The PTV carries us northward up Highway 17 toward Flagstaff.
The crew and I are on our way to Lake Mary Road which will takes us southeast to Upper and Lower Lake Mary, and eventually Mormon Lake. There’s a more direct route but it looks questionable on the map and even my GPS doesn’t recommend it.
We stop for gas and pay $3.99 a gallon.
Three miles further and it’s selling for $3.89 a gallon. Of course. That doesn’t dampen my spirits. It’s a sunny, bright, and perfectly cool day. Spike and Bridget are excited about having an adventure. I do believe they can tell the difference between a long, boring drive and an excursion for fun.
Our first stop along Lake Mary Road is Canyon Vista Campground.
As soon as the crew scrambles out of the PTV, huffing and puffing and making a ruckus, I quiet them down and walk them through the gate. The camp host is puttering around his motorhome and greets me with a hearty hello.
He’s happy to answer my questions about Canyon Vista.
“Is there a canyon vista?” I ask.
“Sure. Keep going straight through the campground.”
I notice signs that say dogs must be kept on leashes on the trails. Of course, it isn’t long before I see three young people with four large, unleashed dogs. The crew is behaving very well and I’m proud of them as we walk up the trail to the overlook. Canyons are not my favorite thing, so we don’t make the steep descent to its floor. It being Sunday there are a lot of visitors here. I can hear their voices rising up out of the canyon.
On the way back to the PTV, Spike and Bridget make the acquaintance of a happy canine.
Next we approach where Upper Lake Mary usually is but isn’t now.
It’s a big, grassy field. I guess it fills up during monsoon season in late summer. Further on down the road Lower Lake Mary comes into view. I pull over at the first opportunity and take some photos, but it’s not a good place to get out with the crew. We find a better place where people are fishing along the shore and in boats. As soon as the crew is on the trail to the water, I let go of their leashes.
Spike sees the water and takes off!
He doesn’t wander down to the water’s edge and decide to wade a bit. He trots with a mission in mind: I will soak in that water! Nothing or no one can stop me! Over the rocks he goes and immediately plops down in the water. I don’t know why but this always makes me laugh. He did this at our first camp back in Texas in August and at every opportunity since them. What a guy!
After Spike’s dip, the three of us eat our picnic lunch at the water’s edge.
I brought an extra thick turkey and cheese on rye so I have plenty to share. When it’s time to leave, Spike is like a little kid and stalls around the water’s edge. Bridget is right at my heels, of course. Finally Spike sees that we’ve left him and we’re almost all the way up the slope to the PTV, so he hurries to catch up.
Back on the road I notice several Coconino National Forest roads branching off from Lake Mary Road where people can camp.
Some of the roads are closed off due to mud. Mormon Lake is a disappointment. It’s not much more than a puddle in an enormous marshy field. While parked in a pull-out, I take a few photos while the crew sniffs around at my feet. The camera is acting funny. I can’t get it to focus. It makes a strange noise and dies.
“Time to go home, guys!”
Once back at our campsite, we crash on our new quilt and nap together. Later, after supper, I make a campfire. As I sit by the fire with Bridget in my lap and Spike at my feet, surrounded by tall pines, I think about the places we saw on our excursion. This is the best camping spot I’ve seen all day, right here in Willard Springs.