Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Roughing It

Hoop Lake is beautiful but rustic.   It sits at about 9500 feet in the Uinta Mountains, and the fact that elevation and temperature are inversely proportional holds true – it’s still very cold up here.  We arrived on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, and woke up Thursday morning to snow on the ground.  The weather stayed wet and windy most of the weekend.

The Campground Manager’s site is the only one in the campground with water and sewer hookups.  Great!  But the water wasn’t turned on yet, and we didn’t have enough sewer hose to reach the connection.  We had brought plenty of water, and thankfully the pit toilets were open.  Where were those camp hosts who were supposed to clean them?  Oh, wait – that’s us.
Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally the start of camping season here in the west.  We had our site in good shape by the time our first guests arrived.   On Friday evening two campsites were occupied.  That was it.  Apparently only the die-hards come up to Hoop Lake over Memorial Day weekend.
Our management knows this.  They arrived with our signs, forms and fee envelopes – and our cleaning supplies – on Saturday.  They turned on the water, which comes from a mountain spring, and we watched the rust from the pipes flow out the two taps in the campground.  They’ll be back to test the water on Friday, we were told, but until then we needed to let our campers know to boil the water first. 
A short orientation on the fees and paperwork, and we were ready to go – except for the fact that it was snowing and blowing way too hard to post the signs.  I ran some toilet paper over to the campers on the other side of the dam and we called it good for the day.  I laughed to myself as I carried the toilet paper – my friend Stacy told me that her most vivid memory of camping was the cute little camp host with an armful of toilet paper.  We finally cleaned the bathrooms and carried the fee envelopes over to our campers on Sunday morning.
We were motivated to get water running into the trailer, so we hooked up the hoses and turned on the water heater.  Hot water without heating it on the stove – heaven!  Until the next morning when we woke to discover that the water in the hose had frozen.  Looks like we’ll be disconnecting the hose every night and hooking it up for the afternoons when the temperature is above freezing – until it stops freezing at night. 
And speaking of freezing – our well thought-out plans for powering the trailer with solar power didn’t take into consideration the amount of battery power it would take to keep the furnace running all night and most of the day.  That, and the fact that there is no solar power if the sun is not shining, forced us to use the generator a lot more than we had expected.  As the weather warms up, we expect to use more and more solar (and less and less generator).
Our adventure has truly begun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All About Hoop Lake

Today is my last day at work – so of course my mind keeps drifting to my “new” workplace – Hoop Lake.  Here’s what I know so far – courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service!

Hoop Lake is a natural lake on the north slope of the High Uintas. The lake level has been augmented by construction of a dam, and the watershed has been enlarged by a diversion from Thompson Creek. The lake receives heavy use by anglers. Hoop Lake is a result of glacial moraine impounding the natural drainage of the area. The original lake was 11 feet deep.

In 1939, an earth-fill dam was built at the outlet, and in 1948 it was enlarged, raising water level a total of 25 feet. The reservoir shoreline is owned by the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and public access is unrestricted. Reservoir water is used for irrigation in the McKinnon area of Wyoming (northwest of Manila, UT). The impounded water is drained off before mid-summer for agricultural purposes, but the 11 foot deep original lake remains. Water use is not expected to change in the foreseeable future.

Hoop Lake is accessible from Lonetree, Wyoming. Approximately 1.5 miles east of Lonetree, turn south on the Cedar Basin Road to the national forest. A point of interest along the way is "Hole in the Rock". Travel approximately 7 miles to the intersection of FS-058. Continue southward approximately 3-4 miles past "Hole in the Rock", to the reservoir.

Recreational facilities at Hoop Lake Campground, a USFS facility, include toilet facilities, picnic areas, a swimming area and 44 campsites. Fishing, boating, swimming, camping, picnicking, and hiking are all possible. While there are no launching facilities, it is generally possible to launch a small boat. Angler use is heavy. User fees are charged.

So if you’re ever thinking about a beautiful but rustic camping spot – consider Hoop Lake.  We’ll be there to welcome you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's all about the Dog

In her book, “Simplify Your Life,” Elaine St. James reminded us that “…pets don’t simplify your life.”  She goes on to say, however, that “…a well-trained dog, while not simple, can be a true joy to have in your life.”  We have Ty, an eight-year old black (well, mostly grey) pug.  And Ty is coming with us for the summer adventure.  
He’s already had his first trip in the fifth wheel – when we took our “Maiden Voyage.”  He’s figured out that his kennel will be outside, his bed will be inside, he will sit on whichever rocker doesn’t have a towel on it, and he will sleep on our bed.  What he hasn’t figured out yet is that he’ll need to be restrained while he’s outside.  Campground rule – all dogs must be on leashes – and the campground host has to set the example.  We’re scheming on a system of ropes rather than chains.  When we figure it out I’ll take a picture and post it. 
Ty has always liked camping.  He’ll get several walks a day, since we can’t just send him out into the back yard.  He likes other people and really likes other dogs, so he should be a great addition to the Hoop Lake welcoming committee.

We’ll be traveling into several towns on our days off, so I researched which hotel chains allow pets.  Turns out that Choice Hotels – which includes brands such as Comfort Suites, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, and Clarion Hotels – are all pet-friendly.  At least, that’s what I read on their web sites.  We’ll be sure to sign up for their rewards program.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Of Bags and Baggage

Over the past several weeks I’ve been cleaning out my cubicle.  No small task – I’ve been in the same cube for over 10 years.  I’m getting there – one bag at a time.

On Wednesday I got to the bottom desk drawer, and under a pile of three ring binders I found four books belonging to a former co-worker.  I haven’t spoken with her in years – not since a particularly ugly incident outside of work seriously strained our relationship.  Yet, when I found the books, I brought them to work with the intent that I would send them to her – interoffice mail – once things became a little less raw.
So now the books are on the top of my desk – the desk I will be vacating in 12 business days.  I have to do something.  The right thing to do, of course, is to pick up the phone and call her.  But I soooooo don’t want to do it.

For all these years I have been sure she blamed me, and I’ve been afraid of her reaction to my reaching out to her.  I’ve stewed about it for two days, all the while hearing the wise words of eight-year old Kevin in “Home Alone.”  “Call her.  If she won’t talk to you, at least you’ll know and you won’t have to be afraid anymore.”
I looked up her phone number this morning.  I see that she’s on our Instant Messaging system.  Chickened out on the phone call and sent her an IM.  “Please ping me when you have a moment.”  One hour passes.  Then two.  Then three.  And finally, I get a response.  “I’m available now.  Please give me a call.”

The story has a happy ending.  I called.  I explained.  I apologized.  She was delighted to hear that I had the books; she had feared they were lost forever.  We caught up.  She is well and wishes me well in retirement.  Who knows when our paths will cross again, but when they do it will be on good terms.
I carried the heavy box of her books down to the mail room with a light heart.