Anyhow, this past week Darrick was on fall break from teaching. Before I delve into the real point of this post (which involves a baby, a forest, a tent, and lots of s'mores), allow me to digress. Can I just say we never had fall break growing up? Kids these days are pansies. And I? Well I am apparently getting older by the second, as evidenced by my use of the phrase 'kids these days'. Please hold while I grab my bi-focals.....
Ok, so. Darrick was on fall break and itching to get out of town. We wanted to head to NY to visit his mom, but it turns out we are po', and flying to NY would be more money than we could afford at this juncture. So instead we opted to go camping, which happens to be one of our MOST favorite activities.
You know....when you get pregnant everyone and their brother will lament on and on about how EVERYTHING changes when you have a baby. And it does, but Darrick and I have always told ourselves we would continue to do the things we love. I mean, a baby is just a mini-person, not some sort of doll that cannot be removed from its case, right? So when Darrick suggested a 3 day weekend at the Mogollon Rim, I was game.
I'll title this section: "What You Should Know About the Mogollon Rim: The Abbreviated Version". The Mogollon Rim is north of Payson and Strawberry, off Highway 87. It's a beautiful place to camp and hike, and if you are lucky and plan well, you can find the most out-of-this-world views in an area that's far enough out to discourage most people from trying to camp near you. The spot we always camp in also happens to be at the end of a long dirt road with huge ruts and bumps and rocks and other off-road-like features, so even though we once made the trek in my 1996 Geo Metro, it's not advisable to do so. One really needs a truck to make it there, but once you've claimed this spot, you will be rewarded morning, noon, and night. For example...here is the sunset we witnessed on Friday night from 'our spot'.
Ok, so back to camping. One thing I never really understood pre-baby was just how many accessories one needs to take when traveling with a kid. We borrowed my mom's truck, and by the time we were packed, in addition to clothes, diapers, and wipes, we had packed the following for Luca: a play mat, a bassinet basket, 4 blankets, 6 hats, her stroller, a Baby Bjorn, and a bouncy seat. For one 12 pound baby. If I had to place a bet, it would be that her 'things' outweighed her four-fold. But we got it all packed up, in addition to a tent, some chairs, our clothes, bedding, a stove, food, etc., and headed out on the road.
We get to the rim, and 'our' spot is open. We set up camp and Darrick starts making dinner (asparagus, yellow pepper, and chicken on the stove, potatoes over the fire) and I get Luca set up and warm. It's SO cold that Luca is only happy in the tent (did I mention we are RIGHT on the rim...which means lots of wind?), so I end up in there with her, essentially hiding out, while Darrick tends to the fire. We get her to sleep and make s'mores, and then I run like hell to hide out in the tent more while D polishes off a bottle of wine.
The next day, we decided to take a hike. Only problem is, before we could set out we realized hiking in the woods might be bad for out health this go around. We had the dogs on a tie-out lead attached to a tree by our tent, and suddenly, Ruby raised her hair on her back and started barking at a hunter in full camo and a black ski mask who had made his way about 200 feet from our campsite. Great. Hunters. My mom had warned me it may be elk season, so we decided to stick to the road. We start walking, and it's idyllic. The weather is amazing. The dogs are happy. Luca is squealing and smiling. Heaven on earth.
And then, from between the trees, we see something metal. As we get closer, we spot 2 very rugged off-road vehicles. These things looked straight out of Deer Hunter or something. And standing by them, drinking a Molson Ice, is a hunter is head to toe camel, red just visible above the top of his collar. Ruby sees him and barks, but quickly relaxes when she realizes it's just a man. And what a manly-man he appears to be. We ask if he has caught anything, and he smiles and says 'One.' I look, and seeing no bloody carcass of elk, I ask 'What are you hunting?'.
He holds up a bag......and in it.....a squirrel.
Riiiiiight. Ok then. So much for manly-man.
Anyhow, the rest of our trip was a blast. Luca did very well for her first outdoor adventure. She really loves nature and I'm so looking forward to next summer, when she'll be a walking, talking little toddler playing in the dirt and chasing butterflies.
And now...the pictures. Enjoy.