Pushing Eastward

The Campsh@ck is now firmly pointed eastward, and our slow trek to Michigan has begun. Some portions of this journey I dread, but we’ve tried to spice it up with some variations in our route that enable us to stay in some new campgrounds while visiting some old favorites (I say old favorites like we’ve been doing this for 20 years.) Hard to imagine that this is only our sixth winter of wandering away from Michigan winters.

Maricopa County AZ (Phoenix area) has several regional parks with great facilities. We’ve stayed at two so far, and decided to swing by White Tank Regional Park to check it out this time. While I don’t think this is my favorite, we enjoyed a few nights camping. It was a big change from the cool California mountains – this campground is hot and sunny. With a bit of blind luck, we stumbled into reserving one of only two sites (#24) that had a bit of shade to offer. What luck – it was really hot! I’ll admit that we were pretty smug watching our neighbors sit outsite in the broiling sun, while we were chillin’ in the shade.

White Tanks gets it name from the watering holes (or tanks) that collect the scarce rainwater here in Ford Canyon for all the wildlife here. So, we naturally decided to hike over there to see them, since they aren’t visible from the campground. The first few miles  of trail were flat and rather boring, as we wound our way to the back of the Canyon. Then, we came upon this odd warning sign – something about hazardous Indians and rumnoel runs – whatever that is. 20180328_1221111478470471.jpgPerhaps we should have been warned, but we forged ahead. The hike became difficult after these point – a sharp increase in elevation had us snaking around obstacles, and wedging toes into tiny footholds. We finally wound our way up then down to the tank area, which was worthy of the effort to get there. There was just a bit of brackish water in some of the deeper holes.20180328_134343799132786.jpg20180402_220211110194482.jpgAfter another mile or so, we decided to turn back, as we had drunk half our water, and the trip ahead was twice as far as the trip back. In hot/dry conditions, we don’t second-guess our water supply. All in all, it was a great hike.

Our next destination was to Fool Hollow State Park (AZ),where we had stayed for a single night several years ago. It’s a beautifully maintained, cool area at about 6300′ in Show Low AZ. We were eager to escape the Phoenix heat (projected to be 95 on the day we left). I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful park. Hard-working camp hosts and attentive staff treat this gem as if it were their own. 20180330_1700181071804728.jpg20180331_1708372085522344.jpg20180402_220447299212989.jpgThe drive up from the Phoenix area was filled with some spectacular rugged territory. This roadside project caught our eye as we passed – it’s hard to see, but that big shovel is very precariously perched as it moves dirt around. 20180402_220317178514275.jpg Not a job for the faint of heart!

We didn’t do anything particulary noteworthy at Fool Hollow, but we did meet Paula and Molly – two single women who are both full-time campers. After sharing dinner and camping tales for two nights, we have two new friends – Paula in her Oliver trailer, and Molly in her Casita. Why are most of the full-time campers we meet women? I can only think of one or two men we have met over the years who live full-time in their small trailers or campers. Interesting….it takes a lot of moxie to sell your home and hit the road fulltime. These ladies have it all together.

Here we are now, camped in the middle of of a fairly young lava field that’s 45 miles long, a mile wide, and 50-150 feet deep.20180402_104106-1435890512.jpg20180402_2206521560201472.jpg And the fact that we’re perched on an island over the top of it – amazing. Valley of Fires ranks among one of the more unique spots we’ve camped.20180401_1935221270226480.jpg Lava has spewed from vents in the earth (as opposed to flowing down a mountain) on at least two separate occasions in the last 1500-5000 years, creating a mysterious, crusty spot to explore. A well-signed scenic walkway winds around a mile or so of the area, with many spots to walk off the path and onto the lava beds.20180402_1152331452944319.jpg20180402_2209001309537280.jpgOur campsite is right in the middle of the above photo. You can barely see the curve of the Campsh@ck to the right of the ramada which covers the picnic table.20180402_1213261767284489.jpg It’s fascinating. I can’t briefly explain the geology to you in a coherent way, but would encourage you to check out the above link if you’re interested. The pristine campground is small (about 25 sites), but inexpensive. We have a big site with water/electric for $9/night with our senior pass. Of course, there are superclean bathrooms and showers.

Our time here is marred only by the strong New Mexico spring winds which we have come to dread every year. It really is no joy to be outside in 30-40mph winds, and there isn’t anyplace to hide from them. Although we have the windows open a bit, we have them tied down with bungies and ropes to keep them from blowing open and tearing off the trailer. Having that happen to us once in Death Valley, we’re not chancing it again.

The next two weeks are taking us to several new campgrounds as we move across the vast state of Texas. Hope our nasty winds subside, and I hope spring is finally going to move into the Midwest and Northeast. You have paid your winter dues in spades, my friends. Enough!




17 thoughts on “Pushing Eastward

  1. Thanks for lovely pictures and good descriptions of campgrounds in Arizona and New Mexico. The “trail” across the lava in the Valley Of Fires has been built since my last time there. I think I will plan a trip there sometime in the future. Your picture of the trail intrigued me. Sylvia


    • You would enjoy it Sylvia. There are lots of places along the Trail where it’s easy to step off and walk on the lava. There’s signage also to help you understand what you’re looking at. Great sunsets as well!


  2. As I look out of my window and see the snow piling up outside of my apartment again, 95 degrees almost, just almost, sounds good for a change, but that much of a change would probably kill me.

    The stark beauty of most of the places that you visited in this post would keep me occupied for days taking it all in. I’m glad that you found shaded campsites to stay in when dealing with the heat though. The campsite at Fool Hollow looks almost ideal, who could ask for more?

    I’d also enjoy scrambling through the lava field at the Valley of Fires, but I’ll bet that the terrain is tough on hiking boots and hikers if you leave the path.


    • Jerry, you have my sympathy on the snow. It’s been hard for Michiganders to catch a break this year. But, I am no fan if big heat. I can always warm up, but cooling off is a trick I’ve never mastered.

      I’m a big fan of bizarre landscapes. They do make me lament tho that 1) I don’t have better camera skills, even with a cellphone camera and 2) I’m too lazy to chase great light in the early morning hours.

      Don’t spend all your retirement money pn camera gear. Save a couple hundred for some great hiking boots – you won’t regret it. Throw in a decent bike, and I’d call that a retirement plan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And the snow here continues, another winter weather advisory for tonight and tomorrow, yuck!

        I’m lucky, I’ve always been a morning person, that probably has something to do with it being the quietest time of the day, other than birds singing, so it’s easy for me to be up before the crack of dawn.

        I have two pairs of hiking boots in the closet that I’ve only worn enough to break in, as I prefer the Keens that I’ve been wearing out the last few years. But sadly, it’s time to retire the Keens and switch to one of the other pair. Once I purchase the new camera, I’ll stock up on hiking boots again so that I always have backups on hand.

        I’m torn about a bike, I know that one would be a good way to travel further from the crowded access areas. But, there’s the question of how I’d transport my camera gear safely, and making sure that the bike stays put while I wander around on foot. I know that there are locks, but I haven’t worked out the logistics of incorporating a bike into what I do.


  3. Love the Valley of Fire camp. It’s saved me many a time (well, 3). You’re cruising thru N.M. You didn’t happen to be in the Fool Hollow for April 1st by chance? We had snow on Frid/Sat, then 45, then 8″ of snow on Monday, today–40, more snow due Thurs. Springtime in the Rockies! I’m flying off to Croatia in 2 weeks to paint!
    Great reading and seeing your posts.


    • We left Fool Hollow on Sunday morning. Why?? I do love that place. I’d also love to hang around Valley of Fires and do some cycling or longer hikes. It’s such a bizarre landscape to absorb.

      Croatia! Can’t wait to see to see your FB posts to see what you create there. Sounds like a fantastic trip.


  4. Hi! Looks fun so far. Which Maricopa county campground is your favorite? I’m starting to search for spots for our trip home.


    • Hi Marie. So far, we like Usery Mountain the best. White Tanks and Lake Pleasant both had nice features, and we wouldn’t be unhappy to return to either. Heard good reports about the others.

      Do you look forward to getting home again? I’m always torn about it.


      • I’m torn about leaving but it’s getting hot here in Borrego Springs. We’ll leave closer to the end of the month. I’ve been going through your blog listing campsites you’ve stayed and so we can see some firsthand. 👍


      • Hope you find some campgrounds you really enjoy. I’m always a bit antsy to get home and work on the yard, etc. Then after a day or so, I’m over that and ready to roll again.


  5. One issue that is considered in every trip or permanent move is the wind. I hate wind. That’s probably the main reason we don’t live at the coast or Lake Tahoe.

    Sounds like a nice trip back though. Fool’s Hollow looks like one we’ll have to look at if we return to AZ.

    BTW, received initial escrow papers so condo sale is rolling along. I’m still in a bit of a shocked state that it went so fast. But still have my fingers crossed.


    • In my experience, winds on the coast or anywhere else pale in comparison to the relentless spring winds of New Mexico and Texas. They truly just make me want to cry. Jezzy does not want to go out, and my new longer hair is a painful snarled mess. Our cracked-open windows flap and bang all night.Can you hear me whining?

      So glad your house sale is on track. Such an adventure!


  6. After six years, you have figured the timing to head north to stay warm! In your Texas travels have you stayed at Caddo Lake? Martin Dies SP? Both are nice places in the Piney Woods section of Texas (NE). Safe travels…we are in Delaware now and it is cold and wet. Will be in Michigan end of April for a couple of weeks before we head to Maritimes.


    • Hi Cait. The wind is our sworn enemy here. It sucks the life out of me. Is there any chance you’ll loop back through Michigan after Canada? Would so love to get together with you and Glenn. We will be home for nearly all of June/July, plus pieces/parts of the other months.

      Haven’t been to either of the two Parks you mentioned. It I’m going to add them to out GoTo map. We’re here at a very curious NM State Park called Oasis. We’re still searching around for the Oasis part of this. Great bathrooms tho, and $14 water/elec sites. In the middle nowhere. Texas tomorrow – Caprock Canyon.


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