It’s late afternoon when the crew and I enter the town of Duchesne.
It’s time to find a place to park for the night. Starvation Lake State Park is a few miles northwest of town. I’d really like a free camp instead. Maybe a local can help me find one.
I turn into the parking lot of Family Dollar.
I’ll ask someone in the store about camping along the river. I reach to turn off the ignition key when I notice a National Forest ranger office! Leaving the crew in the PTV, I dash across the street. A woman greets me with a friendly hello.
She gives me free maps of the national forests of northern Utah and brochures of state parks.
“Do you know where I can camp along the river? “ I point to the BLT, visible through the large, front window. “I’m fully self-contained and would like to save a few dollars, if possible.”
“Oh, sure. Go back two blocks the way you came. On the left are the fairgrounds. Drive across the big parking lot to the grassy area. You’ll see picnic tables and restrooms. You can park there.”
Back with the crew in the PTV, I’m all smiles.
“Well, guys, we’re on our way to our first Town Camp!” This is so exciting! The fairgrounds are easy to find. A grandstand overlooks a large ring. Behind the grandstand is an open-sided barn for animals. Looking further I spot the small park and drive up to it. This is the place. It’s wonderful!
I let the crew out so we can look around. The grass is thick and lush. The picnic tables look brand new. Swallows fly in and out of nests built on the rafters of the shelters. We’re far from any traffic. There’s even a handy water spigot. “This is perfect! Absolutely perfect!”
Right when I think it couldn’t be any better . . .
There’s the river! I tug at the crew’s leashes. “C’mon! Let’s go see!” We sprint across the little park and find a paved walkway alongside a deep, clear, fast-moving river . . . the Duchesne River! Right outside our door!
The river walk leads us upstream and across two small bridges.
Bridget and Spike seem as excited as I am. Spike pulls to go down to the water. “Oh no, Spike. That’s too deep and fast for you. That river would carry you away in a flash.”
We stop to watch the river race past us.
I marvel at our good fortune. That was so easy! Drive into town, walk into the National Forest office, ask for a free camp along the river, and here we are!
Later I sit at a picnic table in my private park to enjoy a drink while looking over the maps and brochures. Bridget lies in the grass. Spike soaks in a pool of water he’s found at the edge of the park.
“Well,” I conclude, smiling at my sweet boy. “Isn’t this nice.”
The next day . . .
After a breakfast of hot oat bran with cinnamon at the picnic table, I decide it would not be good to stay camped next to the little park. It’s Saturday and surely people will congregate here. However, I don’t feel like another day of driving. I’ll do like Tioga George. We’ll make a day camp in Duchesne, come back to camp at the park again tonight, and then leave in the morning.
First I do a little shopping at the Family Dollar and Al’s Grocery.
Then the crew and I go out to Starvation Lake State Park. It’s only about three miles outside of Duchesne. The lake is surrounded by hot, dry, rocky areas. The campground is nice enough, although to me it seems crowded. It doesn’t look like the kind of place where dogs can easily go for a swim. Boating is the big thing here. Instead of hanging around the state park at a day-use cost of $7, we return to town.
I remember seeing a small park at the edge of town.
I park the PTV in the sun with the BLT in the shade. I carry my camp chair, a book, and a drink over to a shady spot next to a tree. Bridget and Spike relax on the grass, watching the cars and trucks go by, while I read. Later I make a salad with zucchini, tomatoes, and chicken chunks for a picnic lunch, sharing the chicken with the crew. As I write this, we’re in the BLT. Bridget and Spike are fast asleep on the bed in the breeze of the fan.[slideshow]