Saturday evening we drove to a trailhead at the edge of town to photograph the sunset on Superstition Mountain. Our photo site sat at the edge of an upscale housing development, and the first home seemed absolutely perfect for us.
It consisted of a 3,119 square foot stucco residence with a 2,534 square foot, five-car attached garage serviced by two pull-through driveways. The 1.13 acre lot was exquisitely landscaped with rock and native cacti. Out back, it featured a patio, pool and because it sat on the Tonto National Forest boundary, nothing but an uncluttered view beyond. Zillow says it’s worth about $655,000.
“It’s not quite as nice as the view from our campsite,” my lovely wife observed, “and ours comes at a mere $25 a night.”
Yes, another joy of camping. Of course, the owners of that property probably don’t have to walk 200 yards to reach the bathroom.
Having failed to find the Dutchman’s gold, Dianne and I have set out on an even bolder quest. We will search for Coronado’s Seven Cities of Cibola. And like the 16th century conquistador, our most important discovery will probably be the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s monument to the power of erosion.
The past countless number of times I’ve been to the South Rim, I’ve always been engaged in something productive. We were on our way to Flagstaff for a dory trip down the river or coming back from a rim-to-rim hike with friends or on our way to and coming back from leading 50-mile, 10,000+ foot rim-to-rim-to-rim in one day hike for the Colorado Mountain Club. Spending time, seeing the sights and ogling the view was never on the agenda.
This time, in spite of hiking a quarter of the way down the South Kaibab Trail, we’re playing selfie-taking tourrhoids. Today, we drove out and hit every viewpoint from Desert View to Mather Point. Tomorrow we plan to do the same out to Hermit’s Rest, hiking and shuttle busing the entire route. It’s cool to listen to other tourrhoids explain the sites to their friends, getting 90% of the information wrong.
Friends of ours have a 23-foot Airstream trailer on order that will have a john with a shower onboard. Our A-frame pop-up has neither. That means that by the time this trip is over, we will have spent 29 days using communal restrooms and showers. Without exaggeration, it would be easier to join the mile high club on a commuter jet than it is to get dressed in the phone-booth size shower stalls here at the Grand Canyon.
Today was a miserable day with a happy ending (nothing to do with the mile high club). We were going to hike the Rim Trail from Hermit’s Rest but due to wind, rain, hail and biting cold temperatures, we took the shuttle bus both ways instead. When the weather then cleared, we headed out to an overlook and shot some interesting pix of the play of light and shadows on the canyon walls. Nothing award winning, but still nice.
Tomorrow, we head for Natural Bridges National Monument where the vacation ends and the work resumes. For a Denver Post assignment, I’ve got to do an adventure piece covering the long hike between the bridges. It’s a repeat of a romp I first did 40 years ago with my step dog’s owner.
Back then, we showered Woodstock-style in the buff under a solar shower back at camp. This time Dianne and I will put up our privacy tent and use the outdoor hot and cold shower on the trailer. Thankfully, our privacy tent is bigger than the stalls at the Grand Canyon’s public showers.
Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. The idea was to drive to Natural Bridges National Monument, camp for the night and then hike the 8.6-mile bridge-to-bridge-to-bridge loop tomorrow.
From the Grand Canyon, under ugly gray skies, we headed across the Navajo reservation, up past Monument Valley and into the land of 3.2 beer. Beyond Mexican Hat, we dragged our A-frame trailer up the vertical, gravel switchbacks of the Moki Dugway. Let me tell you that nobody beats the Utah Department of Transportation when it comes to turning a perfectly smooth road to a mass of teeth-chattering washboards.
When we got to Bridges, we learned there were there no formal campsites to be had and the old overflow camping area, our planned bailout, no longer existed. In addition, the weather for our hiking day would include rain and snow.
We were basking in air conditioned 90+ degree heat in the Superstition Mountain desert a week ago. I’m not hiking in no freaking snowstorm! If I wanted to do that, I could have stayed home.
So bail we did. We’re now in Blanding, Utah, sitting in a commercial RV Park. The wind is howling, the rain pelting, but we’re snug, dry and toasty warm in our trailer with the heat-pump warming us up.
Okay, a casita at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North would be better, but this is pretty darn nice.
After two heavy weather nights in a commercial RV park, we’re finally back to camping in the real world. This time it’s Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. False advertising however. Fortunately, we’ve not seen a single dead horse out here.
The park sits atop a plateau peninsula near the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. After parking the A-frame and getting everything set up, we did a short hike near the Dead Horse visitor center.
We then drove out to the end of the peninsula where sheer-walled canyons separated us from the Colorado River meandering far below. It proved to be a splendid place to watch Kayenta and Wingate sandstone walls glow in the setting sun. Don’t tell the Congressional Budget Committee, but if camera digits cost a dollar each, we shot enough photos to pay off the national debt.