{ Journals from our First Family Trip - Day One }

Here's an audio recording of this blog : ) 

   We just got back from a pretty amazing camping trip to the hot springs, and the first we've taken with the babes !! We'll be posting a journal for each day - this is the first ; )  There will be pics in the others, nothing to see here though ...

________________ Day One - Monday, Morning: ___________

Juwels: is still packing things up and finishing all the delectable entrees and side dishes that she's scratched into her informal menu for the week.

Me: making good on an 8am dental appointment that I'd scheduled the week before ..

The guy I go to is in Sedona (best views from the chair) and luckily I'd come to my senses the day before and decided Not to ride the motorbike 2000 feet down the switchbacks, through oak creek canyon and into red rock country just after 7am. It was a much better ride on the wide bench seat of the truck, heat blowing from the dash and Jack Johnson taking my mind off the impending chair.

Back up the hill - (didn't get any work done on that visit .. (just xrays). And juwels was still in the kitchen .. sampling her homemade bowl of caramel, and sweet jesus is was good. I would later tell her, licking the spoon, that I thought this caramel could be a good treatment for depression, or maybe given to people in place of morphine on the battlefield. 

Juwels assigned me jobs - chop the firewood, get the goat feed together, climb the cherry tree and pull the hammock chairs down, make sure all the house plants were watered and happy, turn the hot water heater down to "vacation mode", collect any last minute eggs from the coop (we'd need these), and a couple hours later, finished with the tasks I was suited for, I realized that it was going to be a late camp setup, so I fired up the motorbike after all and buzzed into town to fill up at the local grass fed burger joint.

Pulling back onto the ranch with a brown paper bag containing a half eaten burger and fries tucked under the belly of my leather jacket, I found juwels sweeping out the back of the truck. We piled everything in, around 5pm, and the goats had taken advantage of the swinging front gate and ambled off somewhere up the hill.

As I warmed up the truck, I noticed that we seemed to be missing something(s) in the extra cab. I pulled down to the fork in the road and saw the babes up the hill, nibbling fresh green grass, and looking down at us with their googly eyes.

Juwels popped the suicide doors open on her side of the truck, and called for them to hop in. But they just stood up there, chewing and wagging their tails. I tried to pull the, "Okay... we're leaving you" routine by slowly pulling away, but they weren't going for it. 

Shifting into reverse, doors still hanging open, I skidded up the hill beside them, "Get in, ya little stinkers."

But it took juwels crinkling the bag of Krispy Crunchies to get them to come tumbling into the truck (we'd folded the narrow seats up in the back cab, so they had plenty of room to sit or stand) and off we went.

I'd fueled up the truck earlier in Sedona, so there was nothing to slow our progression down the freeway and into the desert. Going 75 miles an hour, up and down pine covered hills, we talked about the bees, and not so much of keeping them, but fostering them and camping out beside the hives some nights, pressing an ear to the box and seeing the girls swarm the flower fields at dawn's early light.

Ezzie lied down, but chia stayed on all four dainty hooves, "surfing" around the turns, and in the small open space beside my elbow on the armrest, I could feel her little white-tipped skunk tail whisking back and forth every 30 seconds. She seriously wagged her tail for most of the ride ... even when she was getting in trouble for peeing in the truck (good thing we have rubber floors and not carpet. )

Speaking of the goat's bathroom cycle, pretty much we just had to pull off as much as made sense, and they always seemed to have more. About 15 miles down the 17, we pulled off at a lovely scenic viewpoint (overlooking Sedona and a great expanse of juniper covered valley) and urged the girls to "go potty" ... "gooooo pooooooty", and they did. Rewarded with treats, we were back in the truck and racing the sun to the horizon.

______________ Monday - Evening. _______________________ 

Pulling off at Camp Verde, we debated whether or not we should stop off at the gas station to pickup ice and an extra lighter. This would also give us an additional potty break for the girls, but I had ants in my pants, and kept my sights trained on the pull off to the dirt road .. they could make it !!

Passing cattle ranches and pecan fields, we buzzed passed town and into the stark desert hills. Chia's little tail was still wagging, and I could feel a small breeze on the back of my arm every time. It was the cutest damn thing, and we were all so happy to be heading off together.

I reached my left arm awkwardly behind me and got a hold of her little tail (which is the shape and size of a pointer finger under the fur) "gimmie this little waggin tail," I said.

I was talking about how stinking cute she was and juwels was saying, "does poppa got your tail, chia ??" when I heard a tinkling sound. It took the sound, tinkling, to register first in my brain, and then I also noticed that a few of my fingers had an odd warm sensation.

"She's peeing!!" I called to juwels, reeling my hand back and studying the seemingly paralyzed fingers.

"What ??"

"She just peed ... she peed on my hand," I said.

"I told you we should have stopped for ice," juwels said, pulling out a roll of paper towels (without offering me one) and flopped over the backrest of the tall bench seat with the spray bottle in the other hand.

"That's bad potty, chia," she said, "Baaaaaad potty !!"

Her tall boots were hovering about eye level beside me, legs in black tights, bent at awkward angles and kicking with the effort,  and she bobbed around, spraying and wiping. I was playing my favorite audio book, and tried to tune out the play-by-play commentary coming from under my seat, "Oh ... how can she pee this much?? She just went 20 minutes ago ... That's a bad potty, chia, okay - you have to wait till we stop. At least we have rubber floors. Maybe we should pull off and see if ezzie has to go??"

"We're almost there," I said, stepping on the gas.

Three minutes later, she was back up on the seat beside me, still describing every nook and cranny she'd cleaned in detail, and her cheeks were bright red from all the hanging upside down. She pulled a final paper towel off for me, but I declined, "It's already dry," I said.

We got to the pull off, and as I shifted the truck into park on the dirt road, we both jumped out and grabbed the girls (they tend to go potty as soon as the truck stops, so you have to hurry). With the four doors all hanging wide open and Edward Abby's 'Desert Solitaire'  playing on the speakers and describing almost the exact scene that we were standing on the edge of, vast hills, cactus, mesquite, grazing cattle and the songs of cactus wrens, we sang the song of good potty, and our prayers were quickly answered. The girls were all ready to set in on some prime wild flower graze, when we scooped them up, tossed them back in the truck and lumbered off.

About 5 miles down the dirt road, juwels thinks it's because of the bumpiness, chia peed on ezzie (ezzie was laying down like a good girl).

I was the one to notice it. "What smells like wet fur," I asked. Juwels looked perplexed. "It smells like a wet dog," I said. "Is somebody licking themselves back there?' I asked, immediately knowing that it made no sense, and that it would take a lot of moisture to throw that strong of a scent ..

Juwels looked back there, and said, "Chia ... that's Baaaaad potty!! You don't pee on your sister. That's Bad Potty, okay !! ??"

(By the way - they normally -never- do this ... ) 

She was in the process of climbing back over the seat again, but knowing that we'd soon be driving on cliff edges with no guard rails, and that a kick in my face could send us all rolling head over tin cups, I said, "Wait - I'll pull off."

We pulled off, and as I was doing My good potty, the girls walked up beside me and showed me that they could do theirs too ... chia only had a few drops, but seemed to want the positive affirmation, "Good potty, chia. Goooood potty, ezzie mez"

I smelled the wildflowers and mesquite in the air, and called back to juwels that we should keep our bees out here. She agreed, and called the three of us back up and out of the wash, saying that she wanted to get to camp before dark - this would not happen. 

About 5 more miles down the road, because of the bumps, juwels says, "it rattles it out of them" ezzie peed, and we ran out of paper towels. The sun was already behind the mountains, but the mountains were high on the horizon, so we'd still have at least 30 more minutes of gloaming light. We passed more cars heading out, stopped and snapped a few pics of a big black bull on the roadside, clicked on the high beams, drove over black shadowed potholes looking like like empty bathtubs in the truck's lights, and made it to camp without another accident.

_______________ Monday - Night _________________________

Juwels had a special camp in mind, one at the very end of the row, next to  the only spot where the river narrowed and the water made a constant rushing chorus. We'd been told about the spot from a local who said that he'd been coming there for 10 years and only found the spot open once. It was tucked way in, and the hope was that no newcomers would even know it was there. We pulled over a few humps and through a wash in low gear, and were delighted to find the spot all ours ; )

It was beyond black - the moon had not come up from behind the rim, and the goats followed us around not knowing what to think. I pulled off my shoes and dug my toes into the soft and silty brown sand, and something came alive inside me, like a switch had been thrown. The crickets were going full scale and the night air still had a touch of heat in it.

By the light of a lantern, we descended a narrow dirt staircase which I'd cut out with a shovel almost a year ago to the day. At the base, we found ourselves on the mossy edge of a small swirling cove. We normally do our dishes in this spot beside a turtle-backed boulder, but I occupied myself with splashing cold water on my face and the back of my neck, fully waking up for the second part of the day.

Behind the open truck bed, I setup a small metal bucket of goat feed (grain) and let the girls feast while we setup camp. A few minutes later, as were were re-bending the metal legs on the foldout picnic table, we heard the goats come running and crying from around the truck and to our sides. They did Not want to be separated from us in the dark new place, and in the coming days, we'd find that they didn't want us to be separated from each other, all four, at anytime day or night, they insisted that we stick together and complained loudly if anyone should break that bond. 

Flying bugs crowded around the lantern, thinking they'd finally reached the moon, and I apologized, sincerely, to the few who'd found their way beneath the glass. We pulled out wood for the fire and the cooler full of food, but skipped both in trade for star gazing in our reclined chairs (chia insisted on laying directly on top of my lap and chest in the chair, and ezzie curled up between us.)

** Oh, there was a 20 or 30 minute stretch while juwels was organizing other things in the camp, when I dug out my recorder, (taking notes) and went on a nonstop riff about the warm sweetness of the air and the cut shadows on the trees and the rumbling song of the river, but I haven't listened to any of it yet .. never do.

We watched satellites skating across the sky, and juwels wondered what isolated tribes must think of these things when they see them... flying gods?? We marveled at the idea that we exist at all, and then, while holding hands, and almost breaking each other's fingers with the squeeze of surprise and delight, we saw hands-down the most amazing shooting star ever.

It came screaming across the sky, with a tail twice as thick as normal, and threw a wake of sparks and fire, then, midway across the sky it exploded - literally exploded from a yellow/ white stream into an orange ball on the black sky - and then in its original color again, kept cutting across the heavens before vanishing. Juwels squealed when it exploded, and I held my breath and didn't dare blink.

After a second, she broke out into laughter and praise that surly could be heard at the far reaches of that camp, and I didn't want to talk about it, thinking it was the kind of thing that just needed to be felt, a magic stored away for later. Plus, I was still in a blank shock with no words.

She, the humming bird, was more of the feeling that it needed to be explored, chanted, celebrated and howled at. We finally blinked, unlatched our stuck hands and decided that it was a great time to setup our bags under the wild fruiting mulberry tree.

___________________Monday: Bed Time _______________

As soon as the bags and mats were setup, the goats immediately lied crosswise on both, cutting them off at half length. Hmmm ...

We hadn't brought their indoor bed, thinking it would get dirty beyond repair and that they might pee on it, but they were looking at us like, "okay .. this will do just fine, but where are you guys going to sleep ??"

We tried evicting them from the bags, but they wouldn't budge, and we had to walk off into the darkness, to get them to scamper off the bed to follow us. We had an extra blanket, and folded it up beside the bags, and with a little coaxing, they both nestled up beside my bag, and only got up a few times to pee and do their berries dangerously close to my head. The next day we'd build a little buffer with milk crates above our heads to keep them at a better distance when doing midnight potty times.

I woke up throughout the night when the girls would get up, holding them at arm's reach and covering their wet spots with a handful of sand. Ezzie woke me up a few more times, and I had to shake her out of bad dreams to get her to stop whining. I woke up on other occasions, too, somewhere between dream and reality, and saw the trees overhead in strange computerized filters through my sleepy eyes and liked it.

For deeply engrained reasons of her own, ezzie found it necessary to dig in the lose sand (dust, really) every time she came back to lay down, and I tucked my head in my borrowed mummy bag and made peace with the fact that she'd be covering me in dirt all night long throughout the week.

We'd mentioned hiking out to the hot springs at first light to avoid seeing anyone, but when I noticed a grey-blue shade to the morning sky and asked juwels if she was up to it, she just yawned, made a little humming noise and rolled over, so we left it at that.

   ******* I figure I'll just post different days on different blogs (while at the same time pasting them onto here to make a master) but this is the push off to the trip. The rest of the days aren't quite as linear, and roll through long spans of hanging in the hammock chairs beside the river, reading beekeeping books and listening to the waves, hiking out to the springs, avoiding dogs (packs of dogs), wielding a pistol in the night, hearing things, trying to identify large tracks with very long nails in the mud beside our camp, and witnessing the (sometimes dangerous) elements.

More to come, working on it now ; )

p&j .. and c&e 

  ... if you liked that, and would like to continue on, here's a { Link } to the second of three parts .. also on audio : ) 

1 comment:

  1. greetings goatlings,
    i so enjoy your posts, but you know how i devour them like a greedy goat-breath beaver. yet, they are satisfying in their length and tastyness. a good storyteller always leave you wanting more. and you always do. good thing you did the second installment already!