Into the Great Wide Under -> Lava Style

A half-dozen of our hardiest scouts braved cold outside weather (55 degrees overnight!! – yeah!), daily thunderstorms, and even colder inside weather (as low as 42 degrees underground – double yeah!!), as we joined the half of the Valley of the Sun looking for heat relief in the clouds of Coconino Forest – in the forest surrounding Lava River Cave.  The scouts wore helmets (good thing – I hit my head 6 times) and jackets (the aforementioned 42 degrees) and they got an early start being the only ones crawling slowly into the mile long tube formed 700,000 years ago by a flow of molten rock erupting from a volcanic vent.  The top, sides and bottom cooled first, and for a matter of a few more hours the lava river continued to flow until emptying out of the cave that remains.  Getting in is extremely steep, narrow and rocky, but then it opens into quite the wonderland.  After a rousing few hours of exploration, the rest of the Valley was beginning to join us, so it was back out of the cave for an afternoon of doing good deeds, culinary miracles, and hammock Olympics.  It truly was impressive that a couple scouts discovered a sweet, very friendly but confused shepherd mix dog with a broken leash whose owners had gone missing, and spent until well after lunch time with Remington asking everyone they came in contact with if he was theirs.  With no takers, they waited by the entrance until finally his very appreciative owner emerged. The culinary miracles were how absolutely delicious the scout’s dutch oven meals turned out after somehow not managing to bring a number of the original recipe ingredients.  Creativity is ALMOST as good as pre-planning and execution!    The remainder of the day before dinner and an early bedtime was simply putting up, playing with, and talking around a set of hammocks.  Ahhh – the wonderful, simple things in a boy’s life out of doors!

Next month we’ll help staff R-Boo-C again up at Cub Scout camp, with T648 setting up and running a bunch of the scary, slimy booths that the younger scouts enjoy all day Saturday the 7th of October.  Hope to see most of you there!

Downing a box of donut holes before going into the hole
Into the great wide under
The Rogues Gallery of T648 spelunkers
During the day it’s a baby horned toad, last night he had a stick bug sitting there!
This isn’t the way we drew up double bunking
T648 2023 Hammock Olympics
Only in a T648 campout would one find a bass ukulele!

Mogollon Monster of a Backpack

Your T648 7 hardy hikers set off into a high country backpacking outing smack dab in the middle of a record setting Arizona heatwave. We were more than happy to get out of the valley to higher ‘cooler’ elevations, but the locals in Payson were cautioning hikers that it was going to be a record temp of 106 in their fair town, and those of some intelligence might want to reconsider a Saturday hike. Scouts being always prepared, we forged ahead, and simply had the hottest time at Horton Springs this troop has ever had. We started our outing Friday night at-large camping with free range cows lowing in our ears and leaving presents in our midst. Those of us who woke in the middle of the night were treated to star light brilliance unmatched most places, and a meteor shower to boot.

For breakfast there was a short discussion that Mr. ‘Cole’ should start the char-‘coals’ just down the road from ‘Kohls’ Ranch, but an enterprising scout thankfully had the chimney blazing in short order for our getaway Mountain Man Dutch oven masterpiece. Sufficiently fortified, we hiked uphill along the creek and found our favorite campsite unoccupied. The Payson weather dissuaders must have been more successful with other potential backpackers, as there were few other takers for many of the prime creek side campsites along the way. While it was hot in the sun, sunscreen, water breaks, and snacking along the trail made for a magnificent 9-mile hiking day to one of the most exquisite gushing fresh water springs in all the west. And while we were there, we had access to the spring all to ourselves.  An exhausted, but happy group of packers finished a glorious day with some cooling off in the creek, warm canteen replenishment with purified refreshing cold water, jet-boiled dinners, advancement, fine art demonstrations, and a rousing card game (Blueberry Surprise?) by the unused fire pit (fire ban) in our lounge rock chairs.  Amazingly enough, everyone had wrung so much out of the day, that they were off to their tents with daylight still dimming, with the hope for an early exit and a return off the mountain to our most excellent air-conditioned homes, albeit in the Valley of the very hot Sun.

This morning, sure enough one of the scouts was banging on other scouts’ tents shortly after 5AM, and a scout who had struggled on the way up creek the day before was running downhill to the trucks, pack and all.  Can anyone say ‘horses to the barn?’

Another successful T648 trip by any measure!  Stay tuned for an even hotter spot coming up in August – the annual splash-fest at Sedona’s Slide Rock!

The Fab 5 in trip planning mode
Waiting (patiently?) for high altitude Dutch oven breakfast to cook
The outing SPL deftly corralling a young scout’s runaway hat
Ahhhh – his favorite rock lounge chair!
Zorro? No, … Dangerous Dylan!
At the genesis of Horton Creek – the springs
Testing his newfangled Lifestraw
A rousing post-day-hike hand of Blueberry Surprise (BS)
Fortifying for the final push out
100% smiles at the finish line (well, almost)

Return to Camp Geronimo!

Thanks to our beloved Camp Geronimo remaining in the Grand Canyon Council of BSA rather than being sold off as part of the national settlement, this summer our T648 scouts had the opportunity to once again relive troop history in the shadow of the Mogollon Rim. And what an absolutely awesome week it was!

14 men set sail that day for a 7 day tour, a 7 day tour.
Is this a stickup? No, just a stylish T648 withdrawal from the sugar bank!
Deep in the midst of the ‘Blow up Coke bottle’ merit badge’
The dueling boats scene from the Academy Award winning ‘On Brown Pond’
I’m not familiar with the merit badge containing the fine art of stick bending!
We are aware however, that the Geronimo red dirt merit badge includes a hint of archaeology
Lunch! That awesome part of the day when merit badges are over, and open periods begin!!
Troop 648’s Senior Patrol Leader remained fortified all week on the famous cucumber diet
Yes, Mom. T648 scouts actually can, and do clean up after themselves 🙂
With BSA Girl Troops in camp, it was just like they said in Ghostbusters – ‘Dogs and Cats – Mass Hysteria!’ Friday night dinner turned into a song and dance party.
Give boy scouts a board, a rope and some time, and it turns into hours of fun.
T648 history remains perfect at 100% by achieving the ‘Big G with GOLD Recognition’ award for the week!
Geronimo and T648 were blessed with 3 generations of Gingrich scouts and scouters.
Last day of Camp Geronimo, the scouts were running on their last ounce of energy.
Moms and families have had long weeks too – Welcome home T648 scouts, well done!

Not so Petrified to be in the Painted Desert

Us backpackers gonna go find us some rock logs!
But first one last bit of civilization at Payson Starbucks
Reading our morning Newspaper Rock (petroglyphs)
Backpacking in a forest like no other
Wandering the Crystal Forest within the Petrified Forest
Surfing northern Arizona style!
Indian Paintbrush in the Painted Desert
After a day of sand blowing into our tents, a calm sunset on the high desert

Lake Pleasant Family Outing

Lake Pleasant Outing

This was the ‘flexible’ family outing – A core group left as usual from the church on Friday night, but people from our crazy-busy troop came and went to meet their schedules over the next 24 hours. Multiple scouts were taking ACT tests before heading out for the lake, and another scout had to be a handy man in a school play, and still made it out after his character ‘expired’ while falling most dramatically off a ladder. A couple of adults came after working on taxes.  In the end, it was all worth it.  The perfect day consisted of Mountain man breakfast, carrying the canoes down the stairs, down the hill, and then after a quick orientation in the finer points of canoeing, boat races through the west lagoon, followed by boat races to the far point, followed by swamping and righting canoes, and after lunch – more of the same for much of the afternoon.

Funny things heard during the outing:

“If you don’t put sausage in your Mountain Man dutch oven breakfast, it’s not a Mountain Man – it’s more like a Hill Man.”

“That Tik Tok family on the lake with the loud music was here last time! They are here EVERY time.”

“If you can punch yourself in the face, are you strong or weak?”

“I don’t have to practice sleeping in my backpacking tent for Petrified Forest, I’m already a PhD in sleeping.”

“That’s Newton’s law of high school play comedy. The handyman doesn’t fall far from the ladder.”

And an actual useful learning moment also occurred.  Adult leaders were a bit confused upon hearing of an animal encounter.  One scout described how his tent mate got up in the middle of the night and went nose to nose with a coyote, which just stood and stared at him.  Since that didn’t sound quite normal, the adults followed up with the nocturnal scout.  He described the encounter, ending the story with going him nose to nose with a burro, which looked lazily at him until sauntering away.  Turning back to the original scout, he protested ‘coyote, burro – same thing,’ upon which an ‘Animals of the Sonoran Desert’ discussion with this city scout ensued.  Other animal encounters included a magnificent soaring bald eagle, the business end of a skunk – did you know that the stripe is also on the underside of a skunk’s tail?  Now we do too!  And a complete mini-bear (chipmunk/squirrel) family reunion over the breakfast leftover ‘buffet trash bag’ on the scout’s picnic table

It again was simply a spectacular time in our wonderful state’s great outdoors.  This was the first outing led by this boy scout leader, and at times he was frustrated that things didn’t go exactly as he had planned. It of course all came together great, just in a different configuration. One new scout had never camped and never canoed, and throughout the outing, became completely hooked on both, and was dismayed to leave the water for dinner.  An uncle of this new scout, who also happens to be an Eagle Scout, attended with T648 for the first time, and provided our scout leader with feedback that this was the best organized scout trip he had ever attended.  Is it any wonder why Scouting is such a great program?  A boy grows in leadership skills, a new scout becomes totally immersed in the great out-of-doors and the camaraderie of the patrol method, and adults are blessed just to be along for the amazing ride with these maturing young men!

See you in the Petrified Forest!

Rub a Dub Dub, 3 scouts and 3 tubs
Can we bring the lake closer to the parking lot?
Captain Hooked! We love canoeing!
Anticipating the crash before the swamp…
Off to the boat races!
Is this the way to the Soap Box Derby?
Coyote? Burro? Burro = Coyote? Uh, no, not exactly.
Debriefing yet another spectacular weekend T648 adventure via ‘Thorns & Roses’

Lake Mead Bike Outing

Oh no! Chubby’s Subs in Wickenburg was permanently closed, so instead of chicken Phillies, we had Burger King Whoppers, then headed north on Hwy 93 for Boulder Beach until we didn’t. After sitting at a road closure north of town for 1/2 hour we were finally detoured west by the police due to the terrible accident, and we were now faced with getting to Nevada by way of California. We made it to Parker about the time we should have been hitting camp.  We stopped at Running Man Fuel for a bathroom stop, but their bathrooms were closed until further notice. So it was on to Terribles Chevron, which, glory be the sign said, was completely closed for 20 minutes (20 minutes?). So we headed north for Needles all the while looking for a bush big enough to shield all of us. One truck had started late after a football game (he won!), and with their not stopping for dinner and going up the Arizona side of the Colorado river while we went up the California/Nevada side, we all converged at Boulder Beach campground at the same time – 12:51 Saturday morning, and were in tents asleep about an hour later.  What’s a T648 outing without some sort of a travel adventure!?

The day dawned crisp and bright a few short hours later, and after pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs, the troop was ready to seize the day. A bike ride along the 4 mile (one way) stretch of the old railroad between Boulder City and the dam was invigorating, with beautiful elevated views of the lake, and 5 tunnels through parts of the surrounding mountains to get there. Thankful for no broken bones this trip, just a couple of bicycle mechanical casualties that simply resulted in some walking rather than riding, everyone agreed that the day’s main event was a success.  Since yesterday had spilled significantly into today, it was also agreed that it was now high time for some naps. The cool air and warm sun provided the perfect opportunity to get in forty winks before dinner.

And what a dinner it was!  I don’t know if you are yet the beneficiaries of your scouts’ budding culinary masterpieces, but dinner for the boys this trip consisted of dutch oven sour cream chicken enchiladas and dutch oven brownies for dessert. Absolutely creative, and Mmmmm good!  Not to be outdone, the adults celebrated one leader’s 50th birthday in rare style (although the 2-inch thick chops were not rare – simply ovened to perfection)!

All in all, another outstanding excursion!  Not to be outdone, other scouts are planning next month’s outing which will be a Family Campout at another lake much closer to the valley – Lake Pleasant.  Come join us for a ‘pleasant’ way to spend a weekend outdoors with some most excellent young men! 

Easy Riders x 4
Riding the Boulder City RR Trail
4 Musketeers? 4 Stooges? 4 Peas in a Pod? 4 Scouts in Arms!
Those horses were ridden hard, and put up wet!
Fit & 50!
Enchilada heaven – dutch oven style!
Sunrise in Paradise!
Yet another Thorns & Roses with a parcity of thorns

Devil’s Bridge – Sedona

Instead of our normal Friday Valley fast food getaway meal, 7 scouts with their adult chauffeurs headed further up north to beat the traffic. Starving by the time we got to Wendy’s in Camp Verde, Baconators and peppermint Frosty’s were devoured in short order.  What remained was a short journey to our appointed campsite in stunning Sedona on the appropriately named Inspirational Drive.  After setting up the party circus and some assorted adult tents, the troop spent a non-standard evening with cell and internet reception tracking high school and college playoff upsets and other online games until lights out.

After a cool 43-degree morning with warm egg delicacies in both the scout and adult camps, it was time to head for the highlight adventure of the weekend – the remote Devil’s Bridge. Almost impossible to drive to through Dry Creek’s rocky road, it becomes a beautiful 4-mile hike to an accessible rock bridge with a fabulous view of the red rock valley below. We had two scouts on their first extended hike with the troop, and they handled the hand over hand climb up the steep parts to the bridge like old pros.  Later in the day on the return trip, a more experienced scout exhorted the newbies to keep to 5 minutes the two short breaks we took, to avoid the build-up of ‘laxative’ acid!  One certainly doesn’t want to deal with THAT on a hike. Upon our arrival at the breathtaking bridge, we noted with some chagrin that the bridge has recently become an online sensation.  The secluded bridge that my wife and I hiked to 10 years ago where no one but us was there to view it, now had a 40-minute line for people to get on the bridge to perform their myriad of staged Instagram poses. We ate lunch while waiting for our more patient troop members to get their turn to be ‘shot’ on the bridge, and cheered as couples kissed, or shook our heads as those born without a caution gene attempted handstands.  The parallelly implemented jet-boil brigade of troop freeze-dried lunches took a bit little longer than the wait for the photo opportunities, including a few tense moments as scouts were not so surprisingly asked to supply their own water (anybody got any dehydrated water I can use for my Mountain House lunch?).  And then of course there was the infamous stroganoff incident – that of which we must not speak.  As everyone knows, things that happen at Devil’s Bridge stay at Devil’s Bridge!

We returned to camp to begin preparation of dinners for kings before the anticipated rains came. The scouts made spectacular Dutch oven pepperoni pizzas, while the adults were blessed with perfectly aged and seasoned elk steaks from a generous scout father who was subsequently unable to attend with his son, with baby asparagus sautéed in bacon bits and fingerling potatoes grilled to perfection. In the evening mist, right before the drizzle began, we determined that Mr. Benyi is 3 handfuls short of a bag full of chocolate chips.  Even with that challenge, the cherry on top of the evening was a cherry chocolate chip cobbler designated appreciatively by one scout as a ‘ridiculous gut bomb’ (devils food chocolate, of course, for the Devil’s Bridge trip).  The cherry on top of the cherry on top was hosting one of our Eagles attending NAU who drove down for cobbler and a fun reunion with the scouts for a few minutes Saturday night.

Get ready – with all that moisture this weekend, there is hope that there just might be snow at Mormon Lake in January for our winter camping trip.  Hope you will plan to join us!

7 brave scouts – ‘We ain’t afraid of no Devil’s Bridge!’
Taking the slumber party outside the party circus tent
Take our word for it, he had a fan club of 100+ watching his every move
After 8 previous jet-boils for hungry scout meals, Mr. Nachtrab finally gets his ramen
If you sit for longer than 5 minutes, beware of the ‘laxative’ acid effect!
Personal pepperoni pan pizzas – dutch oven style!
Not a single thorn! (wellll, maybe it was a wee bit wet)

Fave Caves and Fun Guns

Start with a morning of massive live caverns beneath the earth with stalagmites, stalactites, helicites, totem poles, bacon-looking rock waves, shields, and the world’s longest soda straw and finish the day with famous tombstones above the earth, and a shoot-out to boot (hill)!  Sign me up! Weave in three spectacular Saturday menus, a flag retirement ceremony, and the 6 scouts and 2 adults had plenty of opportunities to make this trip exceptional.  As this month’s edition of our scout expedition got underway, it was with high hopes of an uneventful trip to be followed by an equally eventful fantastical outing.  Inauspicious as we again began with yet another freeway blockage getting us to our campsite late, multiple scouts ultimately rated this trip their favorite with our troop ever – high praise indeed for a crisp weekend under and around southern Arizona.  The food was spectacular, in that even without the Nachtrab’s steadying influence in Dutch oven cooking, the boys tried two Dutch meals and hit both out of the park. Kartchner State Park camping was excellent, although we quickly became wryly known throughout as ‘Tent City.’  Because we came in late, we weren’t sure of official policy on our setting up tents on the fragile desert grass, so we parked on the pavement in one site which also held our kitchen, and setup six tents on the driveway next to our campfire on the second site.  One young scout was not too satisfied with his first night on the pavement, but was creative the second night.  He was extremely comfortable covered by his sleeping bag in his camp chair roasting marshmallows at the campfire, so he simply moved indoors, and slept soundly upright in his chair all night in the tent.

Every other site was filled with an RV the size of a greyhound bus, or a fifth wheel competing be larger than their neighbor.  The amenities fit the targeted clientele, so water and power in every site, and a spotless heated shower / restroom were niceties us normally at-large forest campers appreciated.  The caverns were totally out of this world and a humorous rendition of the shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone were great high points to an awesome weekend.  Scientific questioning of our scouts by our spunky Kartchner tour guide in the morning as to their favorite carbonic acid led to rampant desires all afternoon in Tombstone for the boys to find their favorites – Dr Pepper and Sprite.  One downside was not being able to take cellphones / pictures at the Caverns, so we have less documentation of our memories this trip.  Fun with s’mores, blowtorches, gun and knife purchases, riding shotgun, breathing smoke into the crisp air in the mornings, and sparkling camping restrooms were additional day brighteners.  Memories of carbonic acid, bat guano, Kubla Khan columns, blazing gunfights, the Bird Cage Theater and the OK Corral danced in our heads all the way back to Phoenix. Let’s see if we can top this in Sedona next month!

Mountain men making a mountain man breakfast
Rough riders in the ‘Town Too Tough to Die’
Choice seats and high anticipation for the main event
The Earps and Doc … where are the Clantons/McLaurys?
The Clantons/McLaurys are in hiding from these motley desperados
Surveying Tent City
Another T648 trip with very few thorns, and bushels of roses

648 Staffing Outing at R-Boo-C

Enroute with a quick stop at Wendy’s for fortification, the spooky 13 T648 staff members arrived at R-Boo-C right as promised just as they closed registration and the camp gate at 8pm. Setting up tents in the dark grassy field down the hill next to the pond, troop members were mostly successful in avoiding fresh cow deposits, although there were a few complaints of sleeping on rocks during our subsequent closing ‘Thorns & Roses.’  The next day dawned early, and T648 ate quickly so that we could work the kitchen for the 400+ cub scouts, families and staff. Our scouts loved working in the dish room with the auto refill three basin wash, rinse, sanitize, the hanging sprayer, and the super spin pan dishwasher. They want to outfit our trailer with the equivalent as part of Mr. Murphy’s trailer remodel. Their dads ponder why they don’t have the same motivation at home?

This Pre-Halloween event at R-Bar-C cub scout camp was a total volunteer event, brainchild and organized by a scoutmaster of a large troop in west Phoenix.  Activities run throughout the day by our scouts and others were envisioned by a mad scientist high school science teacher who wore a wig and looked like Doc Emmett Brown from Back to the Future.  Periodically he would stage exhibitions in the middle of camp of ‘elephant toothpaste’ streams high into the sky or sodium-in-water explosions.  Our scouts ran many of the stations throughout the day, including Dry Ice Bubbling Acid, Screaming Balloons, Crystal Ball Bubbles, Doctor Slime, and Giant Smoke Cannons. Add Archery, BB Guns and a dozen candy games, and our troop ran out of gas before the cub scouts did. Serving food, cleaning dishes and bathrooms, cleaning up decorations and trash – this weekend often felt more like work than an outing in the Tonto Forest. But seeing the joy on the faces of little scouts in costume from packs that had even more struggles during the pandemic than troops did, made us vow to coordinate a return trip next fall to help put this blast of a spectacle on once again!

Notable moments included:  We were so busy all day running games for the cub scouts and working the dining room that one of our sleepy scouts fell asleep during Saturday campfire, and almost couldn’t be awakened to return to camp for a double round of birthday cookies for a second scout celebrating his 14th birthday. A third scout’s first outing as a cub scout had been to R-Bar-C, and now years later he did the perfect bookend by finishing up his boy scouting journey as an Eagle two weeks before his 18th birthday at the place it all began. He was often heard to be saying the long-time camp motto – ‘Drink and pee, Drink and pee, that’s what we do at R-Bar-C!’  During a surprise rain shower in the late afternoon, there was a beautiful double rainbow in the sunny sky to the east.  But true to the Halloween theme, looking straight down the lawn from high on the deck there was rain in the camp pouring down into the trees to your right, and no rain in the camp in the trees to your left – spooky!

As we finished up with some fun with crawdads from Christopher Creek, we also rued neglecting to bring the troop first aid kit, and the requisite bone saw which would have been useful in addressing multiple scrapes and bruises.  There was joy that being on staff meant we could have Saturday leftovers for breakfast (‘You want some Ruffles?’ ‘Nah, I’ve got Fun’yuns!’)  There was awe and amazement as Scoutmaster Blair’s tent resembled a clown car as creature comforts continued to emerge until they dwarfed his bubble tent when piled beside it.  As usual, we left the camp cleaner than we had found it, although all were aligned that cow patties were not within leave no trace scope.  As we all loaded up after tearing down what remained of R-Boo-C, transforming the camp back to R-Bar-C, we all agreed that we would ‘check out, but never leave.’ See you again at R-Boo-C 2023!!

R-Boo-C parking lot planning 101
Pickles and Sasquatches Ready to Go!
Getting Assignments from Doc Brown
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Father!
3-Bin Auto Wash, R-Bar-C Style
Why we were here – Hundreds of Cubs in Halloween costumes
Bubble Wand Station and More!
Ahhh – Crawdad Snack Time!
Storing R-Boo-C in the Catacombs Underground for Another Year
We Did Check Out – But We’ll Be Back!

Zion National ‘Pivot’ Outing

A dozen and a half of T648’s finest headed out early with high hopes of beating holiday traffic, and getting to our North Rim campsite before 10PM.  Those hopes were soon dashed. A trailer tire blow and shred sent tire and fender shrapnel flying all over the 51, leaving black smudges all over the trailer wall and a nasty mark on the troop escort vehicle (sorry Dr. Blair!).  Time to pivot!  Driving on the rim to the edge of the freeway, our dynamos changed the tire in 20 mins – not NASCAR, but dang good, considering all the obstacles of getting to tools with gear everywhere.  With the spare now on, and a gas station right there on Bell to air it up, what do we discover, but dry rot.  Not to worry, we pivot again, and Discount Tire is but a mile down the road.  An employee came out with his best scout sign while citing the scout law, and hooked us up with 3 new tires (take that, dry rot!). Since us 9 guys (and a gal) with those two vehicles filled up at 5 Guys in the meantime, Mr. Benyi calculated that the entire adventure had only cost us 45 minutes up to that point.  However, the semi with its wheels in the air at Sunset Point conspired to slow us back down again, and despite side tours through downtown New River and Black Canyon City, the majority of us didn’t get to our destination of Jacob Lake until after midnight.

With enthusiasm undeterred, our 12 T648 scouts had an uproarious time in the circus tent, and still managed to roll out of bed and begin the breakfast burrito brigade at 6AM. Then it was on to Zion, of the magnificent red rocks and limestone cathedral rock formations. But first, a side trip to another natural wonder, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Vast expanses of fine powdery sand swirled up into mountains beckoning to be conquered. And the methods of scout conquest were equally vast – boogie board, luge (single, two man and even four-man utilizing a Costco box), surfing, sand boarding, full body rolling, striding, high stepping, running, and then sprinting, trudging, and even crawling back up the mountain to try it again. When the temps hit 105, it was time to head to Zion of the magnificent red rocks, and white limestone cathedral-like rock formations. On the way, we encountered the narrow, windy 1.1 mile tunnel carved through a mountain in 1930. After ranger machinations with a tape measure, it was determined that the tunnel needed to be closed down to one way traffic for our little troop trailer to safely make it through. A late lunch, playing in the Virgin River, football, cards, advancement, and a late dinner of four types of Dutch oven chili brought a wonderful hot day of pivots to a close in the troop Big Top tent for much needed slumber.

A windy Sunday morning started even earlier, with the scouts beginning with a terrific Dutch oven mountain man breakfast started shortly after 5AM Phoenix time. To make the most of our day, lunches were squirreled away in day packs. Then it was on with the water shoes, and off to the shuttle to the world famous ‘Narrows.’  Under the shadow of the spectacular Angels Landing, the scouts plunged into the Virgin River, and splashed our way upstream, over rocks, through white water, beneath towering canyon walls.  We water-walked 7 ½ miles round trip, making it all the way to the split, where permits would be needed to continue further upriver. After lunch, we headed back down river.  The sun was blazing, the river was cold, so being half in and half out of the water, in the words of Goldilocks, we were all ‘just right.’  Back in camp, we had a personal ranger lecture in our campsite on the benefits of conservation in the desert, followed by a football game on the road.  As the sun set on Watchman Mountain, beef stroganoff and cobbler cheesecake were spectacular ends to an almost perfect day.

Labor Day morning started in the dark, as the scouts determined that this time we would beat most of the traffic back to Phoenix.  Unfortunately, Murphy was back at work with his law, however, and as we waited outside the tunnel for it to open for trailer escorts, we discovered a 5 inch steel spike in a tire on Mr. Nachtrab’s trailer-pulling truck.  With no spare (used the previous week), we pivoted yet again.  Dr. Gimbel magically created three more seatbelts in his vehicle by cramming all his gear in the overfull trailer, we hooked the trailer to Dr. Blair’s car, and in the two remaining vehicles went in search of open tire stores in the desert on Labor Day.  After 2 hours to Page, we determined that Mr. Nachtrab would grab a rental and spend the rest of the day arranging a tow from St. George, finding a tire (which finally ended up being in Flagstaff on Tuesday), and the rest of us would head for home.  Thanks to construction barriers on I-17 and a typical holiday afternoon mess down the hill, we managed to use the remainder of Labor Day getting home.  In the final analysis, the scouts were all in agreement.  A trip that never had us getting where we wanted to be on schedule, that had two tire failures resulting in the purchase of 9 new tires, driving back and forth all over northern Arizona is a spectacular time if it is in the company of each other, with great food, and the 5th rated top adventure location (Zion’s Narrows) in the world as our playground.  In the words of Mr. Nachtrab, who finally made his grand entrance back into town by bursting into our Tuesday night troop and committee meetings finishing up at 8:30PM – “When’s the next outing?  Let’s go!’

‘Thar she blows, Captain!’ – Pivot #1 right out of the gate
Heard around the breakfast table – ‘That’s a heck-ton of eggs!’
Ready to conquer Coral Pink Sand Dunes – temperature of the sand at 10AM – 95 degrees
Heard around the sand dunes – ‘When I hit bottom, I tried to breathe and sand came out my nose!’
Overheard – ‘Look! – when you spit, it turns into a brown ball and rolls down the dune!’
Who needs a disco ball when you have a circus tent?
Finally! Heading into the Narrows.
Our river walking pace setters
A common view of the towering canyon walls, shielding us from the 103+ degree weather
The Narrows end – from here on would require a permit
Starting a new dessert tradition? Delectable sopaipillas if you pleeazzz
The brain trust working on yet another tire-related pivot event. ‘Ready? Let’s go!!’