Saturday, November 28, 2015

#OptOutside: Needle Rock Beach

Needle Rock Beach
 I had four helpings of Thanksgiving dinner. The turkey was so moist and golden brown that I couldn't help myself. The sweet potato casserole was delicious. Friday I felt flat. I was ready to spend the day on the couch, watching old Christmas movies, and eating leftover pumpkin pie. Sarah got the family motivated, despite my reluctance to move, and soon we were packed in the car headed for the Verde River.

Hiking along the river
 I couldn't figure out why it was called Needle Rock beach. There were no big rocks shaped like needles, though I could see Weaver's Needle from the road, stabbing upward from the rugged Superstitions. It reminded me of my backpacking trip there last December, and suddenly I wished I was back, camping in the shadow of the needle under a billion stars. The kids don't know it, but I am buying both of them backpacks for Christmas. It's all part of my plan to spark in them a love for backpacking and the outdoors. My hope is that nature is creating impressions on their brains that will forever connect being outside to fun and happiness. 

Fishing at the beach didn't go well, so we followed a faint trail on the river's edge. Riparian areas like this are so unique because the ecology on the river is so different than the surrounding desert. One minute you're walking under the shade of cottonwoods, and the next your surrounded by cacti on a sunswept hillside. 

My family.
 We found a secluded little spot about a half mile from the beach that looked suitable for camping. There was already a firepit and an area for a tent. The best part was that it was located at a spot on the river that was really deep and heavily wooded. I think I'll take the kids there on their first backpacking trip.

Although I've never shopped on Black Friday before, I think I'll make #optoutside an annual family tradition. It's important to teach our kids what is really important in life. Nature has real value. Family has lasting meaning.

Until next time....

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