I had been thinking about this all last week. The heat is really starting to get to me. I know, I know. We've had a mild summer this year. Temps have been nearly perfect until it decided to warm up. Hell we never had good weather all the way to June. The heat gets to me every year, so this year was no different. I also happens about this same time even tho we've barely had a taste of summer this year. Must be because I'm getting older.
Ok no pictures this time. I was out of cell range most of the time and turned the phone off to conserve power. I also did not take the camera. I really wanted the enjoy the weekend with some good "me" time.
The trip from here to Payson was hot and boring as expected. Although it was much better at nite, so I did not have to look at the desert. I know it has it's moments, but when you live and breath it every day it starts to become white noise. But during this time I was rained on 4 times. Rain drops were quite big and hit pretty hard, although the rain itself was not pouring down on me. I was really hoping for some kind of downpour. However as quickly as the rain had started eat time, it quickly ended. I did not arrive in Payson until just before Midnite on Friday nite. Time to gas back up @ the Safeway station and then get back on the road.
The trip from Payson to the area I camp in Happy Jack is about 60 miles or so. The temp already dropped quite a bit when the rain started as well as the final climb into Payson. Shortly after leaving tho, the temp dropped even more. About 10 miles short of Lake Mary Road it was starting to get extremely cold. I was looking for a place to pull over, but there really were none. I could have easily pulled over at the Camp Verde exit, but decided against it. So when I did get to Lake Mary Road I pulled right over to put a jacket on. Right when I get the bike to the side I see a family of deer. Thinking to myself I was luck at this point not to have seen any on the road up. I knew it was all about to change tho. Once the jacket was on I rolled down the road. I was being extremely cautious going exactly the speed limit of 50 and some times even slower since visibility is low. I had 3 deer encounters on the way to my turn off. First time the deer took right off without a hesitation. Thank goodness I have an airhorn. The entire road is pretty populated with campers. I tried to respect them as much as possible, being as late as it was. I still hit the horn every so often so it could be heard at a distance. Once I passed Happy Jack Lodge and the Happy Jack ranger station I started to look for an opening on the right side. I knew no matter what it would be a dirt road. By this time time I'm exhausted and just really wanted to go to sleep. Remember the picture of the elk I took? Well just so happens that right after the straight away I turned on the road there. I had no idea at the time since it was very dark. I didn't drive far at all, maybe 1/4 in. Found a turn off for a camping area several firepits already built. PERFECT! I quickly setting my bike, set up the tent and got everything situated. It was about 1:15 when I hit the sack. Glad I had no real issues on the road while driving at nite. I will surely not make a habit of it.
Next morning the sun beating on the tent woke me up. If you've ever camped in a tent you understand what I mean. I got dressed and cleaned up for the day ahead. I headed to Payson since I know there was a farmer's market. Boy what a disappointment. More of a flee market than anything. So headed to Walmart to pick up some fruit, more fuel and then headed back. Nice ride. On both trips (same route) the forestry department was going some managed fires so it was quite smokey. I did enjoy it tho since I got to smell the wood without having to sit in front of a hot fire.
I spent some time gathering wood for the nite, and then all day laying around and napping. It was wonderful not doing anything or thinking about anything. Just smelling the trees and hearing nature. I really wish I brought my camping chair up with me tho. Its not like the normal ones you sit up straight in. Its scooped so you lay back a bit and has a foot rest attached. Oh boy I would have been in seventh heaven if it was with me. Although I just laid the sleeping bag on the ground out of the sun and enjoyed it just the same. Forecast said it was to have scattered thunderstorms all day Saturday and Sunday, but I had no luck. I was really looking forward to it pouring so I could go inside the tent and keep even cooling while napping. Towards to evening about 5:30 I was getting hungry and out of food. I decided to head to Mormon Lake. Wanted to get back before it was dark. As soon as I made the turn off towards the town I just about ran into some stupid cows/bulls. The loud pipes or horns didn't seem to affect them at all. Finally I rode right up near them and rev'd really loud and they finally cleared the way. A bit further saw some more. This time there were a few dozen of em. They seemed to clear the road for me as I was coming close...although 1 stubborn bull decided to turn back around the way he was heading in the first place and attempt to cross the road. I was a little cocky at this point and didn't want to wait or screw with them so I gunned it and went thru the opening they left me. I had a lanes worth of space, but still made me a bit nervous not knowing how they would react. And holy hell, there were tons of ppl there. I have never seen the area so packed. Even the restaurant was busy. I wanted a steak and boy did I get one. I ordered the filet on special. Started with salad (choice of this or soup) and small loaf of dark bread). The salad was heaping and couldn't believe my eyes at how much they gave me. Next came the meal, and oh my what a meal. Bacon wrapped filet that was about an inch and a half may 2 inches thick topped with sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes (I think in butter), cowboy beans and rice. As much of a pig as I am, I could not finish all of my food but I did make a good dent in it. Wow what a meal. It was pricey @ $30, but was fully worth it. Once done I went to the general store and bought some beer. After back to camp I started a fire and enjoyed the frosty beers then some Jack. There is something to be said about camping and a camp fire. So very relaxing.
Next morning I was up just as early. Started getting cleaned up and ready to pack when all of a sudden it started to rain. Thinking to myself, why did this not happen yesterday. I climb in the tent and just like that it stopped. Oh goodness. Make up your mind! LOL So back out of the tent I come with more stuff. Packed up in a very short time and rode out. Once again forestry service having managed fires. Payson was much warmer, but still cooler than Phoenix. Of course once near Phoenix (even at 9 in the morning) it was blazing hot already. YUCK! Back to the grind.