Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, hiking our hearts out!

On Monday, we entered the enchanted world of the Superstition Mountains, close to a town called Apache Junction in the Sonoran Desert. We are camping at Lost Dutchman State Park. Don't the names sound like they were borrowed from a wild west novel?
The superstition mountains in the background.
We've been bicycling around the trails here, pulling Eva in the bike trailer.
Eva is a little bit scared of the poky cacti.
I hope my kids are not sick and tired of me aahhh-ing and ohhh-ing over the beautiful scenery. I just feel so blessed to be immersed in all this wild beauty. Kai and Lukas write in their travel journal every night, but they don't write about beaches, valleys, canyons, or famous national park landmarks. They write about what we had for breakfast that day (“Granola again, drats.”) or what I cooked for dinner (“Mommy made tuna and egg casserole, can you believe it?”). Even though the boys are not openly gushing like their Mama, they seem to enjoy themselves.
This family is getting sunburnt, and oh, do we love these sunburns! No pale, pasty, doughy complexion from Marblemount winter weather, no, no! Instead, we sport rosy complexions and sun-kissed cheeks. What's not to love?

These guys are tall!!!!
Steve lugging Eva around...
Sunset colors.  Too bad my batteries died!
I keep feeling emotional about this road trip, in a really, really good way. We get to spent time as a family, we get to make awesome memories together. We get to decide spontaneously where we will sleep that night, or which road we will take the next day. No plans, no schedules, no chores (except the cooking, of course, but I take joyful pride in making healthy, home-cooked meals in the RV).
I am kind of waiting for things to fall apart. After all, we are spending all our time together in a relatively small RV, day and night, night and day. We have managed great so far, and we have settled into a RV routine of sharing a small space. Eva goes to bed much later than usual, but even that works out fine. Even with only ten hours of sleep at night instead of her customary 12 or 14, she rarely melts down. She is made for this traveling life, it seems. Must be the gypsy genes from my side of the family!

The Superstition Mountains are – you guessed it – superlative. They loom in the back of gigantic cacti, spires jutting every which way and caves beckoning to be explored. We climbed up a mountain today, which rewarded us with a jaw dropping view of many other surrounding mountains and a killer sunset. Just as the sun started to dip behind the mountains in the distance, my camera battery died, and I missed some amazing shots. If it weren't for a certain family member who dropped my real camera in the salt water while attempting a hand stand in the ocean, I could show you that I am not lying about the beauty of the sunset.
That night, we didn't have any hookups at our primitive RV site. Instead, we had a view to die for out of every single window, and we planned on running the generator and the gas heater instead of being plugged into the grid with our efficient little electric heater. The problem was that we were not allowed to run the generator after 9pm, and that our propane heater didn't work without the generator! We are still in a very uncommon cold spell for this area. It was a very, very cold night. (An old timer told us that this day broke the record for the lowest “high” daytime temp in Arizona's history.)  I got up at 5am, and the temperature in the RV was 34 degrees. In order to heat up the RV, I baked brownies at 6:30 am. It heated up our little house enough to get us by until 8am, when we were allowed to run the generator again to plug in the electric heater. The kids loved waking up to the smell of brownies!

On Tuesday, we went for a hike up a mountain called “Flatiron”. Steve carried our heavy three year old Eva half way up. Steve is skinny, but strong as an ox. Strong, muscular and wiry. We all had lunch in a sunny spot, and then Steve and Eva went back down, while Kai, Lukas and I pushed up to the top. It was very, very beautiful, very, very cold, and very, very scary. There was a lot of scrambling through a steep, rocky canyon called “Siphon Draw”, and some exposed cliffs. I kept thinking to myself, “I can't believe I'm taking my kids up here.” But they were up for the adventure, although we were all very nervous about it. I think it's good to be out of our comfort zones every now and then, and this hike definitely qualified as such an occasion! The views and bonding between the three of us were worth it! We took turns talking each other through our fear, cheering each other on, reminding ourselves to be slow and careful, holding hands every now and then. I love these boys!

This is how far Steve and Eva went.  The boys and I headed further up by ourselves.
The view from above.
The boys kept saying, "If we survive this hike, we will be nice to each other from now on."

We scrambled up this rock canyon, and up, up, up from there.
Sheer drop offs.  Our stomachs were queasy.
See how crazy I look?  What kind of crazy Mama would drag her kids up here?
On the way down, there was a lot of sliding on our butts.

The hike was worth it.  The boys told me that this is the greatest adventure they ever had!

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