Our day started out great. I woke up even earlier than our alarm was slated to go off, and that gave us a nice jump start on our driving for the day. With our head start, we were poised to reach the Bonito Campground in Flagstaff, Arizona by just a little past two o’clock. And then it would be nothing but nature and relaxation. But really, as soon as 2:15 p.m. rolled around, everything went downhill pretty fast. And to be honest, it was anything but relaxing.
Just as we were arriving at the campground, Ryan said to me, “okay, and I turn left here. . .” Which is exactly when I noticed that there was no left turn to be made. The turn was in fact barricaded, and wait. . .was the campground closed? Where was everyone? We had just read reviews from people who had stayed at this very campground last week. And Ryan had called and confirmed that they were still open just yesterday. . .
But yes, they had in fact closed for the season already. There was a ranger nearby who broke the unfortunate news to us. Apparently the campground had decided to shut down for the season just two days earlier. Oh, and they had also very cleverly forgotten to update their phone message to reflect this change. So yes, we had just driven 8 hours to find out that the campground that we were supposed to be staying at for the week was most definitely closed.
Okay, time for Plan B. After driving out of the woods, we took the ranger’s suggestion of the KOA that was down the road a little bit. While it would not be as secluded and as in nature as we were hoping for, it would get the job done. But as soon as we arrived, we received our next piece of bad news. Also just two days prior, Flagstaff had raised their fire warning and banned all campfires in the county. Definitely not a problem for all campers, but since we only cook over a campfire on these camping trips, that was not going to work for us.
So onto Plan C. We both quickly jogged our memories, and recalled that there was yet another campground even further south and closer to Sedona that had sounded nice. We knew that it was a first come first serve campground, and almost an hours drive from where we were, but it was kind of our only hope at that point. But as luck would have it, they were sold out. Yep, apparently all of us Californians are flocking to Arizona to go camping right now as an escape from our heat, and to enjoy those Fall leaves. Great. Just great.
But hope was not lost just yet. The campground attendant informed us of a different campground just two minutes down the road. “Oh thank God. . .” I thought to myself, “. . .we have a Plan D.” Things were really starting to look and feel a little bit dire there for a second, but now we at least had the hope of the Pine Flats Campground.
Well, we had hope until we didn’t. Because yep, you probably guessed it, they were also booked. Now by this time, after several added hours to our drive, my pregnant tummy was very much needing to use the bathroom. So even though there was a sign at the campground stating, “no public use,” I made the silly assumption that they would understand my situation.
And of course, I was totally and completely wrong. While I was using the bathroom, the camp host went over and yelled at Ryan while he sat in the car waiting for me. And then she waited for me to come out of the bathroom, so that she could yell at me too. I sheepishly tried explaining to her that I was pregnant and. . .well, she cut me off with a simple, “I don’t care.”
It was at this point that, heightened pregnancy emotions or not, I sort of felt like crying. What the heck were we going to do? But instead of melting into a puddle of tears, I suggested to Ryan that we head back down the road to Cave Springs, and see if by any chance they reserve a campsite for emergency situations. And while they unfortunately do not, they did apparently have a wait list that the attendant had so cleverly forgotten to mention to us before. And not only did they have a wait list, but the attendant suggested that we sit tight and hang around, because in about an hours time, he was pretty sure that we would be able to get a site. Relief. The light at the end of the tunnel had finally arrived.
Well, one hour turned into two. And by 5 o’clock, after having spent almost 12 hours in the car, we were given the news that there would in fact be no campsite for us. So we tearfully (really just me) drove the hour back to Flagstaff, claimed our site for the week, set up in the pitch black, and ate some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on our sleeping bag.
We’ve experienced all sorts of adventures when it comes to camping – accidentally hiking into backcountry, high winds, snow, a frozen tent, countless problems with getting fires started, bears, bugs, you name it. But this? Well, this really took the cake for us. And I guess that is just part of the adventure of life and of camping. You can plan until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, your best plan is to be flexible, and to go with the dang flow.