Archive for the ‘Normal’ Category

Biking Sedona

Five scouts and three adults braved forecasted wind, rain and chilly conditions for an early spring trip to Sedona red rock country.  Due to changes in Coconino Forest dispersed camping policy (Sedona has been discovered by the world and overrun) we found dispersed camping outside of Cottonwood instead with a beautiful view of Jerome on Mingus Mountain, and then shuttled bikes and vehicles the next day to get an awesome 4+ mile mountain bike ride safely completed within the shadows of Bell Rock.  We hadn’t noticed much wind on the trails, but when we returned late afternoon to camp, the tents had either blown down or taken on buckets of sand.  The evening meals were as spectacular as breakfasts had been, and with tired legs and behinds (and a winter storm threat looming), it was soon to bed after dusk.  The fireworks began after midnight with 70 mph winds rattling tents, a drop in temp to the mid 30’s, and driving rain.  Morning dawned cloudy and calm, with powdered sugar covering the surrounding mountains, and wet red clay clinging to everything in camp.  A quick pack-up had us all very satisfied with yet another excellent T648 adventure, and heading home to try and launder / dry out messy Sedona-red gear and bodies.  We’re looking forward to going underground next month.  Peppersauce Caves are calling!   

Five fortified with amazing Dutch oven blueberry french toast and scrambled eggs
Practicing downhills for the red rock climbs to come
Chef recommends a ketchup sandwich with a hint of beef for one’s packed lunch
Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, there to be conquered

T648’s conquering bike heroes take a bow!

Happily back on level ground
Eli’s Comin’, Hide Your Heart! (Three Dog Night, 1969 and T648, 2024)
Just a bit of wind!
Never too stuffed for extra-stuffed Oreos!
The snow frosting on the Mingus Mountains ‘cake’ after the storm finishes up another great outing

Grand Canyon Winter Outing

This year we awoke to barely below freezing at what’s turned into our annual Grand Canyon winter outing. There were the lilting sounds of boy leaders rousting patrol members – ‘Wake up, wake up Dylly bear!’ Only a minimum of growling was to be heard as the day dawned bright and beautiful. Typical breakfast conversation ensued as they waited for their delectable gourmet egg creations to finish cooking – ‘Wait guys, this Nutella container says we need to follow them on Instagram, Facebook, X and Reddit!’ We also overcame a few small hitches in our get-along, such as – ‘Is Mr. Engelhardt still locked out of his truck? Yes, but he’s called for roadside assistance. Although are we aside a road? Maybe aside a track off a trail aside a dirt road?’ Or there was this one: ‘That was a really weird, hard egg…. Well, it was frozen. My hands are all eggy, I am the egg man!!’ or finally this one… ‘I didn’t think I’d need gloves. I knew it would be cold, but not THIS cold.’ After breakfast and a quick rescue by the local locksmith in a jalopy, it was time for exploration. First, around camp: ‘There are wooly mammoth bones in our camp – see its vertebrae?’ ‘Oooh that’s a dead owl…..oh no it isn’t, it’s a yucca.’ Then, when we got to the canyon at mid-morning, once again there was so much packed ice on the Bright Angel trail that the only passage would be with crampons. So instead, this year the boys decided to hike the Rim Trail out towards Hermit’s Rest overlook. We had planned to ride the shuttle back, but discovered it didn’t start running out there until March. Good thing we’re Boy Scouts – we simply walked it back for a nice 8-mile round-trip hike. After a warm dinner, everyone slept tight….and early!

The egg men – creating.
Shrink wrapped and frosty warm!
The ‘Hole in the Ground’ gang – on a wall, next to the biggest hole around!
With all those delicacies hanging off his pack, he is no longer ‘Dylly Bear’, but ‘Bear Bait!’
Practicing tree ascents. They’re not going to be ‘bear bait!’
Truly one of the 7 natural wonders of the world!
Crampons would have been useful even on the rim trail.
Fire! Warming up before dinner.
Ahhhh, what’za spaghetti without extra meatballs?
This month’s 5-star adult masterpiece? Pheasant, quail, baby red potatoes and asparagus.
Another fabulous day winds down early with cold hands in marvelously hot water.

Williams Snow Outing

This year’s Mormon Lake January winter outing morphed into a Williams snow camp combined with a BeariZona park tour by day, and Ft. TutHill Snow Park tubing adventure by night.  When we discovered the sledding hill in Williams contained a line of humans all the way back into town, the boys pivoted and instead geocached during the morning, spent the afternoon with a myriad of wild animals in natural habitats, with handlers, and in zoo-like settings at BeariZona in the afternoon.  That night we then traveled up to Flagstaff and went tube-bombing down the groomed snowy mountain in the dark at 7,000 feet with the moon shining above and strings of neon lights surrounding us.  After totally exhausting ourselves, then refortifying with hot chocolate, we headed back to the warm KOA campground laundry room, and fought our way through a rousing game of liars’ dice late into the night.  By then time we turned into our bedrolls once again on the crusty snow, we were so buzzed from all the events of the day, that we were much too beat to be cold at 20something degrees.

Riding the whirly snow ponies
Are those attack ravens? Lighters at 20 paces, aaaannnd DRAW!
Point me to the sledding!
In search of…………Geocaches
Hangin’ with the Big Bears.
Proud purchase – Dakota Dan furry hat
RoadKill seasoning for burgers, which then fell off the table while open to become roadkill itself
Ready to try on the Black Diamond hill for size
Belly moguls are pretty fun, too!

One more hand of Liars’ Dice may have been one too many!

OdySea, Butterfly Wonderland, USS Arizona

To lessen pressure on finals and holiday preparations, T648 scouts elected to trial a one-day December outing in Scottsdale rather than two Arizona nights somewhere in nature.  Beginning with a somber trip around the USS Arizona Memorial at Talking Stick, it was sobering to imagine the number of families impacted by one long ago horrific morning in Pearl Harbor.  After that, it was a glorious day of wandering through swarms of butterflies while looking for chickens and bunnies, followed by observing and interacting with (and petting?!?) sea creatures like stingrays and sharks.  Not much scout skill advancement was accomplished (nary a knot nor first aid effort were thankfully required), but fun was had by all.  The general consensus was this successful day outing concept might be considered for an occasional future finals-filled month (perhaps a May day-trip to Sedona’s Slide Rock).

Thinking back to December 7, 1941 and the men of USS Arizona
Dude! These 3-D glasses are Old School!
Getting the hang of butterfly attraction
Hmmm, don’t koi come and sit on your finger, too?
All this butterfly action makes a man HUNGRY
If fish don’t fly to my hand like a butterfly, my hand will come to them!
A guy can stay away from gaming only so long – bring on the VR fish!
T648 was here – in lights!
The disappointment of football linemen discovering that butterflies prefer backfields
Less intimidating football players have the magic touch!

Goin’ Patagonia

This wonderful water trip was the first outing to Patagonia Lake in troop history.  A beautiful boating oasis minutes from the Mexico border was not as hair-raising as some static electricity made it seem upon arrival, but an excellent opportunity to boat and swim despite it being almost winter.  Early in the day was spent on the water, the highlight of which was a ranger boat tour all around the entire lake, including the island campsites (and outhouses) which were noted for future consideration for a troop canoe outing.  The afternoon was almost warm enough to spend in the water – which a couple of the bravest and most warm-blooded scouts managed to do.  The outing SPL was on his final trip as a scout before turning 18, so we all had one last opportunity to say goodbye to his trademark duckie swimming trunks from the past 4+ years of water outings.  Into the evening there was a Lincoln log building contest, then it was time for dinner – and what culinary masterpieces there were!  The scouts put together a delectable beef stroganoff, but the adults likely trumped that with the Long Island iced tea of meals – paella! Afterwards were S’mores around a campfire (Mmmm, carcinogens!!) with a ghost story or two (Did you hear about the terrifying story of the Trog, the horrible, terrible Nachtrog!!!?).  As we were getting ready to douse the fire, a bit of rustling was heard over at the scout’s table, and two adult skunks and a baby skunk were excitedly squeaking and attempting to eat a hole through our cloth trash can and bag to get at the raw chopped onions and stroganoff remnants wafting beautiful aromas into the air.  The great Mr. Benyi trash can maneuver resolved the immediate crisis of mama skunk burrowing teeth and claw through fabric and rubber, and nary a nasty squirt occurred.  We abandoned thoughts of tents and sleeping bags as we spent the remaining evening watching Mr. and Mrs. skunk, and baby too, wander through neighboring campsites looking for additional delicacies to replace the stroganoff / paella bonanza they had just lost.  All in all a most excellent new campsite to add to the T648 wonderful outing list, and a fabulous set of new memories for all those fortunate to have come along.

This is Patagonia? Shocking, my good fellow!!
It’s a big beautiful lake, but some of us could have used a bit more sleep!
After setting up tents, building Lincoln logs is a snap…
The duckie trunks get one final troop outing workout
Taking his rushes out for a stroll
Dr. Frankenstein’s lab had no edge over this troop’s stroganoff laboratory
Paella heaven – where the adults found themselves Saturday night!

R-BOO-C Three!

T648 recently helped plan and staff the 3rd annual spine-tingling yet educational event, R-BOO-C Halloween Fun Camp for Valley cub scouts. This event brings Scouts, their families, action and a bit of slimy spookiness together for a weekend of unforgettable adventures. The Friday night through Sunday morning activities included a hayride, bb gun shooting, archery, fun with science, mutant crawdads, Halloween costumes and themed events, and awesome food, in a cool wooded location. This year, almost 500 participants, including 170+ Cub youth, 140+ adult participants, 140+ Scouts BSA youth and adult staff, and unexpected guests such as zombies and aliens came together for this spookily fun event. R-BOO-C offered many exciting activities, from making alien slime to traversing the Tunnel of Terror, dry ice bubbling acid, screaming balloons, catching and racing crawdads, creating blood in Dracula’s Kitchen, and firing off the giant smoke cannons. A Webelos/ AOL Zombie Apocalypse was also introduced, challenging participants in fun competitions, as was a pumpkin carving contest with dozens of entries.  The annual costume fashion contest while strutting and dancing down the runway to music, terrific food, and closing campfire and skits were a hit as usual.  Our T648 scouts and adults had the responsibility to work with a couple of trained range-masters in delivering the complete BB gun and Archery sessions for the cub packs all day long, and to no one’s surprise, being on the ranges with guns, bows and arrows were a huge highlight for most cub scouts in attendance.  Our boy scouts were patient throughout the long day in working one-on-one with children, and celebrating with them as their individual results improved even in such a short time. R-BOO-C offered Scouts BSA youth the opportunity to play a significant role in teaching skills throughout the event, while cub youth learned about conservation efforts, like dealing with invasive crayfish species, and practicing Leave No Trace principles, but mostly just having loads of good old fashioned tiring fun. Our boys agreed that it was a ton of work (we also did R-BOO-C build, tear-down, and kitchen duty) but have already made commitments and plans to assist in R-BOO-C’s return in 2024, scheduled for October 4-6.  Hope you can come!

Jupiter’s rising over T648 Staff Camp
T648’s Spookiest Archery staff member
T648 Gun/Archery Range Crew Brain Trust in heavy planning mode
Wave #1 of cub scouts – bring on the bb guns!!
Patiently yet again working on elbow placement
The arrow notch thingy goes on the bow string thingy….
No, I’m serious – form matters!
Ahhhhh! Breakfast leftovers with a chair – early the morning after….

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