Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Making the Best of a Sad Situation

June 20-23, 2018
Ogden, Ut - Idaho Falls, ID

Wednesday morning I sleep late. As I'm making my coffee Bill says his cousin Cindy texted him that cousin Penny in Ogden sent me a message last night and wants to be sure we got it. Okay? We're on our way to see her and the rest of the Utah family this morning so they probably want to know when we'll get there.....

I read the message and can't read it to Bill. I think I'm in shock. Handing him my phone to read, all I can think of is Aunt Nancy and how devastated she must be.

Last year when we were here we missed seeing cousin Trish and her family because they were moving her mother, Aunt Nancy, from Roswell to Ogden. I've only met her and the family once at the reunion four years ago. Bill doesn't know the "kids" well, only seeing them at previous reunions. We do know Aunt Nancy well, and love her dearly. We also know how close she is to Trish's oldest, and her first grandson, Nathan.

The message explains that Nathan was killed in a tragic, freak gun accident on Tuesday night.  We're both speechless. We were hours from visiting and getting to know him and the others better. 

I let Penny know we got the message, that they should not worry about us at all, and offer any help we might be. I never know what to say when a loved one is lost. When my late partner, Jeff's dad, passed away it was exhausting navigating other people's grief and good intentions. We don't want to be those other people. 

It's a very quiet drive to Ogden where we set up at Wasatch View Estates. We've stayed in many places with "view" in their name, which is almost always wishful thinking. Here, it's accurate. Beautiful view of the Wasatch mountains out our window. Now the "estates" part is definitely a stretch! The sites are cracked concrete and grass that isn't well maintained. No WiFi away from the clubhouse. But it's fine for the few nights we'll be here. 

Penny and I connect on Thursday and she and daughter Katie want to see us. She'll let us know later where and when. After a slow start, I suggest we spend the day at nearby Antelope Island State Park. Another place I've read about in our friends' blogs that I think we'll like.

It's the perfect place to get re-centered. 

The Utah we've seen is filled with bold, acrylic paint, colors. The island is a new world of hushed watercolor vistas.
The small visitors' center is nicely done and we have the viewing room to ourselves for the movie. Not as informative as we'd like, but it does give us a good summary. It definitely shows how beautiful this place is.

The largest of eight protected islands in the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island is 28,000 acres and 15 miles long. The Garr family owned and ranched the island until it was sold to the state in 1982 and the park was established. Public visitation was limited and completely stopped in 1983 when flooding destroyed the southern causeway and only land access. It was not restored until 1993 when visitation resumed.

A haven for birds, the large number of insects being a draw for feeding thousands of migrating flocks. The same insects that often send humans running for the mainland! Although there is a sign at the entrance warning that the biting gnats have hatched, we don't see or feel any during our visit.

The bugs have their own section in the VC!

Birdhouse with a view.

Miles of beaches.

The muted colors are very calming. We speak in quiet voices.

The mountains in the center of the island are surprising. The highest point is Frary Point at 6, 589 feet.
Validation that the hill we just drove up was really steep.
A small bison herd was brought here by the ranchers, and included in the purchase of the island. With no natural predators, the herd has grown to over 500. An annual sale is required to manage the growth. The namesake antelope continue to populate the island, although we only see a couple in the distance. Big Horn Sheep were brought here as a protected "nursery program". Once they reach a certain age they are relocated to areas where their numbers have fallen. Bobcat, coyotes, badgers, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and lizards also call the island home. And of course the millions of insects and all the birds!

A good size herd grazing along the salty beach.

Most of the herd hangs out by the old ranch.


So glad we came here.

I have a new found appreciation of the beauty of the Great Salt Lake.
Bill wants to see Aunt Nancy, as do I. Fortunately as we're leaving the park, Penny calls to say she's bringing her mom to dinner. 

It's wonderful to see them both. We're relieved to see that Aunt Nancy is doing okay. Clearly the loss is taking it's toll, but these are strong women who have survived previous loss. It's good to get caught up and even have a few laughs together. 

Thursday we do home stuff and get the grocery shopping done. In the evening we meet Penny and her son-in-law, Jesse for a delicious Asian fusion dinner. Daughter Katie has stayed home with her little boy Desmond who isn't feeling well. We touch on the tragedy of Nathan's death and how he will be missed. The civil service office where he worked closed for two days after his death. 400+ are expected at his memorial service. Such a loss to so many :-(  Even with the sadness, we enjoy another great visit. 

Penny and Bill
Saturday morning we're back on the road. Prairie on the west and mountains on the east, it's another pretty drive into Idaho. Thunder storms in the forecast, we can see the dark clouds heading toward Idaho Falls. The rain starts right before we pull into Snake River RV Park. The thunder is aMAzing! It rolls non-stop for nearly an hour. It's wonderful to be back in the rain. I can't remember the last time.

The park is nearly full on this post Memorial Day Saturday, but we have a nice pull-through site with 50 amp FHU. It's a clean park with dirt roads and sites and lots of tall trees. WiFi works okay and our satellite connects. 

This is a fun one night stop just because we were last here with good friends Jim and Diana (ExploRVistas) At the time we were both trying to escape all the terrible smoke. Rain is much better!

We treat ourselves to a nice dinner at Sand Piper Restaurant on the Snake River. The last of the storm is moving through and we sleep well with the fresh, cool air coming through the windows.

Nathan's death will leave scars on the whole family, as the senseless loss of loved ones always does. Even though Bill didn't know him well, it was especially difficult because we were hours from seeing him. 

We've recommitted to living our dream, and making sure our family knows how much we love them. 

Every day is a gift.


  1. So sorry to read of the loss in your family. It's never an easy situation to deal with, especially when it is totally unexpected. You both appear to be well grounded, which will help you through the difficult time.
    We held a mini-family reunion at the Snake River RV Park for the Eclipse. However it was too hot to really explore the area and all that it offers.

    1. Thank you Jeff.
      We were supposed to be in Rexburg and ended up experiencing the shadow of the eclipse in Oregon. I'm glad to say it was nice and cool!!

  2. So sorry for your families lose. Any life taken is difficult but a younger person is especially hard to understand. Glad you were able to be there with some of your family. Sounds like Antelope Island was the perfect place to find some peace. It looks like we should revisit the island again and give it another chance. My memories are not great. All I see are the million little annoying bugs. Your photos make it look much better than my memory. Oh, yes, rain! We said the same thing the other day when it poured. We couldn't remember when we last saw rain.

    1. It still seems a bit unreal. I'm hoping they find more peace once the memorial is over this week. You must give the island another go when you're in the area! There are some pretty hikes along and around the beach. It's so serene, even the few people we saw were talking quietly :D

  3. Jodee, as you said, it's so difficult to know what to say in times of loss. Life is so precious, and can change in an instant. Your commitment to living fully and expressing your love to your family and your friends is the greatest gift you can offer. Wishing you and your family peace and healing. Antelope Island looks beautiful and soothing for the spirit. Hugs to you both.

    1. Thanks Laurel. Like you said about being present.....it's so important :-)

  4. So sorry to hear about Nathan, Jodee.

    Have fun in Idaho without the smoke! I'll bet it's beautiful.

    1. Thanks Jim!

      Soooo beautiful. We already want to come back.

  5. Who knew buffalo roamed an island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake??? Our hearts go out to your family--so hard.

  6. So sad to lose someone in any way but a gun accident seems doubly sad. He must have been a relatively young man which is even worse. You all have my deepest sympathy. Your gifts to them are perfect.

    We stayed on Antelope island and kayaked and swam in the Great Salt Lake. It was really low at that time. Water color is the perfect description, your photographs are so beautiful. I didn't remember the insects section of the VC. It made me laugh to see it. thanks! When humans have made the planet uninhabitable for themselves and other mammals, the insects will be happy to take it over for us. Glad you didn't have any bothering you on your visit.

    1. Thanks Sherry, it really is even sadder that it could have been avoided. But most accidents can.

      The ecosystem of the island is pretty awesome, and unfortunately the bugs are a big part of it. These could lead the take over!!

  7. I didn't know there were islands in Salt Lake. Interesting indeed... I'll have to put that place on the list. We love Idaho. It's such a beautiful state. We have family and friends in just about every area of Idaho so we'll definitely be going there!

    1. I've never thought the GSL was anything more than something to drive around. But this visit really changed that! Check the website for the "bug season" and you'll love it!!

  8. What terrible news, Jodee! I'm so sorry, and how shocking to be on your way to spend time with him. I agree with you on the "view" part of the Wasatch park. We stayed there, too and just loved looking out our front window. We woke up one morning to find the mountains heavily dusted with snow. It was just gorgeous! Safe travels, my friend!

    1. Thanks Linda. Seems we're already hitting a lot of your spots :-))

  9. So sorry, what a terrible blow to the family. I agree that Antelope Island looks like the perfect peaceful place to regroup. I would embrace and dance in rain right now. I think your mystery bird is a kestrel.

    1. That was one of our guesses, he was very handsome. Another place where the visitor center sets the right tone, and the location delivers.