Yesterday I felt a strong urge to get out of the house after staying home for days on end. I stay home becasue it seems that all I do is spend money as soon as I leave the house.
So, I informed my husband and boys that we were going for a picnic and suprise exploration. I didn't tell them where we were headed, just that we were going "north". After packing some food, drinking water and a bit of gear, we took off sometime around 2pm (after grabbing some gas, diet cokes and worms for fishing). We headed north...
My goal was to check out a few group campgrounds that have been on my radar. I love organizing group campouts but the websites don't always offer detailed or clear photos of the sites (some don't offer any photos). So, being a perfectionistic people pleaser I hate to choose something and risk disappointing anyone. So, I figured we could visit a few so I could check them out and take photos that I can share in my newsletter.
We drove an hour north of our home to Camp Verde and headed East to Clear Creek campsite. It wasn't especially impressive although I'm sure the kids would easily be entertained by the narrow, somewhat dirty creek that ran through the area. We parked the car and hiked around a bit. The area was quite busy, including a small swimming hole we discovered. We decided to move on to the next campsite without taking any pictures.
We left Clear Creek and headed North towards Cottonwood and Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I actually had the group site booked there last year but I cancelled at the last minute due to inclement weather. It sounded wonderful on the website so I thought it'd be a fun daytrip destination.
We obviously weren't far enough north to enjoy cooler temps since the gauge still read 106 degrees. We entered the park (for free since I recently bought a State Parks Pass when we visited Slide Rock State Park) and immediately found the group campsite. It was actually quite nice and would be a perfect place for a large gathering when the weather cools down more. The major plus is the hot showers and indoor plumbing (instead of pit toilets like most). Now I remember why I booked it before! We walked through the site and I took photos to share and convince others to join us. We noticed a jack rabbit in the bushes. His huge ears were adorable.
After leaving the group site we headed for the marsh where we parked and unloaded. Jack took off on his bike while Sammy excitedly grabbed his fishing pole and the worms. Stephane and I ate lunch while the kids went about their business. Although it was hot, we were in the shade and there was a slight breeze blowing through the cottonwood trees. The scene was beautiful with the trees and mountains reflecting off the water, cattails lining the marsh and dragonflys fluttering about.
After we finished our food Stephane and I convinced Sammy to find a shady spot to fish from. When it comes to the kids fishing it's not really "fishing". It's more casting and reeling than anything...and that's truly the most fun part anyway (except for the catching). I'm not even sure how much time passed, but eventually he grew tired of it all and took a break, leaving daddy to watch the pole. This wasn't a good idea since Steph doesn't have a fishing license, so I sent Sammy back to collect his things. Then it happened, he caught a tiny sunfish. He was so proud. Now we could leave because at least he'd caught something. There's nothing worse than going fishing and not catching anything. I snapped a few pictures and then we headed for the car. While we loaded the car, the kids rode around on their bikes for a bit...I even raced Sammy around the entire parking lot (riding Jack's little bike), then they found a sprinkler to run through. What a wonderful afternoon.
After leaving Dead Horse Ranch we decided to drive to Jerome since we were only 9 miles from the town and Stephane had never been before. I remembered that they were having their first Saturday Art Walk so I knew the town would be full of activity. We walked around for a bit and played at the city park and then drove to McDonald's for some ice cream before hitting the road for the hour drive home. Jack fell asleep in the car as usual.
It was wonderful spending the afternoon with the family out in nature. We got away from the computers, TV's and cell phones and breathed fresh air, appreciated God's creations and spent quality time together. You can't beat that with a stick as my dad always says.