Tuesday, June 30, 2015

End of an Era

Photo Credit: R. LeVon
Last Tuesday, when we reached the magic mile marker #2 on the Mirror Lake Highway where cell service begins, my phone began beeping frantically as 23 text messages came through.  Who was sending me 23 text messages?  It turned out to be a group discussion, complete with photos, of the tear down of the venerable Cabana Club swimming pool.

The Valley West Cabana Club was built in the early 60’s when the Valley West subdivision was built.  According to neighbors who have lived in our neighborhood since it was built, it was turned over to the neighborhood.  It was run like a business through a volunteer board of directors.  The pool charged a membership fee which allowed members use of the pool during open hours.  Members could also rent the pool after hours for private parties.  The only paid employees were the lifeguards, who also taught swimming lessons.  Volunteers staffed the snack bar, which sold soda, candy and Popsicles.

We discovered the Cabana Club in 1994 when we moved into the neighborhood.  We joined the pool soon after we moved in.  We spent many an evening at “Family Swim,” and got to know many of our new neighbors.  This was a real plus for us, as we do not belong to the predominant religion in Utah and didn’t attend the church directly across the street.  We met the couple who would become dearest friends at the Cabana Club.

The next year we were involved in management.  I developed a membership database; Paul kept the books.  Being on the Board meant we got a free private party, which over the years we used for the kids’ soccer teams and church parties.  Both our kids worked there as lifeguards; our daughter managed the pool for two years.

But all good things must come to an end.  Like Little Jackie Paper, our neighborhood grew up.  As the children moved out, couples (including us) didn’t renew their memberships.  The Board tried to supplement membership income with single day passes, but that didn’t cover the increased expenses.  State laws forced us to have paid lifeguards all open hours.  Insurance costs made it prohibitive to keep the slide.  New health department regulations forced the closure of the kiddie pool.  Three years ago the Board threw in the towel.  The neighborhood just couldn’t keep it going.

The neighborhood Council did, however, convince the City of Taylorsville to take over the land and build a pocket park.  On Monday, June 22, the backhoes came in.  The building was demolished, the pool dug up and the hole filled in.  The mature trees surrounding the pool – you know, the ones with the leaves that kept falling into the water – are all that remain of the once proud neighborhood institution.

With the exception of the fond memories of a grateful neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Welcome to Washington Lake

We got the call on Wednesday, June 17.  The Forest Service had cleared the fallen trees and had deemed Washington Lake safe to open.  How soon could we get there?  They really wanted us open for the weekend.

So we kicked it into high gear.  Paul brought the trailer home and we spent all afternoon packing and loading.  Thankfully we had already cleaned it and had done as much as we could prior to the final load, but as all of you who own trailers know well, it’s still a lot of work.  That said, we pulled out on Thursday morning at about 10:30 AM.  It was not exactly a stress-free departure, but we won’t go into that…

We stopped at Shady Dell to pick up our keys and fill up with water.  Our area managers were delighted to see us and promised to bring our supplies that afternoon.  With that assurance, we headed up to set up the trailer.  The plan was to lock the gates behind us, set up our trailer, wait for our supplies and open to the public on Friday.

When we arrived at the gate to Washington Lake Campground, a truck with a pop-up trailer and an SUV parked directly behind us.  Of course, we were now blocking the road to the Crystal Lake Trailhead as we attempted to open the gate.  None of the keys we had would open the lock.  One would go in, but would not turn.  We managed to back up a little bit so traffic could go around us. 
The man in the truck with the pop-up came to help.  He and Paul diagnosed that the key was bent, so he fetched a hammer and some WD-40.  They pounded out the key, sprayed it, and we got the gate open.  Of course, we weren’t going to tell the man that had just helped us so much that he couldn’t come in and camp, so he followed us in.  We shut the gate behind us.

As we were setting up, a young lady and a dog came under the gate.  “Can I please camp here?”  I told her we only had one bathroom open and one roll of toilet paper, and that none of the sites were clean.  That was OK, she said.  So we let her in.  Soon after that another pop-up trailer came up.  Resistance was futile.  We opened the gates.

As campers came in, we gave them fair warning.  The sites had not been cleaned.  Only one stall in each restroom was open, and there was only one roll of toilet paper in each.  Oh and by the way, we’re still charging the full campground fees.  We’ll bring a receipt as soon as we get them.  Nobody left.

By the time our area managers rolled in at about 9:00 PM with our supplies, we had filled eight sites.  By Friday, after working our tails off, all 38 of our sites were full.  Looks like it’s going to be a busy summer.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Are We There Yet?

It’s June 12.  I should be well into the summer routine of blogging weekly about our adventures in camp. The trailer is clean, the generator is gassed up and the propane tanks are full.  The hitch is installed in the truck.  The bedding is washed.  The pantry food is packed.  So why aren’t we in camp yet?

We knew when we requested Washington Lake that it usually didn’t open until mid-June at the earliest.  But with the mild winter we had this year we were sure we’d get in earlier, and planned accordingly.  Then May hit, and single-handedly brought our water year up to normal.  Rain in the valleys has always equaled snow in the mountains.  We just didn’t think it would be that much snow.

The US Forest Service policy is to open campgrounds only when the snow has melted naturally.  As of last Wednesday, this process was happening at an accelerated rate now that the snow has (finally) stopped falling.  But there’s another snag – a couple of trees were uprooted by strong wings and need to be cleared out before the Forest Service will deem the campground safe for campers.  When they will do this is anybody’s guess.

So we wait – not exactly patiently.  I’m sure that has a lot to do with managing our own expectations, combined with minimal communication from our new area managers.  In their defense, the area is new to them and there’s a lot of work to open the lower campgrounds.  And they have no more control over the weather and the Forest Service than we do. 

Our current planned departure date is Wednesday, June 17.  Will we make it?  Keep tuned.