5.26.2018

20 photos of our favorite camping spot in the Arizona desert... Girls Road Trip 2018



Although our original plan was spending 3 days at Chiricahua National Monument area, hiking and camping - the fire evacuation ended up being a blessing in disguise.  It made us implement a 'plan b' which we never imagined we would need.   Instead, we found ourselves absolutely loving our time spent camping in the desert.

We are solitary people and don't enjoy being packed in with other people like sardines so a traditional 'campground' was never, ever in the plans.  Not plan A, B, C, D or even plan W.  Instead we found the beauty and quiet of just us and the desert.  Not another human in sight....  and it was fabulous.

We were fully self-sufficient, which erases most all concerns or stress. 

We follow the 'pack it in and pack it out' way of thinking as well so after our time spent camping, when we left, other than some tire and footprints in the sand, you would never know we were there.  Just like it should be.


























If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. -Coffee at Amazon by Coffee Talking



 Other posts on Coffee Talking that have to do with similar topics:

Our Favorite Choices for CAMP FOODS

Busy getting the camping foods organized and packed this week....

Boshen Pop Up Privacy Tent (for dressing and toilet needs while camping)








5.25.2018

Girls Road Trip 2018 - Arizona - Day 3 - fire evacuations, plan b and camping in the desert

 

We left on Friday, stopping by Missouri to see our oldest daughter.  We left Saturday morning and drove to Tucumcari, New Mexico where we had booked a night at campground so we could access a shower and bathroom for one last time before heading down to the Chiricahua National Monument and the primitive campground nearby.

We had reservations for 3 days at the Bonita Campground there.  No electricity, no showers, no flush toilets, etc.  No problem.

It was now day 3 into our Girls Road trip and another all-day drive.  We had basically been driving non-stop since Friday morning.

It was incredibly hot and oh-so-dusty.  Fire alerts were high and as we hit Arizona and headed towards the national monument we saw cloud after cloud of white dust blowing in the distance.

The winds were so strong we actually were down a large percentage ratio of our usual gas mileage; between the high rate of speed on the interstate and the wind factored in.  A full tank of gas fell from an average 400 miles to 289.






As we headed to the border of Arizona and Mexico, there is one tiny town you have to stop at to get any gas, food, etc. you need.  It's about 45 minutes from the Chiricahua National Monument. There is no chance for gas, water, food, etc. after that.

We stopped and filled up and I sent a final text to Mr. Coffee and the rest of our family before getting on the little highway that leads to the national monument and primitive campgrounds we would be staying at for 3 days.

And then we saw it... a sign on the little highway letting us know the park and campgrounds were closed due to fire.

All that white blowing 'dust' was actually partly smoke... from a huge fire burning... right where we needed to go.

We pulled off the road.  No one answered the phones for the monument or the campground; and the only number that did answer was the recreation .gov website that takes reservations and payment.

They didn't know anything about the fire - as a matter of fact they were still taking reservations at that point; but did have in their notes that another camper had called to say they were evacuated the night before and no one was allowed to go back and get any of their things.

We used our cellphones to look up ANY information and all the official Chiricahua pages had no updates to being closed, fires, etc.  We found out there was a fire by using local news sites and a site committed to publishing the latest fires in the area.  So the campground and national monument had been evacuated on Saturday afternoon and it was now Sunday afternoon around 3:30 pm and still not one word about it on the official websites or even their Facebook page.

The people on the phone taking reservations for the national parks, etc.couldn't offer any help nor tell us the next step to take; but did tell me I couldn't 'cancel' our reservations or she would have to charge us. She suggested we leave the reservations in place and wait for the national park service to officially let them know about the fire, the closure and the evacuation; then we'd get a refund.

I asked if there were any other campgrounds or parks around us? She told us she had no idea but she supposed she could 'google it' for us if we wanted her to.

Um. No?

So... basically we were now stranded in Southern Arizona due to the fire. Our 3 days of reservations and plans were now 'up in smoke' and nope, I didn't even plan that pun.

________________


You can camp in any National Forest in the USA as long as you follow guidelines about how far off the main roads you have to be, etc. Considering we were now 'homeless' and stranded for 3 days we decided to do some camping in the desert.

(We had everything we needed since we do 'primitive' camping anyway. We stay where there is no water, no bathrooms, no campfires, no electricity... so we had everything we needed in any case.)


We picked a spot about 2 miles in, set up camp - including the little portable camp toilet and privacy tent (that ended up being a huge blessing on this trip! I am SO thankful I bought one this time around.) 



We have power to charge our cell phones! Being off the grid for almost 2 weeks, I had bought a deep cell marine battery and a power inverter before this trip. (We also had our own portable little toilet, poo-powder to gel up liquids and a little pop up privacy tent to set the camp toilet in. I'm telling you - we come prepared - so camping in the desert or a national forest wasn't an issue, as long as we could find a 'safe' place to call home for the night for two blondes.)



Freeze dried foods... just add water. Which we had 6 gallons with us of drinking water, a case of bottled water and 2 jugs of 'junk' water which we COULD drink but we had it with to wash dishes and clothes.



Because of the fire and the evacuation we now had 3 days with no plans so we packed up on Monday, and headed North.





To be continued.........

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If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. -Coffee at Amazon by Coffee Talking






 Other posts on Coffee Talking that have to do with similar topics:

Our Favorite Choices for CAMP FOODS

Busy getting the camping foods organized and packed this week....

Boshen Pop Up Privacy Tent (for dressing and toilet needs while camping)

 








Home from our Girls Road Trip 2018 - The Story Begins


We are home!


Our daughter graduated from the university, came home long enough to get engaged and then she and I were back on the road.  We planned another Girls Road Trip, similar to what we did last year.  (Last year we camped and hiked across South Dakota from Eastern to Western borders).  This year we were camping and hiking across Arizona - Southern border to Northern border at the Grand Canyon.

The best laid plans.....  and all that.

It started off on a 'weird' foot from the get go.

A schedule glitch, massive construction and road closures right in our own city.  Seeing a truck go up in flames on the side of the road, our iphones and GPS all giving weird information and none of which agreed with each other.  We finally got out of the city and onto the first major highway only to realize 45 minutes into the drive that our 3 ring binder with all the reservations, information, maps, directions and the National Parks Annual Pass was sitting at home on the desk....

And that is how the trip STARTED in the first 45 minutes.  We should have known it was a peek into some of the craziness to come in the next two weeks!


_______________________
Two weeks in a duffle
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Many of the photos are of snapchats and texts sent to Mr. Coffee (husband) and family so you'll see comments written across the photos.  

Our first stop was to our oldest daughters home in Missouri.  We opted to stay in a motel there - but you have to realize this is a small town... not your Mama's big city hotel. This particular motel has individual little quirky cabins. Every one is different. Most of the decor is from the 60's and 70's. They smell like a great-great grandparents house and the bed is in the kitchen, etc.  We love it.  Ha ha.


When I made reservations I mentioned my name and that we had stayed there last year as well; could we get room 7 again for May 11th?

Sure.  See you then. (They don't do confirmation numbers... she just scribbles your name down in her notebook).

We arrived around 6:00 pm to find a note on the door telling us to go on into the room and stop in later to register.

Okay... but we weren't going to be around.

We were heading to our daughters house and wouldn't be back to the room until about 9:30 pm.  So I dug a sticky note out of my purse and scribbled a note to her letting her know this and stuck it on the door.


When we arrived back that night we went to the cabin and went to sleep.  Got up around 6:30 to get ready to go.  STILL had not registered or paid.....

So at 7:00 I called the number.  She answered. (They have a woman who runs the little place for the owners.  She lives on site.)  She said sure, come on into the office.  So at 7:10 am I went to the office to finally register... as we were leaving.

I filled out the card and she asked if I wanted to keep it on the same card?
Uh... yeah, I guess so.  But I don't think I gave you my card number yet.
She got out her little spiral notebook and her pencil and flipped to a page from last year - found 'me' and told me she would charge it to my card I used last time.  She wished me a good day and....

I glanced at the notebook.  Uh, that's not me.
Yep - she was ready to see me off and charge my stay to another woman from my state with the same first name... yes I pointed out it wasn't me and gave her MY credit card and paid for the room.

And then we left.

Our day was spent driving about 10 or 11 hours - arriving in Tucumcari, New Mexico late that afternoon.

For the record; Oklahoma, we hate you.

And we hate your toll roads.  Because no, paying MORE money every 5 miles to be stuck in construction zones, is not worth it.  And your bill change machines don't work... just sayin'.

We entered the first toll road without really realizing it; we were hot, tired, it had been an all day, long drive and our GPS and iphones both had us going the same route.  Before we knew it we were on a 'turnpike' - and I commented that usually means toll roads but we hadn't seen a sign for how much it would be.  At the end of the turnpike we found out it was almost $5.  And this was SO not worth it.  It was heavy traffic, HUGE CONSTRUCTION ZONES, we were dead stopped in traffic many times when it was down to 1 lane, rough, narrow roads.  (For the record on the way home we avoided the toll roads - and they were BETTER than the toll roads.  Faster, little to no construction, not bad traffic and no 'dead stops').




By this point (the 5th? unexpected toll) it was un-manned and we were out of change so I had to use the bill changer they had.  Except I couldn't.  It would not accept any bills - no matter how crisp and perfect they were.  Not ones and not fives.  Luckily we were able to scrounge up enough in the end but I did see in my rear view mirror, the lady in the car behind me had the same issue and the last I saw of her, she was out of her vehicle, standing next to the machine trying desperately to get it to work.....  




The first toll booth was almost $5.00 then every few miles was another one ranging in the $1.35 area.

But you needed exact change - which, not expecting toll roads, we didn't have.

4 of 5 toll booths were manned but one of them was not - and surprise, the change machine did not work!

Luckily we scrounged up enough change by digging through every inch of the car, our bags, purses, the floor.... desperately as this was our 5th? toll and we were depleted.

We had nickles and pennies - which, surprise, the machines don't accept.

Luckily we found a spare quarter on the ground as well, which saved my butt.


But New Mexico?  WE LOVE YOU.  Seriously.
New Mexico has our hearts...

 

First stop was an actual campsite in Tucumcari.  I don't usually like campgrounds because they are busy, loud and you are packed in like sardines next to people.  However I booked a sleeping cabin this time.  These are simple wood structures with a wooden bunk bed and a tiny table.  Most of them have electricity but they don't have bathrooms or kitchens and you are not allowed to cook or eat in them; they really are just for sleeping. 


We booked it as it was a quick stopover between two 10+ hour drives and doing so meant not only that we wouldn't have to unload all our gear and set up a tent... but it was our last access to a bathroom and a shower until the next Wednesday night.




When we checked in, the owners of this campground weren't very friendly, barely talked and wouldn't crack a smile, but after a 10+ (?) hour drive and dealing with Oklahoma we were just ready to eat and go to sleep!  (I did break through the ice when we stayed again on the way home and got him to chat and even smile - but he's a tough nut to crack!) 

We had another full day of driving the next day as well to get down to the Southern border of Arizona near Mexico.














Continued.....







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If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. -Coffee at Amazon by Coffee Talking




Some items related to this post that I personally bought from Amazon and you can see in some of the photos above:




      Polycarbonate/Copolymer Cutlery, 3 Piece


   Liberty Mountain Cutlery, 4-Piece


Olicamp Mess Kit


     Mountain House Chicken Breast with Rib Meat & Mashed Potatoes


Melitta Coffee Pods, Sumatra Blend, 3.95-Ounce (Pack of 6)








  Dual Propane and Butane Camping Stove




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