Monsooner ... or Later

July 17-18, 2010

While the monsoon plays coy, we're stuck with heat AND humidity. When the temperature hit 112° outside (and 81 inside), we threw our stuff in the TacoMa and we RAN, north to cool air and cold water.

Or so we thought. We crept down a 4WD road in the dark to a camping spot near a stream in northern Arizona (which shall remain nameless for its own protection). But at midnight — and 4400 feet in elevation — it was still 87 degrees. So we set up the truck tent with the sides unzipped, like a big screened porch, hauled the bed out of the truck, and enjoyed a short night and a glorious sunrise.

We had the deep blue pool under the bridge all to ourselves that morning, and since the water was deliciously cool, we decided to take a hike upstream.

My last hike on this trail was in 2005, just after the power plant was decommissioned. Little did I imagine at that time that "returning the river to its natural state" could actually have an adverse impact on the environment. I remember a dirt footpath under a dense canopy of cottonwoods, but today both sides of the stream are so overrun that many trees have been undercut and taken out. We met two forest service rangers recently transferred from the Grand Canyon who spend their days collecting trash along the stream, but it's like pushing a boulder uphill.

On the way out, we met at least 100 sunbathers with their swim toys and their dogs and their coolers full of beer in tow. They didn't come to enjoy a wild stream, they came to party at the beach. Countless footpaths leading down from the road told the tale of how they circumvented the "no parking" signs that line the road all the way to the bridge. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this stream needs a permit system like Aravaipa Canyon. I know that will make a lot of people unhappy, but that's what happens when you can't learn to play nice outdoors.

It was an even 100° when we got back to the truck, but the temperature plunged 40 degrees as we caught up with the monsoon above the Rim on route 87. We were heading for the annual Hamfest in Williams, where we caught up with our buddy Al and ended up sharing his campsite at Kaibab Lake.

The cool, damp pine-scented air was a feast for the senses, and Williams is always a fun place to hang out. We were delighted to see that the great little coffee shop on Route 66 has reopened.

We took advantage of a rainy afternoon in Williams to visit the Lava River Cave near Flagstaff, where the air was a chilly 35°!

Once again we chose to return home via Perkinsville Road, and squeezed in one more splash in a legendary swimming hole on the Verde River. Click the video to watch Dennis "bob for the fob".

This was the first video using the new camcorder — and our second foray into the brave new world of html 5 and ogg video. We are casting our lot with the advocates of a free and open internet. Dennis has built his first Linux machine and we are preparing to cut our ties with Microsoft and become full-time residents of Ubuntu.

Next stop: Bulgaria.