Gone Camping

After many years of talking about it, we finally are back to camping. Once again we went up to Woods Canyon Lake this time with Chris, Amanda, Mike, Jamie, and Sean.

On Friday I picked up Chris and Amanda and their "stuff" at 14:00. That's when I knew we were in trouble as their "stuff" completely filled the bed and back seat of my truck. Most of our "stuff" was packed in the trailer but some of it was going to have to be put in the bed of the truck. Since I didn't want my truck (which would be hauling a trailer) to have to carry an additional 500 to 800 pounds, and Mike's SUV would be packed with his "stuff", we decided to load up Chris's "stuff" in Kathi's car and they would drive to Payson.

This time we managed to load up our 2 cars and leave on time at 15:00. Mike could not leave until he was off work. Chris had thrown his back out last Sunday hanging "Halloween" lights, so he had been off all week. The trip up was uneventful. We arrived on the rim, filled the water tanks in the trailer at the dump station and managed to get 2 camps sites next to each other.

Even though we left at 15:00 we still only got there about 45 minutes before sunset, because of winter coming we forgot the days are getting shorter. We did manage to get camp setup before it got dark. Mike who had not been able to leave until about 17:30 arrived at about 20:30.

Much loud cussing ensued (from Mike and Chris) as we set about putting up Mike's "20 man tent" (it's a long story he can tell you about as to why he has a tent that big). Once his tent was setup and all had been fed we retired for the night.
[end day one 10-12-2007]

After everyone had thoroughly froze during the night we all woke with the sun. I got up first and started a fire. We made breakfast, Mike, Chris, and I set off to fish and hunt for crayfish. The girls (and Sean) went into town to spend money. We fished for several hours and took turns hunting crayfish. As the clouds couldn't make up their mind to stay or go, we alternately froze and fried. We caught zero fish and several crayfish. at 11:00 we returned to camp with many large crayfish, and had lunch (no we didn't eat the crayfish at this time).

At 13:00 we went back to the lake but it was cram packed with people. We decided to go to Willow Springs lake a couple of miles down the road. We hiked up the shore line for about a mile but were surprised to find not only NO crayfish, but NO minnows, very little plant Life, and the water was extremely clear. So we hiked back to the car and went back to camp about 15:00. That night we had steaks for dinner. Mike, Chris, and I then went back to the lake at about 17:30 to place our traps over night and to hunt for more Crayfish. We walked up and down the lake edge with flashlights and caught about 6 more. I had brought an aquarium aerator with me. I put the crayfish in a bucket half full of water. submerged the air tubes from the aerator in the bucket, and hooked it up to an inverter connected to a car battery and stuck it in my truck. I did this so the crayfish would "purge". Around 20:30 most of us retired for the night. Mike and Jamie however went to Payson and returned some time after 23:30. It was about this time that an Elk bugled and woke me up, this was followed by Sean crying (not because of the Elk). Mike and Jamie in their Ginormous tent got too cold, and so on this night they slept in their car. All through the cold night the Elks announced the time, in their elky way.
[End Day 2 10-13-2007]

The next morning Chris and I leaped out of our cold beds, Started a fire, and went down to the lake to retrieve our traps. It was a cold morning and mist was coming off of the lake. I took a few pictures.
This is all we caught in the traps overnight:
We hiked back with our "bounty" and fixed Breakfast. We started packing to leave, at 10:00 we went back to the lake for one last try at the crayfish. This time we hiked a mile or more west of the boat ramp. We netted a total of 6 (six) crayfish. We once more hiked back to camp and I packed the crayfish on ice and rock salt (to freeze them). The grand total for Crayfish was 25. We completed packing and left at 13:00. We got home about 15:30. Here are some miscellaneous pictures from the trip:

[End Day 3 10-14-2007]


Our Home (the Second)

Kathi and I had talked about going camping since we first met, although we did go once before when I had my white van conversion (the Imperial Shuttle),

that attempt didn't work out too well. We had gotten a late start and when we got to Payson all the campgrounds were full. We ended up sleeping in the van at an undeveloped camping area between Woods Canyon lake, and Bear Canyon lake. It was hot and the van was NOT comfortable (it's a long story why we decided we could sleep in the van). Since then we had not gone "camping".

After 19 years of marriage we decided we were going to start camping again. A couple of weeks ago we went to a local RV dealer in Phoenix, and got a Smallish folding camping trailer. The trailer is made by Fleetwood, and is a 2007 Rio. It has 2 beds, 1 is 48" x 72" and the other is 72" x 72". It has a 2 burner stove, heater, sink, hot water heater, and a cartridge toilet/shower.

We left rather late in the day Friday due to that activity I must go to 5 days a week to earn money. We arrived at the Aspen campground at 19:30 and had to set up the trailer in the dark. Here are a couple of pictures taken 2 days later.

Saturday morning we got up and went to Woods Canyon lake, I fished and Kathi slept. I caught 4 trout most of which wouldn't make a fillet of fish sandwich. 1 was of almost keepable size, but since I don't like to eat fish I threw them all back. I also caught 20+ crayfish five or six big ones using my trap. Most of the crayfish I let go as they were very small. We returned to camp had dinner and sat outside until it got dark, cold, and and we were properly smoked from the campfire.

We got up Sunday I went to the lake again and Kathi stayed at the campsite to pack and take it easy as she wasn't feeling well. I only went after the crayfish this time. I caught a bunch more for a total of 35 (oooh a snack). I went back to camp and we finished packing, folded up the trailer and left.

The trailer worked out well. We had to work out a way for me to sleep as I am 6'4" and the beds are only 6'. Having the heater and toilet were very nice as it dipped into the the low 40's that night and it was a bit of a walk to the nearest "Smell-O-Potty".

When we got back into town Mike and Chris came over and we cooked up the crayfish with some corn on the cob. We even gave a crayfish to Sean.
Hey... he knew what to do, he "pinched the tail", and "sucked the head".


Bizarre Foods with MHW

Today we finally cooked the Crayfish I caught last weekend. Here I lined up the little soldiers in preparation to cooking them.
Here is a closeup of one of the bigger ones.
I started a pot boiling with some Zatarain's crab boil, salt, and lemon then dropped them all in.
After 2 minutes of boiling, you let them sit for 15 minutes.
Here they are before we ate them.
I was going to video tape us eating them but Mike would have none of it. here's the remains. We did not suck the heads because they had not been purged. This amount of crayfish was a very light snack. Normally one would have 3 to 5 pounds of crayfish per person.
Here's the review.
The taste is unique. People say they taste like a cross between lobster and shrimp. They taste like crayfish. The flavor is very very mild. Most of the edible meat is in the tails. If the claws are big enough you can eat that meat, however (to me) it's texture and taste was like crayfish flavored rice. We all agreed that we would eat them again.

For more information:
Trapper Arne


Anniversary in Payson

Last weekend for our 13th anniversary we spent the weekend in Payson. We left town at 3pm on Friday and got to Payson about 4:45pm. We stayed at the Best Western Payson Inn. We had dinner at Chili's, then went for a drive. We ended up taking pictures of the sunset on the highway that heads to Pine.

I also did some light trails.
The next morning we headed up to the rim to see the view and scope out future campsites.

On the way back we stopped again at the rim and went for a walk. I took this opportunity to test out the macro on my 300mm zoom lens.
We went back to star valley and had lunch at Chester's (really greasy and anemic) fried chicken. We headed back up to the Tonto creek area drove up to the "Tonto Rim Christian camp" (formerly Tonto Rim Baptist Camp). Then to the Fish Hatchery.

There wasn't much happening at the fish hatchery so we drove to Pine so Kathi could check out a couple of Antique shops. That night we had dinner at the "haunted" Main street Bar & Grill in Payson.
The next morning we got up bright and early and went back up to Woods canyon lake to catch some crawdads and hang out. Crawdads are not native to Arizona, they are considered an invasive species introduced to this state in the 1940's as live bait. As such any person who has an Arizona state fishing license can catch as many as you want, as often as you want, the only catches are you can't transport them live and you can't sell them. I caught about 25 crawdads.
I used a fish hook, twig, and some fishing line I found. I used raw chicken for bait. I brought a trap with me but only caught about 5 in the trap. The little bastards are so greedy most of them wouldn't let go of the bait even after they were out of the water.
I put them on ice with rock salt and within an hour they were frozen solid. This coming weekend we (including Mike and Chris) will cook them and eat them (oooh yes we will!). The rest of the afternoon we just hung out and fed chipmunks and such.

We left around 1pm and stopped at the Mogollon rim visitors center. I took the opportunity to take some more macro pictures.

Then we headed home. I have some video, if it is interesting enough I will upload it later.


So Long and Thanks for all the Pics

Well after 21 years I finally said "So long" to a good friend. In 1986 I met my Good friend at a K-mart in Douglas Arizona while I was in college.
Well... met isn't quite the word... OK I bought him. Specifically I bought a Pentax K-1000 camera. Like a very loyal dog was my K-1000. He had no fancy bells and whistles. Just the basics, manual focus, manual aperture, manual speed, and a very simple light meter. We saw a lot together. I once shot over 200 pictures at an airshow at Falcon field. I climbed mountains.
I took a photography class with him. I made a few "effects" pictures.

I took him with me when we went shooting in the desert.
When Santa Claus came to town, He was there.
He went with me on vacations.

He was there when my sisters got carried away.

I even took him on my Honey Moon.
But alas it was not to last. After many years of good services his light meter stopped working correctly and, I moved on to other more "Fancy" cameras and eventually to digital. He languished unused floating about in my "Man Cave". Now he has gone off to live a new life. Last Friday I sold him on Ebay. He is on his way to live with Sam Wright of Chico California.
I will miss him.