When we found out Margot’s first day of school was August 1st, we scrambled to scrape together a family vacation at the last minute. We like to keep our plans loose, avoiding reservations and expectations in order to flow with the weather, and our moods while traveling. It’s an art form, really.
Our plan was to take the pop-up camper out for almost a week; staying at Apache Lake near Phoenix, and camping and hiking in Sedona. Well, Apache Lake was sweltering. I went for a run at the Burnt Corral campground where we stayed at a shoreside site and the temperature held steady at 104 at 7pm. I got zero sleep that night, and felt like I was suffocating in 97 degree weather at midnight. The kids were fine, and Isaac seemed okay, but I definitely was going to have a bad time camping in weather like that; and if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I think that’s how the saying goes.
So north we traveled, hoping that the weather would cool the further we went toward Flagstaff. Sedona was still above 100, so we traveled onward to Flagstaff.
Camping at the county fairgrounds was wonderful. Quiet, cheap, centrally located. We had at least two activities a day that we achieved; visiting the Arboretum, a Mansion, trails in the mountains, kayaking at Lake Mary and — my favorite — checking out the Pioneer Museum!
The Pioneer Barn, separate from the main building, contains loads of artifacts of yesteryear – I especially enjoyed spotting a large floor loom. It was warped with a project on it. I wish I were able to identify all the features of various looms on the spot. I need to crack open a few more books and click around a few more websites before I can do that.
I’m still neck deep in Pioneer culture right now. As some of you may know, I tend to latch onto a topic and immerse myself in it for a year or so until my interests are swayed into another direction. We’re reading the Little House on the Prairie series and chipping away at lessons in the Playful Pioneers curriculum at the moment, so this museum was exactly the type of place we had to visit.
A lumber train staged in the front of the museum was open for us to trot through. From there we followed the foot path to a historic cabin. I love imagining how life would have been in the late 1800s. We went to the museum after a trail run, and I wasn’t feeling as hygienically civilized as I would like to be, so I think I had a pretty good idea of how it felt to live intimately with the seasons and the elements. That is certainly part of the joy to camping; reconnecting with nature and learning to appreciate the modern conveniences we all have. And resetting the internal clock to coincide with the natural circadian rhythm — totally necessary!
I will tell you the best part of the Pioneer Museum, by far. Their Children’s Room, full of wooden toys, period costumes, school desks and books.
We had to loop around to the Children’s room twice so the kids could continue to play with the Jacob’s ladders, hobby horses and oversized dollhouse. Engaging children in museum settings is difficult, so I commend the Historical Society of Arizona on curating such a magnetic place for kids to explore.
Among the many activities we did in Flagstaff, the Pioneer Museum was top of the list for me; although it was tough choice between trail running, s’mores making, and kayaking. I will definitely revisit this place, and I doubt I’ll have trouble dragging my family along again.