Our family vacation this year was a road trip across across Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Idaho (and necessarily crossing Nevada to return home).
On July 29 we met up with most of the rest of my family outside of Zion National Park for a family reunion which was originally planned as a retirement celebration for Dad.
We all stayed in a vacation rental out past the east entrance of the park. Lots of room for cousins to run around.
On July 31st we went in to Zion National Park, briefly. We drove in, parked, got on the shuttle, and rode it up to the Narrows station. We let the girls play in the water at the mouth of the Narrows for a little while.
Then we hopped back on the shuttle with the intent of doing one of the short, child-friendly hikes. Instead, Corinne completely overheated and we stopped at the lodge in order to find some air conditioning and get her cooled down again. After which we decided we better just get heading back to the house. So that was our trip to ZNP. Better luck next time.
Today, the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) excommunicated Bishop Sam Young. A man whose “crime” was his “persistent aggressive efforts to persuade others to support [his cause of protecting children]”.
His cause has been to ask the Mormon Church to end its policy of holding 1-on-1 interviews between untrained clergy in which sexually explicit questions have been asked of children as young as 8.
He began this protest when he learned from his adult daughters the types of things they had been asked as children. He has collected stories from thousands of people on how these interviews have caused them harm: http://protectldschildren.org/.
His request has been for the Church to simply stop conducting 1-on-1 interviews with children and to stop allowing Church leaders to ask children sexually explicit questions. That is all.
The Church’s response was to excommunicate Sam for publicly opposing them.
Will you accept your children being taken into a private room with an untrained adult male to be asked questions such as:
“Do you masturbate?”
“When was the last time you watched pornography?”
“What color were your panties?”
“Did you like it?”
From that list of 29 questions, I have personally been asked at least 7 of them by Church leaders at Brigham Young University while I was a student there. At BYU not participating in such interviews risks you being expelled from school by having your ecclesiastical endorsement revoked.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to require that untrained, unpaid, local leaders call children into their offices in private and ascertain their sexual purity. By their policies, only if the child demands it will a second adult be included in the room.
Jess, Heather, and Corinne went down to Texas to visit with her family for about a week. This left me in the unprecedented situation of having a weekend with no one home. I decided to take the opportunity to go do something that no one else in the family would want to do with me. So I drove up in to the forest and hiked a mountain.
There are a handful of old fire lookouts scattered across the American West that you can rent out. I thought that’d be fun to do, but when I was making these plans a couple months ago everything was already booked. So I thought it would still be fun to hike up to one anyways. Turns out the one I was looking at is closed for repairs so I could hike up and not bother anyone. I found a little hidden gem of a cabin nearby. I wasn’t sure it really existed as I could find no information about it except the one Recreation.gov information page.
I’m a bit reluctant to share my find because right now it’s basically unused and easily booked. But that runs the risk of it being closed down due to inactivity and it could use a few repairs. So, here it is: Hirz Cabin on Shasta Lake.
It is fully off grid with solar panels and a battery bank to provide electricity. It has a propane tank for heat, hot water, and refrigerator. I had never seen a propane refrigerator before; didn’t know they even existed.
It has two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a full kitchen, dining table, living area, and deck. Nothing else around it with a private gated driveway. The introvert’s dream.
Finding it is not easy–even with directions. So I’ll help out with that. Here are the geo-coordinates of the cabin: 40.868194, -122.255826.
Here are some pictures. You should find all these same pictures on the Recreation.gov page (once they’re approved) as I uploaded them all to their site as well.
I arrived Friday evening and hiked along the lake for a couple of hours before heading to bed. On Saturday I slept in, ate breakfast, and swept and mopped the floors downstairs as they really needed it. I did some reading and preparing of my gear. I cooked myself a nice dinner to load up for my hike.
The Hike to Hirz Mountain Lookout
As sunset approached it was time to head up the mountain. Since the day was about 109F my plan to was to take off in time to reach the top before sunset and then hang out and cool down before returning after dark. The location of this lookout was also not entirely clear. Some Google-maps sleuthing led me to correct location of the trailhead, but I wasn’t able to identify the location of the lookout.
I drastically underestimated how long it would take me to get up the mountain (5 miles with a 36-pound backpack) so I did not make it up in time for sunset. I took a picture with my phone along the way, but it does not do it justice, it was a really nice sunset:
I did, however, get up in time to catch moonset–which was awesome:
Venus, I believe, was hanging out with the Moon that evening:
Since it was dark I wasn’t able to get a picture of the lookout itself, but here’s the plaque at the base as proof I did make it up:
And the last full view of the moon before it slipped below the mountains:
I had originally intended to hang out at the lookout past sunset and take some pictures of the stars. But, I discovered that during my 3-hour hike up I had drunk all but a cup of my 100 ounces of water. So I figured I better start heading down again while that water was still in my system as I had no way to replenish it.
2 hours and 40 minutes later I was back down the mountain and my legs ready to collapse. I drove back to the cabin and dropped in to bed.
Eventually I got up the next morning and while my legs were not happy about it, they did support me. I packed up my car and locked up the cabin and headed in to Redding to find a whole pile of food to eat. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hash browns from a Country waffles made for a nice breakfast (and lunch).
After filling up I drove out to Shasta Dam to catch a tour.
You can catch the resident ospreys in one the nests near the visitor’s center:
I like this sign because it reminds of something that would have appeared in a late-1990s / early-2000s video game set in the future. And now we live in the future:
Shasta Dam is one of the largest in the country. Not as tall as Hoover, but larger overall.
On this tour you do get to go through the generator room.
After my tour I loaded back up in the Civic and drove back home. It was a fun little trip. I think we’ll have to take a family trip up to the cabin some fall when it’s not too hot and maybe rent a 4WD vehicle to drive everyone up to the fire lookout to watch sunset.
To celebrate our anniversary this year Jess and I went out to Sea Ranch Lodge while our friend Sarah watched Heather and Corinne.
It’s out on the coast near nothing and away from everything. Pretty much perfect. There are several signs warning of the danger of the ocean and the constant threat of sudden erosion of the cliffs. These were headlined with “Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean,” hence the title of this post. Sadly, we didn’t take a picture of the signs.
Jess found this fire hydrant humorous:
On our way home we stopped at this bakery/shop for breakfast (cinnamon roll and sticky bun) and lunch (ham & cheese biscuit and BLT). It was really good.
And here’s a snapshot of a section of highway 1 you have to drive:
My birthday happened to fall on Saturday this year which is always nice. I “helped” Heather and Corinne assemble birdhouse kits in the morning. Which is to say I built a birdhouse for Corinne and helped Heather build hers.
After lunch we went over the library where they were having engineering projects for kids.
Heather got to play with a hammer (turns out all you really need for “engineering” to entertain kids is hammers, nails, and blocks of wood), played with some large blocks, built a maze, and worked on a raft.
Corinne, on the other hand, tripped on the sidewalk as soon as we got there and badly skinned up her knees. She spent the time there in pain and crying. So we ended up leaving earlier than planned and going home to open presents. They both enjoy helping unwrap gifts.
We went out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and then home again for cake. We didn’t have enough candles, so I had Jess use a binary format to describe my age. What you can’t see well in this pictures is the holes poked in the cake between the candles to represent the zeros in 100001.
And if you want to talk on the phone in our house this is how it’s going to happen: