PrideInThePines&More

A Pride Gathering in Flagstaff + Pinegrove & Rock Crossing Campgrounds,

16 - 27 Jun 2011 - Slideshow Below Text

AZBAMBI
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The only scheduled Four Corners Unit Rally for June was the Restoration Rally held in Albuquerque, which we weren’t panning to attend … and we really wanted to have an “event” rally to look forward to that month. Timing was right. There had been a rising presence of FOD (“Friends of Dorothy”) Airstreamers on the AirForums, and there had even been an FOD rally planned at an RV park in Arkansas, organized by our Airstream friends Brad & Zell who live in Kansas City.


So it seemed like a good idea to put the call out for our FOD Airstream and non-Airstream camping friends and acquaintances to come together for the annual “Pride in the Pines” celebration in Flagstaff. It’s always nice to get up into the cooler Arizona climates in the summer, and who’s not up for a Pride event!


So that’s just what we did. Terry did the preliminary leg work — contacting personal friends, announcing it on the Airforums, contacting the Flagstaff KOA, which had been receptive to Pride attendees in the past — and generally getting the ball rolling. Everyone made thier own resevations at the KOA, and there was no hard schddule other than getting together to enjoy each other’s company, so it was easy to get folks in the game. It turned out to be a pleasant convergence of Airstreamers and other camping friends from all over Arizona, New Mexico and California.


We were there with our friends Deb & Loretta, along with Ron & Mark and Mario from Tucson. Louis & Sergio came up from Phoenix … Michele & Carol came from Clarkville … The out of state crew consisted of Barbara & Janis, Jim & Rod, and Chris & Jeff  from New Mexico … and Alison & Stacy, Bobby, and Mike & Tom from California. Let’s see … that was 12 rigs and 22 campers! And what a good crowd it turned out to be, too. Plus there were a whole bunch of other FODs there from the Rainbow RV Club … so we were not alone.


Deb & Loretta met us at our house with their rig in tow the morning of Thursday, 16 June and we hit the road to Flagstaff. It was a pleasant trip up. We had been in the area camping several times before, but we had never stayed at the Flagstaff KOA. It seemed like a good place to land for the weekend because we’d have full hookup in case it was warmer than usual, and it was close to town and Pride festivities which were being held in a park near downtown Flagstaff.


We arrived late in the afternoon and checked in. It was pretty busy at the KOA. We had reserved specific sites so we could all be together on the same “road” in the campground, having our own little encloave. But to our surprise and disappointment, the campground had chosen to re-assign Terry & Greg to a different row. When Terry asked why, he was told they had to move us because someone was in the space we had reserved. Huh? Terry wanted to know what their concept of “reservation” was, especially because we were traveling with others. Terry was not pleased, but we were put in the next row and not too far away, so we tried to go with the flow. Besides ... what can you do short of stamping your feet, whcih never gets one anywhere? They certainly were not interested in accommodating us. We were guided to our respective sites and from there it only got worse. The site they had re-assigned us was very tight to get into. We have a small trailer, yes, but it does have its limits. The site was better suited to tent camping or an even smaller trailer. Terry finally got the Bambi into the space after much navigation, back and forth, many on-lookers and uninvited “help”, and only by clearing a tree by 3” on one side. Even the campground personnel got into the game of getting us into the site ... way more “help” than Terry needed or wanted. You all know how frustrating unsolicited parking directions and waving arms are. It was not helpful.


Once we were in place an unhitched, we began to set up, only to find that we did not have 30-amp service as expected. The shared electrical utility post only had one 30-amp outlet and a 15-amp ourlet and our neighbor was already plugged into the 30-amp. This meant we could not run the AC if necessary. Terry went back to the office to complain and try to get them to move us, but he met with uninterested desk personnel who were pretty rude. They basically said, “Take it or leave it.” They also insisted that the 15-amp circuit would power our air conditioner, which I knew for a fact was not true. “Besides ... you are not going to need your AC this weekend.”


We are not difficult people to get along with, but at the same time, we are not afraid of making sure we receive the treatment we are due. We had made reservations in a specific site for a reason, and we had expected to have 30-amp service, not 15-amp, also for a reason. We were not pleased and let it be known. But they were not willing to help us or to fix the situation. It was the beginning of a less-than-happy camping experience at the Flagstaff KOA. The “manager” was very patronizing, and she kept referring to Terry as “hon” and other overly familiar terms … The initial experience was bad enough, but it continued the whole weekend. She kept coming by our site to “see if Terry was having a good time yet.” She would have been far better off by just letting it lie and backing off. Even better she could have solved the problem rather than insisting there was no problem. KOA has not provided the type of site in the location we had reserved. Her approach was neither effective nor sincere ... and far from professional.


Despite this huge disappointment, we did manage to have a good time with our friends. We enjoyed several gatherings at different sites in the campground throughout the weekend, and partied with all. The official Pride celebration was on Saturday, with events the evening before and afterwards. The main event was held in a one-square-block downtown park. We all went and took that in, of course. It was well attended and it’s always fun to see all the Rainbow flags flying and to see our people gathering to have a good time together.


Everyone had plenty of free time to explore Flagstaff and see the sights. Deb & Loretta and Barbara & Janis took advantage of their proximity to the Grand Canyon and made a day trip to visit it, and also made another day to go to Wupatki National Monument NE of Flagstaff. Evenings were filled with BBQs and visits to local eateries and watering holes.


The party was over on Monday when we all packed up and headed our separate ways. The NM contingency headed east on I-10, the CA group headed west on I-40, and most of the AZ folks headed south to their hometowns. Deb & Loretta had to get back home, so they, too headed wouth. We will not forget the treatment we received at the Flagstaff KOA. Terry wrote a formal letter of compalint to the owner later, but it was intercepted by the “manager” and it was never resolved to our satisfaction. Not even an apology ... just excuses and justifications. Terry believes his complaint was never seen by the owner. As a result, we will never darken the door of the Flagstaff KOA again, and will certainly never give the campground a good recommendation. It’s too bad, too. We brought about $3000 worth of business to them, and it could be a pleasant place to stay if matters had been handled properly. But they weren’t and we won’t be back. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Interestingly, we have since heard similar stories from others who have had disappointing stays there. One person went so far as to opt our of the gathering specifically becasue we were planning on staying there ... she’d already had a bad experience with them, and will also never go back. You’d think they’d learn over time.


We had made plans to extend our trip and stay four nights at our favorite campground in the Flagstaff area, Pinegrove Campground in the Coconino National Forest. It’s just 15 miles SE of Flagstaff off Lake Mary Road. We’ve enjoyed this campground in the past several times and we always try to stay there at least a couple of nights when we are in the area. It’s a dry-camping campground, but the sites are very nice, and there is a coin-operated shower and a dump station. About half the sites are reserveable and the rest are first come first served. It is a very popular campground, though, so we’d recommend resrvations to be safe. One time we did not have resrevatons and only got in because there ws one site that was so small nobody else could fit in it. (One more advantage of havng a Bambi!) Anther time when we went without reservations, we could only get in for one night, and had to wait for someone to leave in the non-reserveable area. It worked out fine in the end, but it was “iffy”...


After a pleasant and relaxing 4 nights at Pinegrove, on Friday we packed up and headed south past Mormon Lake through the mountains to Route 87 that runs between Clint’s Well and Winslow. We turned northeast onto Route 87 and drove about 4 miles to Forest Road 751, and about 3 miles of gravel road to Rock Crossing Campground, also in the Coconino National  Forest. We had camped at Rock Crossing in August 2010 and enjoyed it very much. Its sites are more primitive but there are toilets and water available. Several of the sites sit right on the rim of the northerly part of the Mogollon Rim … with wonderful views. (No sleep-walking, please!) Another nice aspect of this campground is that it costs only $8 per night (and half that if you have the Senior Pass). You just can’t beat that.


When we arrived at Rock Crossing, it was busier than we had hoped. The best sites, those along the rim, were already taken. In 2010 we were lucky enough to snag one of those “outer” sites for our stay ... but not this time, unfortunately. They do not accept reservations, so you get what you can find. It’s best to arrive there mid-week to have the best selection of sites ... and that’s exactly what we’ll do next time. But we rolled with it and found a nice site that was set comfortably off from neighbors, and the rim was right across the road. By early evening most of the remaining sites were taken … mostly by tent campers.


Over the next two days it got pretty warm, so we decided to run both generators mid-day to combat the heat … we only ran the generators as long as we needed the AC. There is no cell service, no TV reception and not Internet reception there, so it’s easy to camp with only solar for a number of days. This area is remote, so there is a real sense of being away from civilization. Not a bad feeling, actually.


We left Rock Crossing on Monday, 27 June after 10 days on the road, spent at Flagstaff, Pinegrove and Rock Crossing. When we left Rock Crossing, we backtracked south west on Route 87 to Clint’s Well, on south through Strawberry and Pine … and on to Payson. From Payson we took 87 (also called Beeline Highway ... the main link between Phoenix Metro and the Mogollon Rim), south to the Phoenix area, cutting southwest to Mesa on Bush Highway to Apache Junction and on south to Tucson via Routes 60, 77 through Florence and 79 into Tucson. Home again, home again!


It was a good trip, even with the KOA disappointment … and varied — camping with our friends with full hookups, followed by dry camping solo at Pinegrove with well-developed sites … and then a bit of more solo primitive camping at Rock Crossing. We like having multiple legs to a trip if we can arrange it. It seems like a longer trip than it really is.


Enjoy the pictures below. If you’d like to hear more about Pinegrove and Rock Crossing, please go to past trip logs using the link below or at the end of the photo section. There are lots of details and pictures. And be sure to stay tuned for further trips!

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