Sometimes You Just Can’t Win at Camping

Jeff and I have adopted camping as our favorite hobby to do together–it is inexpensive, plus Arizona and our sister states nearby have wonderful places to visit. Okay, so it’s only February, but according to the weather forecast the temperature in the south of the state would be in the 80’s during the day and the 50’s at night. We set out with optimism for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It’s a fairly long drive–perhaps six hours. But we had a book on tape and all seemed well.

Organ Pipe is an international biosphere reserve because of its unique desert conditions. It actually receives a reasonable amount of rain, so it is a fairly green desert habitat. The plants are much closer together than is usual for a desert. The mountains in the background provide a lovely contrast.

And that’s pretty much where the good luck stopped. The temperatures were in the sixties daytime and at

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

The shy cactus hiding behind the bushes in the foreground is an Organ Pipe Cactus

night–well, the desert can be mighty cold at night, as we can now verify via personal experience. I brought some nice meals to make at the site, but we managed to forget our camp stove. I decided to take some pictures and found I’d left my memory card in the computer at home and had only the miniscule internal memory. Jeff found a map of a potentially lovely 16 mile drive, which turned out to be 36 miles of the nicest scenery and worst roads in Arizona instead. And the next morning, we had a flat tire, compliments of the rough road.

We finally gave up a day early and came home, stopping in Flagstaff on the way home to see “McFarland, USA,” which was a wonderful triumph-of-the-human-spirit type movie.

And we needed to be reminded that the human spirit can triumph about that time! Anyway, here are a few photos we managed to keep on the camera.


Beautiful Desert Scene

Beautiful Desert Scene

Saguaro Army

Saguaro Army







Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop

Saguaro Cacti against a mountain backdrop


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Judy Smith on February 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    You can probably hear me laughing out loud here in NC – sorry, but I couldn’t contain myself! We camped as kids but my father was one prepared dude. My hubby and I have camped out of an International Travelall (sp) and a pop top van before graduating to a couple of small motor homes and now a just-perfect-for-us 5th wheel. We have generated a list of most-important things that must be on board before pulling out of the driveway – what a help! Please try again – we enjoyed the pictures and you make us want to load up and head out – which we probably won’t do until early May. Best regards from Judy Smith (teehee!!!)


  2. The funny thing is, we ARE those people who never forget anything, just like your dad. And we’re experienced, too–have made half a dozen cross country trips, camping along the way.

    But the camp stove normally lives in an old suitcase along with the tent tarp and a few other necessities, and a couple of weeks ago, Jeff took it out to replace one of the knobs. Somehow, it didn’t get put back.

    We had a much loved and chatty guest staying with us the night and morning before we left, and in the midst of visiting, making breakfast and getting to church on time, I just neglected to check that the suitcase had its normal contents. The suitcase itself got loaded (by our guest, who didn’t know how heavy it was supposed to be), but the stove wasn’t in it!

    Note to self: the annual spring shake-down cruise should probably be to a campground a little closer to home than 6 hours! Trouble is, all those campgrounds got snow these past few days, so our only chance of going at all was to go somewhere distant.

    So you like your 5th wheel? We’ve been tent campers all our lives, but we’re getting to think a camper might be the answer for us. Is it easy to pull?


    • Posted by Judy Smith on February 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Hubby says it is easy to pull because (and this is very important) it weighs way less than the maximum suggested for the size truck we use. We also consider what we put in it and where we are going For example, put in only enough water to get you to your location if you know you can top it off when you arrive. That’s much less weight to pull. We do carry some food with us but know there are stores along the way; that also helps to keep the weight down. I am a quilter so carry my Featherweight and boxes of fabric; hubby plays dobro guitar and carries it, a jam chair (one without arms) and a couple of boxes of music. Guess you’ve figured out we enjoy traveling. I think hubby would like to do it fulltime. We do stay in campgrounds en route but usually our destination is visiting family and friends. In 2007 we were away for 120 days and traveled 9600 miles. In addition to bluegrass festivals, usually 3 each year, we made a major trip all around Texas in 2012, spent 3 weeks in 2013 and 6 weeks in 2014 visiting friends in the Amish country of northern Indiana. We are in our mid 70s now and plans are changing. Only 1 bluegrass festival on the schedule – Jeff & Sheri Easter’s In Lincolnton, GA, but hopefully 2 trips to visit friends and family. Didn’t mean to write a book; hope at little of the info is helpful. One last comment. Speaking from experience, do all you can while you can.


      • Oh, thanks for the information on the 5th wheel. I’d never have thought about the water weight, for example, though I imagine Jeff might have. That’s a real good suggestion.

        I heartily agree with you about not letting someone else load the SUV!

        It certainly sounds as though you have done your share of travel so far, with more to come! You’ve got us beat by many miles!

        I’m retirement age myself, but since Jeff wants to work a few more years, I went back to work, too. We hope to travel full time for a year after he retires, but less than that later. You know what they say, “Retirement has three stages: go-go, slow-go, and no-go,” so allowances will have to be made as time goes along.

        Let us know if you are ever in Northern Arizona…

  3. Posted by Judy Smith on February 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    One last note – don’t let the guests load the truck, trailer, car or whatever you’re using for the trip!!! Lol


  4. Posted by Judy Smith on February 25, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    We saw that Holbrook isn’t far off I40 and I know we would like to worship at Peace Lutheran. We would like to make a trip out west, having lived in Stockton and Pollock Pines, CA and Everett and Tulalip (Marysville) WA. Sad to say few friends remain there; others have gone on to be with the Lord. It might happen if we were to try for once last hurrah trip. Our 5th wheel is a 2002 Glendale Titanium, manufactured in Canada by a company no longer in business. The design is to sleep 8. The shabby sleeper sofa has been replaced by comfy chairs, the upper bunk holds Pat’s music things and I’ve claimed the lower bunk for fabric boxes and laptop. In truth we’ve had 2 motorhomes and 2 5th wheels – none slept more than the 2 of us as they were acquired after our 2 sons had left home. BTW we live a little NE of Charlotte in Stanley, so if in that year of travel you find yourself in this neck of the woods, let us know.


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