CAMPING ON OL' MONROE MOUNTAIN

Thursday, July 7, 2016
Our families in St. George are only 6.5 hours of driving from us in San Diego, so on a whim last week, we decided to jet up there to celebrate blessed July 4 with the people we love most. My family was actually spending the weekend 3 hours north of St. George in a heavenly place called Grass Valley; they would be bouncing between my grandparents' hometown of Koosharem and a picturesque campground on Monroe Mountain. So on Friday, after leaving San Diego at 7:00 AM, arriving in Santa Clara at 2:00, pit-stopping with our Awerkamps till 3:00, we got back in the car and trekked on for a night of camping with our Gublers. FUN describes that night and the next day...
Even when you get a flat tire while driving up the mountain. :) Seriously, though, since we all ran around on that beautiful mountain and played and learned from Dad + Nick how to fix a flat. We were just happy to be with our family again - what's a lil flat got on that kind of party?! 
With the flat fixed, we made it to camp and met the rest of my family - again so so happy to be with them all! It's been over 1.5 years since we Gublers have all been together, so this was special. I spent a silly amount of time trying to get the girls down (those two haven't spent nearly enough time in mountains and were super jazzed), so I missed out on most of the night, AKA the adults laughing their heads off around the fire that night. At one point Olivia was like, "Mom. They are laughing SO hard. I've got to go check on them and see what's wrong." :) Olivia had another good one-liner in the middle of that night: "Mom, this camping thing was the worst idea ever. You should never bring us here again!!" ...and all because her ears were cold. Camping really does get rough at night - sometimes I'm with ya Olivia - but inevitably the morning rolls around and it's alllllll good again...
We love Uncle Nicky!!
After breakfast, a group of us hopped in the back of the truck and drove up the trail to go fishing in the "crick." Cows were grazing all over, the ride was bumpy enough to be dubbed "better than Indiana Jones!!!" and life, for at least a couple hours there, was perfect. This area of Utah is about as breathtaking as it gets. I've never felt as lucky as I did this trip to have eternal ties to this place...
And that was the catch a'the day! Still sorry for cutting off your face here, Shandon. Sheeeesh, someone take the camera! :)
Claire was a fearless little truck-bed rider. Because I'm not kidding, the bumps were consistently HUGE and had us bouncing everywhere, but Sister wanted to stand - by herself, duh! - and face the ride, all the wind in her wispy air. 18-months-old is the age of impressive independence, I tell you.
She's cow-calling in the next few photos. I've never heard so many "Moooos" and screams of joy in my life! Claire is our animal girl. She loves them from afar, yells at them when they get close, and then loves them again from afar. I'm obsessed with this child!!
The site! After we'd cleaned up most of the tents, since a storm was rolling in and chasing us outta there.
And the best kind of shot possible - the cousins! Olivia, especially, was in heaven with her people. Miss Independent Claire loved everyone but is still in the zone to do her own thing, but Olivia couldn't get enough. If you had cousins growing up, you know these days of playing till you literally drop. Dead. Of sheer joy. Ah the best!
We got back to Grandma's that night, had dinner with the town at the fire station (July 4 traditions!) and then played till sunset. Our time was short but so sweet. Ryan and I are pretty determined to make this trek each year, if not for our girls to have access to the wild mountain Utah life and their cousins, then for us to unplug, wind down in the mountaintops, laugh our heads off with our people, and count the big blessing that Utah is forever Home. 

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