Monday, August 12, 2013

Beach Camping: It's a TRADITION!

Last Thursday we packed up and headed north just as a few raindrops began to fall at our house.
Later we learned that the storms at home knocked out power to a lot of SLC.
Another storm earlier in the week had produced a micro burst that knocked down 36 power poles!
As we drove along we were bounced by wind and kept a wary eye on the darkening clouds over the mountains.

Outside of Logan the sky turned black...I mean BLACK and I thought we were in for it.
There was some lightening and thunder but no rain fell on us.
Absolutely amazing.
When we arrived at Rendezvous Beach at Bear Lake the sky was a peaceful as could be.
Indian Paintbrush stood stock still at the lake's shoreline.
I was fascinated by the every changing colors of the lake.
That aqua shade?
Very real.
 Bear Lake is call the Caribbean of North America because of its unique turquoise water.

Our son Jeff had camped at the lake twice before and I had seen his photos.
Now I could see with my own eyes that that lake color in his photos was absolutely true.
We had raised our kids near the ocean and summer beach camping in our large trailer was part of our family's favorite memories.
After the kids were raised we sold our truck and camper.
Camping wasn't part of our lives again for about 15 years.
Since moving to Utah we have embraced outdoor life and camping, albeit in a tent, once again.
Beach camping is now going to be part of our summer, even if the water is fresh instead of salty and the waves now are only inches high.
Bernie and I arrived at our campsite on Thursday night and I broke out Mennonite girl Judy's fabulous walking tacos.
(All the taco makings were put in Tupperware before we left home and the makings were spooned into a corn chip bag, to make a taco salad that could be toted about and clean up involved washing two forks!)

We walked up the beach a bit.

It was fun to watch the campers arrive at the beach around ten each morning, carrying colorful floats and beach toys.

At one point on the beach we saw what looked like Hindi lettering, or perhaps it was Farsi?

It spelled out a mysterious phrase...maybe something about Eid?

and around it was a natural frame.

The lettering and the frame were made from tiny snail shells that lay in small heaps randomly along the shoreline.
Friday afternoon Jeff and his family arrived.
They pitched their tent right on the sand.
(And since most folks have a sense of what color blue a blue tent might be, it give a way to verify the trueness of the lake color by comparison.)

This was the view from our picnic table.

Bernie and I enjoyed just sitting and staring at the water and cloud and people watching.

Somehow we never got bored.
The almost 16 month old...did get bored though.
So Grandpa took him for a walk.

One hat was shared during the walk.

Like I said, we didn't get bored.
Two kids came riding by.
One on a bike...

The other on a unicycle!
The biker had a hard time keeping up with the one wheeler.

Friday night dinner began with a selection of Jeff's home grown heritage tomatoes.

Each of them had a unique flavor.
The green one, a striped heritage, tasted lemony and salty without any additions.

But home grown basil and fresh mozzarella cheese with a splash of olive oil and garlic salt and pepper took the appetizer to perfection.

God provided an ever changing light show to go with our meal.
We sat around the campfire, listening to a howling not tired baby who didn't think being put to bed while it was still light outside was humane.
Around ten he finally gave up.
Only Mim (that's me) had a hard time letting him cry it out.
As quiet finally came, I celebrated by making another Judy dish, Campfire Banana Boats.
Delicious and I can't wait to try making all sorts of variations of the simple treat any time a campfire is handy.

Saturday morning a stripy legged rock star was among us.

So cool.

His bottom read "Got Milk?"
Coolness as only a toddler could pull off.

He apparently had places to go and things to do.
"Everyone in the car? OK, buckle up."

(He actually is a terrible driver...)

 More morning people watching.
Just up the beach a bit was private beach fronts with beautiful homes.
Each home seemed to have a big red tractor used to haul out various boats into the water for launching.
Watching tractor and boat launch action is pretty fun.
Another home owner came out with a huge remote controlled pontoon airplane with a five foot wing span.
He launched it and it buzzed around in impressive dives and climbs.
Bernie was telling me that those things cost about a grand, minimum.
About ten minutes into the flight we heard a loud POP, like a gun had gone off and we watched in horror as the plane plunged straight down into the water.
Gulls appeared out of nowhere and circled the plane's sad floating wreckage.
Had the plane hit a bird?
I walked over to the pilot, where his wife had arrived on a tractor with their dog.
He seemed in shock, but said he had pulled too many Gs and the wings had folded upright.
It was the plane's first flight...
Oh my.
He gathered up the pieces and they all drove back up the beach to their home.

Each morning the sky dawned clear, then clouds would pile up as the day went on.
The showers seemed to spurt randomly here and there.

It was warm and after our pancake breakfast we scored a parking place at the beach up the way.
The beach in front of our camp site had some reeds in the water which made walking a bit tricky.
The beach up the way was reed free.

Small lagoons had formed, two and three inch deep places just perfect for letting a toddler explore.

(My Daddy and my Granddaddy were surfers you know...where are the waves on this beach anyway?)

A long floaty is just the thing if one can't go long board surfing.

I preferred to bob around on a floating chair.

It was so crazy how my brain kept saying I was at THE BEACH.
Except my brain also kept searching for which beach:
Was I at Mission Beach in San Diego?
The Shores in La Jolla?
Perhaps the beach in Galveston?
Hilton Head?
One of the beaches in Mexico?
Grand Cayman?
I realized I have sat on a lot of beaches in my life.
The funny part was how I kept behaving like this was a salt water beach.
I was careful not to get pant legs wet, and kept a shower towel and after swim towel separate, like any good salt water beach going person learns to do.
My brain would eventually go "Oh wait, it doesn't is FRESH water here!"

Luke is quite comfortable wearing his hat and sunglasses.
He seems to already have mastered the art of beach sitting.

And so we sat...

And people watched.
The yellow things were rent able floating trampolines with water slides off the side.
It was possible to rent ski boats, jet ski, sail boats, floaties and anything else one could possibly want for lake fun.
Some year we may just do some renting too.

We all thought this little blondie was so cute.
She reminded me of myself as a little one years ago.

It was refreshing to see so many families having fun together.
Kids playing with siblings, cousins and friends...parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, having fun together at the beach, just the way it should be.

Beach toys lay strewn about and our little guy was quick to pick up any wayward toy that caught his eye.


Alpen horn practice for the annual Octoberfest...stay tuned for a post about that in October!

And what is a beach day without a bag of Goldfish crackers?
I am not a fan of sandy hands rummaging through bags of food, but since I don't care for Goldfish crackers...what difference does it make?

Two fistfuls later...he was on his way.

My boy with his boy.

Oh be still my heart.

Luke loves boats and anything that "goes" with an engine.
At one point a small plane flew over barely skimming the water.
Talk about awesome-ness at the beach!
A chance to see a boat up close too was too good to pass up.
(The water is only hip high here.)

Floating in to shore...

Surf's up!

Luke drove everyone back to camp.
Too bad his legs didn't quite reach the pedals yet.

Hardworking Dad took a nap.

Hard working baby napped too.

I took pictures.

 My brain said "Mexico. No, San Elijo. No, that's not right....where am I again?"

One small tragedy:
Just before we left to go camping we decided to buy a shade cover.
Thursday afternoon Bernie and I put it up, and we quite pleased at how easy the thing set up.
Friday while the kids were setting up their tent beside it the clouds boiled overhead and a micro burst of wind grabbed the shade cover, lifted the whole structure over their tent and set it sailing a quarter mile down the beach.
The frame was ruined of course.
Jeff and I tried to red neck style fix it using duct tape, which kind of worked, but in the end it was left in the dumpster on our way out.

I used my small pocket camera a lot during this trip and was delighted to remember the camera had a panoramic features

So useful!
The only way one can get the full picture!

Our Sunday morning breakfast time.
During the night there was a violent lightening and thunderstorm, with booms coming three seconds after the lightening flash.
I hunkered down in my sleeping bag, wondering if my cot would attract a lightening strike.
(It didn't, this time...)
Rain fell hard for about three minutes.
The next morning the camp was swarmed with mosquitos.
Could such a short rain really trigger a swarm?
Apparently it could.
And despite bug spray, I am itching several mosquito bites even as I type this.
(How did I get bit on my ribs is what I want to know.)
A morning swim before packing up was in order.

Skinny dippin' time for the baby boy.

Humming birds and killdeer were seen throughout the waterside flora.
What a setting!

Water reeds grew on the dry ground, often several yards long with pink and white segments marking where new roots had been sent down.

Bernie axed the skeleton of the shade cover, preparing it for the dumpster.

Swim time was over.

Camp, and the baby were packed up.

On the way out of the campground flowers bloomed in profusion.

An old time log cabin framed the one way sign into the camp.
No information on who built it, when, or why.

What a lovely place it must have been to have such a cabin long ago.
And how proud one must have felt to see each log that was hewn by hand.

Bear Lake straddles Idaho and Utah's borders.
The lake's color comes from microscopic particles of lime in the water reflecting the light overhead.
The lake is the oldest lake on the continent according to scientists who have drilled down 360 feet beneath the deepest part of the lake and never hit a rock bottom.
From what sediment they extracted they set the lake's age at 250,000 years old.
Discovered in 1819 by French Canadian trappers, it was a rendezvous place for Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger and Shoshone Indians in the 1820s for trade (and partying, ahem...)
Brigham Young didn't take the area for his Mormons because of the Shoshones; they reportedly worked out a deal to let him have the Great Salt Lake while the Indians kept Bear Lake.
At least for awhile.
I didn't see a lot of Indians around the lake while we were there but there were plenty of Mormons enjoying themselves.
The lake has a very high amount of fish species that are only found in one place in the world, making Bear Lake quite interesting for naturalists.
Bernie didn't fish this trip.
I think next trip he will be fishing though.

 Bear Lake's other claim to fame is its "famous" raspberry milk shakes.
There is even a Raspberry Festival in the nearby town of Garden City.
We promised ourselves a Raspberry shake on our way out of town.
 The person ordering ahead of us asked if the raspberries were locally grown.
We learned that no, that aside from a few berry stands, the berry fields had been killed off by a blight a few years back so now only imported berries are used.
When I eagerly dipped a spoon into my shake I was disappointed to taste a frosty with barely a bit of raspberry flavor.
Well, at least next trip we will know to skip that high calorie treat.

The kids drove home through Wyoming; we wound through the Logan area canyons and into the town of Logan where there was one interesting car to see.

 We passed by a wild fire burning up the mountainside.
Nothing seemed to be getting done about the fire; I suppose it will be allowed to burn itself out without human aid.
And so ended another of our summer camp times.
We've been camping in three and four day adventures, short camp times designed to let us explore our options and decide where we want to camp for long spells in the future.
Bear Lake is definitely on the future camping list.
It is good to know our family beach camping tradition at last can live on, even while we are living in Utah.


ellen b. said...

Looks like you really enjoyed all the elements of camping by the water for sure. Love the photos of Bernie and Luke trekking about with the hats!

Lovella ♥ said...

OK..officially jealous. That looks like the best place on earth. I marvel over and over again at all the option within driving distance to SLC. The water and the huge beach and the endless sky is just amazing. There appears not to be a lot of shade...oh wait..that was why you bought the (now sad) cover.

Vee said...

oh amazing...must pin my favorite to look at again and again...that grand of yours is a cutie!

Sara said...

There sure are a lot of gorgeous places on this old earth of ours, and you seem to have enjoyed your camping locale to the max. That water is so beautiful, I could gaze at those colors all day long!

Pondside said...

You certainly live within striking distance of some great places! We haven't been camping since our youngest (now 26) was about 14. We're thinking it's time, now that the grands need some camping experience. The picture of your boy and his boy - that's one for you to print and enjoy for years to come.

Debora said...

What a beautiful place. As a felliw 'coaster' I'm glad for you that you found a place to satisfy the longing to be near the water. I love your pics, especially of the little guy...and the ones of him and his daddy and grandpa are priceless. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Looks like you've found another 'hole in the sky.'

Vicki said...

Bear Lake brings back some great memories for us! The ever-changing blues and turquoises of the water was awesome. We drove along Bear Lake from Garden City heading north and beyond, up to Montpelier and then on into Wyoming. That was an amazing drive...makes me want to pull out the old photos again! Part of the road we traveled was marked as a section of the Oregon Trail.