Sometimes nomadacy is a multi-day camping trip, sometimes it's a one day "recon trip" where we get out there, see new things and scout for upcoming nomadacy. Yesterday it was time for a recon trip in the mini-Nomadacy Support Vehicle (a 2011 Jeep Liberty 4x4 with a 2" lift and oversize BF Goodrich KO2s - it may not go where the real serious overland vehicles go but it works for us).
As is often the case with our multi-day trips we had an overall plan that allowed for unplanned exploration. We hoped to reach Lava River Cave in the Coconino National Forest and we wanted to have dinner at the Red Raven in Williams, AZ.
We headed north out of town on US 89. Staying off major highways and interstates is a major objective for us so we soon turned east onto the gravel Drake Road. The Drake Road has turned into a favorite for us and later in the year when it's cooler we'll be exploring the forest roads off of Drake Road. When we reached Coconino 73 we turned north again. Coconino 73 is a two-lane, paved county road with very little traffic (at least until you approach Williams, AZ) and intersects many forest roads in the Prescott National Forest and the Kaibab National Forest. We did follow our curiosity and explored a few forest roads.
Wanting to avoid I40 at Williams we turned east on the gravel road to the Dogtown Lake Campground. What beautiful forest we saw as we continued east and then south on a dirt forest road. As we continued to more remote areas the road was fairly rough in spots (though nothing required 4 low just slow, careful driving) but hey, that's part of the adventure! Soon it was lunch time and we found a great campsite to pull into for a lunch break. We made sure to take down GPS coordinates as it looked like a beautiful spot to return to for a few days of camping. We also took note of clouds building up and the distant rumble of thunder, were we going to be able to enjoy an afternoon monsoon storm? Of course nothing says one has been "out there" like some mud on the vehicle. :-)
After lunch we continued east and south. Soon we were driving across Gartland Prairie - a whole other kind of beauty from the forest. As we crossed the prairie big rain drops started to fall and we eagerly anticipated a storm but wind and the big rain drops was all we got.
On the east side of the prairie we turned north back into the forest and crossed over I40 at the Parks interchange. From there we turned east on Parks Road and made our first boobaa of the day driving right past FR171. We discovered our mistake after reaching a dead end. A short back track got us on the right road.
Lava River Cave is pretty cool, both figuratively and literally. The inside temperature ranges from 32 to 45 degrees and we could feel the cold air coming out of the entrance. We hadn't planned or prepared for the cold trip through the cave so we headed out to dinner in WIlliams.
Soon we were seated, tired and hungry, at the Red Raven restaurant. Although we've had lunch at the Red Raven this was our first visit for dinner. We weren't disappointed. Both food and service were excellent!
After dinner we walked around town a bit. Then Joni and I looked at each other and said "Yep, time to head home". We arrived home about sunset still basking the the afterglow of a great day of nomadacy. See a few photos of our day below: