Friday, April 30, 2010

Gilbert Ray Campground, Sonoran Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, and who broke our door?

Driving to Gilbert Ray Campground northwest of Tucson was quite a ride. 

Read my earlier post about getting lost and then add this story to it! 

We came in from the north.  We took W Avre Valley Rd from I-10.  Went west on it and then turned south on Sandario Road.  That goes for 10 miles or so until it reaches Mile Wide Road where we turned left.  That brought us past the Sonora Desert Museum and to the second entrance to the McCain Loop Rd where we went right to get to Gilbert Ray Campground. 

Let me go back to Sandario Rd.  It is so full of dips!  I was following Shae who was driving the truck pulling the camper.  I saw our things flinging up and down as he traveled somewhat slowly down the long road.  I just prayed the Lord would put angels to hold our things in place.  One of the hard things about traveling full time is that we got rid of most of what we owned.  We either gave it away or sold it.  I still have some in a storage trailer in our friend's cow pasture but not much.  I was always reminding myself that "I can't take it to heaven".  There were days that were more difficult than others as I saw things that I liked leave my home.  It was very character changing for me.  So, as I saw our things getting tossed around in the camper driving down the awful road, I had to keep reminding myself that it is just stuff.  I can't stress about it or worry.  It is a constant choice to keep things in perspective.  Yet, I know that we are to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Shae works hard to make the money that pay for everything we own.  So, I pray for God to protect our things from breaking, yet know that if I do lose something it is not the end of the world.

Shae was the first to go into the camper.  Things weren't terrible in the front.  The back was a mess.  Stuff had been tossed everywhere, but thankfully nothing was broken.  After about an hour of cleanup, the camper was back to normal.
There was a nice concrete pad at our site.

My teens do sword fighting for exercise in our campsite at Gilbert Ray Campground.

Gilbert Ray Campground is very nice.  I didn't ask if they had a shower house, I just assumed they did since they didn't have full hook ups.  I won't make that mistake again.  There is no shower house.  We planned on taking showers the day we arrived, so instead, we continued to stink.  Sink baths only last so long, so we did eventually take turns having showers outside.  I washed the girls hair with the outdoor shower.  One night, I went out after dark and started my shower.  The wind was so cold and I kept screaming quietly when the air would blow on me.  I found out there was a star gazing group just through the bushes.  I am sure they had a good laugh as they heard me freezing. 

The cactus were in bloom, so hikes were beautiful.  The bad part is that the rattle snakes were coming out and being found all over the campground.  That makes it hard with the kids running everywhere.  I had to be watching out all of the time.  There are also a lot of mountain lions in Arizona, so we had to watch the kids on any hikes we went on.  It makes it difficult with so many little ones.  I don't know how many times Gabriel almost fell into a cactus.  The spines on those things are huge!

We stayed in campsite C1, which is the biggest site in the campground.  They gave it to us since we had so two vehicles and two trailers.  It was nice to have some privacy.  It used to be the camp host site.

Of course, we loved the Sonora Desert Museum.  We bought a family year pass, so went 4 times in a week.  Josie loved all of the bronze animal sculptures.  She kissed them over and over.

There is so much to do there for everyone. 

The Saguaro National Park was just a few miles down the road.  It is amazing to drive through so many stunning cactus.  They have a great Junior Ranger Program there.  We always have Josie do the programs, even though she is a little young, at 3 yrs old.  But, it would be hard on her if Gabriel and Naomi always got badges as she didn't.  So, Shae took her and read her the questions and helped her find the answers.  When we went back inside to get their badges for completing the book, the Ranger at the counter looked unsure about a 3 yr old actually completing the older kids booklet.  She took Josie's book and began to ask her the questions to see if she could really do such a difficult book.  Josie answered every question correctly!  The Ranger told me, "I was sceptical that a 3 yr old could actually do this program, but I was wrong!  She did great!" 

We went for the drive around the scenic loop.  Shae stopped the van so we could look at the holes made in the ground by animals.  I opened the side door so the kids could see them.  As I went to close it, Shae told me he would do it by driving forward and then putting on the brakes.  Then, the door would slide forward and shut.  This is something he and I have done for years with different vehicles.  So, I sat back as he pulled forward, but he slammed on the brakes!  Wow!  We flew forward, thankfully in our seat belts.  The door rushed forward and smashed into the lock.  Well, it closed, but we were all a little surprised at the force of it.  He just cringed and kept going.  We enjoyed the rest of the drive down the terribly bumpy dirt road.  We were almost out of gas and I had read the map wrong.  I thought the scenic drive was a lot shorter than it really was.  So, when we arrived back at the visitor's center, we were very low on gas and now our sliding door wouldn't open!  The door jammed when Shae put on the brakes too hard!  The kids and I went back inside and left Shae alone to fix it.  I have learned over the years to leave him be when something like that happens.  We try not to bother him when he is fixing broken items.

He did fix it, though.  I was not surprised, he can do just about anything.  That is what is nice, if he can break it, he sure can fix it!

All in all, we had a wonderful time in that area.  We shopped at a grocery store that made me feel like we were in Mexico.  It was fun to try to figure out what to do with all the different foods they sold there.  We left the area ready to get to a new state and maybe some trees!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Discipline gone wrong...

I believe in creative parenting.  We must out smart the we ones or there might be mutiny!  I try to do strange punishments sometimes just to get their attention and help them remember.

I always say that living in a camper exposes everyone's "uglies".  There is no going to a bedroom to stew about something.  We cannot hide it or disguise it.  Every attitude is out there for everyone to see.

I came up with the idea this morning that every time that someone talks in a negative, disrespectful way they would get vinegar in their mouth.  Cody hates vinegar, so I knew it would be really effective on him!  I poured it in a small bowl for everyone to see and smell.

So far this morning I did not have to put it on anyone's tongue.

I just got done making some noodles for lunch.  I dished up the little one's bowls.  As I got ready to hand Naomi her noodles, I took a bite.  WOW, those aren't regular noodles!

I accidently put her noodles in the vinegar bowl!  I am eating them.  It is not so terrible.  Naomi tried it and couldn't stand the taste. 

I guess my mouth will be the nice one today!

Love and giggles,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We were very lost, Helen (our GPS) was saying go one way, but I was sure we could go another way....

I think my mind is still in that "new baby fog".  It takes a good year for it to clear.  So, that is my excuse for why I got us on the wrong road leaving Lost Dutchman State Park. 

I had studied the map quite a bit before we left the campground that morning.  I even drew a small map on a sheet of paper for quick reference.  We try to go on back roads instead of the free way as much as possible.  We were leaving Lost Dutchman State Park and heading to either Picacho Peak State Park or Gilbert Ray County Campground near Tucson.  Both are first come first serve, no reservations. So, we figured we would call Gilbert Ray Campground when we got near Picacho Peak.  If Gilbert Ray had openings, we would continue on to there.  If not, we would stay at Picacho Peak.  We were wanting to go to the Sonoran Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park.  It is much easier if we can camp close to where we want to sight see.  It can get very long for the little children to be in the van a lot.

We decided to take 60 East out of Apache Jct then head south on 79 at Florence Jct.  That all went well and we continued south.  In my mind, we were supposed to stay on 79 until it hit I-10.  Well, my tired mind failed to remember that we had to turn west on 287 which then turns into 87 which then turns into 387 to get to I-10.  It would take us out near Picacho Peak State Park in case we had to stay there and if not, we could head south on I-10 towards Tucson to go to Gilbert Ray campground.

So here we are driving down 79 when Shae gets on the walkie talkie and says, "Sheri, Helen (our GPS) says we need to turn right up here to get to Picacho Peak."

I reply, "No, I found a better way.  We just keep going straight and we'll run right into I-10."

"I don't think so.  I remember a short cut that we need to turn on.  I'm pretty sure Helen is right."

"I am pretty sure we need to just keep going.  But, I am driving and can't look at the map."

Shae answers, "The turn is right up here.  I think we should turn, but if you are sure, we'll go south."

I was pretty sure, but can't just look at the map and keep driving.  So, we decided to go my way.  Helen has gotten us in some pretty interesting situations.  We have learned to verify everything she says. 

We continued down 79 for a long ways.  Shae calls me on the walkie talkie a little concerned.  So, I had Hanna look at the map and lo and behold, we should have turned.  At this point, Shae began to get a little agitated.  I could hear it in his voice over the walkie talkie.  As we kept driving, he kept grilling me about what road we were on.  Hanna figured out where we were on the map.  We were going all the way into Tucson!!!!!  All we could see were these huge mountains in front of us.  Shae pulls the 42' 5th wheel behind him.  It is not easy to turn around...AT ALL!  Plus, we were headed straight for the mountains.  I was driving, had no where to pull over, could not look at the map, and had no idea if this road would lead us to some steep mountain pass.  Shae is extremely upset at this point.  Hanna is frantically looking at the map.  She finds Tangerine Blvd.  It will lead us straight to I-10.  If you have ever driven on this road, you know how bad it is.  There are so many dips in it.  Poor Gabriel started to get car sick from it.  I had to go potty so bad I could hardly move!  Shae was beyond upset.  It was bad.  I drove behind Shae at this point, just watching our camper with all of our belonging, tilt back and forth as it went up and down dip after dip.  I just didn't even want to look in the camper.  I knew everything was going to be everywhere!

I finally asked Shae to pull over so I could go potty.  He found a spot to park on the side of the road.  I could hardly get out I had to go so bad.  I walked carefully to the camper and went inside.  While I was in there, Gabriel puked all over the sliding door of our van.  What a mess.  Shae had calmed down by then.  I apologized and got back in the van.  I knew I had messed up. 

Once on the road, I called Gilbert Ray Campground to get directions from our new location.  The nice lady gave me the good news.  We were very close to the turn off for the campground.  We still had a ways to go, but my detour had not set us back at all.  Stress wise, I was really set back, but relieved that we were not way off the beaten track.  We had to drive over a bunch more dips before arriving at the campground.  We couldn't go over Gates Pass because our camper weighs too much, so we came in from the north.  It was such a relief to get there finally.  I sure was glad that trip was over!

(it is too late at night to edit the post...sorry if there are any grammar or spelling mistakes!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

We had a great time at Lost Dutchman State Park, southeast of Phoenix.  It has some nice, private sites but no hook ups.  We were very ready for some privacy and family time.  Doing volunteer work for 4 months, we needed a break.  This was a great place to do it.  Although, I learned that my hair can only go so many days without being washed before I go crazy! 

Our first day there, we saw a rattlesnake right on the edge of the main Discovery Trail.  I had been told the snakes were coming out now.  As soon as the weather warms, they stop hibernating and come out for their first meal.  Many people said that they are more aggressive and their venom is more potent when they first come out.  Whether that is actually true I do not know.  All I know is that I don't want to be near them either way! 

We enjoyed biking and walking on the roads around the camp.  After finding the snake, I kept off the trails for the most part.  The sunrises and sunsets are stunning over Phoenix and Superstition Mountain. 

I kept getting lost in Apache Junction!  I just could not get the roads there.  Of course, I always forgot the map and gps.  I would eventually find my way to where I wanted to go, though.  One day, we were coming back from further east of town.  I need to get back to Lost Dutchman.  I took a wrong turn at a stop light.  I was on the phone with my mom when I said, "Mom, I am on the wrong side of the mountain!!  I knew I needed to on the left side of the "Flat Iron".  We continued down and around on a road in the desert.  I seemed to be heading in the direction I wanted?!  It came to a T, so I went right.  As I continued, it turned into a dirt road.

I started to get a little nervous at this point.  Our big, 15 passenger van is not the easiest to do a Y turn with or back up a long ways, so I was concerned at how this road would turn out.  Sometimes in Arizona, there are roads with huge washes in them.  My van is not 4 wheel drive, AT ALL  (although Shae acts like it is sometimes!)

When I saw this sign I was ready to turn around.  Cody told me to wait and ran ahead to see what the road was like.  He told me we could handle it, so I continued on.
It turned out ok and we even saw a few coyotes.
We did eventually find our way back to the campground, the long way.  It was one of those adventures we'll never forget and don't care to repeat.

The guys climbed to the top of the "Flat Iron".  It was a good hike
with gorgeous views.

We made a knight's armor for Gabriel. He wore it to the
Renaissance Festival.  He and Naomi rode their
bikes around the campground and he
pretended to do a jousting competition.

Since we didn't have full hookups, Cody pulled the poop tank to the dump station,
which didn't go so well.
To hear the entire story go to our online magazine for his article.

There was a great blacksmith's shop down the road.