Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 15 Four Wheeling Nightmare

By the time we got ready to leave Ogden early in the morning it was already hot. We didn’t make it to the Mormon temple because hubby didn’t want to drive the trailer in the city & he said parking wasn’t good.  Dang, but maybe next time. The drive to Capitol Reef National Park wasn’t as long as we thought it would be. Hubby planned on staying at Escalante then doing day trips to Capitol Reef & Bryce Canyon, but he changed his mind & we stayed at this little place with an awesome view. The canyon behind the camp ground was beautiful & the colors were awesome (reds, oranges & green). There was a park & pool at the camp ground, but it was too cold. We decided to go ahead & see the park now & do the scenic route then call it good & head out to Bryce Canyon in the morning.

We got into the park around 4:30 & stopped at the visitor center for the kid’s stamps for their passports. At the corner of my eye I saw a lady take a map of the park, but disregarded it. Mistake #1 on my part. We saw some huge rocks, which Annika was nice enough to correct me & say “those aren’t rocks they’re boulders”. Excuuuuse me smarty pants. We stopped at one scenic look out, but the temps were not in our favor & rain was coming. We drove down this one road that was bumpy & the kid’s voices were vibrating, which they got a kick out of & Dalton kept saying “again again”. I believe it was our second turn into a scenic point & off to the side was a 4 week drive route. I said “oooh let’s go” & hubby did that “eeehh” & I said “aaawww daddy’s scared”. Mistake #2 on my part. Annika chimed in with “let’s go”. So hubby gives in & we head towards the trail. It started out ok with “woah woah woah” & laughing. We drove through some washes & made comments like “hope we don’t get a flash flood” with a grin & smirk on our face. We even stopped so I could take a photo of the Sequoia in a 4 wheel drive area, but I look back & that photo was a joke compared to what was coming. We saw some fresh tire tracks & hubby said he saw a white vehicle start out ahead of us, but I never saw it. The trail really wasn’t that bad at first then we came to a crossing over a wash with water running thru it. It wasn’t big, but hubby took a really good look at it to see if we could cross it since it was uneven & we would do a little climb over it. I’m pretty sure he said we should turn around, but I said we could do it. Mistake #3 on my part. So we went thru it & it was fun & I think we scraped the undercarriage on that one. The trail kept going & going & it started to get a little harder. Annika started with “why did we come down here, let’s go back”, but I told her it was ok. Hubby had to put the suv into 4 wheel drive a couple times & he was nervous about the tires ripping on the rocks, but we kept going. I was getting nervous by now & worried about the weather. I was also worried that we had no cell phone coverage & no internet coverage & worst of all was that no one knew we were out there. It made me think of the movie 127 hours. It wouldn’t have been a big deal if it was just me & hubby, but I had 3 precious babies in the back seat. I remember making the comment early on that we had a few snacks & my boob juice if we got stranded, but we remembered we had at least a case of water in the cooler in the back seat so that was somewhat comforting. However I took all the blankets out to wash them so we had nothing to keep warm if it came to that. All this was running thru my head as the trail got worse. My stomach was starting to get into knots & then we see the white vehicle coming towards us. We thought the trail was done & they were coming back. I was kind of relieved, but then the lady gets out & tells us that the road got too steep & they had to turn around. She asked us if we called the visitor center to let them know we were coming out there & we said no. I didn’t even think about that, but then again we hadn’t planned on doing a 4 wheel drive trail until we saw it. Mistake #4.  Now I was really worried since they couldn’t climb the trail, but they were in a crossover vehicle & we had our big Sequoia with 4 wheel drive. So we pressed on. We saw where their tracks stopped & the steep climb they were talking about. I’m pretty sure we made the comment about not wanting to turn around & go all the way back because it was at least an hour drive that had passed. We should have turned around! Let me say also that the kind of rock out there was brittle & our tires had spun a couple times. So we decide to make the climb thinking the end was just around that cliff. We were so wrong & that point was the beginning of the really really bad trail ride that had me praying for the next hour and a half or more. The kids were all sleeping at this point & I was glad because I know for a fact Annika would have been crying out of fear. I remember hubby saying “we’re committed we’re committed” as he started up that steep climb because there was no stopping. Had we stopped we would have slid backwards & probably gone over the edge. It was wide enough for us to go thru, but when I looked over the edge to see how much room we had it was less than a foot of space. I didn’t want to visualize us falling off the edge & tumbling down into the gorge, but the thought crept into my mind. I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit & I had severe dry mouth. I forced myself not to cry in fear because I didn’t want the kids to see me that way. I wanted them to feel comforted that it was ok. I was holding onto the handle by the window & my entire body was tense. The last time I was that tense was during natural childbirth.  I gotta say as I’m typing this & reliving it in my mind I’m still shaken up & my stomach is in knots.

We made it up that steep ledge only to come to the top & see more & more & more. It was very discouraging. The under carriage of our suv scraped several times on this trail & hubby worried about us breaking down. It got to the point where we thought we might have to camp out in the wilderness if the suv broke down or if we got lost. I was scoping out safe looking places just in case as I prayed for our safety & for Kurt’s ability to drive us out of there in one piece. I regretted pushing him to drive this dumb trail & promised I’d never encourage him to do anything like this ever again & I told him to go with his gut next time & to put his foot down & say “no” to me.

This trail seemed to go on forever & a couple times hubby had to get out of the suv to walk down a steep grade or around a corner to see if it was safe for us to continue. Of course there was no going back, especially down that very steep & narrow ledge so we had no choice. Both times he said it was ok. Our gps showed us in the middle of nowhere with no streets nearby. Ugh I hated that feeling. Several times the trail seemed to get better & we got our hopes up that it was coming to an end, but then we’d start climbing again on rough terrain then would decline again on rough terrain. What made it worse was the fact that it had rained earlier so some of the rocks were slick & more rain was coming so there was that urgency to hurry & get out of there. I remember thinking at one point as I held Emry’s hand that “she’s just a baby & has her whole life ahead of her”. I know it sounds silly & you’re probably thinking I’m being over dramatic, but until you drive that trail with your babies in the back seat, you have no idea. Before kids, hubby & I did our fair share of 4 wheeling when we lived in Vegas & in the Azores the first time, but this was way worse & we had our precious cargo with us. Bad bad choice on our part. I thought we’d be THAT family you’d see on tv that came up missing & people would chime in with “what were the parent’s thinking”. I didn’t want it to come to that. Annika finally woke from her nap & it was right when we were on a bad patch of the trail & she started talking about something, but hubby told her “stop talking right now, I need to concentrate”. I think she could sense his tone & I turned around & told her to pray in her mind & I held her hand tightly. I held on to her hand for a very long time not just for her comfort but for mine as well. At some point, I can’t remember when, Dalton woke up & asked for his movie. I thought it would be a great distraction for him so I gave it to him & Annika asked for hers as well. Anything to keep their minds occupied & their eyes off the road.

Finally in the distance I saw a trail that looked to be on flat ground surrounded by trees. I was hopeful & prayed that the end of the trail was near. It was after 7pm & I didn’t want to be out there at night when we wouldn’t be able to see anything. When we got to that flat prairie area we eased up a bit, but it still wasn’t over. The trail wasn’t nearly as bad, but we still went thru several washes, climbed over rocks & had bushes scrape the sides of our suv. I didn’t care at that point I just wanted out of there. I wanted to kiss the asphalt & do a happy dance. We saw a couple signs so that was uplifting. What wasn’t encouraging was the fact that on this trail there were no tire marks, only ours that we left behind us. The trail got better & we saw a couple corrals which meant other trucks could get out there & we knew the road would come soon. The road started to level out & eventually we saw more tire tracks. Yay! We saw big trees & I saw dust in the road & before I could say something about it I saw a truck in front of us. I was so happy to see another vehicle! Then we saw a sign for a camp ground. Halleluiah! The truck moved over for us & hubby drove faster. He was just as eager to get the heck out of there. The dirt road turned into a gravel road, which was so uplifting then he saw the road. Yes! We had survived. About ¼ mile up the road was a rest stop & we took it. He got out & smoked his cigar, which he totally deserved for being an awesome driver & getting us out safely. I went to the bathroom, then changed & fed Emry. I was sure to thank God several times & I hugged my babies. Hubby & I were now able to talk about what we felt & he admitted to being very concerned several times. He agreed that we never should have taken the trail. He said it would have been fine in a jeep since it’s a lighter vehicle & has better tires & is narrower, but nope I’d never do it again. We got the kids back in & headed to our camp ground. I just wanted to be in the safety of our trailer & I wanted to forget about Capital Reef forever. Turns out we missed quite a few neat dwellings on the scenic route around the park, but we were up close & personal with that park, closer than I ever wanted to be. We lived it. I made the comment that I could use a stiff drink & I’m not much of a drinker, but since all we have is hubby’s yucky vinegar wine, I had to settle for water & gum. My nerves were shot. That evening after dinner & getting the kids ready for bed I skipped getting on the computer to blog. The memory was too fresh in my head & too disturbing to relive at that moment. I just wanted to snuggle with my babies & go to bed & that’s exactly what I did, but not before thanking God one more time.

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