Camping with Suzi

Join me as we discover camping in our national forests.


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Campground artwork



A young camper’s artwork at Red Bluff campground.  I agree with the thought.

What’s your idea of a perfect campsite?



My idea of the perfect campsites:  A creek to sing me a lullaby at night and the racket of a dozen birds to wake me.

Find yours at US National Forest Campground Guide

Pretty country for a flat tire

We had scheduled a long day of driving after leaving the FMCA Rally in Farmington, NM.  But Murphy had other plans.

During our departure check, we discovered one of the Suzuki’s tail-lights wasn’t working.  After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting we realized we have a broken prong on the motorhome-car connector.  Need a new connector to fix that so it will have to wait.

Several hours later, P-O-P!  Flat tire on our driver’s side rear tire.  We found a wide place on the shoulder, called our Roadside Assistance, and waited.  We were on US Hwy 550, milemark 32, on the Zia reservation.  Trying to explain  to someone in the east about distance to someplace in a western desert is a challenge but we did and they got it.  I made our lunch and about the time we were done eating, help had arrived.  (The first estimate was in 3 hours – glad Roadside Assistance found someone closer.)   In less than two hours, we had had a flat tire, made contact with help, had lunch, replaced our tire and was on the road again.  Of course, the flat tire needed to be replaced so we spent at least half a day getting that done, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quickness of the process.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were stuck in the middle of this:

Looking east

Looking west


FMCA Rally continues

Here are some of the things we did at the FMCA Rally:

Ain't she a beauty?!?!?

Ain’t she a beauty?!?!?

Dani, our Golden Retrieve, got an Honorable Mention as a “Crowd Pleasers” in the Rally’s Pet Parade. Nobody noticed Ralf but he knows he is still my boy.


Friday was the “Chapters Fair” were representatives from all the chapters promote themselves. Some took a low key approach while a few, like the Cowboys from Wyoming, really made a big effort.

sign-2 sign-1

These are two of my favorite signs seen at the Rally.

Sweeping application is best.

Sweeping application is best.


I put the fire out all by myself!

I think there were a total of 42 “seminars” presented at the Rally.  One Fred and I attended was on fire safety.  Very interesting.   Two things I learned: Don’t stand to close – a wide, sweeping application is better and more effective than a steady stream in one place; and, practice, even it is only in your mind, is the better than being surprised and panicked.


Saturday saw the end all the fun with the Chugwater Band closing the Rally. I know we had a good time and I think others did, too.


Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Rally

What an amazing, interesting, informative, exhausting, and fun week we had. Here are some photos from the Rocky Mountain Region’s Family Motor Coach Association’s Rally in Farmington, NM.

The organizers were hoping for more than 325 rigs attending but horrible winds kept many away.

On US 491, the wind, not wildfire, blocks view of mountains

On US 491, the wind, not wildfire, blocks view of mountains

Looking north on US 491, dust not rain.

Looking north on US 491, dust not rain.

Looking to the east from US 491, all is clear

Looking to the east from US 491, all is clear

But to us it seemed like there was a huge crowd in attendance anyway. The non-Class A RV, like ours, got lost in the many motor coaches and Class A rigs.


We did two presentations (FMCA called them “seminars”) on National Forest Campgrounds around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Here the photo of the first one. Our second seminar was scheduled for the same time as the Rally’s “BBQ by the River” event so attendance was a lot less. Doesn’t matter. Both groups were super and we appreciate them.

lecture-2 lecture-1


Another week on the road


Dani’s mode of travel. Note she does have on a harness so if, there are any sudden movement, she is safe.


Gas prices continue to increase.  $3.49 in Arizona and $3.89 in New Mexico.


One must be always be alert when traveling on a rural roads.


Our campsite at Mesa campground in the Gila National Forest. Located north of Silver City, NM and overlooks the little 72 acre Lake Roberts.


Here is a sign in Mesa campground’s bathroom.  Note the second line.  It is true!  The rocks you can collect around the lake will explode if heated in a campfire.  And the rock projectiles can do serious damage to anyone or thing in its way.


On the road – again


First stop for gasoline was in Tucson, AZ.  $3.26 per gallon.  Probably won’t see gas this cheap in a long while.  This is a newer Pilot Truck Stop (I think it was Exit 269) and is across from the TTT truck stop – one of the older truck stops in town.  For tips on how the stretch your gas dollar, click here.


 AZ Rt 79 – a long stretch of empty between Florence and Gold Canyon, AZ.  It is a fairly typical landscape for southern Arizona once you get off the I-10.   It is easy to lose focus so now is the time to find a radio station you can sing along with or start a conversation on solving problems in the Middle East such as crime in St. Louis or the drop-out rate in Chicago’s high schools <G>.  Whatever it take to stay alert.

Tent camper can browse hundreds of articles about enjoying the outdoors, find bunches of checklists, and get tip from outdoor experts at Learn at REI.

Campers using any size or type of recreational vehicles (RV) will find RVTravel’s YouTube channel loaded with great insight and useful information.

Fulll hookup sites at Salt Springs cg

Lost Dutchman State Park – alternative to Tortilla campground

During our stay at Lake Dutchman State Park, two features I enjoyed every day were the hiking trails and the number of birds.

The hiking trails ranged from super easy short connecter trails that linked various links to lung busting, thigh screaming trails and a few in between. The array of trails allowed me great variety in morning walks with Ralf and Dani and satisfying challenges in afternoon walks with Fred.

top of Treasure Loop trail

top of Treasure Loop trail

Although there wasn’t a reliable source of water to attract any feather friends, each time I was out and about, the sounds of birds in the surrounding shrubs and sudden darts of color confirmed this is a bird-friendly environment.  (Hope I’ve identified the birds in these photographs correctly.)

Cactus wren atop a Saguaro

Cactus wren atop a Saguaro


Another cactus wren on cholla

Another cactus wren on cholla

Phainopepla on a Jojoba bush

Phainopepla on a Jojoba bush

Maybe a warbler

Maybe a warbler


Bottomline is, until the Tonto National Forest re-opens Tortilla campground, Lost Dutchman State park will be our campground of choice.

Coloring Book to download

Yellow Perch – one of the main fish in Upper Klamath  Basin

There is a line in one of the Holiday songs that exclaims,  “Mom and Dad can’t wait for school to start again.”  Well, the children may be back in school but the weather isn’t the type to make my children would want to go outside and play.  Doing some craft project was always a hit a around my house on days when it was just too yucky to go outside.  However, my “go-to” alternative (especially on those really busy days) was a box of crayons and a coloring book.   Splash into Upper Klamath Basin, courtesy of the Klamath National Forest (CA), is a coloring book about the Basin’s fish.  Download a copy or two and pass out when you need some quiet time.  Hope it helps entertain your children for a while.  (Also good for when you need the children to stay put while setting up camp.)

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