In 1983, Carol’ sister Bonnie Pavkov and her husband Ken along with their two sons Mark and Richard came from a small town near Hartford, Connecticut to visit us in Mesa, Arizona. It was the year our youngest son, Jeremy was born and one reason for the trip out west. Their boys, then in later years of grade school, were excited about their first trip to Arizona. On a short drive to the near by town of Carefree, Mark ask his Dad • Are we out west yet?” He was thinking that you would enter an area with cowboys, Indians, horses pulling wagons and a general store for staples. The boys did not expect that out west was a mixture of those things but also saguaro’s, prickly pears, ocotillo, rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, tacos and enchiladas. Yes, they were out west.
Jeremy was too young to appreciate the White Mountains and a stay at the cabin, at that time a mere fishing hut, so he stayed at home with Carol, his sister Heidi and Aunt Bonnie. Ken packed up his boys and I packed up Chad and off we went on a man’s adventure.
On the road Ken & I exchanged fishing stories and other adventures while the boys kept talking about and making jokes about Mr. Walter Reynolds, our neighbor that lived cattycorner from the Fox Street House. Ken and I just about left the boys in Payson after a dinner stop because of their insistence to carry on about Mr. Reynolds. I can’t remember the circumstance, but I do remember being irritated most of the way to the cabin. When the boys were given an ultimatum if they mentioned Mr. Reynolds’s name again, they cleverly came up with a hand signal to form a ·w· for Walter. At least we couldn’t hear it.
Finally we get to the cabin late Friday night. The fresh air was great! The stars are magnificent! Ken swore he heard wolverines, but I didn’t hear anything and I didn’t even think we had them in this area. Ken kept insisting he could hear them and did so most of the evening. I wondered it there was a hidden meaning there. Well anyway, it was great to be up in the mountains surrounded by tall pines, an umbrella of stars, plenty of fresh air with a nice weekend ahead of us. That night we planned a fishing trip to Hawley Lake.
Saturday morning was soon upon us and we were all eager to get going. After a quick breakfast, we packed the gear and boys in the car and headed out. We fished around Hawley Lake for a while with little success so it was time to change the scenery. We decided to go on a short road trip down the back side of the 8,200 ft. mountain to try our hand at creek fishing. I knew we would cross Diamond Creek half way down the mountain and then we would hit the North Fork of the White River at the base of the mountain.
So down we went. The road was in fairly good shape as we started down, but due to the summer monsoon rains that hit just about every afternoon, the roads became a little muddier the further we got from Hawley Lake. Then we hit a logging road that had some dirt humps built in to either shed the runoff away or stop passenger vehicle traffic from going through. Now that I think of it, it’s probably the latter. Well there we were. We didn’t want to turn around but did not know what was ahead of us. We decided to plow forward. Boy was that a poor choice of words. We found that the mounds across the road were getting higher and to get over them I would have to speed up to slide the car over the muddy bump. The boys thought it was fun while Ken and I were refreshing our minds on survival skills in case we get high centered or stuck in the mud here in the middle of nowhere. We did stop to enjoy the sight of a Great Horned Owl sitting on a low branch just off the roadway or should I say pathway? We took a picture even though we know it couldn’t be as impressive as it appears in real life? We stopped one other time to inspect a large. red ant hill. It must have been six to eight feet in diameter and 18″ high and consisted of 1/8″ diameter stones and grains of sand.
Just as we expected, about halfway down the mountain we crossed a small concrete bridge that carried us over the cool. clear water of Diamond Creek. The water flow was ample enough to back up small pools that were just right to fish, so we pulled out the gear and went at it. It wasn’t long before Ken had hooked and landed a trout. We all were excited with Ken but knew if we took it back to the cabin it would not feed this hungry tribe of fishermen, so it was released. Besides, if you release it, the story of the catch and the size of the fish will grow to epic proportions over the years. Should be about six feet long by now!
After Diamond Creek, the drive was easy and we were soon traveling on asphalt paving and speeding back to country civilization.
On the way back we hit right in the middle of the afternoon monsoon rain storm. It rained so hard I had to pull over and wait for it to let up. The monsoon shower doesn’t last long. but they do dump a lot of water. When the rain subsided enough to allow the windshield wipers to do their job, we continued back to the cabin. Upon arriving we couldn’t help but notice that it hod rained so heavily there that the recently placed, 6″ thick cinder drive had two massive ruts washed out all the way down to the rocky base. I loved the monsoon storms even though we usually suspect a little cleanup and maintenance chores when it subsides. With the weekend behind us. we packed up the boys and comping gear and headed home to Mesa. Our next •0ut West” experience was to be with all members of our two families including baby Jeremy. But this would be a desert adventure.