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The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home, Eloy, Arizona

The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home, Eloy, Arizona

— The maiden voyage of my parents’ new motor home last weekend was a smashing success, even though everything seemed to be working against us, at least at first. Friday was a miserable day weather-wise, at least by Arizona standards. Cold and wet are not two words one often uses to describe the weather in this state, but last week was both. The drive to the campsite involved several downpours. Luckily we weren’t heading north, as there was snow falling at the higher elevations.
Think you’ve imagined the perfect New Year’s Eve?

Think you’ve imagined the perfect New Year’s Eve?

— If you could spend New Year’s Eve anywhere in the world, where would it be? Until yesterday, the plan for Kathryn and me was to ring in the new year around a propane fire at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, enjoying a quiet evening to ourselves, drinking some beers with starlit skies above us. However, as the date drew nearer, we saw the temperatures were forecast to be unseasonably cold, with snow also a distinct possibility.
Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

— After my last post from about 24 hours ago, it may come as some surprise that this post is being written from the couch in our living room in Phoenix while rain is pouring outside the open front door. Plans escalated quickly throughout the day yesterday. First, our planned trip to Prescott — the city Kathryn and I had never visited together — was called off after realizing just how long the drive would take from Cottonwood.
Safe arrival, nice dinner, and an early morning hike in Cottonwood

Safe arrival, nice dinner, and an early morning hike in Cottonwood

— We arrived at the campground yesterday early enough that the ranger station was still open. That’s quite unusual when we arrive on a workday. Kathryn and I have a rhythm of who does what we we set up our campsite, so we had everything as we wanted it within the hour, well before sunset. Our campsite at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. After setting up the campsite, we took a break for a few minutes and then, since both of us had eaten early lunches, decided we were ready to head over to Pizzeria Bocce for dinner.
A very special Cottonwood camping trip starts this afternoon

A very special Cottonwood camping trip starts this afternoon

— To celebrate an important milestone in our marriage, Kathryn and I are spending three nights in Cottonwood this weekend, camping at one of our favorite Arizona state parks, Dead Horse Ranch. We’ll leave after work this afternoon. The car is already mostly packed. Only a few last minute items remain. Scene from a previous camping trip at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona. There’s a slight amount of rain in the forecast, but not enough that it should get in the way of setting up our campsite.
Camping with a fake but pretty propane fireplace

Camping with a fake but pretty propane fireplace

— Before our last camping trip, Kathryn got on the interwebs and found us a nice, portable propane fireplace. We had looked into this idea before, but most of the fireplaces we found in the past would have taken up half the trunk. This one was a bit pricey, but it’s smaller than our cooler. Since we camp with a small, one-gallon propane tank that we use mainly for cooking, I was worried the fuel might not last an entire evening.
Sunrise over Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood

Sunrise over Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood

— The downside of crystal-clear blue skies is they produce some rather unspectacular sunrises and sunsets, mostly involving changing shades of blue. However, when we woke up on our last day of camping in Cottonwood, there were just enough clouds on the horizon to give the sunrise a little bit of color. The car in the photo is not ours. Just before sunset the previous evening, a camper arrived to take the neighboring site in a campground loop that had been otherwise nearly empty since noon.
A perfect weekend with no television, camping in Cottonwood

A perfect weekend with no television, camping in Cottonwood

— Kathryn and I have been in Cottonwood, Arizona, since Friday afternoon, enjoying a rare three-day weekend of camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. It has been gorgeous weather for tent camping, with crystal-clear blue skies, an occasional light breeze, and high temperatures in the 70s. Yesterday morning we did a five-mile hike in the adjacent Coconino National Forest, heading in the direction of Sedona. We then maintained our tradition of enjoying a meal at Pizzeria Bocce, although this time it was a three-course lunch rather than a dinner.
Alone in a strange place, wondering if I’m crazy

Alone in a strange place, wondering if I’m crazy

— Thursday morning last week, I woke up alone in a two-star hotel by the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. The hotel was at least superficially aspiring to a third star, but a fresh carpet, a thin coat of paint, and a waffle iron can only hide so much. Its two-star standing was further betrayed by the fact that the previous night’s manager couldn’t tell me the closest cold beer was in a lounge a few hundred yards away.
Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

Pizzeria Bocce, our Saturday dinner ritual in Cottonwood

— Saturday dinner at Pizzeria Bocce has become something of a ritual for Kathryn and me when we camp in Cottonwood. It started as an accident. On one camping trip, we mishandled some of the food we brought along and decided to toss it and go out to eat. We ended up at Pizzeria Bocce, and we’ve been going there ever since. Dining at a slightly pretentious pizzeria with a wine bar may not seem much like camping, but we’ve had an enjoyable meal every time we’ve eaten here.
Yet another beautiful morning in Cottonwood

Yet another beautiful morning in Cottonwood

— We’re enjoying yet another beautiful morning camping in Cottonwood. We’re halfway through our first cups of coffee as the rising sun fills the valley with daylight. Our new tarp The gazebo we had earlier this year failed on our last camping trip and found its way into a local dumpster. Over the summer we replaced it with the tarp and poles you see above. It was a whole lot easier to set up, is much lighter, provides about forty percent more shade, and looks cooler.
Another beautiful morning

Another beautiful morning

— It’s another beautiful morning in Cottonwood. Kathryn and I have had our first cups of coffee, and Kathryn is busy taking photos of the crescent moon. The first signs of twilight are appearing on the horizon, with sunrise expected in about 45 minutes. It’s cold enough for sweatshirts and jackets, but not cold enough for hats. From our campsite we can see the lights from the town of Jerome and the cement plant near Clarkdale, with the town of Cottonwood spread out below us.