Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Camping in Arizona

As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. While, I wouldn't trade my home in Arizona for anything, there are some things, particularly the beauty of the area that I just can't help but miss.

Being back in CDA for the Ironman reminded me just how beautiful the area is. Actually, it was even more pretty than I remembered. Maybe it was just that I hadn't been back for so long, other than a quick weekend, but I remember walking along Lakeshore drive a couple days after the race & not being able to take my eyes of the beautiful clean, clear (and glass calm) water surrounded by the huge evergreens.....

Believe it or not, you can live in Phoenix where it's dry & brown over half of the year, yet still have the opportunity to drive just over an hour up North to some of the most beautiful places you'll ever see.


There is Sedona and the famous Red Rocks



There is Flagstaff, a small hippy-like town with outdoor adventures all over, like, Mount Humphreys.



See, there is more to Arizona than the desert...

But, that's not my story for this post. My story involves camping. Last week, a couple of our friends, Jeff & Kristin invited us to go camping with them over the weekend. The thought of getting out of the 110deg temps for a couple of days, not to mention letting the kids get out in the woods for a little adventure was very appealing, so a few days later we were all set with plans, and reservations at a campground just outside of Payson. Just outside is a slight understatement, but more on that later....

Let's backtrack a little... back to my days in the Pacific Northwest.

Growing up my family considered camping as "vacation." Some things have certainly changed in my book. I now consider vacation somewhere on a tropical island with crystal blue water, fresh seafood, drinks a plenty..... Our a trip to wine country, or New York City. Now THIS is vacation to me...

None the less, I enjoyed my days of the good old outdoors, sleeping in a tent, drinking cheap beer (ok, it didn't ALWAYS include the beer since I started camping before I could crawl), cool nights & warm days.... well, not always so warm.

As a kid there were a lot of short weekend adventures just outside of Spokane, but the one yearly trip that I have the most memories from was in Northern Idaho. Priest Lake, Indian Creek Campground. We would spend a week here every August.


I'm sure I could paint the picture of how beautiful this place really is, so I searched the web and hijacked some photos. I know i have some old ones in a box somewhere in my house, but that's why we have the Internet right?

The campground had a beautiful white sand beach where we would spend our days playing in the water.... The water that reached a peak temp of maybe, oh, 68degs.



The campground was full of trees and pine needles, and most importantly the individual sites were big enough that you weren't on top of the campers next to you. Quiet, peaceful and somewhat private.




Best perk, although it still seemed rustic, there were flushing toilets and warm showers. A must when you are a young teenage girl trying to find boys!!! I'm still laughing at the fact I used to blow dry my hair and apply makeup.....

Every year was a different experience. There were weeks that it rained the ENTIRE time. Not like Arizona rain where it comes, goes & then dries up. It was full on Seattle-like rain. We would be bundled up around the fire drinking hot chocolate.... or other adult beverages as we got older....

There were also years where it was hot, like in the 90's that we just lived in the water...

And, somewhere in between there were also times when we would have thunderstorms so severe they would send trees tumbling to the ground, hitting whatever came in it's way; campers, tents, cars.....

I remember one year when the camp rangers sent everyone down to the beach to lie flat on our stomachs. The storm was so intense it was classified as a hurricane. 6-8' waves.... I was young on this trip and it scared the crap out of me.

But, through all of these adventures, we survived and kept coming back. My high-school girlfriends and I even packed up and came here for a week after our high school graduation. I'm pretty sure it was just our way of getting out of the house, drinking that cheap beer we were so fond of and working on our tans...but, none the less I was a true camper.

So, Friday night we headed up North, just over an hour to a campground called Houston Mesa. When I mentioned above that this campground was RIGHT outside of Payson, I wasn't kidding. It was like 3 miles outside of Payson. Less than 5mins from the local Walmart and Home Depot.

We just laughed it off.. I mean, what did we expect getting last minute reservations in Arizona in July?

The campground was actually quite nice. Enough space from your neighbors. Green trees, very clean..... So, we parked the cars & started to set up camp. Not even :30 later the camp host was at our site instructing us to get the dogs on a leash as there was a $5000 fine. You.Have.Got.To.Be.Kidding.ME!!!!!!

We were actually prepared for this and brought a ton of rope to tie the dogs up with, so they wouldn't even noticed they were restrained. Well, wouldn't notice until they got themselves so tangled up they only had like 6" to move around. Watching this was half of our entertainment for the weekend....

So, we settled in for the night, made some good old turkey hot dogs and drank some beers. Unfortunately, no fires were allowed in AZ due to the drought, but it was only like 75degs so it was no big deal heat wise....

We went to bed around midnight, which is way past my bedtime, even in the woods.... especially after a 14mile run that morning. But, being it was cooler than we are used to, we hoped we could sleep in.

It was a good thought, anyway. Unfortunately, the obnoxious, dirty little parent less kids in this campground were up and about at 6am screaming like it was no body's business. I hope no one takes offense to this, but these kids were downright rotten! Maybe I'm just spoiled with the children I am around. All of my friends children are so well behaved, I don't even think of the ones like I was tormented with this weekend....

So, with about 2 hours of sleep, we were on our way to day 2 of camping.

After a slow moving morning, we decided to pack a lunch & head up North by the Mogollon Rim to some of the trails so we could let the dogs off leash....

Unfortunately our trip was cut short as we saw a big storm coming in, so we headed back to the campsite. We decided to put up some tarps to shelter us from the rain.

Of course as soon as the tarps were up, the storm had basically circled us leaving only a few drops. Either way we were prepared. So, we got comfortable, made some drinks, which apparently my lush dogs thought they should partake in as well










... played some games, then headed out on a walk to let the dogs run around.



On our way back, we noticed another storm coming. This one didn't look like it was going to just roll over. So, we sat there, under our tarps as the thunder and lightening was right on top of us. Not too much rain, so it wasn't so bad.. Well, that's not exactly what the dogs thought.....


"Dad, save me!!"


Thank you, Dad.....
Well, our friend's puppy, Bently thought everything was ok. This was his first camping experience... I'm not so sure what he'll think of coming back....
Suddenly the rain got worse... and worse.. and within a few minutes our campsite was flooding.
Shane jumped out and started digging trenches. Digging as much as he could using his hands, then a few rocks as a shovel. But, he couldn't keep up. The water was pouring over the streams and heading right for our tents...
Jeff jumped in and started to help..... Kristin and I stayed under the tarps trying to calm the dogs....and stay dry. Our dry space went from a nice 20x30 section to about a 2x2 section that was occupied by the puppy, Bently.
This went on for about 3 hours..... We finally got the boys under the tarps and in some dry cloths. The trenches seemed to be working and the rain was a little lighter. We did the best we could to make some dinner, hoping the rain would stop and we could continue on with our festivities. This never happened.....
We finally gave in at about 9:30 and went to bed. Wet, tired, grumpy......
The rain continued for another couple of hours. We woke up stiff, wet, dirty and tired.... We spent the next hour or so packing up our cars and getting the hell out of there. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up our muddy camping messes....
I guess I learned something new this weekend. No camping in Arizona during peak monsoon season.....
I think we'll be back, maybe not to the same place, or the same time... but there is just something about camping that keeps me coming back. I guess it's in my blood.
Good trips, bad trips.... at least there is always a story :-)

4 comments:

Bigun said...

gosh, camping in the rain, as long as it's at night after a "hard" day, is usually pretty awesome, except for the water in the tent issue. Rain drops on a tarp is sweet sleeping music to me...

momo said...

omg, those pictures of baxter and shane are too cute.

you all know how to camp for real. we were just playing at it... :-)

Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

I love camping too!! I loved the photos! Bigun and I haven't camped in years. I kinda miss it.
I don't like being wet though when I'm trying to sleep...yuck. you guys were troopers!

claudia (email:claudiadidit@hotmail.com) said...

oh my god! i live in arizona too :D but you need to tell me where exactly is that sedona rock, the first picture. pleassse! would be appreciated :]