My husband and I like unique adventure and our kids put up with it. But on one trip to Arizona, we took it a little too far. As with our prior visit to Disneyworld, we’d succumbed to the social pressure to create certain family experiences, and in the interest of not having parental regrets, we decided to bite the bullet and rent a camper. Just once. We’d make it fun and educational and memorable. We’d keep a family journal we could look back on for years to come.
The budget was tight and so I resisted my filthy little boutique hotel “habit” and went to the Cruise America site. My family watched in confusion as I eagerly planned a ten day tour of Arizona, replete with KOA campgrounds, trail rides, and red rocks. But none of us planned on being in potential and very real danger. And I’m not talking rattlesnakes.
It was a week into it and I’d frankly gotten sick of the whole thing. Put it this way: I never realized that campgrounds were so social. (See the Gornicke family from Robin Williams’ RV—kinda like that.) I wanted wide open space and as few human beings as possible. I wanted to wake in the morning to silence and the smell of mesquite trees, not someone’s burning bacon. So I lead us to the southwest corner of the state to a wilderness refuge called the Buenas Aires Wilderness Refuge. No nosy camp hosts wielding their power. No one in sight. I was in heaven. We spent the night star gazing in utter silence, sitting around a campfire, telling stories, just the way I’d imagined it.
And then the next morning, my sun riding his bike in the sandy tundra, me with a pair of binoculars and a cup of green tea…feeling that all was right with the world…out of nowhere came three helicopters. Closer and closer and closer. Until they hovered just yards away from the camper like vultures. Military-looking people with guns jumped from them and suddenly there was a man in handcuffs being shoved into the helicopter. And another man. And another. And then another…until all three helicopters were full.
My son raced back to the camper, and my daughter and husband emerged from inside. And in a word, he explained everything: “Immigration.”
We promptly drove to a lovely little boutique-ish hotel and gladly booked two rooms. The kids’ journal entry that night went thusly: “Next year we should go to Orlando like normal people.”
To read more of Laura Munson's work, go to her website or blog These Here Hills