Friday, April 3, 2015

Craziest Weekend Ever.

A week ago my friend Valor and I were in class and she was talking about convincing her husband to go to capitol reef national park for the weekend. I understood this because I often have to convince my husband to do random adventures as well. So I chimed in and said "lets just go, we can split the cost of the trip and get some awesome pictures"

Saturday morning Valor picked me up and we headed down to Capitol Reef, the 3 hour drive was uneventful until Salina.

I noticed I had quite a few calls from my sister and dad, and I knew something was wrong.

This is the part where it gets personal-

My father called my sister Emily and I and informed us that he had taken 50 Valium and was drinking a bottle of vodka, he was committing suicide and wanted to say goodbye. My sister called me in a panic " this is beyond my maturity level, you're the oldest you need to deal with this" I was quite calm and not really freaking out which is odd. Maybe it's the new meds, anyway Valor and I had stopped at a funky antique store and was looking around, so I had a little reception and was able to deal with it.
I called my dad immediately and talked with him, he was feeling hopeless and sounded absolutely out of it. I tried to get him to go and throw up the meds but he refused. (back story) My mom left my dad about 6 months ago and both my sister and I are REALLY bad at calling my dad often. I did see him a month ago and he seemed to be doing well, but he's apparently a good actor. I had no idea he was feeling this way.

I told my dad I loved him and that I would be calling him back, I called the Kingman police and sent over help. In my gut I knew he'd be okay, so this might sound a little cold...but we decided to keep going. At that point I felt I really needed to just immerse in photography in a secluded space. I have dealt with both parents breakdowns my whole life, and I have had to distance myself in order to keep my own sanity. I cannot be responsible for their actions anymore. It was a hard place to be, but I feel like I have mastered that for my own mental health. I love my parents and I'm proud of my mom for getting out when she did and making her life better.

*update* My dad is fine, although he will need to be admitted to an assisted living facility he will get the help he needs. My mom drove to Kingman from Texas and is dealing with all the house stuff now.

We arrived in Capitol reef around 4 ish checked into our really weird hotel and headed out to the park.

The first night was great! Adventurous and we were able to shoot some amazing places.

The second day we headed out to Cathedral Valley and shot all around that location.

I can't quite figure out where, but we took a wrong turn and thought because of the dry conditions we would end up at the 72 then head over to the 70 then to I15. But we ended up on a snowy mountain and in retrospect we shouldn't have ignored the first patch of snow. The second patch was much worse and when we tried to plow through, the back tires half in mud and half in snow, just started sliding towards the edge of the road. Which was about a 100 ft drop on the side. We tried digging out the truck, adding dry dirt and rocks, but when Valor tried driving out I was utterly terrified that I would have to watch her fall over the cliff. I'm glad we had enough sense to stop what we were doing and try and contact help.  We hadn't had service the whole time we were in the canyon, but a short hike up the mountain gave me 4 bars, and I called Andrew (my sanity) and that definitely helped me through the next few hours. We ended up calling 911 and they were able to get a GPS off my phone, I had to keep calling every few hours and I was able to talk and text with Andrew. He was able to talk to Valors husband and concoct a plan to get us home.

Pano by Valor

We waited about 5 hours for Search and Rescue to get to us. They advised us to build a fire to help them find us, getting enough dry brush was frustrating because it burned so quickly. Sage brush was hard to pull from the mountain and I was so exhausted from hiking up and down looking for burnable material. The wait was probably the worst, we couldn't really get back into the truck because it was tipping. It wasn't too cold (about 40) but my feet were wet and emotions were running high between Valor and I. Valor was pretty upset because we were in her husbands truck, and we really didn't know if they were going to charge us to get us out and what the cost of a tow would be. I was ready to just get out of there and told Andrew to come get me from Loa, which pissed Valor off (with good reason, I was being an A-hole) but she was right, I shouldn't leave my friend behind in a strange town. That was pretty stressful because we're both tired and stressed, and ready to be home.

Search and rescue came and they were our hero's! They tried to see if they could get the truck back on the road but we had to leave it on the mountain and get a tow up there the next day.

 We got back to Loa really late, Andrew was there waiting and we all decided to head back home and Valor's husband would pick her up at our place. Even though she had to drive back down the next day I feel like that was the best decision, we needed our husbands to chill us both out. It turned out much better than expected, I feel that we both learned a valuable lesson about traveling in the back country. I think we both will think differently about the risks we take and the consequences that may follow. I'm just happy we're home safe. As for Capitol Reef, I was worried I would associate the park with the experience but in reality, I can't wait to go back.


  1. Really sorry for this news about your Dad, and for the traumatic experience with the car. I am proud of you for handling things so well. I love that part of the country and your photos are just beautiful. Wrap your Dad and Mom in prayers, and take care of yourself.

  2. I loved Laura's reflection about loving her parents, but disallowing herself from guilt about issues challenging them personally; everyone has stuff going on, we need to each take care of ourselves as best as possible and try only to ease others' minds about our own problems. My thoughts and prayers are with my awesome brother-in-law who taught me so much and gave me so much pleasure in my life. Hang in there, Tim. As for Capitol Reef, your adventure will only serve to build character and make you stronger by being more prepared for future trips. Love ya, Uncle Tom


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