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