Our family camping adventure began with a leisurely drive north to the White Mountains of Arizona. We were looking forward to our first visit to the Fool Hollow Lake campgrounds in Show Low, Arizona. We were definitely anticipating the change in weather from the dry, hot Phoenix area. We certainly got change!
As we arrived in the afternoon to set up camp, we were greeted by rain clouds. Thankfully, the rain subsided shortly after our arrival, and we were able to explore the lake and its surroundings.
The air was cool and fresh; the lake inviting. We travelled down the hiking trail and saw our fair share of nature, including a beaver.
“I would like camping so much better if there weren’t any bugs,” Shannon said as she shooed away mosquitoes. “They’re everywhere.” The city girl goes camping. “Next time, can we stay in a cabin?”
Shannon was especially dismayed by the beetles that seemed so attracted to her. Half the fun was watching her face and her flailing limbs as she tried to dissuade the bugs from coming near her. She wasn’t fond of the “giant, mutant spiders” either. To her credit, though, the spiders did look like the spider-like creatures from the old “Jonny Quest” cartoons.
“Shannon, you are so much bigger than they are,” I said as I tried to calm her down. “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.” (My lack of originality was showing.)
“Oh yeah Mom? How do you know?” Shannon said between shrieks. “Are you the spider whisperer?!?” We squished them as we laughed.
Later that evening, as we were all sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, we saw a sudden movement in the rocks. Kayla let out a yelp and hopped up on her chair as she saw the small mouse scurry about the rocks. With marshmallow skewer still in hand, she announced, “I am going to shank that mouse!” After our uncontrollable giggling and screaming subsided, the conversation turned to the horror movie, “Willard,” about a strange man and his rabid mice. Suddenly, the spiders didn’t bother me as much.
After dinner, marshmallows, and mice, we played several games of “frustration” with its pop-o-matic action. It was determined that Shannon, who lost every game, had no luck, except when it came to attracting bugs. To add to our silliness, every time we had a meal or a snack, Kayla had to mention “poop.” It made for a very interesting evening!
As we all retired to our respective tents around ten p.m., we were frustrated to learn that our camping neighbors, a group of about twenty-five people, were not so ready for bed. They decided to stay up and play a very loud board game that included yelling and cheering. Daniel tossed and turned in our tent and just could not fall asleep with all the noise. He was overwrought and exhausted as he turned to me with tears in his eyes and asked, “What did I do to deserve this?” The kid has a flair for the melodramatics!
The sun rose at 4:30 a.m., and so did Daniel, even after his late night. We watched the sunrise over the lake and it was serene, unlike the previous evening. Just then, at the pasture adjacent our loud neighbor’s campsite, a group of cattle made their way through the area, loudly mooing to one another. Daniel called it “The Great Cattle Invasion of 20-12.” We couldn’t help but chuckle as the exuberant cows woke the nearby campers at such an early hour. Karma’s a heifer, man.
After breakfast and another discussion involving “poop”, the boys went fishing and the girls went in the lake. Our playtime was shortlived, however, because the rainclouds had rolled in again. This time, though, it was a torrential downpour. The lightening show was beautiful and the thunder claps literally shook the earth as the girl’s tent slowly filled with water!
When the storm finally dissipated, we set up the ladder ball game. Shannon finally had her vengeance for losing “frustration” so many times in a row. She was unstoppable at ladder ball. And then, it rained again. It rained through dinner, it rained through more games of “frustration”, it rained through “poop” jokes.
When it finally cleared, we soaked up the excess water in the girl’s tent and we all turned in for the evening.
We awoke to a glorious morning, one that made me wish we could take the weather back down to our home in Mesa.
As we packed our gear, we said goodbye to our noisy neighbors, to our mice friends and to the mutant spiders. It was a fun adventure and an excellent bonding time with the kids, but I am certain our next trip will include room service!