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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I was up again at 5:30am to two very tired dogs. They had slept through the night with no barking or whining to go outside and pee. This was very odd. But at 6am, when both got up to stretch and lick me with their tongues (Sara is a deep-tonguer) I had to get up.

It wasn't that cold out. The van temperature read 54F. The winds were calm. The camper with the genrator two sites down had left the day before, and Susan and Pe:e's site was empty, too. All around me was silence. No kids screaming, no grills going off, no conversations over camp coffee. Even the guys next to me were quiet.

I let the dogs stay in the van while I tore down my site. This way they wouldn't bother anyone by running around off-leash. They seemed quite content to rest in my van, drinking only from the left-over water in the coolers. They didn't look too eager to get up for a walk. By now they seem to know that a "Walk" is a 6-8 mile walk in the woods.

Bill was up early, too and after cranking down his pop-up roof he pulled away at 7:15am while I was washing my hair. And 45 minutes later I was off, too, stopping briefly at Brenda and Gordon's site to wish them a good trip back. Most people were driving back via Hwy 180 East into New Mexico, but I plan on taking Hwy191 back, driving south the way I came up here Friday. The slower road does not bother me, as it's 90 miles closer, more scenic and there's plenty along the road I want to explore along the way. If I don't explore now, I may not come back here so soon.

I was dressed in shorts and a short t-shirt, as some of my remaining clothes got wet last night when Sammy knocked over a cooler that was half-full with warm water. The water soaked the rugs, the sheep skin met for Sara's bed, and a bag of clean clothes I had left for quick access. I am now officially on my last clean set of clothes. After today, I will no longer smell fluffy.

My first destination was Greer, a small meadow town nine miles south on Hwy 373, a two-lane curvy road crossing several creeks and campgrounds along the way. "The road to Greer is beautiful!" said Brenda, and she was right, but once I was in Greer was a little let down by it.

Greer is first and foremost a tourist town for cabiners. Those who want to escape the desert heat of the big cities come to Greer to rent the rustic log cabins along the creek. All I saw were log homes advertising all kinds of "Antiques" and gifts that most people likely don't need in the first place. Every building was a log home, interspersed with large green lawns and more picket fences, horses and vacationers out for a morning stroll. I was expecting at least one small stretch of Main Street to be canopied in Pine trees offereing cappuccino and the day's newspaper. I didn't see that.

I stopped briefly at the trailhead to the East Fork Trail, a route along the creek that ascended steeply from the start and meadered toward Hwy 373 for 7.5 mies one way. I opted against that hike because of the people traffic at the trailhead and the steep hill.

I drove back into town and stopped at the Greer Grounds Ice Cream and Espresso, where, after looking at the local ads for cabins for rent, horse rides and other recreational activities, I ordered a double cappuccino. The owner of the shop, a blonde Kristi Spillman who also does public relations for the realtor next door, spilled the drink on the counter. The foamy contents ran toward me, getting my last clean t-shirt stained. I wasn't upset, just a little uncomfortable, and then Kristi did the one thing I don't see too often: she didn't charge me for the drink. "It's on you and it's on me!" she said. I took her on her offer and any bad feelings I may have had evaporated with the good brew. Perhaps this town wasn't so bad afterall, and now I had a reason to stay a bit.

Kristi had to run next door but let an assistant, a young man, watch the counter. "There's no place like Greer!" he said, and told me about the trails that shoot off the East Fork Trail at the edge of town.

Outside under the shade of an umbrella sat Vernon, an older man dressed in a red flannel shirt, demin overalls and a white Panama hat who works at the Greer Lodge and Resort. He teaches fly-fishing there to lodgers, and in the winter he leads horseback rides in the Superstitions, another wonderful area of ours. He has a trailer there at the "Historic" Goldfield Ghost Town.

That of course led us to talk about Apache Junction where he works out of, and the Whites here. "You can see so much more wildlife on a horse" he explained. He even mentioned the Wildcat loop near Sheeps Crossing where recently he spotted antelope, sheep, bear and turkey. That will be one loop I must see.

Vernon's break was over and we departed at 11pm. It was now time to take a hike under the blue sky and 66F weather.

My next destination: the South Fork Trail off Hwy 260. The trail follows the Little Colorado River for 3.5 miles before ascending steep baren hills to end at Mexican Hay Lake. And if I can, I want to sleep in the wilderness tonight in the hopes of spotting some wildlife, the life I didn't get to see while camped at the Rainbow Campground where the only wildlife was screaming kids, drunken boaters, barking dogs and whining generators. I'm too old for that kind of camping anymore, and family camping is as far removed from wildlife as one can get.

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