Plan D (Or, The Bagdad “Adventure”)
I have a traveling buddy. Her name is Allison. Allison is just the right type of companion for me: laid back, can make fun out of almost anything, likes to drive, and has children whose company my own greatly enjoy.
All of those qualities are important, because the outings and adventures I have with my children are usually to fairly far-flung locations, and NOTHING ever goes exactly according to plan. Normally, I am 100% OK with that; Plan B is usually just as great as the original. However, when I have friends with me, I get extremely nervous, because I then feel responsible that they have a good time, and that everyone’s expectations are fulfilled.
But, Allison doesn’t care, and she assured me with a laugh that, yes, even though our trip on Friday totally didn’t go as we had expected, she had a great time, and her two boys did, too, and she’s looking forward to a do-over. Two for the price of one.
So, here was the plan:
- Apple-picking at the organic orchards of Date Creek Ranch.
- Playing in the Santa Maria River.
Here was Plan D:
- Driving for two hours to play in a tiny town’s public pool.
Believe it or not, reality ended up being really fun.
Normally, Date Creek Ranch, a small organic farm, is open on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall. However, when I contacted them a few weeks ago to inquire about a Friday visit, they said that could easily be arranged; I just needed to call first. Now, I freely admit I should have called on Monday or Tuesday. I had no reason not to. But, I didn’t. I called on Thursday morning, and got their voice mail. They didn’t return my call. I called Friday, after we had hit the road, and again, left a message, which they never did return. Hmph.
So, we decided that, until we heard from Date Creek Ranch, we’d go to the river first.
Now… after I got home, I decided to check online to see if there was some sort of info online about the Santa Maria River. I should have done this FIRST. Lulled by my success in finding copious amounts of water flowing in the river for trips past (see lovely pic above), we set off willy-nilly, me with no doubt that there’d be plenty of water for all. I was disappointed and surprised — crushed, really — that there was NO WATER in the river. None. Not upstream, not downstream.
And, that’s just what the USGS real-time data for the Santa Maria River shows: Zero flow, which is where it’s been at all summer, minus about two days.
Additionally, the place where we have previously accessed the river now has barbed wire and ominous No Trespassing Private Property signs. I’m enough of a rule-follower not to flaunt such warnings.
So, we had lunch under a hopeful-looking cottonwood tree (which also appeared to be a favorite hang-out of cows) and reassessed out situation. We decided to go to Bagdad, which is a company copper mining town, currently entirely owned by Freeport MacMoRan. My elder brother used to live there (he did something with the computers on the big trucks). Additionally, Allison’s mom had recently traveled to Bagdad and raved about the mine tour she took.
So, after the failure of the apple-picking and river-playing, we decided — Plan C — to try for the tour.
Bagdad was only about ten miles, almost all on paved roads, from where we had taken our lunch. So, we quickly arrived, and followed the signs to the mine. When there, Allison went into the office, where she discovered that not only are tours by appointment only, they are open only to those aged nine and over, which left out my two girls. Office Lady gave us the business card of the tour guy, and suggested that we call him, in the off-chance that he would be available.
We did, leaving a message on Tour Guy’s voicemail. Allison and I discussed how the girls and I might be able to pass the time, should Tour Guy become available. I was not really looking forward to passing time outside with two little girls for a couple of hours in near-record heat (it was hovering around 100°). Allison went back inside the office to ask the Office Lady if she had any suggestions. She highly recommended the community center, which had a pool, library, a playground, and the museum.
We had wanted to find the museum anyway. So, off we went. We found the community center complex in short order. And, while the library was closed, and though the woman holding down the fort in the office would have to track down someone to unlock the museum, the pool and playground were open, and what’s more, it was all FREE! I’m into “free”.
The playground was in excellent condition and shaded, and the pool was partially indoors.
You might possibly recall that I broke my camera’s LCD viewing screen in July, so I had no idea what my pictures were going to look like. I also didn’t discover until minutes ago that there was a humungous smudge on the lens, right in the center. So, my pictures, few that I took, really didn’t turn out well. But, perhaps you can tell that the indoors part had a zero-entry toddler play area, complete with a variety of water squirters and dumpers, and the deeper part had a waterpark-style slide. Plus, we had the run of the place: Just two moms, seven kids, and a lifeguard who spent her time playing with her nails and texting.
The kids had a blast.
The pool closed a little more than an hour after we arrived… After our swim, we found someone to unlock the museum (which was an interesting but haphazard collection of the 100 year history of the place). We then went to the playground to play and have a snack — gotta love friends who, though they don’t have to be gluten-free, virtually never fail to make and bring gluten-free brownies to share. After that, we stopped at the town’s lone grocery store (Bashas’ — I heart local stores!), got candy and cold drinks, and headed home by way of the Arizona 97, a hilly, scenic, high desert two-lane byway which I’m certain I’ve never been on in my life.
Other than me realizing about 15 miles on the far side of Wickenburg that I was about to run out of gas, necessitating that I turn around to fuel up, thereby losing an additional half-hour+, the ride home went smoothly. We arrived a little after 6 p.m. to my smiling hubby who already had the grill going, bless him.
And then Allison’s Joel and my Wesley went down the street to collect a neighbor boy, and the boys had a sleepover for Joel & Wesley’s birthday (the two boys are birthday twins — same day, same year), and stayed up until 11 p.m.
I was beat. Tired. Exhausted. Drained.
All in all, though, it was a wonderful day, made all the better by flexible friends whose company we enjoy, no matter how badly my ill-made plans fall to pieces.