Camping in Gooseberry

I spent a lot of time getting Fifi ready for her first big adventure, it was a lot more work than I remember. Mandi did a lot of things despite not feeling good to make sure our trips were special. She loved to camp in her RV, she would start planning the next trip the minute we got back in town, sometimes before we even unpacked. Regardless where we would go, if we were away from home she had a smile on her face. Travel was her passion in life and nothing was going to take that away, not even cancer.

The week before the trip I had to fix the sink which was leaking slightly, nothing a little plumbing grease and a rubber grommet couldn’t fix. I flushed the water tank with a teaspoon of bleach followed by filling and draining it several times to ensure the water was nice and clean. I even spent several hours cleaning up and reorganizing all the dishes and cooking utensils, something she wanted to get done last year but didn’t get a chance.

Adventuring with Ziplodicus

I found a lot of Mandi’s camping clothes, sunglasses, pillows, hats, and blankets while I was cleaning. I ended up leaving all them in the closet she used in the RV and will probably keep them there for a long time. I still don’t have the emotional strength to move Mandi’s things, having them around brings a large amount of comfort for some reason.

Mandi had so many little things for camping, stuff I wouldn’t of thought about. Just when I would think I forgot something, there it was hiding in some drawer or compartment in the RV. I hope someday I can be as organized as her, I have to write myself a million reminders or I will forget. I am still so used to having Mandi take care of me, I am getting better, but I will never be as good as she was at keeping track of things.

My friend John and Mandi’s brother ended up staying in the RV with me, it helped with my overwhelming feeling of loneliness. I don’t think I could have accomplished doing this first trip without having someone there with me. I did manage to damaged the trim under the door on our way to Gooseberry and the vent on the roof decided it wanted to get stuck and break as well. I will admit owning an RV can be a lot of work at times, but they are worth it in the long run. Having your house with you in the middle of the forest has definitely grown on me. I grew up tent camping and did quite a bit of it with Mandi as well, but it is safe to say I have been converted.

The four wheeling crew.

Aside from the minor things that broke on the RV the trip was actually quite relaxing. There were some small rain storms but nothing serious, and it helped keep the dust down. When you are out riding ATV’s with a group of people it can get pretty dirty if it’s super dry, so having a drizzle of rain here and there can be nice.

We found a really pretty trail that took us deep in to the forest and I managed to spread some more of Mandi’s ashes. Like last time I was crying a lot, it still makes me feel like I am saying goodbye when I do this. I am hoping this will get easier in time, being reminded of loosing such an amazing person in my life feels like someone is putting my heart in a blender.

I am going to plan a couple more camping trips before the summer is over, I am hoping to go to a few places Mandi and I camped a lot. One of her favorite places to go was San Rafael Swell which is near Castle Dale. If you are ever in Utah and want to see some beautiful red rock, I recommend making this one of your stops, especially places there like Buck Horn Wash or The Overlook. It is also very close to Goblin Valley which is a world famous park in Utah, the rock formations there are absolutely incredible.

Aerial photo of the Gooseberry Reservoir

I did manage to bring all three of the dogs with me on the trip, I think they needed a vacation as much as I did. Kira ended up staying in my mom’s RV to save space since I had two of the dogs and two people staying with me. We didn’t get a huge RV, so it would have been a bit cramped with all of us in there. My friend John brought his drone and took some amazing photos of the┬áreservoir, I brought mine but didn’t fly as much as I thought I would. I took some video but nothing as good as the pictures John took.

The next couple of weeks I am going to try and fix the parts on the RV that broke. I want to keep Fifi in pristine condition, it was Mandi’s favorite and all. I still have not managed to find the extra set of keys Mandi would hold on to for the RV. It has been driving me crazy I can’t find them. I am sure they are going to pop up someday when I am not looking for them. Lately I start thinking about things of Mandi’s and drive myself bonkers trying to find them. I just want to make sure the things I remember are somewhere safe. I miss her so much at times I can barely think straight, trying to find things when you can’t think can be a frustrating experience.

I will continue to do the things she asked me to in her final wishes, I just need to slow down a bit so I am not getting myself so depressed. It can take days to recover from a really bad episode of depression, and those days are extremely difficult to stay motivated. Lately I just can’t get her out of my thoughts, everything reminds me of her in some way. I even got worked up seeing the patio furniture getting dirty and ended up buying covers for all of them. I have been on this strange kick of keeping everything clean and trying to preserve the condition of all the stuff she bought for the house.

Next I need to focus on going through the jewelry Mandi wanted to give to her family, I am sure they would like to have those. Mandi’s mom is going to be moving soon to be with her son and grandchildren, she has not been getting out of her house very often lately. While I am going to miss her a lot, I would much rather see her happy and healthy again. She will still come to Salt Lake for appointments and mentioned I would probably see her more this way. I do need her help going through Mandi’s clothes and personal items, something I can’t do on my own. Anytime I try to go though stuff and find things I end up crying for hours, I don’t think I will ever get to a point this is going to be easy.

Spreading more of Mandi’s ashes.

I will keep everyone posted about the award they are doing in Mandi’s name this year, it should happen around November. They would like me to help nominate or pick someone to receive it which I am incredibly honored to be a part of. The art festival is still going to happen, it is just taking me a lot longer than expected to recover from all of this. But it will happen at some point, it is something I really want to do. The Mandi List still has a lot of items I need to complete so I need to get going on that too.

Things are just so hard lately, I miss Mandi so much and I swear it is getting worse the more time that passes. I know it is different for everyone and I need to be patient with myself, but the pain can be unbearable at times. So many memories, so many wonderful things we shared together. I still can’t believe I lost her, I never imagined this day would come. I think a part of me refused to accept that one day I would no longer have her in my life. I think that same part of me is the reason I keep the house exactly how she left it.


As always, thank you for the incredible support. I am so grateful to have so many people helping me through this, and to see how many lives were touched by Mandi is truly amazing. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Author: Michael Hudson

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