Monday, October 12, 2015

Solo Family Camping


While I promised that I'd blog more with shorter posts, I still do want to post the super long one every so often. Think of it like watching Netflix...Sure, watching one or two epps at a time is great, but every so often you have to park it on the couch for 5 hours and let your ass go numb. As such, below is my 400 picture post about my 24 hour camping trip.  Think of it as a 3 part race report about a 5K.  No one cares about my thoughts at mile 1.45, but by god they're going to hear about them anyway!!

Ever since going camping with Ryan and all of his super fun neighbors a few months back, I've been looking for weekends to go camping. Granted, the camping that we did with Ryan was somewhat glamorous, (I've recently learned about the term "glamping" to describe it) but I really enjoyed being able to unplug.  So, with a weekend of just my son and I hanging around, I decided to seize on the opportunity and head into the mountains.

I decided that we'd head to the "closer" mountains in Tonto national park around Payson.  Its a quick 90 min drive north east of Phoenix and sits at a brisk 5,300 feet above sea level. Low enough to not be TOO cold, but high enough that 2-3 beers makes me want to scream Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lugs....all the while gasping for air because you know...5300 feet.  So, it is still remote, but not so much that if I burnt all of my hair off in a flash-fire accident I couldn't still get somewhere safe.

One thing that I needed to do before this camping trip was pick up a few things. You know, like a tent, a pan to cook in, a grill to cook on... little things, really. Ryan had offered to let me borrow his (and offered to let me borrow about everything else of his) but I figured that I might as well get some of the stuff on my own. So, a quick $200 purchase later, I had a tent and all the fixings to head out.  Unplugging sure is expensive!

Obviously, important prep for camping - light saber practice
(Along with a post-soccer lolipop)

Although, my son calls it a "Light Saver"

No seriously, we didn't do this for like 10 minutes in target....

So, with everything all loaded, we were off to the mountains.  The drive up was pretty, if not a bit crazy.  We were going highway speeds on mountain roads (and getting passed left and right like we were standing still - who ARE these maniac driers?) which requires a lot of focus. That said, whenever I could, I was trying to take in the scenery.  The AZ mountains start off desert like (exactly like you would think AZ would look like w/ lots of phallic cacti) but then looks more and more like Colorado with pine trees everywhere.

Getting a picture while driving is hard.  

Sadly, my navigator only made it 45 miles before he was OUT

This was just outside of Payson, starting to look like the mountains!


One of the things I was most looking forward to was checking out a local brewery in the area. THAT Brewery is just outside of Payson in a sleepy town called Pine. It seemed like it was 1/2 sports bar, 1/2 family restaurant, and 1/2 biker bar.  Their beer was good, my son loved coloring with their crayons, and the pizza was super cheap at $10 for what would normally be considered a large.  I took the opportunity to celebrate the drive up with a nice taster of all of their beers.

6 beers in a cupcake tin. Would have been better if there were cupcakes.


So, with the essentials taken care of, we were off to the actual campsite itself.  A friend at work had told me about some disparate / free camping outside of town that was well developed but still remote. He delivered on all counts.  The only "difficult" part was the last mile or so of the drive was on a rather rugged dirt road.  Never one to be stopped, I put my (otherwise small) sedan into a low gear and started up the road!!! Only to be stopped by a guy w/ a big truck: "Umm, do you know where you're going son? It gets pretty hairy up there."  Psh, little did he know how determined I was to go camping. There were certainly some bumps, but nothing that stopped us from getting to a great campsite and setting up camp.

Of course, by "us setting up camp" I mean "my son light sabered trees and bushes while I set up camp".  The brand new tent wasn't hard to put up at all and everything else went together over the course of 30 minutes.  Not bad! The campsite we chose actually had 3 separate locations for tents along with 3 separate fire-pits that had already been built.

Camp it set up!  The only thing missing is a beer in my hand and some FIRE! What could go wrong?!


Step 1: Beer.  Step 1 is always beer.

Step 2, FIRE!  Camping can start now.

As is the case with all of my camping trips, the thing that I look forward to most is the campfire.  And, as an extension to the campfire - cooking on the campfire.  This time for some reason the cooking did NOT go well.  The campfire was either roaring at approximately 5,000,000 degrees or was lukewarm. So, I burnt the first batch of food to a crisp and undercooked the second batch a bit.  So, on average I cooked everything perfectly.

Yeah, those black hockey pucks? They used to be burgers.

S'mores were SPOT ON, though. 


One thing that I didn't think about was firewood.  Normally, I'll just go hunting around for firewood caveman style, but since it was a bit late in the season, I think all of the good stuff had been taken. So, I relegated to burning my clothes and singing around the campfire naked. So, while I had lots of heat to cook with, I didn't have much to light the campsite into the night.  That meant that there were a lot of activities by candle light and I went to bed at like 8:30pm because I was getting too cold.

The best pic of the weekend - my son coloring by firelight 


Overall, it was really fun to get away from work, life, and the hot weather of Phoenix. I really like how I have most of the "stuff" that I need so future camping trips won't cost too much - just some money for food and firewood.  I did have a few lessons learned: More firewood, coats, pot holders, and less clothes.  It seems that I never brush my teeth change my clothes when I go camping.

But, before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head back down to Phoenix. Life could be ignored no more. It had started to sprinkle early in the morning, so I packed all of the stuff up in a HURRY to try to beat the weather.  Fortunately, no sooner did I get everything into the car that it started POURING down rain.  I get the feeling that I'll go camping a lot in the future!

Rain clouds!

6 comments:

Laura said...

The nice thing is, when it's starting to get cold in Colorado and we STOP camping there, it's finally starting to get cool enough in Arizona to START going!

Hannah said...

I too have started camping more recently and find it surprisingly fun and relaxing. (Surprising because of the dirt and bugs and whatnot). I wonder, is it really the unplugging that makes it relaxing--when we turn off our phones because they don't service...is THAT truly the relaxing part? Nah, probably the beer and open fire.

Sue's Ramblings said...

So when's the next glamping trip?

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Running Through Phoenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Running Through Phoenix said...

Enough with all the pants! Get into those boxers and a robe and your camping will be much better!