Chevelon Canyon Lake, AZ

My intuition typically tells me to stay in, don’t ride, and stay safe. Especially on holidays, where I’m working a 10 hour shift. When an invitation was extended to join friends for a weekend camping trip through the holiday, I instinctively declined.

After work, I ran home and scrambled to put my gear together, and found myself chasing the sun the entire way up. I had to get there before sunset, and ultimately failed to do so. The sheer size of the forest made finding my friends impossible. I slow-rolled past campsite after campsite filled with strangers wondering what the hell I was doing. I guess I never realized how dark the woods get when all you have is a motorcycle headlight.

The most amazing part was a buck and two does crossing the road right in front of me in the pitch black night. He stopped in the middle of the road to stare me down, but thankfully crossed after his seemingly uninterested ladyfriends carried on. Fight or flight kicked in, and I completely forgot to turn on my camera.

It was near 8:00pm when I miraculously found my friends winding down for the night. You know, I really wasn’t expecting to need cold gear in July, and found myself completely taken by surprise. The mixture of exhaustion and excitement made it difficult to sleep, and I couldn’t get past this overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

Their idea of camping, with games, stoves, awnings, tables, and a literal kitchen sink, was such a stark contrast to my minimalist motorcycle equipment. After breakfast, we collectively hiked down to the lake, and I enjoyed a most refreshing swim in the clear blue water. We threw tomahawks and axes into tree stumps, played cornhole, and had plenty to drink and eat. I taught the boys how to catch crawdads in the creek, and everyone was surprised how quick, easy, and delicious they were, with nothing more than hot sauce, some salt, and black pepper.

Gearing up and bracing myself for an exhausting ride home, I decided that changing my mind was one of the best choices I’ve made in a very long time.

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