We drove past the fairgrounds and the state prison on our way there. Two and a half hours to a free campsite that promised “primitive.”
When we got there, every single camp site was vacant. Perfection, we thought. While it was closer to the road then we would have liked – certainly not the “primitive” camping we were expecting – at least we could be as loud or as quiet as we wanted. And no one would care. No one would even hear us.
…at least we could be as loud or as quiet as we wanted. And no one would care. No one would even hear us.
It was a small campground with only 12 different sites, each with a wooden picnic table and a fire ring. We drove around the loop looking for the best spot with just enough seclusion but still easy access to the restrooms.
Once we found a good spot, we parked and got out to explore. Our dog was by my side intently smelling everything, but I still jumped at the rustling in the bushes of the ravine. I wasn’t the one who wanted to do primitive camping. Despite all my travels and adventures, my immediate thoughts when I hear rustling in the bushes = is it a bear?
But of course, I didn’t see a bear. I didn’t see anything. And the rustling stopped.
As we walked along the ravine, we noticed that there was a massive bee hive not 50 feet away from the campsite we had chosen, so we drove back near the entrance to explore some of the campsites we had passed by previously.
We finally narrowed it down to 3 campsite options, and parked our car. One of the campsites was near the road, and the other 2 were tucked back across the ravine.
We noticed an empty pack of cigarettes atop the picnic table by the road, but thought little of it. It was actually pretty comforting to see evidence that we weren’t the only ones who had ever camped here. We weren’t the only ones who wanted primitive.
We noticed an empty pack of cigarettes atop one of the picnic tables, but thought little of it.
We walked across the ravine that could be navigated by a high-clearance vehicle, but certainly not our Prius. After looking around the 2 campsites, we decided it wasn’t worth carrying all of our supplies back there, and we retreated to the campsite with the empty cigarette pack. The last campers here must have thought it was a good spot, I thought to myself. We hadn’t really explored it yet, so we made our way over to the picnic table to look around and make sure there was a good place for a tent and a fire.
But as we approached the picnic table, I caught my breath when I saw a black cell phone next to the empty pack of cigarettes.
I caught my breath when I saw a black cell phone next to the empty pack of cigarettes.
We looked at each other, simultaneously realizing that we must not be alone.
How could it be? We hadn’t seen any tents. Or cars. Or supplies. Or people – at all – in the campground area. And if someone was here, why were they hiding from us? What was the rustling in the bushes, really?
I recalled that the state prison was only a few miles down the road.
Maybe someone just forgot their phone on the picnic table? But this wasn’t just a flip phone. This was a smart phone. And it didn’t appear dirty. And though it had been very windy the day before, the empty cigarette pack was still on the table, not on the ground.
“Do you think there’s really someone else here?” I whispered.
But we didn’t stick around to debate the issue. Taking a cursory glance around – and inside our car – we jumped in, locked the doors, and booked it out of there.
After all, it was only an hour further to get to the $8 campground with 300+ campsites….
If you want to check out this creepy campground for yourself, it’s about 15 minutes northeast of Globe, Arizona on US 60. You can find more information on Jones Water campground here.