Dennis Coffman(DEATH VALLEY, Calif.) — It was set to be one of the biggest New Year’s Eve gatherings for the Coffmans: a trip with more than 30 family members to Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley, California to commemorate a 40-year-long tradition.So, on the appointed night in June when the National Park Service was scheduled to post campground reservations for New Year’s Eve on its website, Robert Coffman and his extended family were ready at their computers at 12:01 a.m. to book enough spaces for those who planned to attend.“Everyone had first, second and third choices that didn’t overlap with anybody else’s first choices,” said Robert’s daughter, Dena Coffman. “It was a whole operation” with family from Minnesota, Oregon and Northern California all in.They had even made t-shirts for the occasion.But when the government partially shut down right before the holidays, all reservations at Furnace Creek Campground were canceled by the National Park Service. According to the department’s website, at the time of the Coffmans’ visit, campgrounds were available on a “first come-first serve” basis and refunds would be issued for canceled reservations. The page was later updated to say that Furnace Creek Campground was completely closed.The restrooms would be closed. Trash wouldn’t be collected. And few park rangers would be on duty.“The uncertainty of not knowing if they would have some place to camp kind of put people off,” Dena Coffman said of her family’s reaction.Dennis Coffman, who back in 1979 kicked off the original trip with his brother Roger and cousins, Mike and Robert, at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, opted not to go on the big family excursion this year.“It was really difficult for us living up in Southern Oregon to get information on what exactly was going to be going on at the park,” he said, adding that when he and his wife called the reservation desk, they “had no idea what was going on” with reservations made before the shutdown.“There’s no point in driving 800 miles or further to have to turn around and come back,” he said. “We just decided it wasn’t going to be worth going if we weren’t going to be with the whole family group.”Ultimately, only seven people ended up going – Robert Coffman, his wife Vicki, daughter Dena and her boyfriend, Dena’s sister and Robert’s sister and her husband. Instead of camping, they stayed at the Ranch at Furnace Creek, where they had protectively booked a few rooms just in case it was too cold.“It was really heartbreaking,” Robert said.The cousins fondly remember that first trip years ago to Joshua Tree, a trek that they almost called off at the last minute.There was snow on the ground, but they “decided to tough it out that first night,” Robert Coffman said.“Although it was rather cold, it was very beautiful,” he said. The four young men decided it “was so successful” that they would make it a yearly thing, trying to recruit more cousins each trip.“It ebbed and flowed a little bit over the years,” he said of the turnout. “But nevertheless we were always able to maintain… a presence of such in some ways over the last 40 years.”Though some family members said, “I’ve had it,” after this year’s trip derailment, both Dennis and Robert Coffman were confident the tradition would continue.“Everybody comes that can. Everybody’s invited. Everybody’s encouraged,” Dennis Coffman said. “It keeps all the cousins and relatives pretty much as best friends.”“We’ll be able to put something together next year,” Robert Coffman said.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Chelsea are certain of topping the table for another week even if Louis van Gaal – Mourinho’s one-time mentor – masterminds a victory for Manchester United over the Blues at Old Trafford on Sunday. Mourinho and United endured rare trophyless seasons last term and, while silverware appears a great challenge for Van Gaal, for Chelsea it seems within reach after a scintillating start to the campaign. “Last time we won a lot,” said Mourinho, referring to his two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and two League Cups from June 2004 to September 2007. “It’s not good for a team that’s won nothing to be compared with a team that won everything. “(But) at the same time I have also to be honest and say that this team is showing great quality in its football and, if we manage to win also titles, it can be better, but let’s see.” It is quite a statement from a manager who identified numerous flaws in the first season of his return last term, despite guiding the Blues to within four points of champions Manchester City. Mourinho has apparently addressed many of those unsatisfactory elements, particularly with the addition of prolific striker Diego Costa – a fitness doubt for Old Trafford – and midfield playmaker Cesc Fabregas. The most pleasing thing for Mourinho is playing well and getting the rewards. He added: “If you get results and you are not happy with the quality of the game, it’s not perfect. If you play amazingly well, but don’t get results, it’s not perfect too. “It’s difficult to say that Chelsea are not playing good football. Press Association Jose Mourinho believes his Premier League leaders have the potential to be even better than the vintage Chelsea of his first spell, but warned his players they have won nothing yet. “It’s important for us as a group to have that feeling that we are getting results, but at the same time we are playing well.” Much was made of Mourinho’s Chelsea being physical and direct during his first spell at Stamford Bridge, but he insists he works with the players at his disposal. “We are trying to play a football adapted to the qualities of our players,” he added. “This is something people sometimes don’t understand. If you are a team that has players that are killers at counter attack, you have to play that style. “If you have players very strong with a low block (defensive line) and direct football, you have to play that style. “If you have people like Eden (Hazard) and Oscar and Fabregas, these kind of players, you need the ball. “You need to control the game by having the ball and by using their intelligence and creativity.” A player like Nemanja Matic has allowed Fabregas to flourish, but Mourinho believes the Serbia midfielder is more than an uncompromising presence. “They start together the eight Premier League matches and the three Champions League matches – 11 matches together,” Mourinho added. “There are teams and players that don’t do that during the whole season. People change a lot and players don’t have this situation of the chance to improve together. “They understand each other very, very, very well. People sometimes can look to a physical guy like Matic and think he’s a physical player. “He’s very technical. He plays fantastic football. He thinks very quickly, he executes very well. Together they are playing really well.” Mourinho also has leaders throughout his team, like during his first spell. He added: “I like all of them to communicate. I like all of them to have a voice. I think communication on the pitch is very, very important.” Didier Drogba’s return has, in part, been about facilitating the development of Chelsea’s young players. “Didier was always a fantastic example of a team player, of a club man, of a dressing room man,” Mourinho added. “At the age of 36, after so many years of experience, he has even better conditions to be a key man.” Mourinho learnt from, and by, experience when at Barcelona working as Van Gaal’s assistant. Sunday’s match will be the second competitive clash between the pair, the first coming in the 2010 Champions League final which Mourinho’s Inter Milan won against Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich. The Portuguese recalled “good memories” of the Catalan Cup win while at Barcelona, when Van Gaal gave him the run of the team. “I took the team, but he was in the stands,” Mourinho added. “I accept that as a gift for somebody that was giving everything and was working hard. “He was there to support. He was in the stands. He came down at half-time to the dressing room to listen to my team talk. “He didn’t want to interfere, because probably he thought that was right.”