We adopted our dog 3 ½ years ago and have talked about taking her camping for about 3 years but have been hesitant to actually do it. She’s a great travel companion, up for any adventure, great in the car, excellent hiker, but she’s very protective of her home and her humans which makes her more than a little barky, even in hotels, so we’ve put it off. But after spending the last two summers cooped up in the house doing school work I’ve had enough of walls and really just want to spend more time outside, so I decided it was now or never. I work the night shift so I have a lot of unsupervised time on my hands after the husband goes to sleep at night. I have done a lot of adventure planning during those nights! One such adventure was booking us a couple of nights at the Dairy Springs Campground. I figured it was close enough to home and cheap enough that if the dog didn’t take to camping or was “that” barking dog of the campground we could just come home and be no worse for the wear.
Dairy Springs is 24 miles southeast of Flagstaff at an elevation of 7000 feet making the June temperatures much more accommodating to camping than they would be in Phoenix. The campground has access to three hiking trails and is a very short drive to both Mormon Lake and Lake Mary.
The husband had to work Friday so the plan was for me to have everything packed and ready so we could leave as soon as he got home. That was the plan anyway! We ended up leaving a couple of hours later than planned but were able to get to the campground just before sunset. Our one true mistake of the trip was following Google Maps directions to the campground, and the mistake wasn’t even Google’s fault it was just bad luck. Instead of sending us on what looked to be a direct route to the campground it sent us a back way. Had we not been in a rush to beat the sunset this back way into the campground may not have been so bad because it was quite scenic. But since we were in a rush, having to slow down to drive on the seemingly never-ending dirt road was a bit frustrating. Even more frustrating was the giant bolt that imbedded itself into my tire, that we didn’t notice until we arrived at camp and only noticed because of the sound of the air rapidly leaving the tire.
It was also at that moment that we realized we never, in the five years of owning the Escape and despite talking about it several times, checked to see if we had a spare tire. We did! But it was also flat. Unwilling to allow this setback to dampen our weekend we went on with business as usual.
I set up the tent.
The husband tended to getting the dog settled.
Then he got the fire going.
My very most favorite thing about camping is sitting in front of a campfire. I could sit in front of a fire for hours and hours, but I did not appropriately take into account the temperature difference between Phoenix and the high elevation of the campground when packing. Even in the first weekend of June it got cold (50’s) once the sunset so I headed to the tent and the warmth of my sleeping bag sooner than I would have liked. The dog happily followed right behind me and charged right in, obstacle number one tackled!
However, once we zipped the tent she wasn’t sure she liked it. She went to the door and scratched to be let out but with a little encouragement she came and laid down between the husband and I. It took her about an hour to fully relax and realize the tent was home for the night, but then she slept soundly. And didn’t bark once!
As a night shift worker I stay up late even on my nights off so I stayed up reading and coloring until around 1 am. The husband is a day worker so he gets up around 5am. In the time between his waking and my waking he attempted to fix our flat tire, which is when he discovered the spare was also flat. Fortunately, our neighbors were going up to the Grand Canyon that day and said they would bring us back some fix-a-flat. Unfortunately that meant our plans to go lake exploring were off the table. Luckily two of the three hiking trails I mentioned originate from Dairy Springs Campground! After I had breakfast we hiked 2.4 miles on the Mormon Lake Trail. The hike went further but it was getting hot and the elevation was not playing nice so we decided not to push it.
We spent the next couple hours lounging around camp.
We ate. We talked. And we watched the dog chase bugs and squirrels.
After dinner we went on the 1.2 mile roundtrip Ledge Trail.
Then once again spent the evening in front of the campfire.
This night the dog decided she was ready for bed before us and went and laid down in front of the tent. She had no problem relaxing inside the tent the second night. And only barked once! I stayed up late again but awoke early so we could breakdown camp and figure out what to do about the tire.
As promised our neighbors returned with the fix-a-flat. Our plan then was to use the fix-a-flat on the flat tire, drive to the town of Mormon Lake 5 miles from the campground, fill both the flat and the spare, and drive to Flagstaff to buy a new tire. The hope was that with the fix-a-flat and the air the tire would get us to Flagstaff, only 24 miles away, but we’d still have the spare if needed. It was needed about two miles outside of Mormon Lake when the bolt that was in the tire decided it had stayed with us long enough and left, leaving a giant hole in its wake for the fix-a-flat and air to spew out of. As if waiting just for us, there was a very nice pull off where we (the husband) were able to change the tire.
Flagstaff is not a sprawling metropolis but it’s not small town America either, the city has two Wal-Marts, neither of which have a tire center. There are however, 12 tire stores in Flagstaff, of which only ONE is open on a Sunday. And they had to check their inventory to see if they carried my standard issue Ford Escape tire. Thankfully they had a tire and within half an hour we were on our way home!
This trip definitely had disaster potential but with both of us working our just go with the flow ability, it actually turned out quite well. We had a quiet, relaxing weekend. We learned that the dog is indeed a good camper. We also learned to make sure the spare has air before heading out to the middle of nowhere. We took a few detours but detours are just part of the journey. And the journey after all is what its all about!