Near Walnut Canyon National Monument

After getting smoked out of our spot along Kinnikinick Lake and knowing we wanted to be up in Flagstaff proper for the summer RTR in mid-June anyway we headed towards one of the spots we have made use of several times in the past on a side road quite near the entrance to the Walnut Canyon National Monument.

We came in on South side Forest Roads first to see if we could find a cool new spot to camp in. We eventually ended up deciding that the Southern side of the Monument was just too far away, travel time, from downtown Flagstaff to be suitable since a two hour each way back-and-forth trip during Stanley Cup Playoff time would just be too much. I love hockey, just not that much. We instead decided to utilize one of our regular spots relatively close to the official entrance to the National Monument itself which also ends up being a 15 minute drive into downtown Flagstaff. Much better than the Southern Rim option.

Willow in front of the Walnut Canyon National Monument sign
Annoyed At Being Forced Into Another Photo Opportunity

When we turned down the usual forest road we found that someone else had already set up camp in “our” spot. Oh well. Knowing that there are dozens of acres and other roads with camping opportunities in the area we instead kept going deeper into the forest until we came to a dead end with a quality spot to set up camp in. I checked to make sure, just in case, but we were near enough to Flagstaff that we still had a pretty strong LTE signal.

Once we pulled in we immediately found that others before us had found this to be a nice spot to camp in as well and they were apparently fans of littering, IV drug use, really crappy malt liquor and some of the nastiest foods you can possibly assault your body with.

bunch of empty bottles in the fire pit
The Fire Pit And Surrounding Grounds Were Strewn With The Litter Of Non-Selective Drinkers

The vast majority of the bottles dumped all over the place were Steel Reserve a poisonous affront to craft brewers everywhere and those with, you know, actual taste buds in their mouths. Along with the empty bottles of crap beer there was also countless cans of various Chef Boyardee swill “flavors,” dozens of empty tiny cans of Vienna Sausages and an abundance of the same crap, mass-produced, commercially pre-made Mac & Cheese that the thieving scumbags along the Mogollon Rim had been partial to as well as several dozen used needles. This, to me, is a good indication of the truism “birds of a feather flock together” or in this case “scumbags unite eat your wretched delights.” I. Am. A. Poet.

One hour of double nitrile-gloved careful pick-up later we were left with a pile of nine Safeway-sized plastic bags filled to the brim and bulging with the detritus of empty lives and one full bag of needles.

bags of garbage collected from a junky's shooting gallery camp
The Remains Of The Junkie Camp

The next day when we went into town for the Stanley Cup Playoffs we spread the joy by parceling out the bags of garbage in several different public garbage cans and dropping off the bag of needles for proper disposal at the only local hospital we could find in the area, Flagstaff Medical Center who were gracious enough to take them without giving me too much hassle. Actually, I told them where I had found and picked them up at and the nice nurse said “thank you very much.”

One morning while walking around camp I happened to glance up into one of the pine trees in the area and was momentarily shocked to be confronted by what at first kind of looked like a mini Xenomorph skull from the Alien franchise.

Toothy Grin In A Small, Fur-Covered Skull
Toothy Grin In A Small, Fur-Covered Skull
small skull in tree
A Closer Look. Real Aliens Do Not Have Brown Fur.
Probably A Chihuahua Skull in my hand
I Am Sadly Thinking This Is A Chihuahua Skull
Another view of the chihuahua skull in my hand
Poor, Little, Neglected Creature

I can only imagine the life and crappy death that poor little dog had if it was indeed under the “care” of junkies. After I gave the skull a quick burial I washed my hands, twice. I then celebrated the fact that Willow will never have a life like that by practicing our standard Locovore habits and enjoying a suitably named Flagstaff IPA.

Flagstaff IPA can in my hand
A Toast To The Little Skull. Good, Local And Available In Cans. Three Of My Standard Criteria.

Willow was still in recuperation mode from her toenail trauma and was limping about badly. Seemingly because of this she was more tired than usual and less discerning about where she would lay down for naps or dirt baths. Unfortunately she found and used a spot underneath what was apparently the most sap-filled and dripping pine tree in all of the Coconino National Forest and soon was covered in numerous patches of dirty pitch. We looked up remedies and were informed of the practice of thoroughly coating affected areas in mayonnaise or peanut butter, letting it soak in and then washing it out along with the pitch. Sadly we had neither of those items on hand and I expected to have essentially zero control keeping Willow from gleefully licking off either substance anyway. So we just decided to let her be a wallowing, pitch-covered, dirty mess for a while in hopes that eventually the sap would dry and flake off or her hair would in time grow out and shed the sticky substance. As I write this it has been a little more than five weeks since she was covered in pitch and for the most part she is back to normal with only a few small patches remaining in places she cannot reach to groom like the edges on both ears and a spot near her chin.

During another bout of reading, writing and relaxing I took notice of these really large and weirdly shaped flies. Not horse fly size but still substantially larger than your common house fly. When I started paying attention to them I noticed that in fact they were regularly catching and eating normal house flies.

House Fly In The Clutches Of A Fly Predator on my solar panels
House Fly (red eyes) In The Clutches Of A Fly Predator (black eyes)

I had just climbed up our Xtend & Climb Telescoping Ladder to adjust our shade canopy and came across a pair of these flies in amorous pursuits. Closer observation apparently makes me a pervert fly voyeur as we took the time to carefully watch the mating ritual of one of these pairs as they went at it full tilt.

flys, having sex, on my ladder
Fly Sex. You’re Welcome.

For your viewing pleasure and because I have no doubt there is an entomologist somewhere who really wants to see this I give to you the less than one minute long fly porn video in all its disgusting and yet fascinating glory, seductive leg rubbing and full-body-orgasm included. So, yeah, fair warning.

The next few days were spent reading, writing and relaxing in between bouts of Stanley Cup Playoff fever and hikes back into the surrounding Forest area.

On one of those hikes we sadly came across a dump site for the local lazy scumbags. Not just household garbage but also the go to spot for burglars and purse snatchers to come sort through their ill-begotten gains and toss anything that they couldn’t use or pawn. Besides several pallet-sized piles there was also stuff just generally strewn about. After our big cleanup at our campsite we were low on bags and so only had one small garbage bag with us which we were able to fill up just picking up stuff in a five foot circle.

pallet dumoed in the forest filled with garbage
One Of The Larger Piles Of Garbage

This was just too much for us to make a dent in and so we sadly took just the one bag of garbage we had collected away. Next time we were at the Flagstaff Forest Service Office we showed them the pictures, gave them GPS waypoints and were told that, with their limited budget and manpower they may or may not get to this. If it was closer to a body of water it would be a priority but out there it takes a back-burner to immediate hazards. We asked about organizing a public cleanup day and maybe even renting a dumpster to take everything the group could collect away. We were told that someone with more knowledge and authoritative power would have to get back to us at a later date (so far, after 6 weeks no one ever has) but that they (the person manning the front desk) thought that because of legal and Forest Service bureaucratic policies it might be difficult to get something like that approved. We’ll follow-up the next time we are in the area and maybe we might get approval and then have a GoFundMe campaign to raise the fees for a dumpster and all the rest we would need for such an undertaking. We shall see how it goes and keep you up to date.

After the Sharks sadly lost to the Penguins in seven games we decided to change our scene a bit and head up further into the Forest on A-1 Mountain Road. This is the general area where the Summer RTR was to take place and since it was going to start in only a few days we decided to get there early and grab a nice spot before the crowds descended.

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