Last weekend the warm May weather stuck me with an outdoor adventure bug. I envisioned a small trip down to Sedona for a picnic on the Red Rocks with Oak Creek winding lazily by. After several last-minute changes to this plan I was left with all the food for a picnic but no time to go down to Sedona.
I didn’t want to give up on my outdoor picnic though. The year of online-school-because-of-COVID19 is slowly coming to a close and it feels like my children have done nothing but lay propped up by pillows on their beds while doing “schoolwork” (a.k.a. chatting with their friends, watching video’s, playing games and otherwise have their faces glued to their screens). I was determined to have one day with my kids that was mostly electronic free, and Mother’s Day was really the only card that I could draw that was acceptable to the teenagers.
We made sandwiches, packed sides, and drinks, filled the car with blankets, and headed out around 4:30pm for an evening picnic out at Lake Mary. Why was Lake Mary not my first choice? It seemed to easy. The drive is only 15 minutes from Flagstaff. We can go anytime. In the end, that is what made it perfect. The ease of the trip both to and from Flagstaff made the getaway not feel like a chore, but still provides the respite of getting out of the house and away from everything.
The drive to Lake Mary was peaceful and much to the annoyance of the cars behind me, I slowed down to enjoy the scenery. We drove past Lower Lake Mary and the day centers which were mostly full but not crowded. We drove a little way further to a large shoulder where 10 cars could easily park.
There were several unofficial trails that led down to the lake shore. The most direct trail hosted day-campers who had set up a hammock and were fishing with their family and curious dog. We skirted to the right of them but not before their dog came to say “Hi” and try to follow us on our adventure. We found a flat spot on the rocky shore by the water.
The kids sat and stared peacefully at the water and scenery for a whole 3 minutes before they began to do the most expected thing for kids to do with an abundance of rocks by water. They threw rocks into the water. They skipped flat stones. The found the biggest rocks they could carry and heaved them into the lake. Even the littlest one was picking up rocks to be tossed in by his older brothers. We took slow motion videos and laughed when out timing was wrong.
We ate our dinner and the kids went back to exploring the shore. Scattered amongst the rocks they found fractured shells and partial crawfish skeletons. We watched ducks and a heron fly across the water. They cheered when boats sped by and created small waves.
We didn’t participate in any of the multitude of activities that Lake Mary has to offer. There is camping, fishing, hiking, going out on the water, and so much more. For our purpose, spending a few hours away with the family, it was exactly what we needed.
When we left, we took out all our trash and more. There was a lot of fishing line and broken glass left behind from other visitors. We left as the sun had sunk behind the horizon. We drove past the day center where people were still kayaking, boating, and fishing. We got home before it had gotten to dark. For an easy escape, Lake Mary provided the perfect respite.
If you would like to learn more about Lake Mary, here is an additional resource. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=82408