowboys and Indians. When I caved in and bought him his first toy gun ever in town, I had no idea that it would incite such creative play. I was almost sorry that I made him wait so long. I had always allowed swords in the house but not guns, go figure? He ran around on the rocks, in the rain, with a handkerchief tied around his mouth shooting at invisible bad guys. I reveled in the fact that he could still become so absorbed in imaginative play.

Night fell upon us and finally the three Coleman Pop Up campers and one Sportsmobile arrived much to our neighboring campers dismay. We crowded into the magnificent camping spot replete with caves for kid exploration and dirt roads for making mountain bike jumps. The kids were also very excited to practice their technical biking skills on the Slick Rock bike trail that was a short drive down the road.

We were happy to get out of the rain and rain it did for the entire weekend. The flash floods and booming nearby lightening only added to the whole experience. As we lay in our camper we watched horrified as a newly formed river rushed under our camper taking with it the picnic table, coolers and everything else in its path. I nervously pointed out to Wade that our Coleman propane light appeared to be a perfect conduit for a lightening bolt and he ran outside to save the day with a bottle of tequila in hand for reinforcement.

We did have relief after each rainstorm when the sun would come out to warm us up and dry out our clothes. The children would race outside to slip and slide in the new river and the parents would start pouring the Margaritas. That night we heard helicopters flying overhead and wondered if it was a “flight for life” victim. We read in the papers later on that a family had climbed a wall to escape several feet of water that had suddenly rushed through the canyon they were in. After the night before I had a clearer vision of how quickly one could get in a dangerous predicament in a flash flood.

The last night we were there I told Wade that I was done with the rain and dirt and that if it rained the next day I was hightailing it out of there. We awoke to a beautiful sunny day and my girlfriends whizzed by me as I hiked my bike on a technical mountain biking trail.? They teased me asking when I had become such a wimp on my bike. I wondered why I picked such crazy friends that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I made a promise to myself that I would get back on my bike when I returned home and become a mountain biking rock star by the end of the summer. Wade, a passionate biker, would be very disappointed in me if I ever tried to give it up.

Warnings of another storm were given to us from the park ranger so we packed up and hit the road. Tucker fell asleep in Vini-Man before I even drove off. Brevitt and Axel, who had a new respect for their daddy after watching him perform on Slick Rock, rode home with him in his Dodge pick up truck and they blared their new favorite XM radio station which played a whole lot of Red Hot Chile Peppers.

I drove quickly away from the impending storm only to realize, twenty minutes later, that the infamous dyslexic location scout had once again driven in the wrong direction. I guess I was so absorbed by NPR that I did not notice that I was heading back to the Canyonlands, or maybe it was subliminal and I secretly wanted to go back for more camping. Reluctantly, I turned around to head into the lightening and pounding rain. I called Wade to let him know that I felt danger abounding and asked him to wait for me so that I could drive behind him in case of flooding. He laughed, not so surprised that I had driven in the wrong directionyet again, and told me that I would be fine. As I drove home I day dreamed about slipping into a hot bubble bath with a good book in hand knowing that the reality would be that only the children would enjoy that luxury. I was looking forward to not having a? Seventh Generation Baby Wipe bath for a while…or at least for one more day before I set off on Axel’s outdoor ed camping trip. Burton and Speke I was not but I was fairly impressed with myself for having made it through my week in the desert unscathed.

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Can’t help myself, four year olds are precious!


3 COMMENTS

  1. What an adventure! I’ve done my share of camping but never in the desert – doesn’t really matter – I know from sandy, stinky and lost! I will admit tho, those days are long gone and I am quite content (and insistent) on hotels, showers, flushing toilets, and BEDS. I’ll hike or bike during the day but that is MY kind of camp!

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