Camping Trip with the Cat

I grew up with lots of camping and outdoor experiences and I loved it all! But I could never understand why anyone enjoyed car camping!! We did extended backpacking trips, overnight fishing trips, hunting, bike trips, and more. But the few times we did go car camping, I found it totally boring and frustratingly MESSY! When you’re used to backpacking, you take as little as possible with you because you have to carry it all on your back. But car camping!! Well, let’s load up the games, the fluffy pillows, the grill, and hey, we might as well take the kitchen sink!! Because we can! If it fits in the car, it can go. ?‍♀️ Okay, maybe everyone doesn’t car camp like that, but that was my vision of car camping. I thought it was stupid.

Okay, fast forward about 15 years, put me in the middle of a dessert for 7 months with no trees or grass, and then give me a weather forecast of 120 degrees. Let’s go camping in the mountains!!! Suddenly just sitting in the silence of the woods (no AC unit humming constantly), having nothing to do but enjoy nature around you sounded like the best thing in the world. Funny how different circumstances in life change your perspective on something you used to think was silly.

When we made the decision to head to the mountains to camp for the weekend, we knew the cat was going with us. She was just as tired of the heat as we were and it just wouldn’t feel right to leave her behind. Besides that, we worried about the chance of the AC failing while we were gone. If she was home alone with no AC, that could be a big problem.

Okay, so kitty Macchiato is going with us. Great! We already knew she handles traveling with the camper just fine. We open the door at an overnight site and she starts circling the camper and expanding her circles as she investigates the area. If anything spooks her, she runs back to the camper because she knows that’s home. But how would she do without the camper? Would she treat the car in the same way or would she feel lost without her house?

I took her leash and harness with us just in case, but I already knew she hated the cat carrier and the leash and just demanded that we trust her. I knew she was very loyal and wants to stay with us so I just turned my worry mind off knowing that I want my cat to live the independent and free life of an outdoor cat. When we got to our secluded camp site, we simply let the cat out just as we would if we were traveling in the camper. She did great! She began her circling and treated the car as her safety net just as we had hoped. What a smart cat!

We had planned to camp in the Tonto National Forest just outside of Payson, AZ. When we got there, every road was blocked with yellow caution tape, stop signs, and warning signs stating that the entire forest was closed due to a recent forest fire. I’ve never seen anything like in all my years going to the woods. We were very disappointed and thinking we might have to just turn around and drive home! I’m not sure why the closure announcements weren’t on the forest service websites we were browsing as we planned our trip. Anyway, after looking at the map, we noticed the Coconino National Forest wasn’t too much farther up the road so we headed there to see if we could camp there. Yes! The forest was open and simply had no “campfire” signs which is typical for the summer anywhere.

We found ourselves a really nice spot, tucked off the main roads and away from other people. We didn’t want a fellow campers dog to chase our cat. And I tend to like to get as far away from people as possible when I go camping. ?

Kitty played and played, hunting chipmunks ?, getting scolded by crows, and climbing trees ?. She has missed spending time outside with us. We’re usually outside working on projects and gardening at home but it has just been too hot for any of that. So she was really happy to have her people hanging out with her outside again. Jonathan and I were just enjoying the quiet and the fresh air! I don’t think anyone should live where trees don’t live.

I suppose it was a lot of trouble to pack up all our gear for one night in the woods, but it was totally worth it to me. I had to chuckle as I took pictures of pine cones and trees, things I used to take for granted. It’s interesting to note what you take pictures of when you haven’t seen them in forever.

I wasn’t sure how Macchiato would do at night. She’s used to sleeping with us, but I wondered if the night life of the woods would have her too excited to sleep. We were a little worried about her trying to scratch her way through the netting of the tent. But, she went right to sleep as usual. I did have to put her in the car for the early morning hours. I usually let her outside at about 3 or 4 in the morning, and she wanted to stick to that routine in the woods. I didn’t want her running around free in the woods while it was dark, so I put her in the car so I could finish sleeping.

After enjoying our morning at the camp site, we decided to go on a nice long car ride, exploring the Arizona and New Mexico border. There is a lot of beautiful and untouched country over there! The route we chose was very scenic and the temps were pretty close to 75 degrees all day, but it ended up taking much longer than we anticipated! It was a 12 hour drive by the time we got home. Kitty was, once again, quite the trooper, napping the whole way like a road tripping pro. ?

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