My exciting life with a house full of boys

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Irresponsible Indescribable Irreplaceable

It began 22 years ago. My husband and his best friend had a trip planned. Our friend challenged me to come along and bring my boys, then 3 and 18 months.

"Bring a chair and sit there. We'll do everything else."

I nervously went along and a love affair was born. Every summer since that August so many years ago I have packed up our family car with gear and taken my boys to the mountains to camp. It didn't matter the age, my pregnant condition, or the weather predictions. Pack n Plays, baby swings, toys, bikes, coats and swimsuits, cooking gear, lanterns, coolers, food, sleeping bags, tents, first aid kits, and so much more have filled every tiny crevice of our car then truck then Suburban. If Bret couldn't come then I would load up the boys and we would go without him. Sometimes if work permitted he would join us on weekends but often times I went at it alone.

It was on these mountains that I caught my first fish, saw my first bear, hunted my first deer, stayed awake to listen to the coyotes yelping and elk bugle. I sound like a guy.

I overcame my fear of thunderstorms after being stuck with my children all alone in a tent in the most ferocious thunder and lightning storm that I had ever experienced. I learned how to cook on a camp stove, in a dutch oven and over a fire. I am much better in a camp kitchen than my home kitchen. I learned to love the outdoors.

I gained a confidence and independence that filtered into other parts of my life.

We had a favorite area that quickly became my "happy place". My children believed that this was where the 3 little pigs lived. And so that it what we called it. The 3 little pigs.

Every time I've wanted to run away from life, this is where I've gone. Even If I couldn't actually take the time to literally go there, my mind would at least allow me to visit.

On May 29 a fire was left unattended. That fire, or what some have described as an uncontrollable beast, has devoured my mountain. It has become the largest wildfire my state has ever had. The lookout tower that my boys all climbed and "marked" is now a tower of twisted metal. The aspens that crossed the road letting us know we had 3 more miles until we got there will no longer quiver in the breeze. The fresh scent of pine after a rain storm will never, in my lifetime, smell the same. Not in this forest.

My biggest sorrow is that I will not be able to continue this tradition with my youngers and my grands. Their memories of our trips to Westfork will be short and limited. Their adventures were few. And my grands will never know their Nana's happy place. Yes, we'll go back. But the landscape is forever changed.

One irresponsible act led to indescribable destruction that is irreplaceable in my lifetime.

BUT - I have my pictures. I have my memories. I have great family stories to tell. I have a love for the outdoors that I am forever thankful for.

Here's to you Kim for challenging me to do something that would forever change my life and My Bret, who had the trust and confidence in me to let me pack up and go each and every summer.

Jenny Matlock


  1. Love the pictures, especially the one of Taylor (?) by the map and the last one of you and Bret. I've been following the news on this fire, and it breaks my heart. So many people just think Arizona is desert, they have no idea of the incredible beauty that has been lost. I have faith you'll find a new happy place to make lots of memories with your younger kids and those grandkids!

  2. I'm so sorry about the destruction of your happy place. It is just so sad and scary.

  3. I've been following the fires, too, but I'm not intimately acquainted with this area of our country. So sorry for such devastation. Glad you have the good memories and photos!

  4. Love the pictures and the memories you shared! It looks and sounds so familiar
    :) hunters, fishermen and campers! Love my memories of Big Lake. I watch everything that's going on in the world around us and can't help but think-This is bad, but it could be worse.

  5. This is a wonderful post! How fortunate you are to have found your place in life!!

  6. Cindy, I've wanted to describe how I feel about this fire, but I must have been waiting to read yours. Perfectly summarized, and the pictures break my heart. So sad that I can't explain it.
    We'll always have A Camp. :)

  7. So completely and totally impressed. I wish I had your camping zeal. While your favourite place is gone, you will hopefully be able to find a new wonderful place to go each year.

  8. Such a sad thing, that fire.

    But what a wonderful post. And you have made memories for and with your family that will last forever.


  9. WOWWWWWW! What a great tale...part of your family's lore!

    I'm your newest follower; found via Jenny Matlock. With a houseful of me, your blog is sure to be fun and interesting.

  10. Thank goodness for the photos! What a tragedy!

  11. I'm all teary and I'm not a camper, but I can appreciate what was lost especially when it was so beautifully shared! Love the picture of you with the fish!--Janette (I'm blogging-comment disabled, just ask Jenny)

  12. OH no, sorry to hear about your camping place. Hope you find one again and fill it with memories equally or more wonderful. Such a lovely family :)

  13. That is just a shame. It sounded like such a beautiful place to go to. I used to camp when my daughter was little. We just loved it and couldn't wait til vacation time. Those that have never gone should at least try it twice. The peace and quiet and smells of the outdoors is worth the effort. Great "I" post!~Ames

  14. I know you will make new adventures and it will be wonderful to watch this place be reborn. But as a native Californian, I know the devastation wild fires can bring. Such a shame.

    Stopping by from Alphabe-Thursday.

  15. These fires are so terrible. I cannot imagine being around that much destruction.

    What neat memories you have of places now destroyed for decades to come. Your family is lovely, and so is your smile. I ended smiling back at the photo of you!

    This is really a neat link for Alphabe-Thursday!

    You should be really proud of the lovely memories you have made for all of your family.

    Thanks for linking.