Travels with Pickles

Fool Hollow State Park

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Fool Hollow State Park will always hold a fond place in our hearts.  It was our first camping trip ever and the first time we ever used The Gump.  Scary, exciting, and mesmerizing all at the same time are just a few of the emotions we experienced.

This beautiful state park is away from the hustle and bustle of Phoenix.  We went after Christmas and before New Year’s Day in 2015.  We were both recovering from bad colds and it was a spur of the moment decision.  I knew nothing about planning a successful trip, we forgot to pack our pillows, and we had never been in the region before.  We were perfectly set-up for failure!

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We packed up the dogs, Pickles, Leo and The Gump and left a sunny Phoenix for cooler temperatures in North Eastern Arizona.  Wally as you can see was interested and ready for adventure.  Leo meanwhile was complaining bitterly about riding in Lana like he always does.  Ride out was basically uneventful, although there was some bucking from The Gump but we didn’t know any differently.  Our second stay in two months at the park, one of the rangers discovered there was a problem with our hitch (La Mesa failed to install a couple of safety pins) and we were very lucky nothing catastrophic occurred.  Pins were overnighted to the park and one of the wonderful rangers delivered them to us.

20151231_122900  There’s me, Sangria, and Pickles hanging out on the patio on one of the first days after we arrived.  The weather was cool but beautiful.  The best thing, we were one of the only people in the park.  It was QUIET, I mean hear the birds chirping, twigs snapping as wildlife moved about QUIET.  Coming from the city, this blessed quiet was most welcome and none of us could soak in enough of the peace.

20160105_135548  The snow started and the dogs would lay just inside the patio doors while Dave worked.  The office was chilly but between Wally’s sweater and Sangria sleeping on the bird’s cover they were pleased enough.  Dave on the other hand was chilly, luckily I had packed sweats and long pants for both of us.  But let’s be honest, after a decade in Phoenix we weren’t exactly swimming in cold weather clothing or gear. 

20160107_082236  The beauty and solitude of the park only intensified when the snow fell.  It was magical and it was exactly what we were hoping would happen.  Wally loved snow, he would run and frolic for hours with joy.  He was struggling at our house in Phoenix with the tile flooring and we were unsure how well he would adapt to life in The Gump.  This trip alleviated all of our concerns and amazingly, we watched his activity level improve and his joy at snow was worth all the worry and concern.

20160107_081641  There he sits, working from The Gump for the first time.  Our data connection was non-existent on AT&T.  Luckily we realized this before he went back to work after the first of the year and he made the trip into Flagstaff for a Jet Pack and a signal booster.  Signal booster was a complete waste of money and was quickly returned, but the Jet Pack soon proved it’s expensive worth.  He was able to work, uninterrupted the whole time off the Jet Pack with no service let down in comparison to the house.  Proving our concept of ditching the house and actually living life had viability.

20160107_085456  There they are, our four precious and precocious flock.  Leo spent our time at Fool Hollow talking to the birds and chipmunks he could spy out the window.  He loves to lay in that exact same spot today and still chatters at every critter that catches his attention.  This is a rare photo because it shows Wally asleep on a piece of furniture which is something he rarely ever did. 

20160107_075235  The park is beautiful and empty during the winter.  Only one loop of the park was open during our stay and we had 30 amp  power, water, and sewer.  We could go out and walk the dogs in the snow and not worry about running into other campers as they played out rolled around in joy.  The roads were well maintained when it snowed and there was never an issue getting in or out of the park because of snow and ice.

Standard Information

State:  Arizona

Discount Clubs:  Not applicable

Site Number: 14 and 25

Standard Review Items

Ambiance:  It’s gorgeous and relaxing in winter.  In spring and summer months it is mostly packed and quite busy.  It would still be gorgeous but not nearly as quiet.

Cell Reception:  AT&T reception was non-existent.  Verizon was three solid bars of LTE reception.

Drainage:  There was little to no rain during our stays and we do not recall any issues with drainage.

Level Sites/Utilities:  Site was reasonably level, utilities were stable. 

Night Sky:  There are no street lights and utility boxes at each site were unobtrusive.  Night sky was clearly visible with little to no light pollution from the closest town of Show Low.

Office Staff/Manners:  No office staff but the rangers were all incredibly friendly and helpful.  Saw the camp host I think once as we were driving out on a propane run.

Overall Amenities:  There are no “amenities” other than the great outdoors.

Pet Friendly:   Pets are welcome.  There are plenty of places to walk with the dogs and the scenery and wildlife will keep their noses active.

Pet Services in the Area:  There is a local vet in Show Low but there is no Avian vet unless you are willing to drive to Phoenix.

Road Noise:  None and by none I mean none, it was rare we would hear them snow plowing the roads.

Rule Enforcement:  It was mostly just us the entire time, so there was no issue with rules.

RV Services:  There are mobile RV services available in Show Low.

Satellite Friendly: We did not yet have our satellite installed during our visits.  Given the tall Ponderosa Pines I would suspect that rooftop satellites would struggle to acquire signal.

Store:  No store available.

Storm Shelter Facilities:  None, but natural disasters requiring storm shelters are unheard of in Arizona.

Wi-Fi: None during our stay.

Summary

We loved everything about Fool Hollow.  The quiet, the solitude, the woods, the rangers, and the lake.  Dogs were happy, bird was content, and Leo was engaged.  Given a choice of state parks in Arizona, off season Fool Hollow is our park of choice.


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