Before we got the idea to get an RV to camp, we were tent campers. We loved it… until Winn Campground. When we went it was October. Slept on an air mattress, and learned what a pain it is to sleep in cold weather on an air mattress in October…

I can’t be too upset at that day, because of that freezing night, we decided on getting an RV. Our first choice was less than ideal for us, as the darn thing was having all kinds of electrical problems and ended up costing us several thousand dollars to get fixed. And then because all of that money was thrown at an RV that still wouldn’t make a short drive, we ended up selling it and getting our 5th wheel. I had to upgrade my truck, because the transmission kept getting lunched, and now, we’re happy.

Going on a trip to nearly any campground on a 3 day weekend is bound to drive you crazy. Labor day weekend was a perfect example of this. Many of the spots were taken, and there was a lot of loud partying. But fortunately Winn is laid out with the spaces far enough apart that we weren’t too close to the party. There’s two separate loops for camping. Some are walk-up only. Friday night I got off early enough that I could have the RV ready to go by the time the little lady got home from work. We headed out on our long drive to Greer up through Payson and out past Show Low.

As we pulled in after dark, we had to wait til the morning to actually see the campground. It didn’t disappoint. The lush greenery and tall pines surrounded us. You know we often get critter visitors, but the problem is we’re usually not quick enough with the camera. Or we’re just able to get a nice picture of squirrel butthole as it’s bounding away… Sometimes though we actually get a nice picture of a cute little furry woodland creature. It’s one of the reasons we take these trips. That is, to get back in touch with nature in a nice peaceful way.

We popped in to Pinetop because we wanted to check out a few antique shops. The first place we stopped at was a nice place with a huge sign that said ANTIQUES, and clothing. We walked in and my initial reaction was, “It’s nice, but where are the antiques?” We wandered through, and it wasn’t until we hit the second floor that we found a small room with a smattering of antiques that looked like stuff I would find on the side of the road while changing a tire. To say I was unimpressed with their “antiques” would be like saying the ocean is a tad wet. I’m not going to call them liars, but with the huge sign saying “ANTIQUES”, and then clothing, when it was mostly a shop to sell those wire and rock ants and modern art is a tad disingenuous in my opinion.

Obviously friendly to those who carry.

We decided to stop for food at the place called Grumpy Jake’s BBQ. The food  was pretty decent, and the staff was friendly. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t like what I got. My sweetheart got the ribs, and those were VERY tasty. I was just a tad jealous, but she let me have some that she couldn’t finish. Afterwards we headed back through town and we stopped at several other antique shops. Nearly all of them had more ACTUAL antiques than the first shop, but we didn’t really see anything that we really had to have. I darn near got a leather jacket with fringe and all, but just couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Almost… but not quite enough to justify the purchase.

We returned to the RV, and I spent what seemed like forever trying to get the fire to light. I’m usually pretty good at it, but it simply refused to light, and stay lit. I was feeling like I failed my fire skills… I couldn’t get PAPER to stay lit. I couldn’t get the barbecue lit to cook dinner, after I lit the fire pit(finally), so I decided to take the charcoal and sit it over the lit fire pit and let it light the coals… Future reference, if you’re going to light a fire pit and a grill for food, do the grill for food FIRST. That way if you run out of lighter fluid, it’s no biggie, you just go without a fire to sit by.

When we were in Jerome, we picked up a book with a bunch of scenic drives in Arizona. Since we were in the area, one of the trips was on Forrest Road 285. Granted it was going the opposite direction from Eagar to Big Lake and we were closer to Big Lake. But as far as I know the view out of the window is only on the opposite side of the truck, and other than that doesn’t change because we’re going the other way. At first the road was kind of nice, with tall pines and a cruise through the woods on a back road. Then after we crossed through a field we closed in on some horses. It looked like a family of three. They were standing in the middle of the road, so I slowed down until by the time I was up to them, I was at just about a crawl. I’m a bit of a softie at times when it comes to animals. And horses have always held a small part of my heart. They gently moved on and we eased past them.

We continued the drive into Eagar, and weren’t quite done yet. So we decided to check the campground out that we didn’t get to last time we were in the area. We also wanted to complete the Coronado Trail that we kind of abandoned last time. So we started at the other end and drove toward Clifton on 191.

A stark reminder: This was caused by one campfire that wasn’t all the way out.It didn’t take long before we started to see the damage done by the Wallow Fire. As much as I love camping with a nice fire, all of us need to be reminded of the dangers of our camp fires. Two men were camping and thought their fire was out. The wind picked up and caused the fire to re-ignite, and embers lit the forest on fire. Driving through the area is a tad saddening, because the fire was entirely preventable. But there is hope too, as life is coming back to the area.

Feels like the top of the world

Sometimes you see something and you simply cannot comprehend it in your first glance. The double-take. We round a corner and I see a tree that looks like it’s a porcupine… We stop and look and see that the thing is covered in arrows. I have to admit, If you’re going to randomly shoot something, it’s better to do it with arrows… They don’t fly as far.I’ll give these guys bonus points if they managed their shots from a moving vehicle.

As we drove through the mountains my lovely woman forgot to take pictures as she was gripping the “OhShit” handle as I was driving. Her exact words were something like, “Why aren’t there any guard rails around here?” Though she did manage to snap a couple pics as we headed to the Honeymoon campground.

Last time we came to the river crossing it looked like water was over the road. I said then if I knew the road I would have simply driven through it. This time I got up to it and it looked the same way. I figured they wouldn’t have people living back there with no way to get out, so I decided to go for it. It’s a low water crossing, and I figured I could ease through it and if I started getting too deep, I’d stop. Of course as I got about halfway there someone decided to head the other way, and scooted along pretty quickly, so that let me know it was safe.

The other side of the creek. Almost magical.

We scooted along and back further into the area beyond the creek. It was a longer drive than I expected, but as we got further back it was pretty neat. I don’t think our 5th wheel would fit well back here, but if you had a smaller trailer or a camper and wanted to get away from everything this would be a good place.

It started getting later, and we thought we would take the short cut back through the end of the road there. Unfortunately, there was no way through. So our only option was to return the way we came. Which meant it would be about 6 hours to get back to the poor dog that hadn’t been out the entire time we were driving. I drove as quickly as the law would allow( 😀 ) and made it back to a happy puppy who drained her bladder as soon as we let her out. Whew. Poor thing…

The next morning my sweetheart woke up a little early and was sitting outside where she was yelled at by an angry angry squirrel. No, that isn’t a joke. He spent most of the morning yelling at her from up in the trees. I don’t speak squirrel, but it sure sounded a lot like when my mom found out I had a whole bunch of lizards in my room jumping around(not a joke either, I used to catch them as a kid). That squirrel was letting her know in no uncertain terms that this was HIS house.

We walked around the camp ground one more time and then packed up to leave. Of course it’s Monday of a holiday weekend, so we weren’t the only ones on the road.

Looks like someone forgot to tuck their stinky slinky all the way in

A long weekend brings out the people that don’t camp much, as well as those that do. I have a feeling these guys camped a lot…

Love the flamingo.

As we got closer to Payson, traffic began to pile up. We ended up spending several hours getting through Payson.

This is Payson on a holiday weekend… It’s What LA is like a 2:30 in the morning.

For the rest of the pictures, click here

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