In the High Country...


fool hollow lake state Park

“Remember to roast a weenie for me!”
one friend always says as we take off.
Smell that, Girls? It’s a “spot of interest!”
What nice garbage cans!
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Fool Hollow Lake State Park is literally within minutes of

the main drag of Show Low, AZ. Show Low is one the gateway communities to the Mogollon (MU-gee-yahn) Rim and the White Mountains of Arizona… If you take 260 southeast you’ll be in Pinetop-Lakeside a few miles down the road and further east on 260 are Eager and Spingerville. At this point you are dangerously close to the New Mexico border. Keep going east on 60 (gas up before you head out) and you’ll hit Socorro, NM and I-25 south of Albuquerque. It’s an interesting drive through a little-populated area…you’ll go through Pie Town, NM and you’ll pass by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in NM that is eerie and very other-worldly, to say the least. (It’s where part of the movie “Contact” were filmed!)

If you go south from Eager on 191, you’ll be on a very beautiful and very high mountain drive with lots of winding roads, sharp turns and 15 mph speed limits… and no gas stations (so be very prepared).  Talk about white knuckles.  We have never pulled a trailer on that route and will probably never chose do so. Highway 191 meanders south through the mountains and into the mining country north of Safford, AZ (where Roper Lake State Park mentioned earlier is)…35 miles south of Safford, you can pick up I-10.

North from Eager on 180/191 and you’ll hit 60 again which goes back to Show Low…further north lies St. Johns. Between Springerville and St. Johns is Lyman Lake State Park. Lyman Lake is down out of the mountains in the northern high desert at 6000 feet… created by a dam on the Little Colorado River, it’s a popular lake for fishing, boating and water skiing. We have driven there from Show Low to check it out, but have not camped there (yet) Perhaps we will on our way to the Four Corners area at some point…because if you keep going north from Lyman Lake State Park on 191 you’ll connect with I-40 between Holbrook, AZ and Gallup, NM…or you can take a left at St. Johns and take 190 to Holbrook and the Petrified Forest National Park.

Back in Show Low, if you take highway 77 north, you will find Snowflake, AZ…and if you go further north on 77 you’ll hit Holbrook at I-40. This whole area north from Spingerville and north of Strawberry to I-40 is pretty desolate, so if you travel that route be prepared and make sure you have plenty of gas and water. So that’s the general lay of the land from Show Low and points north and east. Now back to Fool Hollow. “Finally,” you say?

There is nothing quite like arriving at your destination,  and getting settled with the knowledge that you have a whole week stretching ahead to enjoy yourself…doing nothing but what you want to do, and when you want to do it. And this was no exception. The air at Fool Hollow was clean (except for an occasional hint of the “controlled burn” happening to the south) and brisk and the atmosphere was overall a refreshing change from the desert heat. Life is at its best at times like this.

The very first thing we do once we get the trailer unhitched and hooked up is take the Girls, Annie and Sadie, for a walk. It also gives us a chance to get out

                            and see who’s around, and how busy the campground is. We

                                  have been to Fool Hollow Lake several times over the past

                                   several years, and two time previously this year…in the

                                   spring, once in the summer, and now. And it seems like

                                   the Girls remember the place as well…they know where to go, and past “spots of interest” to pause and sniff along their walks. We say “hey” to anyone who is out in their campgrounds, scope where there are other animals, and whether they are friendly or excitable…and say hello to the camp host if they are around.

It’s a great time for the Girls. They know the adventure has really begun once we get there and they get out on their first walk. They really do like to go camping…they enjoy all the new smells and stimulation… the walks every couple of hours (always ready to go at the slightest rattle of a leash)…the new people to pat them and say hello. But honestly, we think their main reason for enjoying it so much is that they get to spend so much quality time with us. Don’t get me wrong… they have a good life at home, too, but when we’re camping we are all doing things together, and they are always very close at hand, day and night. We enjoy it, too, and the time with them always makes us happy that they are in our little family.

Our first evening at a campsite is always pretty laid back after the long drive…nothing strenuous or demanding…just enjoying the down time…after all we have a whole week to do stuff!  We have a snack of wine and cheese and crackers and think about what we want to fix for dinner…we decide on stew we made last week and froze for an easy dinner while camping. Just the ticket for the crisp climate and cool weather…

Our campsite is in the “Redhead Loop” (a bird common to the area)...this is one of two loops that have full hookups… There is a third RV loop that has mostly electric and water hookups, and only a handful that have sewer.  The “Redhead Loop” is the only loop comes close to the water’s edge …the loops are all cement roads (not pavement)…each has a cement RV pad and patio area with a picnic table and a fire ring.  Some sites are set up as double sites…that is, two sites sharing a common double-wide pad…one is set back further than the other…each has it’s own utilities, and they’d be good if you are camping with friends, but not ideal if you didn’t know the occupants of the neighboring site (but certainly no worse than some private RV places)… 

As mentioned, one of our favorite sites in the loop—#15 in “Redhead Loop” was free, so we backed right in without even cruising through the park to see what else might be available. It’s totally level, so we didn’t need leveling blocks! The site is located on the higher side of the loop with a distant view of the lake through the pines and an east exposure from the patio with large boulders and trees right outside the door…and great privacy. We have learned from experience that the lower sites near the lake are prone to strong chilly breezes right off the lake, especially in the spring and fall…sites up the hill from the lake are more sheltered. The middle area of the loop has no sites in it (they are all on the outer side of the road for maximum privacy)…this is where the restrooms and showers are located, central to all the sites.  There is also a path through the middle of this area from the lake to the upper end of the loop.

The park is well maintained by the rangers and hosts (one in each loop). The host in our loop changed while were there…the first was a solo woman who really likes cocker spaniels! She left after we had been there a couple

days…then there were two days when the host site was empty…

then the next host, a couple, arrived and set up camp. The rangers

make rounds at least four times a day and the hosts make them-

selves easily available. The rangers go through the park each day

and empty the garbage cans which are located on the loop road about every 400 yards or so…rather than an industrial strength dumpster somewhere.  I know this sounds like a small detail, but the small things make for a much nicer atmosphere in a campground.

We enjoyed the cooler weather a lot…a couple of days it was a little windy, but most days we were able to deploy the awning to shade the patio in the morning hours, and retract it for the afternoon…we also used the rear awning in the morning and the street side awning in the afternoon… Our site was surrounded by a mixture of Ponderosa Pine and scrub oak…the oaks were in full color for the fall…so the view from camp was rich in golds, yellows and rusts…that, plus the lichen on the boulders and the grasses on the hill up from the patio area provided a nice vision of fall. It’s nice for us desert rats to get to wear long sleeve shirts and warm clothes! 

Most days were in the 60s or 70s…nights in the high 20s and mid 30s.  One night the low was 27 and two nights it was 29. When we checked in the ranger asked us to disconnect the water at night because of the potential for freezes. The water sources are set up so that when they are turned off the water falls down below the frost line in the ground so the pipes don’t freeze.  At 10 o’clock the morning after that 27 degree night, the drip from the water outlet was still frozen (see pic). The inside night temps in the Bambi were comfortable… we used the heat pump in the mornings to take the chill off and the furnace set low to keep us warm at night. We all like to sleep cool, and we had the down comforter with us…so everyone was toasty and happy. It doesn’t take much to keep the Bambi warm…it’s not that big! We didn’t use the AC once on this trip, which is great!

Being so close to Show Low, we went into town a couple of different times to visit some antique stores and see what else looked interesting, gas up the truck,

                                    and stop at the grocery store…but for the most part we

                                           sent our time in camp or on walks through the

                                              different areas of the park or on the path that goes

                                             around to the other side of the lake where the day-

                                          use areas are located. And of course, we had to have

                                             camp fires! A must! Recent winds had provided a good supply of dry pine needles that are terrific for starting the campfire. We grilled a couple of nights—steaks and the obligatory hamburgers and hot dogs…what’s a camping trip with out those?  Because the weather got very chilly after the sun went down, we did our outdoor activities in the afternoon/early evening so we could retreat to the warmth of the Bambi for the night once it started to get cold…

Each day I’d wake up and think to myself, “Yea! We have __(fill in the blank)__ days left to enjoy before we have to pack up and go home!” Only on the fifth and sixth days did it feel like we were running out of time.  Being there for a week we saw a lot of folks come and go…most of the activity was over the weekend, of course…folks coming in on Friday and out on Sunday afternoon…it never was crowded, and I doubt that the park was more than 1/3 occupied at any given time…and less mid-week. That’s the way we like it.  During our summer visit, it was very busy and at almost full capacity every day.

Strangest thing—we kept seeing this little Bambi in the most precarious campsites!  We couldn’t figure out how they got it there and we never did see thet tow vehicle or th campers!  We caught a few pictures of it below...looks something like the one hanging on our rear view mirror!  Ha!  Gotcha. Thank goodness for Hallmark! (Cute, isn’t it??)

But the week did pass, and come Wednesday evening we packed up some of the camp so that we’d have a jump on it on Thursday, our departure day. I got out our little compressor and  checked the tire pressure as well as the torque of the lug bolts on the trailer… all was well. All we had to do was finish packing the truck, hitch the trailer and we’d be good to go! One more relaxing evening in the Bambi before the trip home…

Check out time is 2 PM in Arizona state parks, which is great because you still have the better part of the day to get packed up and you don’t feel as hurried as when the check out time is 11 AM or noon.  However, with a 4-hour drive home we were all packed and on our way out the park and down off the Rim by about 12:15 PM in Thursday, 25 October…homeward bound…Check out the pics below then click on “Homeward Ho!” to go to our trip home. You can also click on “Introduction”  or “The Trip Up” to go to those pages again.