The van was packed, every inch and cranny was taken by some sort of cover, ice chest, tent, supplies, etc. etc. No space was unused. We were supposed to hit the road at 3:00 a.m. but by the time we hooked up with the rest of the party we it was already 4:30 a.m.
We got to Payson pretty fast, there was no traffic at all. A quick mandatory stop at the local WalMart to buy last minute things and a stop to McDonalds to get some breakfast and we were on the road again. We drove through some of the areas devastated by last year's fires. Not a pretty sight at all. When you catch a glimpse of how big the forest is I can see how frustrated the firefighters can get when they see the fires get out of their hands. To that add the fact that the wind blows pretty hard and it's easy to see why fires spread so fast.
A few minutes later we got off the main road and into the side roads. The pavement ended and it was nothing but dirt roads. Needless to say our pseudo off road vehicles (a Dodge mini van and a Cadillac) were completely covered in dust. I guess leaving late by one hour made a big difference because most camp sites were full and therefore closed. A nice older gentleman closing one of them told us our best bet was to to go some 25 miles outside Payson and into the forest.
We drove up and down those dusty roads and finally we found a pretty good spot for our camp site. No camping fees here, but no facilities either. But we managed just fine. The tents went up and so we started to enjoy the wonderful noises the forest make. When the gusts of wind came it sounded like we were camping next to a raging river.
Lunch consisted of Sandwiches and chips. The the task of building a fire pit started. I turned out to be one heck of a supervisor but the camping expert had the most awesome looking fire pit in no time. I pays to go with someone with experience.
We played catch for a while which by the way gave me a sore arm which still persist. The kids run free and got hurt, from falls to scratches, to every thing in between, but it was all fun and they loved it. So it was all good and part of the experience. Then it was time for dinner. The menu read, Havanero Burgers made from scratch. My tummy said yummy. Wow! those things were like totally and awesomely tasty. I for one had never had them before, now I want more. While at it, they also made the beans Havanero style.
Sometime during this time, the weather started to drastically change and by the time we were finishing eating some of us were starting to feel very cold. I told them to pay the heater bill but nawww they chose to ignore me. lol I took a bunch of covers but the coldness seemed to perforate them all reaching all the way into our bodies. Yes it was cold at night, but again it's obvious we survived. I got up before everybody else and enjoyed the coldness of the morning.
Sunday morning I woke up to the smell of chorizo and eggs with jalapeno peppers. A coffee and some good music out the van made it for a perfect and fun morning. But of course neither of us had cables and then this happened.
All in all, this my first experience at camping was really nice. I'll do it again now with a little more of personal experience. I can understand why it is hard with large groups of people, but with a small group such as ours it was very easy and enjoyable.