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Traveling 2900 Miles To Go Camping

January 22, 2018

I started Friday morning in Richmond, Virginia. It was clear but very cold at 5:30AM when I woke up. We should probably call that 3:30AM MT, since time zones become important later.

There was snow on the ground in Virginia. But, the storm which had dumped snow and plunged temperatures had moved off into the Atlantic. It was snowing in Washington DC. I didn’t know that, but I was going to care. It wasn’t snowing in American Fork, Utah. (That would come later.) Mutual Dell is a church owned camp about 10 miles up American Fork Canyon. The year has been a return to form, after a huge snow pack last year. This year we are looking at decreased snow levels again. “Drought” is an unpleasant word when you live in a desert state.

I was leaving Richmond early. My team was staying on through the weekend. They will be finishing up our migration this week. But, I had a family event that took precedance. (When Life Wins The Work/Life Battle.)

I’ve travelled a lot this year. It’s been tough on my family, especially as my lovely wife tries to keep the house running and do everything else she needs to do and has to shoulder single-parent duty. It’s also been tough on my volunteer work. I’m a volunter assistant scoutmaster. There are three of us that help the scoutmaster. I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home.

Rodney, I need to know if you’ll be around for the Klondike Derby campout?

When is it?

Friday, January 19th. Matt and I can’t go. I don’t want to saddle one of the dads with being in charge. David can go, but you’d be our two-deep leadership.

What time is it?

You mean what time are we meeting?


I don’t know. Four o’clock at the church, I guess.

Yeah, I can make that.

The scout campout wasn’t the reason I was cutting my trip short. But, it was a great chance for me to step up and be a little more involved in our scout troop. But, the timing was going to be close. And after 2900 miles and 13 hours I almost pulled it off.

Before my trip to Richmond last week, I packed. . .twice. First, I packed for 5 days of business travel to our call center in Virginia. Then, I packed for an overnight in the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah.

I’m a natural procrastinator. I’ve travelled so much that packing for a business trip takes about 30 minutes. And I typically do it as late as possible. Count the days: so many pairs of socks and underwear. So many shirts. Typically a single pair of dress slacks. A packed sport coat. I always almost forget a tie. Shoes, computer stuff and have it by the front door the night before for the shuttle to the airport.

I approach packing for camping the same way. Especially a “car camp,” which this was, I don’t stress about packing my gear too carefully. Backpack, sleeping bags, pads, tent, extra food, extra water, hand warmers, hiking stick, camera, headlamp, hat, and the clothes I will wear.

Interestingly, I wear the same clothes the day of travel as I wear on a campout. I wear nylon “expedition” style pants, nylong t-shirt, nylon overshirt, boots, sweatshirt and leather coat.

Unlike my normal, pack-15-minutes-before-you-leave, I was actually all the way ready for the camp a week in advance. I had to be. My flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake was scheduled to land at 1:00pm on Friday. I’d catch a train that would put me in American Fork at 3:00. My lovely wife would pick me up and drop me at home where I would get in my car and drive straight to the church to be there by 4:00.

I was quite proud of myself for managing to coordinate cross country travel and still plan to get to the campout on time. I didn’t count on a snow storm in Washington DC. It shouldn’t have impacted me. I was flying from Richmond South to Atlanta and then catching a plane West to Salt Lake City. I wasn’t going anywhere near Washington DC. Unfortunately, my connecting flight in Atlanta was originating in Washington DC. They had a weather delay that pushed our departure back an hour. That was at 10:00AM mountain time that I ended up getting on the plane instead of 9:00AM mountain time.

I ended up getting to Salt Lake at 2:00PM instead of 1:00PM. Caught the later train which put me into American Fork at 4:00PM.


(Okay, maybe the lack of sleep and a little jet lag was making me cranky.)

Fortunately, 12 and 13 year old boys are rarely the easiest to get moving. By the time I got home, kissed my kids and headed out again, I easily had 15 or maybe even 20 minutes to spare before the troop was ready to move. We arrived and set up camp with even a little light left.

As the clock showed 9:30PM Friday night, I announced I was done. Eighteen hours and 2900 miles after leaving a hotel in Virginia, I crawled into a sleeping bag under the pines of American Fork Canyon in the beautiful Wasatch range. I slept like a baby.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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