Stuck in the Forest

Arizona Skies

My excitement runs high as we drive down the quiet Interstate approaching our destination. I always enjoy the rush of a new camp. I usually don’t know why, but this is a special one where friends are already camping. John text me that he had a great spot picked out for the Coach.

As we exit the Interstate, I excitedly call our blogger friend. I have several friends here in the Coconino National Forest that I’ve met through the Retired Vagabond website. John has followed me from the beginning of my adventure. We first met up in Tennessee a couple of years ago. “Hello John, Jagger and I are here. We just exited the freeway.”

The second John and Sharon I also met through my website, but this will be the first time that I meet them in person. They publish their travels on Facebook and on their Blog: Incargonito.

[alert-note]With your permission John, to prevent confusion, I’ll refer to you as Tennessee and use John and Sharon’s regular names.[/alert-note]

Driving In

After we end our call. Tennessee drives his white Ford van out to the entrance of the forest to act as our navigator, guiding Jagger and I to their camp. He told us, “The dirt and gravel road ahead is in decent shape, but there were some serious potholes along the way, some still filled with rainwater. Just follow me and I will guide you around the worst of it.” So Jagger and I slowly follow Tennessee’s lead, the Workhorse bouncing along at times, dragging our Coach to our remote camp in the forest where we will be staying a short three days.

Somewhere in the Coconino National Forest outside of Flagstaff

Our New Camp

I pulled the Workhorse into our camp, snuggled the Coach among the tall pines. Pulling and pushing her over the rocks, clay, dirt and freshly fallen pine needles.

After getting the Coach unhitched and setting up the outdoor living room, I sat up the Solar panel. It will be difficult keeping the batteries charged here due to the shade provided by the tall trees. No worries, now that I have a Honda 2000 watt generator to supplement our Solar charging.


Jagger’s playing, and my relaxing, started immediately after our camp was set-up. Jagger was bouncing around full of energy from being cooped up in the Workhorse for so long. He’s also excited to be in a new camp where he can be off leash.  I’m sure he was thinking, “Finally we found the trees!” 

Our first visit to Tennessee’s  camp, I put Jagger on his leash. Jagger’s first meeting with Tennessee was in Tennessee, (well that didn’t work I’m already confused! too many Tennessee’s now). I’m feeling more comfortable most of the time with Jagger, but I’m just never sure. He might growl at a friend and that makes me freak out, then Jagger does too. It seems like when we stay in remote areas he reverts to being skittish around strangers. Anyway, Jagger does well with Tennessee, but when John and Sharon come over he seems a little sketchy, which makes me uneasy. So the leash stayed on during our visit there at Tennessee’s  camp that first cool evening.

Tennessee, John and Sharon had been at our camp in the forest for some time now, pretty much feeling at home in their respective rigs and had met a number of campers in the general area. Over the next few days Jagger and I relaxed and visited with a few of them as they dropped by to say “howdy”. One particularly colorful person was Jerry, a retired teacher, I believe he hailed from Maine.

Our second night there, the sky turned nasty and it started pouring down rain. It continued to beat on the roof of our Coach all night with spurts of thunder and lighting, not letting up until the following morning. “That was some serious rain Jagger!” I sipped my hot morning coffee, enjoying the view through the Coach’s window. The forest floor was wet and sagging tree limbs were heavy with moisture. Jagger was laying in his spot next to me, occasionally looking up with those baby blues. “I know, I know. You’re next.” He is wanting me to feed him breakfast, which I did a bit later.

Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the Mud

Most of the morning we stayed indoors, with Jagger complaining the whole time. It was then that my phone went off. It was Tennessee. “I’m going to the Pilot Center and get a cup of coffee. Do you want to go?” A McDonald’s is located in the facility that he enjoys having a cup of coffee, breakfast occasionally and using the wifi to catch up on email and such.

He asked if Jagger and I wanted to go with him and I explained, “I don’t want to move my truck until the ground dries out a little”. I’m worried I would create mud holes that would make it difficult to pull the Coach out tomorrow. Our camp was a good hundred feet from the dirt and gravel forest roadTennessee said, “No problem, I’ll drive.” I respond a happy, “Sure, sounds great!”

Jagger Loves Playtime in the Forest

Jagger Loves Playtime in the Forest

In a few minutes, Tennessee pulls his Ford van over to our Coach and hops puddles over to the Coach. I finish getting ready to leave and tell the sad face Jagger that he will be staying home. Tennessee and I go gingerly back out to the van trying to miss the water holes and slick mud along the way. After settling in and getting on our seat belts, Tennessee starts the engine and it roars to life. A moment later putting it in reverse and giving the engine some gas, we both look at each other, we aren’t going anywhere! “Dxxx! we are stuck” he says along with a few other stark adjectives. I look over at him, knowing his frustration. I’ve been in the same place before. It’s not a happy place for sure.

At that point he turns off the engine and we both get out to access the damage. Jagger looks out the window of the Coach without sympathy. In fact, I think he has one of those smirks on his face! Maybe even sticking out his tongue. Jagger STOP IT! He turns away, but I’m sure he is still thinking he’s glad it happened.

We tried using some of the plastic blocks from the Coach to provide a solid surface to back out on, but it was no use. The mud was slick and oozing clay. It might as well have been oil. The van was there for the short term for sure, in the thick red clay mud of Arizona. Of course I felt even worse he was trying to get us out of there for a while, but nature didn’t see the plan as we did that day in the forests of Flagstaff.

Jagger loved it here!

I posted our dilemma on Facebook in the Grand Design Owners Group along with a few photos. I was surprised when a nice guy posted back that his daughter-in-law was a ranger in our area. He said, “If you can’t pull it out, let me know and I will notify her. She’ll come and get you out.” I thanked him, it’s always nice to have a back-up plan. When I told Tennessee he said, “Oh yeah, I know her. She’s been by our camp to check on us.”

While it’s not raining today it was pleasant. “We’re not going anywhere Jagger,” the mud is too deep and wet. We hang around camp all day, visiting with our neighbors

The following day, I called Tennessee, inviting him along as I was venturing out to Subway for an early lunch. He came over to our camp, when we were ready to go and we all hopped in the Workhorse, yes even Jagger this time. I put it in 4 wheel drive, easily pulling out past the poor Ford van stuck in the mud, to the main forest road. From there it was an easy drive avoiding the water holes to the Interstate and grab our lunch before we head out for our next camp this afternoon.

Well I’m just rattling on here longer than I planned today. So Vagabonders I’m going to leave Tennessee’s van stuck in the mud until my next post. Sorry Tennessee.

Safe travels…Gary

More Photos: Arizona Travels


4 replies

  1. I remember being stuck in that mud, on flat and level ground, just like it was yesterday! I was SO aggravated! Luckily I had a good tow strap and you had 4 wheel drive!! Needless to say I did not go back to that site the rest of the time I was there! I see by the cliffhanger you took Janessas’ advice on the blog…..don’t think I could get stuck where we are now with all this rock around us!


    • Hey there, yep it wasn’t a fun memory, but looking back it becomes part of the adventure and excitement of never knowing the next event in your travels. As much as I like trees, I’m enjoying the quiet desert, full of rocks. I especially enjoy the company of my closest neighbor 😉

      My grandkids would love rockhounding here for sure.



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