Monday, March 28, 2016

Let's Go! {Chevelon Canyon Lake + Campgrounds}

This past weekend we took our monthly expedition to Chevelon Canyon Lake Campgrounds with our whole #McSchutsgeesliketocamp group.  If you read anything about my goals this year you'll know that I wanted to incorporate as much adventure into 2016 as possible so we set out weekends at the beginning of the year to go on weekend camping trips around AZ, and while our plans did change frequently because of sites being booked or variation in expectations we've been good about modifying and heading out of town.  We were supposed to go somewhere else but now I can't even remember where.  I'm a huge believer in everything happening for a reason and life lessons, so there's no doubt to me, that we ended up exactly where we were meant to be.
I wasn't expecting this on the drive in, I have a fear of heights in cars, like hiking I would be fine with this view but I'm terrified someone will drive into us head on or we'll be going to fast and there was no guard rail! But life lessons you know? breathe though the fear, do it anyway and all that motivational inspiring self help.
Once we made it through the 3 hour drive from phoenix, I busted out the caprese sandwiches, we bought presliced mozzarella and I cut the bread at home the night before, tomatoes were done on the spot and balsamic was drizzled on top, I ended up getting that basil plant for the cost of the herbs so I just brought it with us and will plant it in the garden sometime this wee {got pretty cold and a little bit of frost but overall great decision}.
No where in Phoenix had firewood so Macey grabbed some from a neighbor but it needed chopping.  The only problem was we didn't have an ax and our hatchet took a little bit of finesse to get the wood splitting.
Once we finished lunch and wood chopping, we set off exploring.  I found Sonja bow on the way down to the trail and now she's like a little mini Katniss, just need to get her a braid.  We had no ideal how long the trail would be down to the lake, we sort of thought at least 2 miles on the Slow Draw Trailhead but it was only like a 10 minute walk {the real work was on the way back}. It was rocky but as you can see a 5 year old can do it!
View was totally worth it.  Here I am practicing some half lotus tree poses on the rocks, wishing I had a paddle board, but remaining posi in the moment.
Sam and Macey and their baby Frankie.
The other Schutskys and their baby.
a photo series we've been working on.
Frankie was the only one brave enough to get in the ice cold water.
It was not as warm as it looks.  These rocks were very comfortable though.
These girls tossing stone and running around.
Sonja looking for the perfect stone to skip.
Right? Totally worth walking down a hill for.
I just going to leave this right here, feel free to mock Husbands practical joke of facial hair in the comments.  Anyone else's partner think camping is a good excuse to make a mockery of society with their facial hair? just me? okay. good to know.
Poor Vera, it was so warm walking down and then SO COLD once we were by the water. Daddy gave her his jacket and set her in the sun.  Somehow this same girl slept in a single layer with one cover and did not get frost bit during the night, me on the other hand needed 3 rotations of those chemical sticky feet pads to keep me warm enough through the night!
a few of my favorite people.
This little adventurer!
Testing out that little bow.  Actually, a really great find, now we just need to widdle some arrows!
It got really cold once the sun started setting but not a bad view if I do say so myself.
Frankie was cold, don't worry though, her mama wrapped her up like a little burrito puppy.
Campfire comradery.
Husband prepped these skewers at home, and while the fire itself wasn't really great for an even cooking experience, they marinated well enough and cooked {albeit someone crispy in spots} rather well for a first time open flame cooking technique.  Probably won't do this again without coals but definitely a hearty meal for a camping trip.
Oh and also cheeze-its.  No joke, I thought you spelled cheese with a z until at least 6th grade because of these beauties.  We don't really buy them anymore since they're not organic but everyone has exceptions to their rules!
I got a decent photo of the star-scape from the site and you can see so many stars!
but I probably need to invest in a different lens or maybe someone can give me some technical advice, I think it was windy for the tripod but also my f/stop wasn't able to be open for longer than 3 seconds, anyone else using a Mark III 5D shouldn't I be able to leave it open longer or is that a lens thing?
The next morning, I decided to try something from pinterest, I didn't have tongs, {opps} or anything to cook/flip with but I did have wood sticks and you guys I made these orange cinnamon bombs.  Husband was like, "I don't know, how are you going to turn them? How are you going to know when they're done."  I said eff it, threw 'em in and was like guess I'll figure it out when I get there, and you know what?
It worked.  Let that be a lesson, don't ever let the haters tell you that you can't do something {especially something you've seen in a youtube video}, just never give up and you too can have orange peel cinnamon rolls for breakfast too.
Wayne documented my technique in case you need to recreate it safely at home.
and then we all sort of hung out and I drank left over coffee from the day before.  It was a pretty great morning.
Arthur agrees.
I even found a little bit of peace and quite to practice some henna.  too bad my phone died and I couldn't look at any of my favorite artists for references {like @mehndikajoeyhenna@sarahennaseattle or @maplemehndi on instagram} but I did alright.
The girls kept themselves entertained with that bow and some hide and seek.
I don't know if you can really see or appreciate it but I love the geometric texture of the bark of these trees.
  Finally, we broke down our tents and headed on our way, or at least we tried to...
My brother in law's car battery died and no one had jumper cables {because Husband took them out of my car and didn't put them back - although, I'm not sure what the rest of their excuses were. kidding! sort of.}  Thankfully, not only did I marry him for his looks but also his brains, Husband suggested flipping the drained battery on top of the charged/working battery and letting it charge like that for a few minutes {risks included draining the first battery too much, but on the other hand waiting in the woods for at least 2 hours after packing everything up while someone went out to get jumper cables didn't see like much fun either}.  Thankfully, it worked!
And finally we were on the road back to bath tubs and dishwashers.  I love nature and I'm happy to be out and about in it, but I'm not going to take for granted all the modern commodities that help make my life easier in the mean time.  

Ready for the full review?  

Here's some details about the campsite {1 being worst, 10 being best}:
Location {and Distance}: 5
Located about 3 hours away from Phoenix because 30 miles {or an hour} of that was spend doing 20 mph on a fire road and while one of the smoothest fire roads I've ever been on, still a dirt road with little obnoxious vibration {I'm not complaining, just giving you realistic expectations} and not to mention the short section of cliff views {without guard rails!} but totally worth the drive as the site was secluded but we'll talk about that later.
Road: 8
The road from the highway to the campsite was well maintained in a 2 wheel drive vehicle, well managed dirt road a only one section with a bump/jump!
Secluded: 8
Slow Draw Trail-head at Chevelon Canyon Lake Campground was secluded and the spacing between individual campsites was adequate.  If the whole site had been booked it might not have felt that way. but we were only sharing the site with another party diagonal and across from us, plenty of space between us and them.
View: 6
Decent views from places within the campsite, but nothing spectacular from actual site, it was more the walking down to the water that gave this site it's views.
Bathrooms: 6
Vault toilets, recently cleaned and well managed, toilet paper well stocked and locking door.
Campsite Fixtures: 7
All sites at Rock Crossing had a metal link picnic table, grill and fire pit.  There were not any designated spaces for tents but each site had a decent amount of clearing to find a space with minimal rocks or twigs.
Trash, Water and Food: 1
Trash, water and food should always be stored in the trunk where bears, and rodents can not see it or access it.  There was NOT a dumpster on site for disposal of trash.  There were not water facilities near bathroom.  and there was no wild harvesting food nearby.
Animals: 2
We didn't see any animals, on the trail there was a friendly spider and I've heard in the water there are plenty of fish however we didn't try to catch any.
Pets: Yes
Pets were allowed on a leash at this site.
Group Accommodation: no listed limit; 6-8 per site suggested
No limit is listed on the official site, however with the size of the space I think 6-8 people seems reasonable.
Water {lakes, ponds, and oceans}: 8
There was a lake 3/4 mile down into the canyon, man made but pretty and the dam is well hidden so it at least appears to look a little more natural.  Decent decent and incline, my 5 year old was able to hike back up with just moderate to normal complaining.
Well Drained: 10
Our campsite was cleared and well draining, would have been fine for slight rain.
Firewood: 6
We brought a good amount of wood from the neighborhood message board on facebook but it needed to be chopped down a bit {good thing we brought a hachet- although next time probably an ax!} thankfully there was plenty of kindling from the ground around, which is like awesome and scary, forest fires are a little to easy in this dry area! Another nearby site someone had already gathered a bunch of wood but weren't around so we used that too, and we did find a decent amount of small branches nearby as well!
Management: National Forest Services
Campsites were well managed and very clean.
Reservations: 1
first come, first serve, and was not crowded when we arrived around 11:00am or even later on for that matter, although, it was a small site so it might be more crowded in summer months.
Cost and Permits: Free
You read that right. This site is maintained but free! 
Lessons Learned: Bring an ax. Bring coals if planning on using campfire as grill. You can charge a car battery metal to metal {but probs. should just make sure Husband didn't take your jumper cables out of the car for his motorcycle and then forget to put them back}. 

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