Saturday, June 4, 2016

Camping at Cochise Stronghold

When we moved to Hawai'i, we left all our camping gear in storage- and with fairly good reason. Camping in Hawai'i generally amounts to campgrounds or beach camping. Neither of these things is bad in and of themselves, per se, but neither is highly appealing to us. We are the people who go camping to Get Away From It All. Like, literally, IT ALL. No other people around, no amenities, and no visible pavement!

This is, by nature, a lot more work, but so much more adventuring and exploring and freedom is at hand!

So we decided to go find a good place to go camping. 

Guy did his research, picked an area that we HOPED wouldn't be high traffic in spite of the stereotypical Memorial Day weekend timing, we packed our gear and prepped some delicious tin foil dinners and off we went. 

Upon arriving at Cochise Stronghold, we found a few different levels of amenities/privacy. At the end of the road was a very convenient campground with grills and picnic tables and bathrooms and a lovely paved hike. In other words, hard pass. There were already about 3 campers about to become new best friends in the night ahead and we didn't want any part in that. 

So we backtracked to a dirt road that beckoned invitingly to our collectively enterprising souls and set off to find a more suitable location. 

We drove the dirt lane, seeing empty camping spot after empty camping spot, only recognizable as such by the fire pit and cleared dirt. The shorties alternately argued and cheered and voted on their favorites and we at last selected our ideal camping spot with all our requirements more or less met. 

However, no sooner had we gotten out and begun unloading the car than Xandri came careening back through the bushes (wait, back? When did she LEAVE?!), breathless with excitement and frantic for us to come and see what she had found. 

So while I continued to unload, Dad and the other minions charged off into the woods to see what on earth could have gotten her all worked up. Moments later, they all came charging back.

"Mom! Mom! You've GOT to come check this out! It's SOOO cool, we HAVE to camp over here!!!"

Dragging my feet, I followed my exuberant children down the hill away from the official campsite only to find THIS:  

Ok, so that may be a bit misleading. The set up part didn't happen QUITE that fast. But it was close. We hauled our gear and food and bags down into the valley and got to work. 

The kids helped take care of the dry leaf problem. 

I set up the tent and got our sleeping bags and other stuff arranged while these ones went foraging for big rocks and dry wood and kindling to build a fire pit and subsequent fire. I have never seen these people work so hard and fast and with so much excitement and so little complaint as when we are building FIRES. Little pyros. I don't know WHERE they get it.

Then it was time to make our dinner.

 After all that hard work and with some delicious ketchup I had about zero picky eaters on my hands as the crew dug in. 

Can't really blame them, though. 

We spent the evening laughing and talking and teasing and eating s'mores and actually got some ok sleep.

The next morning it was time to explore our new home. While Guy and I held down the tent, the scouts went out to see what there was to see. Which quickly became apparent that it was all VERY EXCITING. 

We were camping at the base of some cliffs, which meant there was a GLORIOUS arrangement of fallen boulders providing little nooks and crannies and climbing opportunities all over the place.

Now, for this next part of the story, you must understand a little background. Avril & Xandri are both obsessed with the Warriors series. If you aren't familiar with it, this is actually a rather comprehensive series about cat clans and cat warriors and all of the drama that goes along with that. I'm gonna go ahead and let you guess what happened next. 


Yep, you guessed it! They each picked cat names, created a clan, named it and arranged their societal construct and economic system, selected their lairs, fought for position of chief, claimed Leader Rock or some such thing and became extremely wary of the tall Two Legs who had finally ventured over to explore their territory. Hissing, spitting and clawing the air, the wild warrior kitties chased us away from their homes... until they found out we had Jolly Ranchers. Suddenly, they were much more amenable to our presence. 

At that point, it was game over. Us Two Legs were transformed and given kitty names. The bigger male Two Legs declined joining the clan and opted to be the crazy old cat shaman that ran his own clan and ... expanded... his personality to fulfill all the roles himself. 

The smaller female Two Legs' heart was softened by the adorable warrior kittens and she was immediately inducted into the clan in a ceremony under Leader Rock.

There may have been some howling and cat calling (I couldn't resist) involved.

She was then given the option to choose her new home, at which point she went exploring and was shown several nice properties available by the oh-so-helpful warrior-kitties-turned-realtors. 

We spent the next few hours climbing and warring and hissing and cuddling and eating warrior kitty treats and reading. Once we'd had our fill, it was with great remorse and growling tummies that we packed up our camping gear to go home. One last stop before our drive through the Dragoon mountain range was back at the amenity-filled campground where we had seen a nice paved nature walk with historical and botanical placards along the way. We tested our new knowledge and collective memory through the duration of the hike, identifying as many plants and trees as we could before loading back up to head home.

The drive home through the Dragoons was a post unto itself! Absolutely breathtaking and VERY adventurous.

All in all, the camping trip was a smashing success.