My brother, S, paid a visit to M & I in AZ, and because he's such a thrill-seeker, we wanted to plan a day of pure adventure in his honour. You know, mountains, streams, nature - the whole nine yards. M suggests that we go to the Verde Hot Springs. They are only just a little over an hour away from our house if we take the highway, but we decide that we should go the must scenic way possible to allow for ample photo opps. Organized as ever (?!), M looks up a couple different maps on the internet, as well as some testimonials/hiking logs from people who've already made the trek via the Great Western Trail -- a 3000 mile stretch of back road used back in the day for running cattle, stretching from Mexico all the way up to Canada. These testimonials detail not only how to drive there, but special things of note along the way we should look for. According to them, we have only to travel along the Great Western Trail for about 60 miles, before we come to Verde River. From there, it's a mile and a half hike to find the natural hot spings. With bathing suits on, we prepare for our day, anxious to sit in "Mother Nature's hot tub". Remote and peaceful... surrounded by forest and mountains... Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!
We trade our brother-in-law (who lives nearby) our Accord for his Infinity sport utility, then stop at the grocery store for picnic fixin's including sandwiches, chips, pickles and water. We're pumped. We're optimistic. We're set. We hit the road by 9:30am.
It's not long before we crack into the potato chips (the other
breakfast of Champions), and our camera's are in our laps ready to shoot. We get off the highway and when we run out of pavement, we know we've hit the Great Western Trail. M and I had drove this once before, so we were excited to see S's reaction to the breathtaking scenery. The road is immensely bumpy and gravely and narrow to boot, so the journey is not too quick. S's shoulders begin to slump, and he grows unusually quiet. Seems he has not grown out of his motion-sickness I remember from our childhood (or was it the 2 pitchers of beer from the night before?). We are forced to stop several times along the way for him to, er, well... you know. Poor guy. I pull an ice pack from our cooler and instruct him to hold it to the back of his neck to quell the nausea.
We see an old cattle pen (doesn't sound exciting I know, but trust me, it looked very photo-worthy) and decide to stop to take some pictures, and give S's stomach a break from the road. M asks S if he would like to take in some target practice. S, always a trooper, is totally game, and the boys begin to take turns taking shots.
I beg them to not shoot any objects that could cause ricochet, (god, I am so afraid of ricochet) and then go look for a remote spot to.... ahem... tinkle
...to be continued