The Saratoga Sun -

To build a fire … pit


It can be all too easy to focus on the things going wrong in our lives that we overlook the things going right. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple thing to wake us up to that fact. At the same time, that simple act can hit us like a ton of bricks.

For me, it was a fire pit.

The past few summers haven’t exactly been great for getting out of town with my family. Last year, especially, was difficult as I was wrapped up in covering how the pandemic was impacting life in Carbon County and the hills were filled with visitors from the Front Range. While I’m going on vacation next week, my wife and I decided to try and get an early camping trip in with our son, Jareth.

It is likely not a shock to anyone who knows me that I am a constant ball of stress. Part of that seems to stem from the fact it seems like there is just always so much going on. If it’s not a meeting, it’s a sporting event. If it’s not a sporting event, it’s a community gathering. If it’s not a community gathering, it’s probably a meeting.

All of it, of course, has to make it into the pages of the newspaper. Preferably sooner rather than later. So, stress has become a constant fiend as I go from week to week.

Try as I might, I couldn’t leave this stress at the office nor could I keep it from following me up to the mountain. It didn’t help my mindset, either, that my plans for that weekend were already going awry as I made my way up Highway 70 and to the site where we had set up camp.

During the approximately 36 hours we were away from civilization, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything that wasn’t working the way I was hoping. What articles would I be able to fit into the upcoming edition of the Saratoga Sun? Would I be able to get enough articles ready for my upcoming vacation so my staff wasn’t left scrambling to fill the paper? When would I be able to get to that project I had been working on since October?

None of this, of course, made me a happy camper. None of it was enjoyable for either Telitha or Jareth. I was so used to checking my phone on a regular basis that even though we were in a dead spot, I still checked it constantly. Subconsciously, I think I was trying to will my phone to have service just so it would ding with a notification.

On Saturday morning, we realized we didn’t have the utensils to properly cook breakfast. A camping tradition for Telitha is beer batter pancakes and, well, we had neither beer nor a spatula to flip said pancakes. So, we decided we would head down the mountain and have breakfast somewhere.

First, was the issue of the fire pit.

The location we had picked had a very wide, but shallow, fire pit that appeared to have been hastily constructed. It was far too wide to place the grill over it for dinner that night and I had fears the fire would jump the rocks anyway. So, we drove around and looked for some additional rocks so I could reconstruct the fire pit.

I have never—I mean never—constructed a fire pit before. I knew it couldn’t be that hard but, at the same time, my stress and anxiety were telling me if someone could find a way to screw it up, it would be me. Once we had collected what were hopefully enough rocks, we dropped them off at camp and headed down the mountain.

When we returned, I set to my task of dismantling and rebuilding the fire pit. Jareth, in his quest to always be helpful, was another pair of hands. As I placed the larger stones, he found empty spaces to put the smaller stones. Before long, I had constructed what I hoped would be a passable pit for a campfire and to cook dinner.

Shocking only myself, the fire pit actually worked out great. We spent the afternoon getting our coals ready for Jareth to roast some hot dogs and marshmallows and the grill we used for the steaks didn’t cause the whole thing to collapse in on itself. As the day wore on, I couldn’t help but focus on the fire pit and how I had been able to successfully construct it.

As the weekend drew to a close, I felt a little ridiculous being so proud of a simple fire pit. Telitha, ever the voice of reason, told me she was proud of me because I had done something outside of my comfort zone. 

Not bad for someone whose only tan in his teenage years came from a computer screen.


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