We needed a quick getaway from it all. We wrapped things up Friday night to hit the road Saturday morning. The idea is a cruise and a campout in the cool mountains. We felt the need to do something for the Solstice World Naked Hiking Day, even a day late.
As we gas up on the outskirts of the Tucson area, DF volunteers to drive for a while. I happily agree. As DF goes into the store for last minute refreshments, I wipe windows wearing my wrap-around kilt.
On the road again, kilt off. DF drops her mini dress to her waist to better enjoy the ride into the White Mountains.
I realize that this may be the first time that I have not been the driver in all of these years. My eyes are being treated to so many new sights along this familiar road. Yucca are in bloom, stretching very tall as they line the two lane road out near the town of Oracle with grand white plumes.
The local copper mines have grown, their tailings falling as a hillside, encroaching on the desert more and more as time has gone by through the years.
As we drive up the highway past Kingman, I can look down and see that the Gila River is running high from the winter rains. The popular tubing spot is not busy, today. We decide that we will be tubing it during midweek nude, someday. The activity is notorious for sunburns. We’ll have to prepare.
I’m intrigued by the sights. I reflect back and I’m stunned that I can recall no time that I have not been the driver up this winding road during the decades. There is much to see. Much is new to me. I see a strip of red rock above on a mountain. It wanders through as if a huge can of ruby red spray paint has decorated it. For once, I can take my eyes off of the winding road and ponder the geology.
There are many miles, of open and remote territory. There would be little problem to wander nude out here. I look for trails and dirt roads as we drive through on the snake walk highway. Perhaps, one day I’ll explore these mountains when the seasonal temperatures place our nude hiking in the desert again. Today, we climb high into the pines to escape the heat.
An Early Luncheon:
We continue and are past the half way point, Globe Arizona, when DF is getting hungry. We begin to look for a resting place to consume a couple of sandwiches. While I’m looking for a familiar pull off, we happen across a place called Jones Water Campground. It is down off and below the road in a riparian area that lies just under the highway a hundred feet or so.
We find trees, shade, picnic tables, and lush growth. In all of these years I haven’t happened on this place. My old habits around what I know, have limited my exploration. It is good to get out of driving with a goal and be open to any blessings that may come. I get out and wander around, while DF gathers the sandwich lunch under the shade of a cottonwood.
It is quiet here, except the sound of the occasional car up above on the highway. The traffic has been light during the whole of the trip, so far.
I find a few picnic tables in another location. There is enough vegetation and the highway this day feels so quiet, that I feel little risk of being discovered nude in the public area. As I return, I find DF wandering about taking photos.
She has discarded the sundress that had been wrapped around her waist during the drive so far.
We do a quick duel with cameras, and then take an inquisitive look at a huge climbing vine covering old trees. It is unusual to us. Arizona is not a Kudzo place, but the vines have engulfed the old cottonwood.
Two crows are calling out in harmony. They are like the double horn blast of a diesel truck, not a pleasant sound, but harmonious just the same.
We wander and stretch as we eat delicious sandwiches. There is still only occasional noise coming from the road up above us.
I hear the wind coming through the trees. At first we think that it might be the sound of a vehicle joining us. Listening further, I see the trees above to the south in movement. A light gust is coming, stirring up the vegetation high above. Tree by tree, it travels to us, around us and our bare bodies and continues on after a short greeting.
The meal completed, we climb in to pursue our trip once more. DF has decided to continue to do the driving. I notice that the sundress is now comfortably under her elbow on the console. We will both be in full carnude mode. We have left that other world with its stress behind.
DF tells me an anecdote from her woman’s group meeting. As she and the hostess skinnydipped, soaking in the swimming pool, they were all sharing in turn something that gives them pleasure. It was a social exercise, or a party game. She shared with them about how she loved being freely naked as she was right then. She went on to tell them about carnuding. They all laughed.
“It is a thing,” she explained.
“You really do that?”
“Yes,” it’s liberating.”
I notice how the pinion pine forests have been getting thicker through the decades. I see several hawks in the skies. I note that I have seen many hawks in the skies, during the last week, or so. All of the hawks have been white hawks. I take that as a good omen.
Through Town and Out to the Forest:
Just before Show Low (Yes, named after a poker game in a bar), she tells me that she has had enough driving. We switch on the side of the road, during a short lull in traffic.
We see signs proclaiming a great biker rally, sponsored by the Hon-dah Indian Gaming Casino, which is on the other side of the string of towns thriving on summer visitors. Curiously, all during the half hour drive through the series of towns, we see no motorcycles.
We pull into the casino parking lot and park amongst the mass of cars. The outdoor stage is being set up for a concert. There are only maybe a dozen colorfully dressed people in mostly black, standing in the parking lot. I pull into a quiet spot back near the edge of the hubbub. While I do some last minute business on the cell phone, DF searches for an elusive restroom, and then we’re both again naturally dressed and off through the reservation and on into the National Forest.
As we wander through the mountain forest, groups of bikers finally begin to show in packs. There are all varieties of motorcycles, from custom Harleys to three wheeled plastic Japanese things. As we near our turnoff, we see that they have mostly been up to the Apache ski lodge. They are heading back for the music.
We are heading into the National Forest to Carnero Lake and a familiar area. We have to find our low-riding Honda Civic an accessible road and our souls seclusion. I have a lighter pop up tent in case we have to walk a bit, packing into the forest from the car, but we hope to more, or less, car camp.
DF is a still nursing her broken toe. We may not get very far. I might be inclined to a solo hike while she stays off of her foot.
A Familiar Feeling:
I remember a place from back when I came here for the 1998 Rainbow Gathering. It is near the lake, but maybe not too near. We take the road about eight miles to the lake, looking for potential campsites on the way. The plan is to reach the lake to gather bearings, turn around and find the old campsite area.
As we pull through the deeply wooded forest, the afternoon sun is beaming through the canopy. There are many cars tucked in amongst this. The road opens out into a parking lot at the lake. Along the way, we encounter many campers, families with fishing poles and walkers out for an afternoon’s stroll. We drape our clothing over ourselves, so as not to create a stir. As they walk about, they are able to look down into our little car.
After we escape the populous, I take a turnoff and carefully drive the low riding car through on a rough forest road. We are stopped by a deep hole. It would be a pond with mud, but this is a dry June day. We try a bypass, but are stopped again.
We get out and scout for a spot to camp. There is something familiar about this. I’m pretty sure that this was where I pitched the tent back in ’98.
As we wander in the forest in search, I see another camper through the trees. He would have seen this naked man, but for the luck of a low evergreen bush at waist height. It is too close to set up camp.
Further investigation shows me another, fainter bypass, near the hole in the road. This leads us to a good site.
It is level, and grassy. Near, is an upward slope covered with several types of coniferous trees with a few stalks of white aspen in the shadows. There is sun and there is shade. The ground is covered with several species of flowers in various colors and shapes.
I pitch the small easy tent on a patch of grass cushion. DF creates a kitchen, setting the stove on a short stump.
There is a chilly breeze crossing the region. The forest, as a windbreak, is helping to cut it. Still, we are beginning to find a light wrap comfortable, as the sun falls in the western sky. A couple of chairs are directed toward the forest. Behind us it opens out into a large meadow. Through the trees, we can see the blue waters of Carnero Lake, but not too close.
There are flowers of many kinds, wild iris, big yellow daisies, little white daisies, lavender daisies, all among fluffy green grass.
I count five species of trees and ten distinctive flowers.
After a curried dinner, the sun gets more in our eyes, we are sitting in our folding chairs, dressed in just shirts, and our backs are to the road. An extremely quiet white Mercedes SUV is making its way toward us on the rutty road.
They stop near us. “Excuse me,” a dark dreadlock haired woman is leaning out of the window. “Have you seen a group of people around here. We’re supposed to meet them.”
“There are lots of people by the lake, just a little further on the main road. That’s probably them.”
These are the last visitors of the day. There had been a jeep when we had just arrived here. I had had a kilt on at that time. This place will work out.
A sunset, we take a walk out into the open field. The air is chilling.
A wildfire many miles out west shows us its smoke.
We wander back to camp. DF needs to rest that foot.
It is early, when we opt for the warmth of the cozy tent. A solar lantern behind our heads illuminates a collection of colorful old Sunday funnies. As we lie on our new camping pads and under our goose down quilt, we each take on character’s voices and take turns reading aloud. Acting out our parts, DF gets the females. I get the males, small kids, old men, and fathers.
One section is from Father’s Day. It is exceptional. We find ourselves laughing out loud together.
One last trip outside reveals very bright stars in the dark night sky. The moon won’t appear until after midnight.
We will sleep as long as we need to.
In a few days, I’ll post our excursion into the woods and meadows to the site of the Rainbow Gathering.