A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Vacation planning

September 30, 2013
Emilie Phillips

“Planning” might be the wrong term for this trip.

After several seasons of no big vacation trips (Tyson’s job at a startup makes it harder), we had decided we were definitely going to do a trip this summer. Well, summer came and just about left with no trip in sight. Finally in mid September we threw something together. I had wanted to go to the rockies, but snow season, not to mention flood season, was rapidly approaching, so we aimed our sights farther south. We already had a bunch of guides for Utah from our previous trip, so we decided to go there again. Miraculously my parents were actually available and plane tickets were not too expensive. Lodging was a different issue.

What with Isaac to carry along, we wanted to go to a national park or other area with easy front country access. We picked Zion and Bryce national parks and Dixie national forest for some variety. I looked up the lodges in the parks, but they were booked. Then I looked for vacation houses. At a week and a half out, there was not a single place available near Zion. Up towards Bryce there just was not anything, available or not. The only thing I found was a cottage 45 minutes away. Actually, cottage would be a rather charitable description. From the photos on the rental site, it looked like it had the possibility of being a run down shack. We all decided we were game and rented it. So that was our pre-vacation planning.

We landed in Las Vegas and by general consensus tried to leave Las Vegas as soon as possible. We did manage to rent a large four wheel drive SUV so we could adventure a little farther off the beaten path in the national forest.

The 3 hour drive from Las Vegas to Panguitch was actually quite scenic. (For those trying to pronounce Panguitch, it starts like penguin and ends like witch.) As we drove, we kept going up and up onto higher mesa, each with its own impressive cliffs.

When we finally arrived at the house, the outside looked about as expected. The inside was better than feared, but quite odd. The little we gathered from the rental description was that it had been in the family for a while. The grandmother had recently passed it down to the kids, and they were trying to sell it. It looked like it started out life as a small A-frame with two bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, a bathroom, and another room downstairs. Then they added a conventionally framed living room with a wood stove and porch on the side. The downstairs room in the A-frame was then the master bedroom. These two bits of house were well above grade with a crawl space. Finally, they wanted some more space, so they added a block on the front of the house at ground level containing an entry way and a bedroom. They left the former entry stairs between the living room and the new entry hall, and they widened the opening between those two rooms leaving a drop off with no railing. The new bedroom also blocked what would have been the only window in the master bedroom. At some point, someone added a half bath to one of the bedrooms upstairs, but it since broke. The porch came off the back of the living room, so that door opened on a steep drop off and a really decrepit looking hot tub. The smaller upstairs room had a bunch of stuff piled in it and a wood panel screwed over it’s doorway. Presumably that was to keep some personal stuff private from renters since there were no proper closets to lock. The backyard had a variety of decaying barns of unknown vintage.

Despite the house’s bizarre shape, it worked out for the week. The beds were good. The heat worked, if heterogeneously. The laundry worked. The kitchen mostly worked except it didn’t come with a cutting board or sufficient pot lids. But it did come with a crock pot. And we found the chest of kids toys.