Updated: Apr 11, 2021
I just dropped my wife and my eldest daughter off at the airport. I am facing five full days of single parenthood with, at the moment, an inconsolable three-year-old. Thinking ahead, I had hitched up our Pin Drop before driving to the airport, but did not really have a travel plan or destination beyond this simple connection between our teardrop travel trailer and our vehicle.
A nimble design, the Pin Drop maneuvered through the rush hour traffic and congestion on the busy freeways of Phoenix rather easily, but I was certainly ready to get beyond the metropolis and hit some dirt by nightfall. Our destination was somewhat vague, which is the way I like to travel. This "see where the road takes you" routine was something my daughters were quite familiar with and has been my philosophy since childhood. What might make most feel uneasy and anxious, delighted us and kept our adventures mysterious and full of wonder. This kind of travel makes a Pin Drop Travel Trailer, (completely self-contained and solar powered) a perfect camping companion. We had everything we needed for several days of solitude and boondocking, no matter where we landed.
The separation anxiety coming from the back seat was unexpected and still quite noteworthy as we headed eastbound on Highway 60. Desperate to cheer up my distraught child and bring some calm, I started pointing out the prominent landmarks on the horizon. As an Arizona native and an outdoor enthusiast, I am always excited to share my favorite highlights of the Arizona landscape. Whether she sees Four Peaks through her tears I’m not sure, but with determination I continue to try and excite her about our trip. A sense of relief comes over the cab of our suburban when she sees the Superstition Mountains, a feeling that has overwhelmed me a time or two looking out at the same view. This particular mountain range captured my attention as a boy because of the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine. A story I am eager to share with her and which helps to ease her mind.
We continue on the 60 and overnight in Miami, Arizona because it’s impossible to pass through the Copper Corridor without a stop for dinner at Guayo’s El Rey. We fill our bellies and enjoy exploring the map layed out in front of us inside the well lit cabin of our own micro trailer. We make a plan for the next day: destination Silver City, New Mexico, to visit an old friend and neighbor. Knowing it will be a long day with a youngster, I am relieved we have all we need in our portable home-on-wheels.
After a pleasant night's sleep in the insulated (R13 equivalent) cab and comfort of a full queen-size foam mattress, we greet the day by blazing a trail toward the fertile valley of Pima, Thatcher, and Safford, lying just below the towering Mt. Graham. Before we reach the historic agricultural community of Pima, we take a familiar stop at Taylor Freeze, a legendary tradition for many generations of travelers and a local favorite of ours, for a tasty treat.
We are following the course of the Gila River now, and my mini travel companion remarks on all the fields full of bushes exploding in puffy white. “What’s that?” she asks. It comes to mind as it has many times, that as a growth state, many today don't know the historical significance of cotton to rural agricultural communities, specifically in Arizona and I am so glad to share with her this timeless crop and its connection to her home state.
We drift through Duncan, Arizona just before crossing into New Mexico catching a glimpse of a lazy conversation going on at the intersection, home to a general store frozen in time. We take a break in the juniper-speckled bluffs below Silver City and make a quick lunch, simple
to do with a lift of the hatch on the rear of the Fina Roma, a full kitchen at our disposal.
By evening we are walking around an old friend’s acreage east of Silver City, ironically a long time special inspector and specialist in the cotton industry. We spend time admiring his collection of artifacts and hearing stories of his time traveling the southwest and southern hemisphere. Though chilly outside in the brisk New Mexican autumn, we retire to the comforts of the Pin Drop and my sleepy girl drifts off to sleep to my light reading of an Arizona Highways article.
In the morning, the two burner propane stove top comes in handy for fried eggs and warm tortillas. Itchy feet strike by mid afternoon and we head north, weaving through neighborhoods until we find county road 15 which will lead us to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. A wonderful stop to fulfill the "I want to see Indian houses" request from the rear carseat.
Continuing on, the 15 wound and twisted its way through lovely pine forests for 40 miles before delivering us to the headwaters of the Gila River, a definite mark on my list of stops. This is the birthplace of Geronimo, a brave and notable American hero who has placed an indelible mark on Arizona history. The experience was made better sharing it with my daughter and having a tear drop style trailer at our disposal for this kind of off road adventure.
After a few failed attempts at finding available camping within the national monument, we are rewarded with a dispersed campsite just above a bluff overlooking the nubile but respectable flow of the Gila. No hookups, no problem, that’s the beauty of the Pin Drop Travel Trailer. Being fully self-contained, in just a few minutes we had claimed an unmarked space and were sitting comfortably under the ARB awning watching the setting sun and deciding what to cook for dinner. With a stunning view of a rock cliff face enflame with color on the opposite bank, we made a hot meal and settled in to the silence. When darkness fell, we stayed awake just long enough to view the rising full moon over the banks of the Gila River. I am reminded that an identified plan would never have landed us here and I am grateful to have a tool like the teardrop to allow us this moment.
A misty morning arrives and I cook up some hash browns with fresh New Mexican peppers to
fortify us before we pack up and hit to the trail to view the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Lured by the opportunity to walk inside an “Indian house”, my daughter bravely and without protest climbs the incline. Volcanic rock, bulbous and strange, dominates the landscape, and the view to the valley below is stunning as it surely was hundreds of years ago.
A quick parking lot lunch beckons my daughter to sleep as soon as the rig starts to move, and I take the opportunity to gain some road miles. We cut across the border back to Arizona and begin one of my favorite drives: the Coronado Trail, State Route 191 from Clifton to Alpine, desert floor to high mountain pines. We stop for a break in Clifton, a little town with a vibrant history, and a heavyweight in worldwide copper production. The narrow historic streets are easy to navigate with the tear drop style trailer, and we top off supplies filling the 9-gallon fresh water tank at the local grocer. The ascent to the White Mountains is steep and windy. The teardrop follows behind gracefully, even fully loaded with water, supplies, kayaks, equipment and bikes.
The road leads us to KP Cienega campground. There are no services available at this remote camp, which makes it a perfect destination for us and often keeps the generators and consumer campers at bay. Dusk is upon us and we prepare a few breaded fish tacos for dinner. It's another perfect evening of quiet and coziness, warm food, and a clear sky.
We wake again to that crisp white mountain air, and following a hardy breakfast begin to meander our way back to the Verde Valley by way of the Mogollon Rim. The landscape eventually becomes more familiar and I can tell that my daughter realizes we are getting close to home. She is excited, a sure sign that we have had a solid camp, staying away long enough to miss all the creature comforts.
Nothing compares though to the memories of time away on a road trip, especially one that is unplanned and spontaneous. This is one of the reasons I designed Pin Drops to be self contained, lightweight, and solar powered. It makes access easy, a change in direction possible, a less travelled road an option. The best-laid plans are always wrong. This trip was simply ALL right.
"Cause the best laid plans are always wrong." - Cracker, I Could Be Wrong, I Could Be Right