Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

9280 Feet ASL

Thursday, July 20th, 2023

On our way to the White Mountains we stopped in Show Low for groceries, dump and laundry. When I was young and Mom and Dad took us to Show Low, I remember it as being a small cow-town. Now it’s a big sprawling city complete with Walmart, Home Depot, supermarkets and almost everything you can imagine. I guess one reason the town has grown so big is because of its proximity to the mountains and still only a few hours north of Phoenix. 

We drove south from Show Low for about 40 miles, gaining a coupling thousand feet in altitude, and marveling at the beauty of the alpine meadows , pine forests and lakes galore. We found a campsite on forest road 117 and set up camp. We first intended to park temporarily, and then scout out different places to camp, but the more we looked around over the next few days, there were no places open that we thought would be better. 

The site we found had an open meadow that I parked in to get solar and satellite, and Donna parked back in the trees to get shade. The campsite was level and back away from the road just far enough to be quiet. We had a couple neighbors park nearby that were quiet and respectful. We were only bothered by a couple ATVs and motorcycles racing by on two days. 

Even at 9000’ the temperatures were getting up in the high 80s. I could use my AC and Donna stayed comfortable in the shade with just her fans. We tried sitting outside but the bugs and mosquitoes drove us back inside after a minute. One thing that would have been nice is if we had had a screen tent. There is a fire ban in all of the Sitgraves NF, so we couldn’t even have a fire to smoke the mosquitoes away. 

Since we have been here, we have explored nearby towns, lakes and back roads.   The nearest town, Springerville, is only 20 miles from our camp. One day we drove in and picked up a few groceries, visited a park with metal sculptures, and had a very good pizza lunch. Another day we went to Sunrise Lake and ski area, and explored a campground on Indian Reservation land. 

We tried to space out our trips to sightsee so we would have several adventures during our two week stay. Donna has been doing all the driving in her car, partially because there is room for Hanna, and partially because her car is more comfortable than my little buggy.  Both of our vehicles are low clearance, and I have thought more than once how nice it would be to tow a 4 wheel drive vehicle with high clearance for exploring back roads. 

Other places we have explored so far are Greer and Big Lake. Greer is a picturesque little community, nestled in a forested valley, dotted with hundreds of vacation cabins. It’s a total tourist town with several restaurants but few places to get supplies other than trinkets and souvenirs.  Big Lake is a popular camping, boating and fishing area. There are several campgrounds, one of which Donna remembers that Mom and Dad stayed at a few times. We both got an ice cream sandwich at the little camp store. Luckily, we had some cash because they charge an extra $3 to use a credit card. The cashier told me it was because they had to use satellite to process cards and that’s what they were charged. When I went outside, I noticed a Starlink antenna on top of the roof. 

We still have Hawley Lake to see and for sure another trip to Springerville to do laundry, get a couple groceries, and stop for another slice of delicious pizza!

White Mountains

Sunday, July 16th, 2023

In the beginning of July, many low altitude places in Arizona were experiencing uncomfortable, hot temperatures. I had been camping near Payson AZ, a moderate elevation of 5000 feet, that usually remains bearable until the calendar signals the true start of summer. Payson is a good intermediate location between the low desert areas of southern AZ and the high plateau of the rim country of northern AZ. This year seems to be a crazy problem of migration to find comfortable weather. 

I was staying near Payson mainly because it was a convenient commute into the Valley for several doctors appointments. I was in no hurry to travel higher onto the Mogollon Rim because an unusually severe winter had left stubborn drifts of snow and muddy road in the forest.  Even though lower elevations were experiencing 90 degree temperatures, snowpack was still a problem getting into camping places in high forests. 

Eventually, good weather made its way up to the rim country and I drove up into the Sitgraves National Forest and secured a campsite in a campground known as FS171. After a few days, sister Donna joined me in her RV and we kicked around plans for where to go after my stay limit was up. At first, we thought about going over to New Mexico and staying in state parks. We enjoyed a previous summer, hopping from park to park and thought it would be fun to do again. I have been dissatisfied with New Mexico SP system mainly because they turned all the parks into reservation system. That’s not the way I like to travel because I never plan where and when I want to go. It’s way more fun to wander around and make it an adventure. 

We thought about other places, but I didn’t want to travel too far away from Phoenix because of regular doctor appointments coming up. When we looked at the latest long-range weather forecast, there were record breaking high temperatures forecast for all of the southwest. Places as high as Flagstaff were predicting near 100 degree temperatures in the coming weeks. I got an idea that we should go up into the White Mountains near Big Lake to beat the heat, and Donna agreed. 

In the next few days I researched places to stay in the White Mountains. I found a dispersed camping area near a place called Carnero Lake, that was only 100 miles from the campground where we were staying, was situated above 9000 feet, and because I had not been there since I was a kid, would be an adventurous place to explore.  Never in my travels over the last several years had I considered the White mountains, mainly because there is no cell signal in many areas of that forest. With Starlink that’s not a problem anymore.  On July 10, 2023, we packed our RVs and headed for the White Mountains. 

Camping with Friends Near Payson

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019


For the last few weeks I have been wandering around northern Arizona and camping with friends near Flagstaff. The friends I have been camping with are basically all ladies. Some of them became friends at the women’s RTR and some of them met when they joined one of the caravans that formed after the RTR. It works out well to travel in a group. It allows you to have companionship, learn from each other about this lifestyle, and feel a certain amount of safety. The group is always in a state of flux with people joining and then drifting away to do their own thing. I’m not sure how I became part of their tribe but you can imagine the teasing I get from my siblings being the only male in a group of females. I can assure you that we are all just friends and enjoy each other’s company.

Two weeks ago I moved over to Winslow to camp at McHood City park and do a little kayaking. I spent a week there and went kayaking several times. McHood Park is basically a parking lot campground with only a few small trees. There is however dumpsters for trash and flush toilets. The main draw is the Clear Creek that cuts a beautiful gorge across the landscape and creates a fun place to kayak for three miles. The river is dammed below the campground so the water is still and peaceful.

After a week at McHood Park I heard from a couple of the group that they would like me to show them where I camp in Payson. Payson makes a good location to transition from the cool summer altitude in Northern Arizona to the warm winter climate in Southern Arizona.

The Tribe

There are a lot of people that like to camp near Sedona this time of year. Several places near Sedona and Cottonwood that we used to enjoy for dispersed camping are being closed down. It only takes a few people that leave piles of trash and set up homesteads in the camping areas that spoil it for the rest of us. With so many people trying to squeeze into the remaining spots, we figured that exploring another place would be worth a try.

There are two places near Payson where I like to camp. Neither of them are large enough to hold the whole group that plans to come, so I explored a forest road northeast of town and found two campsites next to each other. The area is not as pretty as the tall pines around Flagstaff and some of the sites have trash left in them, but with slightly warmer temperatures, it should work for a few days.

Pictures to come when I get a better connection.

Forest Living

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Willard Springs campground

Not long after Donna traveled back to her home in Mesa, I drove over to northern Arizona and settled in the Coconino National Forest west of Flagstaff. I knew a couple other people that camped there and it wasn’t long before we greeted each other and made plans to take some morning walks. There are quite a few places near Flagstaff that many boondockers spend their entire summer. It becomes an art to move to different places before attracting attention and not overstaying your welcome. The limit is 2 weeks in one place and we try not to push the good nature of forest rangers too much.

I had only been at my camp a few days when I received word that my older brother, Richard was having medical problems and was being transferred to the VA hospital in Phoenix. For reasons not completely known his lungs were not working right and contributing to major health problems. I decided to drive down to Phoenix and stay with Daryl and Donna and help out any way I could.

Richard became very ill and he gave all the family quite a scare. For 9 days he lay in an induced coma on life support as they pumped oxygen into his lungs and medicated him through tubes. Through a strong will and modern medicine he fought back and was eventually able to breath on his own.

His recovery has been miraculous. He continues to improve every day. It will take a lot of work and rehab but we are all positive that he will be able to do the things he did before. He may have to make some adjustments to his lifestyle but we all have to do that as we get older.

I’m leaving out a lot of detail in the story of my time with family in Phoenix but that’s ok. There were a lot of emotions that we all shared while Richard was so gravely ill, and even more as he pulled through.

Watermelon party.

Once things returned to somewhat normal in town I headed back up on the Mogolllon Rim to get out of the heat of the Valley. Temperatures at Daryl’s and Donna’s were climbing to 110+ degrees and my lifestyle consists on migrating in search of 70 to 80 degrees. At 7000’ feet in the forests near Flagstaff, I have been quite comfortable the last couple of weeks. The camping spots I found are very pretty, and I have met up with some of the same people I was with before. Life is good.

On My Own Again

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Camp in Cibola NF

After six weeks traveling together in New Mexico, Donna left this morning for her home in Arizona. It’s been a lot of fun having someone to camp with me and share adventures in and around western New Mexico. Having spent part of last summer exploring New Mexico state parks, I thought I would have seen most everything there was to see. But we found all kinds of new places to visit and see. One day we even drove up into Colorado to check out the tourist town of Durango.

I won’t go into detail of all the places we went and all the things we saw because Donna writes a much better synopsis of our travels, and it seems redundant for us both to tell the same story.

We spent time at five different state parks and only three days boondocking while traveling between them. A lot of our camping was in Navajo Dam State Park, a favorite of Mom and Dads in their retirement years. We have had many days this spring that have been cold, wet, and windy, and Navajo was a good choice to ride out the bad weather. We even paid for electric sites the first week we were there.

I’m camped in the Cibola National Forest about twenty miles from Bluewater Lake State Park. My plan is to go to Bluewater tomorrow and use the rest of my State Park Pass. The pass expires this month and I think I will travel back over to Northern Arizona for this summer instead of buying another one.

Thanks go out to Donna for the company and companionship this last 6 weeks. She did a lot of the driving when we went places and she always had marshmallows for s’mores at evening campfires. It seemed she was sometimes challenged with cell signal and TV reception so she had to do a lot of reading. I feel bad that we had so many bad weather days for her trip, and now that it is over, she will return home just in time for 100 degrees.