The vehicle GPS shows a lot of forest roads. Apparently the Forest Service has been letting many of them go back to their native state. During last week’s trip to the North Kaibab Forest, for example, I had a plan to photograph a special spot at dusk and dawn. I wanted a nearby dispersed campsite (informal spot in the forest) so I could walk there and so my husband could try to go back to sleep in the morning. The fictitious roads are something of a disappointment. I settled for a longer distance to walk.
The flipside is that these used-to-be roads make very nice hikes. They’re a route through the forest which minimizes bushwhacking. Lemonade.
Speaking of walking, I was recently reminded of an expression attributed to Brooks Jensen, “PBWA,” or photography by walking around. It is, among other things, an antidote to obsessive planning. I love it. The idea is to put myself in a target-rich environment in good light and just see what I can find. It’s a sort of meditation, fun, and often leads to more original compositions than planning the Grand Landscape [capitalization deliberate] shot at a famous place.
Since Marco has finished building our house, he’s got more time for family travel. Last week the two humans and Gypsy the Wonder Dog packed into the van and explored. I had a whole list of roads from Google Earth to choose from. So cool. I enjoy the reconnoitering, but the other two really need it – they have about the same level of ADD. So, we settled into a routine of exploring in the morning, then making camp and hiking in the afternoon. There is usually also time for a nap before sunset.
He's handy for the technical-mechanical stuff. I was nervous about airing down our tires for the dirt roads, but he assured me that we wouldn’t mess up the tires, and it did tame the washboard surfaces and the abundant potholes. I might not have installed that fancy vehicle-mounted compressor if left to my own devices. Let’s face it, he does all the fixes and upgrades. Lucky me.
Summer in the forest is particularly nice for flowers and mushrooms. We found lots of those walking around. Things are green and wet up there; a good monsoon season is a beautiful thing.
We had five nights, and the forecast suggested that our best chances for good clouds and storm activity on the rim were the first and last nights. The other three nights we stayed in the interior of the forest. We did OK, but the one rip-roaring hailstorm happened outside the forecast when we were tucked into a cozy meadow. So it goes.
When you travel off-grid often, work comes up. There are not too many places with a reliable service, even with our signal booster. As much as we’d like to unplug completely, part or our morning routine is to go grab some phone time if we weren’t connected overnight. There was even an afternoon when I set up to do some Rotary grants work in the van. It felt good to get it done, and I got a chuckle out of the mobile office.
I’m looking forward to some fictitious road fall color in the Kaibab soon.
More images from this adventure are in the Summer 2022 Gallery on the website.