Five years ago – July 17, 1999 – John and I were married, in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona, behind the Elk’s Lodge at the end of San Francisco Street, next to a meadow with a stunning view of Mount Humphreys. It was a most lovely outdoor wedding that was both special and unique, like us. Our aisle was made of burlap, and our altar was a pile of rocks. Our cake topper did not have the traditional bride and groom dolls; it was instead a picture of us wearing backpacks and carrying hiking sticks. Our centerpieces were pieces of driftwood, decorated with flowers and such. Our wedding mementos were baggies of trail mix. Our toasting glasses were $.50 wine glasses purchased at a thrift store in Pine, on the day that we got engaged. John’s groomsman was a woman, his best friend Mary Traub. And our minister was our brother-in-law Danny Guckenburg, an Army chaplain’s assistant, ordained on the Internet by the Universal Life Church.
It was a memorable day, one of the best days of my life, because it was the day that marked the beginning of my marriage to soul mate, my partner, my Mr. Right. And I still believe that, now five years later.
Of course, a lot of things have changed in those five years. We own a house, we have a beautiful daughter, who is now almost four years old, and we are both going to school. But one thing that hasn’t changed: the adventures.
For our anniversary this year, we decided that we would go on another one of our camping adventures. We would take a four-day weekend – Friday through Monday – and go to the White Mountains or the Chiricahuas. (We tend to save trips like that for long weekends, as they are so far away.) The choice was soon narrowed down to the White Mountains, as I wanted to do the Chiricahuas for my birthday instead.
A few weeks before the trip, our plans changed drastically, when we received an invitation for a baby shower for John’s dear friend Mary Traub. The shower would take place on Sunday, July 18. This was going to pose a problem, as I did not want to miss Mary’s baby shower, but I still wanted to take the four-day weekend.
For that reason, John proposed making a sacrifice: he would skip class on Thursday so that we could take our four-day weekend Thursday through Sunday. That would get us home in enough time to attend Mary’s baby shower. I kept asking him if he was sure about that, because I knew that he was striving for that 4.0 GPA. However, he insisted, so we changed our vacation days around from Friday/Monday to Thursday/Friday.
Then, there were more changes to be made, this time to our destination. Due to the drought in Arizona, there were lots of forest closures, including large closures in the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest, which made up the White Mountains. In fact, all of the places that we wanted to visit were closed due to the extreme fire danger. It was time then to consider Plan B.
We tossed around many ideas, but there was one idea that just kept resurfacing: Flagstaff. But why not? It was the place where we had gotten married, and we were going on our anniversary trip, right? It was, of course, the most appropriate choice, and in the end, that was where we decided to go.
We left for Flagstaff on Thursday morning, July 15, around 9:00 in the morning. That was a late start for us, but it put us on the road after rush hour. That also gave John an opportunity to present the anniversary gifts that he had bought. Traditionally, John and I usually buy gifts together, for both of us. Our first year, we bought a dishwasher; other years, we have purchased a 35mm camera, a bed, and a new tent. This year, keeping with tradition, we bought our DSL modem, which we have been enjoying. John, however, felt that he needed to buy one more gift: a new DVD player for the bedroom, as our old one had broken after only eight months. Before we left for our trip, he installed the new DVD player and made sure that it worked.
Our trip to Flagstaff was uneventful. We took our time getting there, making one stop in Camp Verde to use the bathroom and another in Flagstaff for lunch. (We stopped at Quizno’s, just off of the highway.) We were really not in any particular hurry, as we weren’t planning to do anything that afternoon. In fact, we were trying to stay as clean as possible, because we were planning to go out to dinner that night.
We drove through town and then took US 180 north, into the Coconino National Forest to find a place to camp for the next three nights. After reading up on some of the hikes in the area, near the base of the San Francisco Peaks, John suggested that we try looking off of FR 794, on the east side of US 180, to see if we could find something there.
It was certainly a good suggestion, because the area off of FR 794 was very beautiful. On either side of the road, there were large groves of aspen trees, interspersed with ponderosa pines. There were many places to camp along the road; we selected a site along FR 9624L (I think!) and set up camp.
It wasn’t long after our arrival that the skies clouded over, threatening rain – monsoon season was in full swing, and we were destined to get rained on at least once during the weekend. When the skies finally opened up on us, not even twenty minutes after we were finished setting up camp, we all ran into our large tent to escape the rain.
We stayed in the tent for several hours, while the rain pounded down upon our campsite. At one point, the rain fooled us into leaving the tent, and we were chased into the Jeep once it started pouring again.
By the time it let up, sometime around 4:00 p.m., the whole campsite was completely soaked and muddy. Each tent had several inches of mud around the base; Mary’s tent was soaked inside and out. This was due to the fact that the wet rain fly was laying flat against the tent walls, allowing the moisture to seep inside. The most damage was done to her coloring books, which were fine once they dried. We took everything else and put it into our tent, where Mary would have to sleep until her tent dried out.
Around 4:30 p.m., we all got ready for dinner, trying our hardest to stay clean and dry as we changed clothes. That was no easy task either, because it is next to impossible to keep a three year old from getting into the mud! Once we were all ready to go, we carefully climbed into the Jeep and started into town for dinner.
On the way into town, John took a detour onto Beaver Street; I didn’t even need to ask him where we were going, because I knew exactly what he was doing. It became clearer to me as we turned left onto San Francisco Street and followed that all the way north until it dead-ended…at the Elk’s Lodge where we were married five years ago.
We drove around to the back, to the meadow where our wedding had taken place, and we were happy to see that everything was exactly as it was then. The meadow was a bit dry from the drought, and our altar was still there. Most importantly, the view was still magnificent. It really was the best place to get married.
After finishing our little detour, we continued on into town to eat dinner. Since we had Mary with us, we were limited to eating dinner at a family-friendly restaurant, so we chose the Olive Garden for our anniversary dinner. The Olive Garden always has a good wine selection, and their food is appetizing, too. They also have a children’s menu, so we can always bring Mary there when we need to.
We had a lovely dinner there, that included Bruschetta as an appetizer, salad and breadsticks, and new selections off of their menu, all served with a good bottle of wine. After we were finished, we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and drove back to camp while there was still some daylight left.
Not long after we returned to camp, we put Mary to bed in our tent, and then we sat up for a little while longer, enjoying the cool night air. It was a very quiet night…until we heard the party going on down the road. Someone, somewhere, was playing some very loud rap music, and the noise carried all the way to our campsite. We tried to ignore it as long as we could, even after we went to bed that night. Unfortunately, it was so loud that, at 10:00 p.m., John went looking for the source of it, to tell them to keep it down. He drove the Jeep all around the forest, looking for the people responsible for playing such loud, crappy music.
He was gone about fifteen minutes, and during that time, the music stopped. John returned just minutes later and explained that he was unable to find the people with the loud music. He drove in a one-mile radius but was not able to find them. But, since it was off now, we both lay down again and went immediately to sleep.
The next morning, John awoke very early – much earlier than me – and he decided to go on an early morning hike while the rest of us slept. He hiked up FR 9624L and along the side roads, looking for wildlife as he went. He probably hiked about three miles before he came back to camp to wake us up.
Mary and I, meanwhile, slept in until about 7:00 a.m. – a bit late for me, I know, but I was tired that morning. The two of us crawled out of the tent and sat down at the table to eat breakfast. While we ate, John and I discussed our plans for the day.
We had a good number of activities planned for the weekend. One of the things that John wanted to do was to hike to the top of Kendrick Peak, even if it took us all day. That would depend on the weather, though, because we did not want to be up there during a monsoon storm. And this morning was not looking very promising; the skies were overcast, and it was probably going to rain very soon.
Our other plan for the weekend was to visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and that was where we decided to go instead of Kendrick Peak. We had just visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon only a year ago, for my 33rd birthday, so it was time for me to see the rest of the canyon. (Keep in mind, I had never been the Grand Canyon before my birthday last year, and I am an Arizona native!) We could also use our National Park Pass to get in, as we still had another month on it before it expired.
The Grand Canyon was only about sixty-four miles from our campsite – it would take us about an hour to drive there. To get to the Grand Canyon, we took US 180 north to SR 64, then SR 64 north into the park. En route, we passed through the towns of Valle and Tusayan before coming up to the park entrance.
After stopping at the McDonald’s for a potty break, we queued up at the park entrance. There were long lines at all of the stations except at the pre-paid station, for those of us who were either returning to the park or had a National Park Pass. We showed the ranger our pass, and she gave us a map and a newspaper containing trails and information about the National Park.
We found a place to park the Jeep at Mather Point, and from there, we walked along the Rim Trail to the Visitor’s Center. Along the way, we stopped to take pictures of the canyon at Mather Point; from there, we could see parts of the famous Bright Angel Trail, and we even found Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. (We took a picture of Phantom Ranch with our super-tight zoom lens – through that, we could see all of the buildings down there, half-hidden among the trees.)
After taking pictures of each other at Mather Point, we continued on to the Visitor’s Center. This was the largest visitor’s center I had ever seen, with several buildings and kiosks of information covering a couple of acres. One building contained the ranger station and museum; another housed the bookstore. There was even a separate building for the restrooms.
As we approached the Visitor’s Center, we stopped to read the information at the kiosks outside. The Park Service has all sorts of information posted there, including a list of the different trails in the park, a hiker’s guide to the Bright Angel Trail, and weather and trail conditions. John was very interested in doing part of Bright Angel, so he paid special attention to the hiker’s guide. It listed all of the different destinations along the trail, how long it would take to get there and back, mileage roundtrip, how much water to take along, and whether or not a permit was required. To hike to Indian Garden, for example, required a half-day and lots of water. It would probably be more than we could do with a pre-schooler in tow.
Continuing down the line of kiosks, I found something that dashed John’s idea of hiking down into the canyon altogether. Under Trail Conditions, the park ranger had posted that the Bright Angel Trail was closed for repairs. We later learned that it was due to mud slides caused by the huge monsoon storm that had blown through there the day before (the same storm that had soaked our campsite). I think that John was a little disappointed that the trail was closed, but then he did know that hiking Bright Angel was going to be challenge with Mary anyway.
We went inside the Visitor’s Center, where we obtained another stamp for Mary’s passport book. We also decided to have Mary participate in the Junior Ranger program for her age group – the Raven program, for children aged four to seven.
The ranger gave Mary a workbook with activities appropriate for her age to complete. These activities were marked with a Raven on the top of the page, and she had to complete four of these pages, including a nature bingo, a drawing of the canyon, a rock scavenger hunt, and a five-senses activity. In addition to these four activities, Mary would also have to attend a Ranger Program; there was a list of these programs on page two of the newspaper. There were so many to choose from, but we found one that was perfect for Mary: story time with the Ranger at 1:30 in the afternoon.
With plenty of time to roam around the park, John and Mary and I decided to take the Shuttle bus to Bright Angel Village. While we waited for the bus to leave the shuttle stop, John and Mary did some of the activities in her workbook. A few minutes later, the bus driver got into the bus and drove away, without even letting us know that he was leaving. We waved for him to stop, but he completely ignored us and kept going.
It would be another half an hour until the next bus showed up, so we decided to walk to the next shuttle stop, located at the Market Plaza, about a mile away. This would give us a chance to get some exercise, and Mary could also do more activities in her Junior Ranger workbook.
It took us about forty-five minutes to walk to the Market Plaza. We spent much of that time looking at animal tracks and pinecones and rocks so that Mary could circle them in her National Park bingo game. She was excited every time we found something for her to circle, and she couldn’t wait to find something else.
When we got to the Market Plaza, we sat down at the shuttle stop and waited for the next westbound shuttle, to take us to El Tovar. While we waited, I sat down with Mary and helped her with more of her Junior Ranger activities. We talked about her five senses and how she perceived the canyon, and while she gave her answers, I wrote them down for her.
We only waited about five minutes for the shuttle, and when it arrived, we quickly climbed on board and found a place to sit. (We weren’t going to miss this one!) As soon as the bus pulled away from the stop, we went back to work on Mary’s Junior Ranger book.
We took the shuttle to the historic El Tovar Hotel, located next to the train depot for the Grand Canyon Railroad. Built in 1905, El Tovar is one of the most famous hotels in the park, having hosted Presidents and other famous people. Across from El Tovar is the Hopi House, an old Indian-style adobe house that is now a bookstore and an art gallery.
Next to El Tovar, there is a canyon overlook, from which we could clearly see segments of the Bright Angel Trail leading to Indian Spring. While we were standing there, admiring the view, we watched as a helicopter flew into the canyon and lowered what looked like supplies down to the trail. At first, we thought that they were going to deliver those supplies to Phantom Ranch, but the supplies were dropped off at Indian Garden instead. We later figured out that the helicopter was delivering equipment down to the people who were making repairs on the trail, in order to get it reopened for the weekend.
From El Tovar, John and Mary and I walked over to the Bright Angel Lodge, located about a third of a mile away. It was getting close to lunchtime; and since we had left our lunch in the Jeep, John decided that we should eat there instead. We were in luck, too, because the restaurant was just opening its doors for the lunch crowd, so we were seated right away.
We had a very nice, relaxing lunch, consisting of sandwiches and beer from the Mogollon Brewing Company. Yes, it would have been nice to go hiking that day, but this was good, too.
After lunch, we walked back to the shuttle stop and caught the Eastbound bus back to the Visitor’s Center at Mather Point, so that we would be back in time for Story Time with the Ranger. The shuttle picked us up at about 12:50 p.m., and even though it made a lot of stops along the way, it dropped us off around 1:15, with plenty of time to spare before Story Time.
Story Time with the Ranger took place at the Bookstore, next to the Visitor’s Center. The children who were there for Story Time all gathered outside on the patio, where Ranger Jay was preparing to read two books: The Condor’s Egg by Jonathan London, and Way Out in the Desert by T. J. Marsh.
Mary was especially excited to see that the ranger was going to read a book that she already owned – I had bought her Way Out in the Desert at the Phoenix Zoo, and it was one of her favorites. The book is written as a take off of the traditional song “Over in the Meadow”, and it teaches children about the creatures living out in the desert, the plants found in the desert, and numbers and counting.
The other book, The Condor’s Egg, is a story about two California Condors successfully hatching an egg. The California Condors were almost extinct. They had been hunted by ranchers and farmers who believed that they were killing their livestock; they also had trouble reproducing, as various insecticides used in agricultural products consumed by these birds had caused their eggshells to weaken. Those thin eggshells could not support the weight of the condor mother when she tried to sit on the egg to keep it warm; the eggshell would crack, and the chick would die.
Ranger Jay was excited to read that book to the kids that day, because he had just learned that, only the day before, another condor egg had successfully hatched at the canyon. Everyone at the park was happy to hear that another chick had been added to the condor population.
In order to make story time more interesting, Ranger Jay looked for all of the children to participate in the story. For example, to demonstrate the size of the California Condor, he selected three children who were about three feet tall and had them stand with their arms stretched out at their sides. The three of them totaled nine feet in length, which is the wingspan of the condor. He then held up a felt cutout of a condor and had the children hold it up to show just how large that bird is.
While he read Way Out in the Desert, Ranger Jay had all of the children imitate the various animals in the book. For the rattlesnakes, he gave the children plastic Easter eggs filled with rocks and had them shake them, to demonstrate what a rattlesnake sounds like. When he got to the part about the scorpions, he had each child hold onto a rope, and he ran them around the patio while they held on like the scorpion young in the book. Mary was giggling the whole time – it was so much fun!
At the very end, Ranger Jay signed all of the Junior Ranger activity books, and he awarded Mary and one other little boy their Junior Ranger badges for successfully completing the program. Mary received a plastic badge, as well as a certificate, which we would later frame and hang up on our certificate wall. John also bought her a sew-on badge, which he would later sew onto her Camelbak.
It was already after 2:00 p.m., so we decided that it was time to head back to camp. Tired, we walked back to the Jeep and got in to drive away, and as we left the park, we looked back and found Mary sound asleep in her car seat.
It took us about an hour to drive back to camp. Along the way, we stopped in Valle to check out the airplane museum that had caught our attention. Since Mary was asleep, we could only drive through and look at the static displays before continuing on.
We arrived at camp shortly after 3:00 p.m., at which time the clouds had cleared and the sun was finally shining again. It was a nice afternoon for doing nothing at all.
Around 5:00 p.m., John started cooking dinner. While he was cooking, I sat at the table and worked crossword puzzles, and Mary played in the grass nearby. A few minutes later, she had found a big stick and was acting out a wombat hunt – I’m not too sure where she came up with that, but you have to admit that she does have quite the imagination. I watched as she started hiking up the road, farther and farther away from camp, hitting rocks and fallen logs with her stick as she went along. Soon, she was out of my line of sight, so I went after her to bring her back to camp for dinner. She didn’t want to come back, stating that she needed to “kill the wombat”. I finally convinced her that we would go and kill the wombat after dinner, but first she had to come back to camp.
After dinner, John and I took Mary on her wombat hunt. She found each of us big sticks that we could use to kill the wombat, and then she led us up FR 9624L.
We walked for about forty-five minutes to an hour up FR 9624L, and we had a marvelous time doing so. Mary enjoyed her wombat hunt, and we enjoyed exploring the forest near our campsite. About a half-mile from our campsite, we reached a point where a giant tree had fallen onto the road, blocking the road from any vehicular travel. Beyond that, the road curved around and led through a very dense section of the forest, where it was dark and cold…and very quiet.
We thought for sure that the road was going to loop back on itself, based on its direction. But after about an hour of walking, we decided that we had gone far enough. It was getting dark outside, and we really didn’t know where we were going to end up – we didn’t know if we were going to get lost, or if we would wind up back at camp. So, we decided to turn around and head back to camp.
Our turnaround point was at the lovely meadow that we had come to once we emerged from the dense, dark forest. We stopped there to rest for a few minutes, and then, we started back down FR 9624L towards camp.
It took us about forty-five minutes to get back to camp, and as soon as we got there, it was time to get Mary ready for bed. Since the inside of her tent was finally dry, I moved her sleeping bag and pad back there so that she could spend the night in her own tent, with all of her toys. She was happy to be back in her own tent, and she fell asleep almost immediately.
John and I called it an early night, too, having been up too late the night before. In fact, we only made it through one round of cribbage before we both decided that it was time to go to sleep.
The next morning, John was awake early again. While the rest of us slept, he went on an early morning hike through the forest. He had not yet returned by the time Mary and I were awake, so the two of us had breakfast without him.
It turns out that John had gotten lost during his early morning hike. He was just walking along and soon found himself hiking up to the top of a hill. It turns out that he was in the Hoeffendoffer Hills, just north of camp, but he didn’t know that at the time. All he knew was that he did not know where camp was.
He eventually found his way back. He figured out which way he needed to go and then went in that direction. Eventually, after spending an hour hiking along forest roads and cross-country, he ended up back at FR 794, less than a quarter of a mile from camp.
When he returned, he seemed to be relieved to see us. He sat down at the table and told us all about his adventure. Even though he had gotten lost, I was just glad that he had the smarts to find his way back to us. It would have been a crummy way to spend our anniversary.
After breakfast, and after we got dressed, we discussed our plans for the day. By that time, John had dropped the idea of hiking to the top of Kendrick Peak, because realistically, it just wasn’t going to be possible with Mary in tow. He did, however, have some other ideas, which he had found in a book called Flagstaff Hikes, by Richard and Shirley Magnum. The first was a hike to Bismark Lake, through the Bismark Lake Elk Preserve, and the other was a hike to Crater Lake, near Kendrick Mountain. Both hikes were short and did not entail a whole lot of elevation change, so they would not be too difficult for Mary; and both hikes were close-by. “Let’s do them,” I said.
The first trail - the Bismark Lake Trail - was located only a few miles from camp. To get there, we took FR 151 - Hart Prairie Road - 5.6 miles to FR 627; from there, it was only another mile to the trailhead. The trailhead was well-marked with a tall wooden fence and signage indicating that the Bismark Lake Elk Preserve was closed to all motorized vehicles.
We parked the Jeep and soon began our hike on the Bismark Lake Trail, which, as we found, was quite the easy trail. It started out as a very flat hike along what appeared to be an old Jeep road that cut through the forest and into the meadows at the base of the San Francisco Peaks. (We could see the Peaks throughout our hike.) After about a half of a mile, the trail began to climb slightly, cresting at the edge of a very large meadow, a quarter of a mile from Bismark Lake.
Bismark Lake was probably a very pretty lake right after the spring thaw; today, however, it was nothing more than a tiny mud puddle. It wasn't completely devoid of water, though, because we did find a small puddle at the far side of the lake. Despite the lack of water, the area was very pretty, set near the edge of an alpine meadow. Although camping was not allowed within a quarter of a mile of the lake, we imagined that it would be a lovely place for a backpacking trip. Then, we could be there to watch as the elk arrived to drink from the lake, first at dusk then again at first light. What a sight that must be!
That morning, there weren't any elk around; the only wildlife was our very hyper child, who decided that she wanted to play tag with us in the dry lake. She ran through the dry grass, giggling with glee as we chased her. Doing that made the hike fun for her...and for us, too.
After spending about a half an hour at Bismark Lake, we decided that it was time for us to head back to the Jeep - after all, we still had one more hike to do that day. In order to keep Mary motivated - and to keep the hike fun for her - we decided to play another game. All the way back to the trailhead, Mary was the "line-leader", which meant that she walked in the front of the line and led us along the trail. (Obviously, this was something that she had learned in school.) Then, during the last quarter of a mile, the hike turned into a race to see who would make it back to the Jeep first. Whoever touched the Jeep first would be the winner! Mary was so set on winning that she hiked the fastest that I had ever seen her hike! I was very impressed. We decided that this was a technique that we would have to continue to use...as long as it worked...
Just after 10:00 a.m., Mary emerged as the winner as she made it to the Jeep first, despite some tough competition from John. As the winner of the hiking race, she received a Pria bar, which she ate silently in her car seat as we made our way to our next destination: Crater Lake.
To get to the Crater Lake Trailhead, we returned to FR 151 and took that back to Highway 180. From there, we turned left onto FR 760 (on the west side of the highway) and followed that road to FR 9009D.
FR 9009D was a very rough road, but nothing that the Jeep couldn't handle. (I think that our old Oldsmobile could have probably handled that road, despite the ruts and holes.) About a quarter of a mile from the trailhead, the road became very rough, but we still made it without a problem.
We found the trailhead at the "Official Notice" sign, off to the side of the road, and that was where we parked the Jeep. While John marked the trailhead on the GPS and helped Mary "go potty", I made sandwiches for lunch. Our plan was to eat our lunch at Crater Lake, because by the time we made it to the top, it would be lunchtime.
We started hiking the Crater Lake Trail around 10:45 a.m. The entire half-mile trail was one long, constant climb along an old road that had long since been closed, to the top of an old volcanic crater. The trail climbed about 300 feet during that half-mile, and that meant that it wore Mary out fast. We took frequent breaks along the way, to ensure that Mary would make it to the top without having to be carried. Although it took us just over half an hour, during which time we stopped to rest about four or five times, we soon crested the hill and stepped inside of the ancient volcanic crater.
Inside of the crater was a lake that, like Bismark Lake, was probably beautiful in the spring, right after the snow thawed. Now, the lake was completely dry, but it was still very pretty despite the lack of water. It was completely surrounded by aspen trees, over the top of which we could just barely see Kendrick Peak.
We sat down to eat our lunch under the shade of the aspen trees next to the trail. While we ate, John told us a story that he had read in the Flagstaff Hikes book. He said that, in 1889, it was reported by a local resident that Crater Lake was overflowing with water. He didn't quite know what to think of that until he was actually seated inside of the crater. That gave him the perspective that he needed to imagine just how full of water that crater had to be to have overflowed that year. The crater was immense - it had to have been one hell of wet season!
After finishing our lunch, we decided that it was time for us to head back down the mountain to the Jeep. Donning our hiking gear again, we started our descent from the top of the crater. Since Mary was tired, having already hiked three miles that day, John agreed to carry her for the short, half-mile jaunt down the hill, and as a result, our return hike only took us about twenty minutes.
Mary fell asleep almost immediately in the Jeep on the way back to camp, so when we arrived, we left her in her car seat, with the window down, and let her sleep the afternoon away. Meanwhile, John and I rested nearby.
We spent the afternoon at camp; after Mary woke up, she played quietly in her tent while John and I read or worked crossword puzzles. Then, around 4:00 p.m., just as we were beginning to discuss dinner, we could see the monsoon clouds gathering in the distance. Thunder rumbled across the treetops, and every now and then, we felt a few drops of rain splash down upon us.
"It's going to rain on our anniversary dinner, isn't it?" I said.
"Yep," John replied.
"So, should we set up a shelter with the tarp so that we can cook dinner?" I asked.
John hesitated, but after a few minutes, he decided that it just wasn't worth it to try to battle the elements to have a nice dinner. Instead, he suggested that we clean up and head into town for dinner. After all, it was our anniversary; we deserved something nicer than that.
Given that we were dirty no matter how much we tried to clean up, we decided to go someplace a little more casual, so we picked Chili's, on Milton Avenue. There, we had a wonderful dinner - wonderful, because we didn't have to cook it ourselves - and we had drinks, too. We were having such a great time that it didn't even bother us that it never once rained outside!
After dinner, we returned to our dry campsite, and we immediately put Mary to bed, so that we could have a chance to "celebrate" our anniversary in style.
Of course, soon after that, we fell asleep, too!
The next morning, John was awake early once again so that he could go on his early morning hike. This time he took the camera with him so that he could take pictures of scenery, to experiment a little bit with digital photography. He came back with some cool shots that could be used as wallpaper on a computer, or graphics on a web site.
We didn't waste any time getting our campsite packed up that morning, because we needed to be home by noon in order to make it to Mary Traub's baby shower by 3:00 p.m. We managed to break camp by 8:30 a.m., and we made it home in about three hours.
With that ended another great Verley adventure...
Return to Naked in the Woods.
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