Months before we left Cambodia, our family desired to have a family vacation where we could all get together and have a relaxing good time. I asked Alma and Alan to find a suitable place, so they suggested the Yurt Group Camp at the Idaho Cascade Lake State Park, which could hold 30 people and only cost about $200 a night. After pondering this high cost, I decided to rent the campsite for 5 days and 4 nights, from August 12 to 16. Sadly, as it turned out, Alan and Tiffany could not come so we had the vacation without them.
All went well, with each of the families taking a meal here and there with Julia and I filling in the gaps. Needless to say, we did not go hungry. We also had each family take an evening program, starting with Julia and I talking about our Mission to Cambodia.
The Yurts were well away from the lake nestled in a grove of tall Douglas Fir trees, but we were pestered by hornets and yellow-jackets the whole time. I believe I was the only one stung, which was my own fault.
I had brought my canoe on a trailer, so when the kids wanted to go canoeing, they would load up and drive to the boat dock, having a great time. Since our camp site was so far from the lake, we didn’t have to worry about any of the youngsters wandering down into the water.
On the second day, while we were sitting in the shade of the nearby trees, Ashlen, a granddaughter looked up and saw a hornet/wasp nest in the tree limbs about 20+ feet above our head, which we believed to be the source of our yellow-jacket problem.
Determining to knock it down, Alma and Jorgen hurled a small log at it but it was right at the height limit of their throws. After a dozen tosses, Jorgen smacked the nest breaking off the bottom part which landed at our feet on the forest floor, causing us to run like crazy. Fortunately, the hornets did not associate what happened to us and did not chase after us. We had a small amount of Raid with us which knocked down the hornets that came down with the broken part of the nest but we were unable to get the rest of the nest at that time.
We showed the nest to one of the camp ground maintenance men who came back with reinforcements, a ladder and another can of wasp spray. With a healthy fear of the wasps, one of the fellows climbed the ladder and sprayed toward the nest, not coming within 5 feet of it, so they gave up and left.
But our yellow-jacket problem had not abated, so Jorgen made an improvised trap using a water bottle (he cut off the top and inverted it into the bottom, then placed some meat scraps in the bottom) and caught a hundred or so over the next two days. I put a stick across a pan we had used to cook pulled-pork in, filled it with soapy water then smeared meat in the middle of the stick, which caught another hundred yellow-jackets. Neither of these diminished the number of yellow-jackets pestering us.
I did find a hole in the ground next to the pump-house, several hundred feet away from the yurts that had yellow-jackets streaming in and out which I tried to plug, resulting in the sting I received. We really never did eliminate the yellow-jacket problem although we did find and destroy several small nests in the picnic tables around camp.
On the last full day we were there, Alma decided to take his kids and some of the others to the boat dock and go canoeing. He parked his and my car with the trailer and canoe in the parking lot then went to the beach to watch the kids canoe and play in the water. After several hours, he and the kids returned to the cars to find his windshield had been completely smashed with glass shards scattered throughout the vehicle interior. There was a note stuck to the windshield that said “Sorry” with a name and phone number.
It turned out that a sail boater had parked next to him and lifting the mast had dropped it squarely onto the windshield smashing it. This meant that Alma’s car was unusable until the windshield could be repaired, which could only be done in McCall some 20+ miles away and then only 4 days later. Later, Alma reported that the tow truck driver told him that in his 20 years of towing in the area, he had never seen anything like it.
As we left the yurts the next day, we packed Alma’s gear into the trailer under the canoe, then put his kids in the back of our car, then left Alma with his smashed vehicle and headed home. The trip home was interesting as for many years we had not driven a long distance with little kids squeezed into a back seat of a car.
Alma’s wife, MacKenzie had stayed home because she was having some difficulties with her pregnancy so Friday evening we returned the children and camping gear to her, having left Alma and their car in central Idaho. She then borrowed her father’s truck to be able to go to stores if she needed to. Saturday, the next day, a major storm lashed its way through Utah Valley with high winds and torrential rains. At Alma and MacKenzie’s home, the storm broke a tree limb which fell on her father’s truck, smashing the windshield and doing enough other damage that the truck was totaled. Minutes later, lightning struck a tree not 30 feet away from the truck. None of us could believe that two windshields would be broken affecting Alma’s family within 3 days.
This family camping trip turned out to be quite an adventure which will be remembered by us all.