Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Adventures in Camping

We ended up driving through the industrial part of Phoenix for a majority of our morning, then found a Greek restaurant in downtown Tempe. From there we drove towards Tucson hoping to find some camping in the national parks surrounding the city. We could see the mountain where we thought we would be able to camp, but every road seemed to lead to more Tucson sprawl. We couldn't figure out how to find these huge parks in the GPS either and the people we asked at the gas station were of very little help, so we just drove around for awhile hoping to magically find a place to camp. Eventually we got to Saguaro National Park, but there was no camping there, and they were closing the park because it was getting dark. The first park ranger we saw recommended a couple of pay parks that may or may not be closed for the night and do not allow people to come in after hours. The other recommended place was about 30 minutes in the direction we had just come from and we didn't really want to backtrack. We were standing around trying to figure out what to do when another park ranger arrived and told us there was free camping about 15 minutes from there.

We found a place just off the road and as we set up (in the complete dark by this point) we noticed that a lot of cars were coming up and down the mountain even though we were on a gravel road seemingly as in the middle of nowhere as possible in Tucson. We got all set up and cooked some dinner with just our headlamps as light and were getting ready to head to the tent when 2 cars pulled into our pulloff where we had set up. They were the law enforcement for the park service. They said they had been watching us get set up and had been laughing at our lack of lights. They ended up being really nice guys and were very interested in our trip. They also told us that our camping area was very popular among high school and college students and this weekend was graduation so a lot of kids were coming up to party. We missed out on the parties but did get some of the noise. Here is a look at the site.

In the morning we got loaded up and headed back to the road. It looked like the sand on the way up a steep incline back to the road was pretty solid, but we ended up stuck pretty good and had a nice, gentle fall, although Mike's back hasn't felt the same since. The rear wheel dug in some, with a slippery rock in front of it, but some light pushing and throttle got us out no problem.

Our goal for the day was to buy a cooler (temperature-wise) motorcycle jacket for Jill and to get to Brisbee, AZ to couchsurf. We ended up running errands all over Tucson until about 3:00. The good news is that Jill ended up with a screaming deal on a cooler jacket. The bad news is that she mailed the coat home and forgot to clean out the front top pockets, which had the spare keys, thus creating another round of errands to try to make copies of the keys. During our marathon errand running session we also found some cooler motorcross socks for super cheap, so that was a plus.

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