My son Jeremy and I planned a trip to the cabin on a weekend that started out normal with the winter months not far ahead. It would be a great time to do a little trout fishing now that the water temperatures are cooler which brings the trout up closer to the surface. They are also a little friskier and aggressive in taking baits. On this trip we pulled the canoe trailer with our 1987 Nissan Maxima. I loved that car and appreciated all the service it gave our family over the years. Carol drove it for several years and then passed it along to Chad. He liked it so much he bought it and took it to San Diego and then up to San Francisco in a job change. In San Francisco he learned how unnecessary a car was, so he sold it back to me. But this trip has Jeremy behind the wheel with a fresh, learners driving permit in his pocket. We decided to head up through Globe/Miami area and through the Salt River Canyon. This is a little shorter and quicker route than going up through Payson.
Jeremy was probably a little comprehensive on his first road trip and having the trailer in tow was a little unique for first time cross country traveler. But there we went, heading east to Apache Junction then south to Florence Junction and then east again on the winding mountain road to the mining towns of Superior, Miami, Claypool and Globe. Jeremy was doing great and did not need much instruction. Passing semi tractor trailer rigs were a little tense for me, but J J handled it well. The sun had set by the time we traveled over the Queen Creek Steel Trestle Bridge and through the tunnel. He had to continue the traditional “blowing the horn” ritual in chorus with other motorists. Why do we do that? Well anyway, we popped out of the tunnel into spectacular Devils Canyon. It was dark but you could see the bottom of the rock spires in the headlights as we swept around the curves running parallel to the creek bed below.
After a short stop in Globe, we headed east toward the Salt River Canyon. In the night time, the Canyon looses its vastness and the sheer cliffs that drop as much as 1,000 ft. to the river are not as intimidating to a young driver as would be experienced in daylight hours. This was a good thing for Jeremy and me. Out of the canyon we climbed into the cedars then the ponderosas, signaling we are getting close to Show Low, the gate way to the White Mountains. Once we hit Show Low, we had a slow drive to Lakeside, Pinetop, and then finally, the turn off toward Pinetop Lakes . Five hundred yards to the east, we picked up our little forest road heading to Sky Hi Retreat and to the co-z.y cabin waiting there for us to bring life to it. Well I should say bringing more life to it, as we can always count on having at least one giant wolf spider in the kitchen sink, at least a half dozen large moths flying about and a few wasp that came in through a crack in the floor to escape the cold autumn temperatures outside.
Well there it was, pretty much like we left it. We unlocked the arcadia door, turned on the water and electricity. The wolf spider made is showing and did not disappoint. Fortunately the rest of the welcoming party did not show. We built a little fire in the corner fireplace that my Dad built years ago. I helped him work on it, but didn’t have any idea what I was doing other than lending assistance to lift this, hold that and help supporting the large pieces during the bending process. He did a great job and it worked terrifically. Now the cabin was warming up a little, it was time to hit the sack.
It was Halloween weekend. I remembered it well. Not for the Tricks or Treats, but for an annoying advertisement on the local White Mountain radio station we had tuned in. I don’t remember what they were trying to sell. I think it might have been Taco Bell and a give away that sounded like it was an eye ball on a straw. One thing I knew for sure, that was a terrible commercial. The acting was horrible and background screaming for a scary effect that was more irritating than ghoulish. That was the good part. The bad part was that they played this spot every fifteen minutes. So our only relief was to turn down the volume and grin and bear it, and bear it, and bear it, and bear it a I I I I I weekend long. Morning came early like it does everyday, but this time we were up to see it. We were excited to get up, get dressed, grab a bite to eat and get on with another great Arizona adventure.
With the morning sun shinning on the meadow in front of the cabin, we could see scatterings of the remaining snow from an early storm the week before. In the shade of the pines, the snow was a little more prominent and will last several more days.
We decided to head to an area just below Honda (originally called Indian Pine) on the road heading toward the North Fork of the White River. But as usual, when we fish the Indian Reservation, we always had to stop at the gas station and connivance store to get our one day fishing permits. This was money well spent when considering the upkeep on these great recreation areas require. Jeremy likes to also contribute to the cause by picking out some good snacks to enjoy. With permits, a little junk food and a full tank of gas, we were off for a little stream fishing.
We pulled of the main highway and heading down the winding dirt road to the concrete crossing. This is the junction of North Fork and Williams Creek. There were culverts under the roadway for times when the river was low. When the river would fill from the summer storms or during the snow melts the water flowed over the concrete but sti II allowed cars to cross safely. Summer campers were all gone now, garbage cans and camp fire rings were empty, and the camp sites were clean. This was a great ti me to be here.
We drove along the tree covered jeep trail that made its way to a few fishing holes I wanted to try. Even with low water flows, these pools could produce some nice size trout. As we neared a likely spot to fish we spotted a small pick up truck parked in a little pull out. He flashed his headlights and I stopped the car. At that very moment there was movement in the trees toward this truck. “Turkeys” I whispered to Jeremy. A small flock of turkeys, maybe four or five, moved in and out of the trees and then crossed the road. We watched them meander toward the river, moving away from the truck. We decided to park where we were and get rigged up for a little fishing. As we walked by the little truck, the driver got out. He was an Indian or should I say, a Native American. I told him it was too bad he didn’t have a gun; he could have picked up a great turkey dinner. Just then, he reached in behind the seat of his truck and pulled on a Winchester 30/30. He carefully took aim at the turkeys and squeezed off a round and then another. He hit a least one turkey or maybe two. Well, wasn’t that something. You don’t see that everyday. Indians can hunt and fish anytime on the reservations without license or permit. They can and actually do live off the land when the opportunity presents itself. After that excitement, we did a little fishing, but without any success. But the experience was memorable.
We prepared a little lunch out of the ice chest, finished off Jeremy’s snacks and then decided headed back to the cabin to putt around, do a little clean up & repair, have a little supper and plan the next day’s outing. The next morning we headed out a little later in the day than the morning before. We slept in longer that we wanted to, but I don’t use an alarm clock or wear a watch when we are up in the pines. Our daily agenda was pretty loose. We had been dragging the canoe around on the trailer for two days and the bottom was sti II dusty and longing for water. We decided to head up toward the small lakes near Highway 260. Off we go.
The snow was even more prevalent as we drove east past Honda and McNary. As a matter of fact there was a SUV down an embankment that a tow truck was heading toward to recover it. It must have been there several days and they were now just able to retrieve it. It did not look too badly damaged, but just in a difficult spot. As we pulled up to A 1 Lake we noticed that the road was snow packed but we decided to try to get to the waters edge and put the canoe in for a little fishing. The Maxima has front wheel drive with the motor weight up front and has traveled nicely through snow before. There were two vehicles with four wheel drive parked near the perfect spot to launch . I figured if I would happen to get stuck on the way down, then they would have to help get me out before they could leave. We went for it. As we started down the slope, the car was not responding to my steering commands as hoped for, so I decided to back the trailer up into a cleaning near a camp site, just far enough to get this rig headed back to the highway. It almost worked except for the fact that pushing the trailer and the weight of the car up hill backwards was asking a little too much. We were kind of stuck, half jack knifed in the road and tires spinning in the snow. My theory of having help downhill worked. The fishermen were evidently too cold and were packing up to head out. One obstacle was in there way. So there they came with the help we were looking for and counting on. It turned out to be an easy rescue. They saw my plan and agreed to lean on the right fender while I spun the tires backwards. The combination of these two actions allowed them to push the cars front end sideways over the snow with the help of the spinning tires. In a matter of a few minutes, Jeremy and I were leading the way out to the 260. We waved and thanked the men for their help and headed further east to see if we could find another adventure. Or should I say another adventure would find us?
As we headed toward the Big Lake turnoff, we noticed that all the side roads were snow packed. So we continued east toward Greer and maybe have a chance to fish there but the conditions were the same so we headed toward Springerville. There were a few lakes on the Little Colorado I wanted to check out. By the time we hit Springerville, it started to snow. One the way to the lake it became a “white out”. I could not see to continue. I turned around and headed back to Springerville at a very slow rate of speed. Then as we headed toward Show Low, we fortunately got behind a sixteen wheeler and stayed on his tail all the way in. We knew we were getting close to Show Low when the radio signal came back in and there was that terrible commercial blaring again. The snow had stopped falling and the streets were clear. It was time for celebration. We decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner at a real restaurant, Burger King. For some reason Taco Bell came to mind but the thought was dreadful.