Friday, April 11 (continued)
Before leaving Chino Valley, I stop at Ace Hardware on the south side of town. I remember from last spring that Ace has a dump station and sells propane ($2.79 gal.). The cashier tells me that Ace charges $7.50 to dump, unless more than $5.00 of propane is purchased. I spend $20.38 on propane (includes $1.91 sales tax) so I pay nothing for the dump station.
I point the Perfect Tow Vehicle northward.
At Safeway I buy $55.38 of gas ($3.39 gal.) and pick up some meat for the crew and fresh vegetables for me.
Now we’re all set… We’ve got groceries, a full tank of gas, a full tank of water, drinking water jugs filled, empty waste tanks, trash dumped, both propane tanks full, and clear sailing ahead to our next camp!
From Chino Valley we go north on Highway 89.
Memories surface as I pass two previous camps — Camp Drake where Rusty and I camped last spring and Camp Ash Fork, where I first met Rusty in 2012.
We proceed eastward to Williams, bypassing the exit to the Grand Canyon, and continuing all the way to Flagstaff.
Bridget and Spike, being seasoned travelers who happen to have bellies stuffed with their favorite breakfast — stewed chicken thighs — sleep the entire trip.
From Chino Valley to Flagstaff is approximately 90 miles, the last leg of the journey going uphill. About 12 miles north of Flagstaff we cross the median to return to one of our favorite camps in the Coconino National Forest. You may remember this piney camp situated on a bluff with a view of the Painted Desert. We’ve camped here twice before. It’s across Highway 89 from Sunset Crater.
Go ahead and laugh that I call 90 miles a “journey.”
For me 90-100 miles is a perfect amount of driving from one camp to another. I take forest road #418 (only one other camper is here– someone with a tent) to forest road #9125F. Pine trees line the wide and dusty road. Anticipation mounts! That’s such a primo spot. I hope it isn’t occupied.
We climb over a small hill and the campsite is empty!
I park according to the no-more-than-50-feet-from-the-road rule, even though it’s obvious others are still parking wherever they want.
First thing I notice is the marvelous aroma of pine. We walk over to the big tree (above) and look beyond the treetops toward the Painted Desert (mostly obscured by haze in the photo below). The breeze through the trees in the valley below makes a soft, steady “whoosh” sound.
“Hey, you little boondockers. Do you remember this place?”
Bridget and Spike are all over, sniffing the clumps of green grass and scattered pine needles. We climb a small hill together. Then I set about chocking the wheels. (I always chock the wheels whether I unhitch or not.) I put the Best Little Trailer’s interior in order. By now it’s early afternoon and I’m starving!
A bottle of full-strength cranberry juice perks up the palate. (I’ll say! Have you ever downed 8 ounces of pure cranberry juice? It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s great for urinary tract health!)
Why are we here? Well, I finally have a plan! More about that later . . .
Saturday, April 12
Note: Big rigs can access this campsite. There are several to choose from in the Coconino National Forest across the road from Sunset Crater National Monument.
We awake to a blue-sky day after a good night’s sleep.
“Let’s go for a walk before breakfast!” Bridget and Spike are happy to oblige as they’re as excited as I am to be in an environment that differs greatly from the camps of this past winter.
I expected it to be a lot cooler at this elevation (approximately 7,000 feet). Air currents from the San Francisco Peaks make this a breezy camp. It’s cool, but not uncomfortably so due to the warmth of the sunshine.
I’m always cheered to see Spike starting his day with energy and a minimum of lameness.
He obviously enjoys our little pre-breakfast walk. Bridget is happier when Spike keeps up with her, trotting along side-by-side. She gives Spike a slight nip on the nose.
“Did you just kiss Spikey?” I ask as she scampers ahead of us, turns, and comes back to Spike.
Okay, here’s the plan.
I tossed around a gazillion ideas how we will travel this summer. My poor Benchmarks are tattered and worn from all the perusing I’ve done over the winter months. This past week I finally make a decision. That decision, of course, can change in a flash, but at least I know our direction.
I’d like to retrace the route we took last spring.
From Flagstaff, go to Tuba City and cross the Navajo rez to Kayenta with a stop-over at Navajo National Monument. Bypass Monument Valley and zip straight up Highway 191 to Bluff, Utah.
Moving right along, we’ll skip Goosenecks State Park and Valley of the Gods, even though they both are magnificent. We were there last year and maybe we can visit those places in another year.
I don’t want to lollygag just yet.
I want to move us north to the Moab area, possibly camp along the Colorado, visit Arches National Park and/or Canyonlands. I rarely keep to plan, but this is our main goal — Get ourselves up through Utah and Flaming Gorge, camping at new-to-us sites along the way.
A low in the mid-thirties is forecast for tonight in Flagstaff. Although only twelve miles north, we’re higher up and near the Peaks. It may be a very chilly night.
I shut the window and door right before sundown to hold in the heat. Heating up supper and donning layers of bedclothes — not to mention snuggling with two canine bed-warmers — ought to ensure a comfy night’s rest.
Gusty winds in the 25-35 mph range are in the picture for tomorrow (Sunday) across the Painted Desert and the possibility of rain up Navajo Monument way.
Monday will be a better day for driving.
This is a good, private place to hole up for the weekend. After a winter of temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the crew and I can tolerate a few chilly nights!
I APPRECIATE YOU SHOPPING AMAZON FROM MY BLOG!
Here’s a sample of readers’ recent purchases:
Camping With the Corps of Engineers: The complete guide to campgrounds built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Sloggers Women’s Rain and Garden Ankle Boots
Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing System
Cat Miracles: Inspirational True Stories of Remarkable Felines
Sony 2 Channel Stereo Receiver
Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker