Maybe two years ago, grandson Robin asked me to take him to Dinosaur National Monument. The trouble was, he refused to go by car. He hates long drives. I wasn't going to pay for airfare, so we were stuck for a while. When I thought up the road trip, I suggested to my daughter Dawn that she could fly with the kids so we could meet in Salt Lake City and visit the Monument together. I'd take them back to Salt Lake to fly home, then be on my way.
It ws agreed.
Dawn and I had originally planned two night's camping at the Monument. The trek from Salt Lake City took longer than planned and night rain threatened, so we got a motel room in Vernal, just short of our goal. Granddaughter Maggie let us know she was displeased about not camping, but settled in. Grandson Robin may have been relieved, informing me he does not particularly like camping. He didn't like the idea of sharing a bed with Grandpa, either, so he sacked out on the floor.
All was quiet until about 6:30am, when the adjacent breakfast area was open for business.
Once in the Monument, we found a riverside camp site, then proceeded to the sights and trails. Thunderstorms were possible in the afternoon, so we did outdoor stuff first.
There were usual kid complaints, but nothing Dawn could not handle. At the end of the day, Robin agreed he was satisfied with his dinosaur experience, and Maggie was happy to be able to play in the shallows of the river.
She established a rock cleaning business, charging a mere $10 per rock. Just pretend, of course.
Dawn built a campfire as daylight faded. It was too cloudy for stars. Around 8:30, we were headed to bed.
I shared a large tent with Maggie and Dawn. Independent Robin insisted on his own tent, a few feet away.
I was situated on the edge of a downslope. It was a struggle to find a comfortable position without sliding into the tent wall.
No one slept particularly well. Around 10 or so, Robin's voice announced in the dark, "I'm going to pee." Dawn called back , "You don't have to tell us."
The first thunder pounded overhead about 1am. Then lightening, maybe 8 seconds away. The wind howled in, bending tents. Rain pummeled. I saw Maggie huddled against her mom.
Robin's voice called out, too tiny to be understood in the storm. Dawn got on her rain gear to check on him, getting soaked in the three foot trek. He was fine.
The storm howled on, them subsided. We may have nodded off. Coyotes howled from across the river.
Then the second storm struck, more fierce than the first. Lightening, rain, wind.
It subsided. At daylight, we staggered out of our soaked and slightly leaking tent. We compared notes with other frazzled campers. After a standing breakfast, as there was nothing dry to sit on, we stuffed the wet gear into the car and started back to Salt Lake City.
There was one last must-see dinosaur experience. Dawn took the kids to the Utah Museum of Natural History. I stayed in the parking lot, drying wet tents on a retaining wall.
The kids both agreed they were satisfied with the Museum.
I was satisfied with chance to spend memorable time with Dawn and the kids. And sad to drop them off at the airport.