Hooray for Camping!
All of a sudden I had this urge to get out of town, I won’t tell you what that urge was. Let’s just say it was a great time to be on vacation. The heat was squelching my will to do anything productive. My kids were gone baby gone with their Dad. So J and I decided that we would leave at about 10 AM the next morning and head up to the rim. We didn’t have any specific plans just to get somewhere cooler. It was 10 PM so I went to bed. I woke up the next morning threw a few camping necessities in my trunk picked up J and we were off to the wild unknown.
All you need to know is I am an expert camper. I camped every summer growing up. Man OH Man that blue and white tent my family had for YEARS could be constructed and deconstructed in a matter of SECONDS. We had all kinds of gear, which made camping very fun.
J and I….had no gear. Just our brains and our bare hands. Oh, and those three flashlights I decided to grab at Wal-Mart with the free batteries. Hint: If you buy three flashlights with FREE batteries you MAY want to think of buying back up batteries.
Now, if I am an expert camper that would make J a big league camper. I mean the equivalent to holding a doctorate in camping. Since he pretty much built a log cabin once, and lived a whole summer in the woods. I learned this on our trip up north. I was pretty impressed. Mostly with his mother though, who somehow managed this experience.
Anyway. We ate lunch at some Mexican food restaurant that had great reviews but ended up being mediocre mexican food. Florindos or something in Payson. We then headed to the Payson Wal-Mart to get our “supplies” meaning chips and guacamole…and a few other food staples.
We headed to Christopher Creek to check out the campsites. I did not REALIZE that you can actually PAY for a campsite that has a fire pit and potties close by. I mean as long as I can remember we have just camped in the woods. A campsite with a fire pit, picnic table and potties was like The Ritz of the wilderness to me. Except, there was no water in the creek bed and the campsite was full. So, we headed to Woods Canyon Lake to see what we could find.
We found this aspen grove which was pretty cool.
Most of the campsites were full. We did find one just past the turn off to the lake on the left side of the road. It was pretty nice and Rodney was the camp-keeper. He really liked Joe’s BBQ. We set up camp and then went to check out the lake.
There is the tent I borrowed from my sister. J had his own tent across the way. Pretty nice right? $15 a night. We went to the lake which was amazing. We walked around and then climbed down the dam. There were two elk mommies and a baby Bambie that were just laying in the Meadow. It was very endearing. We walked through this lush valley of green, water and trees. We forgot our camera’s in the car, we first thought we would swim or rent a kayak but ended up just wandering around and exploring. It was amazing. I kept thinking how grateful I was for the beauty of the earth and how peaceful I felt to be surrounded by it. I realized then I need to make more of an effort to be in nature and create opportunities for my kids to be in nature. Then the sky filled with ominous clouds and the sky began to darken. We reluctantly headed back to the lake. We walked around the edge of the lake which was dotted with fishermen. It started to sprinkle, we walked a little bit further and then the sky cracked its thunder whip. The clouds opened and let go of that heavy rain. J saw a rock overhang and we huddled under it. It was amazing there were these birds that were swooping down and catching fish right out of the lake in the downpour. I think we were both mesmerized by these birds and happy when we saw one had caught a fish in its talons. The rain subsided and we headed back to our campsite. As we arrived something was missing.
Where’d my tent go? I cried.
It had been blown over by the storm and was full of a few gallons of water. Luckily, I hadn’t set up my bed yet! My clothes and tennis shoes were soaked. We got the tent situated and then decided to look for firewood. There wasn’t any around the campsite it was picked clean….and we didn’t have an ax. So we drove down the road to where J spotted some dead trees on the side of the road. He literally karate chop ninja’d that tree trunk into submission. We had our firewood. It was then I knew I was with a camping master. Master Miyagi fire wood collector. You can call me Daniel-san. I’m actually not kidding. I did help push the tree over a little and sat on the branch so J could snap of some of the other pieces. We went back to camp, started our fire and made dinner. We had smoke popcorn, which was not edible, hot dogs and s’mores. It was yum.
The company was good, nature hugged us from every side and the fire warmed our bones. Sometimes you have people that come into your life that become wonderful friends. I have learned a lot from J ( I mean Master Miyagi). I have observed him and how he treats others. He is always willing to help. He is one of the kindest people I have ever met. I am glad to have him as my friend. Plus, he’s pretty funny.
The night was black. Pitch black. I didn’t want to go to the bathroom by myself. My flash light was dimming after being on for two minutes. (Those excellent free batteries) So J and I walked over together. We walked in and I realized I could hear everything going on next door. It was strange, so I said out loud how strange it was. “Ummmmm…I can hear you.”
It sort of felt like this. Except we were in our own bathrooms.
We walked back to our tents and went to sleep. I had a dream that I woke up and the top of the tent was falling down on me. I screamed and then realized it was a dream and went back to sleep. There are strange noises in the forest at night.
The next day we headed to Tonto Natural Bridge. It was such a beautiful place. I had never been. I hiked the whole thing in Havaiana flip flops. I’m talking SCRAMBLING hiking. It was pretty tough. The hike was hard and I had another revelation. I am not as in shape as I thought. I huffed and puffed…I could have blown the house down. I must increase my cardiovascular exercise! I was sort of shocked because I have been working out four to five times a week at Orange Theory.
If you have never visited this natural wonder, YOU MUST. It felt so good to be in nature, hiking, swimming and sweating. Plus, it is magnificent. In my opinion nothing is more beautiful than the earth and all of the wonders within it. My pictures do not do it justice.
We headed home back to the 116 degree heat. It had been a perfect reprieve from the heat, and life in general.
Earlier that day J had mentioned the date and I realized that it was my wedding anniversary. It’s weird when you realize that. A flood of thoughts ran through my head. Many memories happy and sad, broken or maybe just postponed hopes and dreams. I decided to focus instead on the present and I thanked the Lord for my blessings. How lucky was I to be in this beautiful place at this moment with one of my dear friends. I realized it was a tender mercy, and how thankful I was to have it.
We went to Sonic and it was happy hour. Perfect.
Two pina colada slushies and a drive home listening to Jack Handy quotes. I laughed so hard I had tear crusties at the corner of my eyes.
Here are a few:
“If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that’s what He’s getting”
Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.
The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.
If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that’s another weakness
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”.
I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.
If they ever come up with a swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, Then Jumping Off Something.
It was a great day.
XOXO-The Sunny D