Monday, May 27, 2013

Camping at Buckeye Reservoir

James turned 9 on May 25, and he asked to go camping for his birthday. We had a rare weekend with no obligations, so we took advantage of all three days with Memorial Day, arriving up there on Friday and staying til Monday afternoon. Buckeye Reservoir and Pioneer Campground are just over the Utah/Colorado border in the La Sal Mountains about 90 minutes from our house. We hadn't been up there for about 4 years, and it has been closed for 2 years. It is pretty remote and requires lengthy dirt roads to get back in there, though the roads are in good shape from logging companies and the forest service. The past two years, they really cleaned up the entire area and fixed up the campground, though there is also tons of at-large camping if desired in the forests. The reservoir is small enough that it's pretty much row boats only. While it was in the 90s down in Moab, the days up there in the mountains were in the 70s and the nights in the cool 40s. We had a great weekend with the kiddos with long evenings by the campfire, card games, lots of fishing, kids on long "exploring trips" at the lake while Brandi and I relaxed in camp, and good food. We also took up the 4-wheeler I just bought, and I took the kids on long ATV rides through the forests. I let each one of them drive for a couple of hours each (on different trips) so that they were all familiar with it. The boys were better than I thought at their young ages, and the girls were pros. It was kinda nice letting the girls tour me around the mountains. I let Emmy ride up and then down a long technical ridge with lots of steps and boulders - it surprised me how well she did. I took over on two spots because I was nervous, but otherwise she did well. Here's some pics and more details...
We woke up the morning of James' birthday, and as luck would have it, he caught the first fish. A nice little pan-fryer trout.
Matthew caught a crawdad on his fishing line. I kept fishing up shore when he came up to me a little upset. He said his crawdad was gone. I asked him where he put it, and he said he put it on the stringer with the fish but he escaped.
Emmy loves to fish. We got up every morning and fished for a couple of hours. She caught more fish than I did, mainly on a Big Jake.
Our first morning "keepers." We caught probably 10-15 fish each. They were hitting spinners and the Jakes (Big and Lil'), and I caught my bigger ones on a Kamlooper spoon.
The kids loved the 4-wheeler. Like the camper, I wish I had bought one long ago. After riding my brother's ATVs for years, I figured it was time to have my own. We piled on and rode around the lake to our fishing spot each morning and afternoon.
The boys on their first ride with me. Their helmets didn't arrive in time, so we improvised by having them wear mine and Matt has a bike helmet on. We took it slow with them so no mishaps without helmets.
 My cute gal. 
 She didn't like the wind, so this was her only trip over with us to watch us fish.
I figured we'd be camping in the forest, but the campsites were pretty nice and right along the lakeshore, so we just slipped in there. There's no electrical or water - it's just simple mountain campsites with gravel/dirt roads. Because it is so remote, there was hardly anyone there even though it was Memorial Day weekend. 4-wheeler trails branch out in almost every direction, surrounded by national forest, elk, deer, bears, geese, ducks, fishing, and nice and quiet. Love it up there.
 Enjoying an evening Johnsonville Smoked brat by the fire.
These two rascals are best buds. We'd send them off down to the lake and they'd explore the creek and lakeshore for hours.
Emmy riding the ATV. She was actually a natural. Her first ride out, I explained the basics, and then she took us on a 1-hour ride up through the forest to a mesa and down on a nice ATV trail. I didn't have to tell her anything after the first instructions, and pretty soon she was riding it as well as I would.
 Matt chillin' by the fire sippin' a cold orange brew.
On a long evening ride with Annie. We climbed up to the plateau for a view of the sunset and the La Sal Mountains. Moab is on the other side of those peaks. Beautiful country up there in the pines and aspens. Tons of mule deer everywhere. I was surprised how much Annie liked riding the ATV. She's more like her mom about stuff like this usually (Brandi didn't want anything to do with it, only going on one short ride with me).
I found this broken glass in my bed in the camper under the covers. Matt found it at the lake, and the girls said he was using it as a spyglass.
On Sunday, we took all of our fish filets from our catch, battered them up, and I fried them in oil in our cast iron skillet over the fire. We baked french fries in the oven and had fish and chips with fresh lemons and tartar sauce. Awesome lunch!
James' birthday cake we picked up in town on our way out - Transformers! We used matches for candles. He got a bike helmet, Minecraft Legos, a water gun, Pokemon cards, and a ton of gum. I'm a pretty smart guy, and there's not much I can't figure out, but Pokemon is the one thing in this world I just can't wrap my mind around. I don't get it.
 Chillin' with the lady reading while the kids are down at the lake.
 Annie Jane enjoying the fire. Contrary to her look here, she had lots of fun. I sat down and played card games with the gals for the first time in forever - I don't like card games - and actually enjoyed playing "golf" with two decks of cards and 9 "rounds." It was a lot of fun and laughs. One night, all 6 of us stayed up late around the fire with Brandi telling her favorite stories about the kids and their personality traits - it was pretty funny and the kids loved it. Brandi has a great memory for those things, and I didn't even remember most of them.
Our fish and chips spread. Brandi foisted oranges into the mix because she ordered a million of them from Bountiful Basket and has us on an orange eating extravaganza this week.
 Fried fresh-caught lake trout - it was really, really good.
 James and Matt fishing.
I spent the weekend reading The Last Viking - a biography about polar explorer Roald Amundsen. I love biographies about adventurous people.

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