{ Juwels Bee-Day Adventure }

alOha : )
   Juwels just left on errands, and I'm compelled to sit and write about her... and her special birthday adventure. There were talks of going to Utah, and I was open to that. The Oak Creek Canyon was on fire .. and now dusted in harsh fire-retardant chemicals .. so we put that location out of mind. And then there were the hot springs (mulberries growing fresh on the trees and the river crossing is low and easy .. but it's rather hot in Camp Verde to be soaking. 100 + degrees in the shade)  

   I knew of a little place locally called Clear Creek, and it was beautiful and secluded and hard to get down into, and as the days approached, juwels decided that she wanted to be near water and camping with the babes, so we set our sails for clear creek.

   This was new to juwels, but I had been there once before. I was told about the place, and invited to go down there on a whim with my brother, and the area was so g reen and dense and beautiful that I immediately felt guilty for not having juwels along ... I forget what she was doing .. yoga ??

   This place has a definite feeling of being down inside of something ... and away from something else. On the narrow winding path, flowering cactus pucker like red lips, hawks screaming overhead, the yucca bloom sweet and hang heavy with fruit, and below, fountains of liquid sound sing from behind the reeds, and sun rippled patterns play against the rock walls. Look away !! I wouldn't allow myself to swim without her .. it would have been first for the season, and I felt like I was cheating. I wouldn't even focus my eyes fully on any one thing, and couldn't help but imagine, even finding the exact words, telling juwels about all the things that she would soon find there. 

   So now, going back down there with her .. and the babes, complete, I could really take it all in .. slow shutter speed, time lapse, smell-o-vision. I stopped to smell the wild roses, which I had been telling the goats about for the past 2 days, and occasionally bent down a stalk to feed them a sweet rosebud or green seed cluster. It was an amazing time .. and spooky .. and indulgent in that way that a short trip has to be if it's really to be savored. And juwels was so cute and happy that I wished it was her birthday everyday, but here in my chair, juwels gone on errands and my back growing stiff, I'm ready to live in the reflection of this day for the next few pages .. and pictures, and I hope you all enjoy the view along the way : ) 

   The night before the trip, juwels was buzzing around the Hive with excitement, singing little berfday songs to herself and literally dancing in her wool-lined moccasins. Fluttering like a small white kite, she sailed a hand typed list of all the things she wanted to bring and make for the voyage. She assigned me a few duties .. juice the water melon and fresh mint. Crush and strain a chunk of honey comb, and make the ginger lemonade. But I just ran them through the juicer after she'd prepped and neatly piled the brightly colored fruit and hot ginger roots.

   I watched her in amazement, throwing herself a party, and building her own experience just the way she wanted. She's so skilled and self motivated .. and inspired. Needing nothing from me. It's a soothing thing to be with such a strong woman. 

   The next morning, she put the final touches on the menu, and in a leisurely way, we got packed and hit the road. The babes were lazy and napping in the yard when juwels said, "Okay baybees !! You ready for family times camping times ?? !!" She'd been saying this all morning, but the babes only finally got it once they saw the cooler and bags going out to truck. It was actually later in the day as we rolled down Lake Mary Road, chia and ezzie standing in the back cab with the seats folded up, and chia's little tail going a mile a minute. She wags her tail nonstop on road trips ... ahhh ... so cute. We passed ponds and pastures, and juwels picked the perfect soundtrack to match the scenery.

   We stopped for a potty break about midway down the bumpy dirt road, and the girls had their first encounter with a very inquisitive group of lady cows, sweet looking things, all soft and doey eyed : ) I was fighting the urge to chase the sunset, and juwels had to yip from the passenger side of the truck for me to take it easy on the bumps .. some of which would literally launch us all off the ground, goats included. "My head's going to hit the roof," juwels hollered, and I took it down a notch.

   After letting the babes eat from their steel bucket of organic alfalfa pellets beside the truck, I bagged a little more to pack down to camp, and we all headed off to sign into the trail register. "Peter and Juwels .. June 16th .. and the goats." I noticed many of the other sign in's were ended with victory phrases upon the hiker's return, "We made it out alive!!" or "Happy to be back on planet earth.." .. and off we went.

   The bags were strategically packed by juwels, bedrolls wound tight and taking on a new kind of gravity, and although the bags looked big already, they were actually much more heavy than the eye might report. With a backpack strapped front and back, we waddled down with pregnant zippered bellies and practiced a zen walking method of seeing the obstacles disappear from sight below our front packs, and then and letting the foot find its place with the sense of touch only. It was like a trust exercise with the universe, falling and catching, falling and catching. The fact that our legs still in hinge in all the right places after that blind walk inspires the belief in guardian angles .. or fairies .. or rock-shifting hobbits.

   We took breaks and we took pics, and I almost killed the camera battery filming clips of the ever-changing walk and cliff walls before realizing that I'd left the backup battery on the charger at home. And once we finally made it down into the belly of the thing, juwels squealed with delight at first sight of the still mossy green pools. "We're here !!"

   The trail grew verdant and cropped in softly on our shins and shoulders with new spring growth. "The plants are so soft and delicate," I said, just before finding that one pretty lady had thorns like baby alligator teeth. I studied a branch in my hand and wondered what the higher purpose must be for a plant that doesn't want to be eaten, thorned or poisonous varieties like this. Or are the barbs and poison just a way to ration its medicine to the frantic mammals that might find its graze? 

(to avoid the blowing dust on the rim, juwels wore these fly goggles) 

   There's a place where we had to cross the creek by way of a long fallen tree-bridge extending 30 or so feet across the river, and we wondered if the babes would follow us through there. We knew they could do it ... but the way their feet are setup, they'd have to consciously pigeon toe their walk to stay tightly placed and out of the water. And as it turned out, they weren't ready for the tree-bridge, and I left my bags with juwels and walked back to led them to a set of stepping stones beside the reeds. This too was a thing they cocked their heads at, but after I'd crossed, they bounced from section to section like furry, hooved game pieces. 

   The sun had fallen behind the ridge before we'd found camp .. and we actually walked through a space mid-hike where the sunset cut straight across the trail. We walked down into the darkened part of the day ... but then doubled back a second later, back into the sunny section and took a break in the fading light.

   The camp I had in mind was on a beach of tumbled stones on the water, and when we arrived, we noticed that the sun was still on the canyon floor down the way, just past a bend where the tall stone walls ran parallel with the path of the sun and still cradled the light. We dropped our bags, all but the one with the food in it, and headed off downstream to eat and bathe in the sun.

   Chia fell (in a plump and lazy kind of way) climbing a pile of drift wood, and we figured that we might as well just plant ourselves on the rock and dine. And dine we did, hidden with the fresh green plants in stands all around. I sprayed my arms and hair with natural bug spray, and chia found a cat-nip quality in the scent of citronella and rubbed her cheek, almost violently, against the side of my mop of hair. She was grunting and purring in her little goat way, and it was about the cutest damn thing we'd ever seen. 


   Back at camp, in this extended gloaming hour, we wadded into the cold water and scrubbed our shins and forearms, washing away all the sweat and itchy plant scratches. With no chairs for the early eve, we setup our bags and bedrolls right away, as a place to lie and star gaze, but we could tell that we'd be lucky if we stayed awake long enough to see it fully dark. Juwels struggled to keep her peepers open long enough to witness a 'birthday shooter,' and I kept an eye out too, but on the second or third time that we snapped back from the  dream world and said, "Woah .. I was totally just asleep," we knew we were done for the night. We'd thought about making a baby down there ... or at least rolling the dice on a chance to make one, but the goats had both piled in between our bags and nestled down, so we took it as a sign that they weren't ready for a fifth wheel on the family yet and just passed out.

   As I mentioned, we just had a crazy fire in Oak Creek .. burning 40 something square miles and costing millions to put out, so the idea of a fire was out of the question, and we all just lied there unguarded in the darkness. I had hopped that bigger animals wouldn't want to be down by the creek, so far below, but juwels thought that's where all the life was, and that there might be many. In any event, to the right of my sleeping bag I had my trusty flashlight, unlocked can of bear attack spray and a loaded .38 revolver.  

   Sweet dreams

   I awoke once to find the goats both standing up between us, and looking around. I slipped out of my bag and walked a ways into the brush to take a pee, and they followed close behind - scattering their goat berries along the way, and peeing beside my spot. Earlier that night, I had begun finding spots I thought a large animal might come prowling through, and I marked those spots with the thought and intention in my mind of ... "Stay away .. My turf .. I'm dangerous .." But now the goats were following me and marking their scent, "I'm tiny and delicious .. I have harmless square teeth, and I'm scared and just lying here in the dark .." 

   But I stayed optimistic.

   I awoke again later, feeling something crawling across my neck, and with a knee-jerk reaction, I grabbed it off and threw over juwels bag into the bushes. Not sure what it was .. but I heard it hit the dry leaves, so I knew it was real. Back to sleep, and then up again. Juwels was up too .. not sure why, but I remarked on the light of the moon coming in across tomorrow's swimming hole, and she made an MmMmmmmm sound. And in the next few seconds of silence, we heard a cat screaming. 

   "Cat's," juwels said. "That was two cats, fighting." It was that hellish sound you hear coming from the suburban alleys and bushes, but much louder and uttered with larger lungs and longer breath than any domestic cat I'd ever heard.

   "Do you think there's feral cats out here?" juwels asked hopefully.

   "Like .. house cats?"

   "Yeah ..."

   "Nope .. we're 20 miles away from any house. Those were wild cats."

   We both just lied there ... and the goats didn't seem to notice, just snuggled up like swans between us. I wished we had a fire, and my worst-case mind came in with ... you can't leave .. there would be too much space to cover. Too many brushy areas to walk into something lurking. There was a big slanted rock in the deep part of the swimming hole, and I saw the four of us, goats soaking wet, all huddled out there waiting for daylight .. cats hate water, right ???

    "I wish I didn't just hear that," juwels said morosely.  "Should I blow the whistle?" she asked, and I could hear the beaded chain clinking around her neck as she brought it up to her lips.

    "Yeah .. we'll do that," I said. "We could yell, too .. let them know there are humans down here. They don't like humans. We're the devil." I thought about firing the gun, too, but figured I'd save that for a closer call and spare the babes from the grief of hearing their first bullet shot on such a still and lovely night.

   Juwels blew the whistle, loud. "Is that good? Or should I do more?"

   "I don't know ... for all we know they'll think that's a dying rabbit or something."

   "Don't say that!"

   "I'm just thinking ... I don't know .. I think the yelling will work better. They'll know what that is."

    "Well," she said, "are you going to yell?"

    "Yeah ... I just need to figure out what I'm going to say." I found myself caught in this silly kind of stage fright. Stuck in that silence before the first note rings out. We were the only car at the top of the hill, and showed up late, so I was pretty sure there were no other campers, and then I came out with a scream .. keeping it baritone and bold, and I roared, "Happy birthday juwels !!!!" 

   And as I was calling her name, she yelled, "Thank you !!!"

   The goats both popped their heads up, blinking but not scared .. yet.

   My voice echoed and bounced off the canyon walls, and then I yelled again, so they'd really know they heard it, and they'd know that I was there and active and full of life. And a roared again, "Did you hear me ?? !!! I said HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUWELS !!" And juwels blew the whistle .. and then, not knowing I was gong to do it .. I barked into the night, like a snarling dog (cats + dogs = shy cats) 

   This worried the goats .. they don't like dogs either, and when I saw their little faces in the moonlight, I could tell that they feared their sweet pappa turned werewolf. I stopped just as they got to their feet, and told them it was all right, and patted them on the heads. And then they followed me off on another potty break.

   It would have been better if we'd heard that noise just before sun-up, when we didn't have much more waiting to do, but we both knew it was early .. maybe midnight, and the night was young and dangerous. 

   The next thing I remember, I was firing the gun off in the night, but the sound was so quiet, not the explosion I'd hoped it would be. And then two people appeared through the trees at the camp, a husband and wife ... and they looked confused, but I explained myself. The sky had a light tinge to it, and I asked them what time it was, and they said it was just before sun-up, and although I didn't like their mysterious presences, the fact that we were so close to daylight made me feel better .. not much more waiting to do. 

   And then I woke up to find that I'd passed out again, and that bit with the gun and the people was all just a dream. And that only maybe 20 minutes had gone by. My brain was so attached to the idea that we'd made it through the night that I found it hard to accept that I was back where I started .. and that the gun had never gone off, and that the couple I had just talked at length to were just figments of my imagination.

   I took this opprutunity to holler out into the night again, this time, mimicking the carnival barker from the Venice Beach freak show. "Step right up .. step right up .. come see the two headed turtle, the two headed snake. We've got a dog with five legs .. and a show goat, ezmerelda ... who walks upon two legs." My voice echoed off the cliff walls, and when I said ezzie's name, I heard her tail, thump-thump-thump against the side of my sleeping bag. If there was another camp down here, maybe some backpackers who'd come up from another starting point, they'd have to imagine that I was completely crazy ...  

   Chia's head was up and looking directly across my lap at a place near the water .. I shined the light over there but didn't see anything. I'd wake up a few more times to see her staring over there, watching something in the night. I hoped it was a smiling native chief, all feathered and leathery and maybe flanked with a tall and shaggy wolf guide. Chia didn't seem scared at whatever it was that she saw, so I silently thanked the empty darkness and went back to sleep.

   When I opened my eyes next, it was light, maybe 5am, and the birds in the trees sounded as happy as I was to greet the new day. I recognized a few calls I'd heard from the trees around the Hive, but others were alien, with the sound of laughter or sadness in them. I walked again with the babes to water the plants, and when I returned to my bag, they stayed out on the fringes of the camp, nibbling wild plants and sheering off the seeded tops of the tall grass. 

   We got our real sleep once the sun was up and the sky was light .. but luckily the direct sun stayed off us till maybe 7am, and by 8, we were both in the water ... actually, all four of us. Juwels had requested to see the babes swim (I'd seen this once before when my brother carried them a few feet out into Lake Mary when they were younger) but on that day juwels, somehow, had stayed back to complete a project of some sort..

   Ezzie wasn't expecting it when I caught a hold of her long neck and scooped her up (man .. she's getting heavy) .. and I had to carry her almost all the way across to get into the deeps to make sure she had some good distance to swim. Luckily, once I was past waist deep, I noticed that she was floating all on her own (that bloated belly of hers) so I was able to just guide her along like a raft. Once we hit the spot, I let her go and she swam back to the cheers and calls of her proud momma, filming on the shore. Juwels got a nice clip of her goaty paddle, and when Chia's turn came up, she bolted on me and made for the trees. I caught her quickly, and into the creek we went. Chia swam much smother than Ezzie .. she had style. And something I found interesting about both of their swimming was that once they got shallow enough to touch the pebbly ground, rather than running out of the water, they both just froze there, belly-deep in the water .. kind of feeling the whole thing out : )

   The rest of the day was spent swimming, tanning, floating and snacking .. and we even used my inflatable bed like a magic carpet to glide around the pool. The sun was amazing .. a little too amazing to ration, and we had to sleep off the heat in the shade for a while before jumping back in the water. 

   We ate stuffed grape leaves and drank melon aid, and the babes ate alfalfa pellets off the flat top of a rock. We made it a shorter second day than we'd expected because just before we left the day before, juwels sis, Rosie, called and said that she was coming out for a surprise birthday visit from Oregon (I think she saw our posts about going down into the canyon, and just a few hours before arriving here, figured she better spill the beans, so we'd know to come back to civilization sooner than later : ) Juwels changed the sheets in the winnie, and told Rose where all the snacks and treasures were hidden, and she stayed solo at the Hive that night : ) 

   We saved a jar of juice for the trek back up, and tried to get the girls to drink from the creek, and then off we went. It was a labor to the top, but we took shade breaks, and at one point, we passed another couple headed down with packs and sleeping bags. "You've got the whole place to yourselves," Juwels said, "It's beautiful right now." They were all smiles and headed down to pickup where we left off. 

   Back at the truck, we broke into the cooler which was stocked with more of what we'd been eating in the down at the creek, but cold and even more fresh. And while I was waiting in the driver's seat, chia hopped up in the front cab and lied down beside me on the bench seat. When it was time to go, I asked juwels if we should just let chia ride up there with us and give ezzie the whole back (ezzie is better about lying down if chia isn't back there stamping around and surfing the curves), so we did that. And the babes were so tuckered out and content, that they both slept the majority of the ride home, and we didn't have to take a single potty break : ) 

   Although it was less than a full day, it felt more like a week, and juwels had a happy birthday once again : ) We're already dreaming up our next mission down there ... exploring paths that lead 50 miles plus down the canyon and dump out in the desert town where our bees live, but for now, juwels is getting ready to break ground on her summer project - a vintage Streamline trailer renovation, and I'm compiling many-many words for an extended winnebago diary paperback, which I'll be posting samples of here on the blog : ) 

Thanks for coming along with us !! 

Until next time, loVe, 

p&j .. & .. c&e : )  


Here's two other birthday blogs I did for juwels bee-days in the past : ) 

{One} & {Two}



  1. looking forward to the paperback when it is finished. I find myself getting to the end of the post and wanting to continue to read on....
    Happy Bee-lated birthday Juwels. Thank you for sharing your adventures with the world!
    Light & Love!

    1. Thanks : )

      Working on the manuscript now !!