This week’s weather forecast for Northern Arizona alerted rain and colder weather for today, with some snow and potential hail at higher elevations. After a week of perfect fall weather, with full-ball sun each day and high temperatures trying to reach 70 degrees, I looked forward to spending today inside the Airstream listening to the rain.
A trip to the grocery store yesterday brought home fresh produce and fixings to make a chicken and vegetable crockpot soup today. I’ve discovered the easy secret to most soups: add about 1 tablespoon of chili powder and one can of stewed tomatoes to my favorite mix, whether fresh chicken and frozen vegetables or three beans and corn. A weekly use of a small crockpot and rice steamer provides this condo-on-wheels lifestyle with easy dinners after a day outdoors. And thrown into these “home-cooked” (on-wheels) meals, I’ve influenced the rick-man to adjust his healthy eating habits to support my almost weekly need for a dinner out—for a really big hamburger and plateful of fries; or pancakes, bacon and eggs. My mother regularly served scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits or pancakes for dinner. It is my happy meal.And so I am a happy camper this morning. In sweatpants and comfy shirt, I’ve put the rice steamer and crockpot to work. And now I’m enjoying my Airstream home office, with Willie Nelson, Norah Jones and Greg Trooper keeping me company as I catch up on developing a week’s worth of raw images in Photoshop Elements.
The Airstream has an excellent four-speaker stereo system that supports a USB plug-in of my iPhone’s music. My pre-retirement camping trips of past years were a one or two week “get away from it all” break from work and routine--and music and TV were not a part of these trips. But a multi-month condo-on-wheels traveling lifestyle is just that: a lifestyle. And so last night I watched the VP debate on the Airstream’s small flat-panel TV, and this morning I’m listening to the much more pleasant sounds of Willie, Norah and Greg.
My first photos developed this morning are of a fabulous multi-hour trek on the Humphrey’s Peak trail. This trailhead is reached via a beautiful drive to the end of the Arizona Snowbowl road. The trail begins alongside a blazing grove of Aspens with vista views of other San Francisco Peaks, a volcanic mountain range that includes Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona at an elevation of 12,633 ft.
At higher elevations the trail becomes steeper and rockier, and the forest canopy begins a mix of Aspen and Ponderosa Pine, providing a beautiful setting to pause, to listen and to watch. My thoughts and senses are overwhelmed by the handiwork of Mother Nature’s creation:
The trail steepens, the rocks become a mainstay of the trail, and the switchbacks tighten toward the portion of the trail above the tree line. The below photo shows the trail itself, defined by rocks and roots that demand a watchful eye and well placed boot. Continuing upward is both challenging and rewarding:
After a career that demanded much, including a chronic proving of abilities in a man’s world, my half-century-plus ego needs no stroking in the category of proving my tenacity for bumps in the road. The rick-man and I share this time in our lives where we hike when we enjoy it, and we stop when we don’t. Two hours of climbing over rocks and mini-boulders, and stepping over and around the massive roots of this forested habitat began taking its toll on our feet and knees and lower back. The rick-man uses the expression “my knees are talking to me.” And so we listened to our bodies, turned around and began our downward descent, a continued challenge to knees and toes.
For me a perfect hike needs no specified point of conclusion other than a safe return to the beginning. My feet and lower back were talking, but my mind was listening to the sounds that Mother Nature gently shared during my half-day on this very special trail.The rain is pattering harder on the Airstream’s roof; the chicken vegetable soup smells lovely; the rick-man just came back inside from taking out the trash to report a dusting of snow on the surrounding peaks. It is a good day to be at home.