Adventures: A Girl and Her Dog

I can’t speak for every girl, but I can say diamonds are not and have never been my best friends.

Though they sparkle, diamonds have never smiled at me; they have never laid their head in my lap when I’ve had a rough day. Gems and stones might be pretty to look at, but that is as much comfort as they offer in comparison to a soft and adorable companion who is content to be as close to me as possible.

Handsome Samson

My dog is always happy to see me. He spends his day looking forward to time he can have with me, even if it means just laying beside me while I type away.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to spend as much time with my Samson boy as I would like to. So when I was given last Thursday and Friday off work for my birthday, I took the opportunity to get out of the Phoenix heat and dedicate a day to exploration with my faithful sidekick.

Our original plan was foiled, but only slightly, so being the eternal optimists we are we made a quick alteration to our agenda and headed to Payson on Highway 87.

Tonto Trees

People don’t quite understand how hard Phoenicians have to search in order to find water this time of year that isn’t ridiculously overpopulated by humans and alcohol.

This goes especially for someone like me who grew up in lush, green Oregon and craves the sight, taste, smell and feel of everything H2O.

Recently, some little birdies (aka Google and Pinterest) told me that such phenomena like waterfalls and flowing creeks existed in Arizona, even during summer.

Thus began our short journey on Thursday, June 26, 2014.

I thought I had done my research well enough, but I found out upon arrival at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park that dogs are not allowed on the trails that go down to see more of the formations.

The guard told me “Come again some other time without the animal and you will enjoy it better.”


But anyway, dogs are still allowed up top around the 5 viewpoints, so we settled for that. And honestly, I thought the $5 per person entrance fee was still worth these views to be seen, along with the beautiful weather to be enjoyed in this area.

Tonto Natural Bridge, Payson, AZ

Samson explored the many new scents and places to make his mark while I finally got to put my new Canon Rebel to work in as many interesting angles and depths as I could think of.

The image to the left faintly shows water trickling down over the natural bridge from various runoffs around the park. Since there has been little to no rain for a couple months in this state, the “falls” were not as stupendous as they probably could be.

I may suggest visiting again in monsoon season when the falls might be more abundant and, well, actually like a waterfall.

Nonetheless, the mineral rock creations in this park were worth the witness, and every few seconds a gust of wind would send a cool mist to my skin that felt like heaven.

Small creek @ Tonto Park

Canines find less excitement from the scenery than we do, but thankfully the few mini streams that flow to the “bridge” provided constant entertainment for Samson.

He has always been a little timid around large bodies of water (namely, our pool) until recently when we got him his very own kiddie pool at the house.

Since then, his confidence and curiosity of water has been broadened.

For a few hours we meandered and then sat by a little creek while Samson humored me by wading and digging in the shallow flow, only to shake off the droplets as soon as he was next to me.

Tonto Park Picnic Area
Relaxing by a small stream

Of course, he was just sharing the love; and I didn’t mind. It’s been too long since I’ve played in muddy water anyway.

Puppy paws perched to play

When I figured we’d both experienced and soaked up about as much as we could at Tonto, we headed to the truck to look up our next destination.

I had taken about 200 pictures by this point (you think I’m exaggerating), which seemed to suffice until our next visit sometime in the wetter future.

Tonto Park Sceneryf

I kept the windows rolled as we cruised back down the highway just a few miles to Houston/Mesa Road toward Water Wheel Campground.

With the breeze blowing through our hair I thought out loud “This is the definition of summer,” and in the side mirror I’m pretty sure I saw Samson nod and smile in agreement.

Water Wheel Campground, Payson, AZ

Just over 7 miles in and on the right is a small, cramped parking lot, with no sign claiming a name to the spot (hey that rhymed).
But I was told I had arrived, sure enough.

I believe we could have continued following this beautiful stream further back, but I had seen numerous groups of people head in that direction, and since I wasn’t necessarily in the mood to share or be social, we stuck to the secluded solitude we discovered.

Samson made me so proud.

He’ll be three years old in a few months, and he has yet to swim. But we made tremendous pawgress (har-har) on Thursday.

He became brave and enthralled trying to catch the water and halt it from gurgling over rocks and crevices. He even whined and barked after a few sticks I’d thrown in for him that got swept away in the current before he could reach them.

Water Wheel Campground, Payson, AZ
Water Wheel Campground, Payson, AZ

This place was so natural and serene. High recommendations for anyone needing to just get away for a day.

I wanted to build a little cottage right then and there…

Instead, after splashing for some time and wandering around the water’s edge to watch the calm rapids, I laid out an old comforter in the bed of the truck for the pup and I to take a sweet afternoon rest.

Tucked in a Tacoma

Even though it didn’t last too long, it was still nice to remember we didn’t have to rush for anything.

A day seems to go by so much slower when it is taken in stride and thoroughly embraced.

Some people might have thought of my day trip with my dog a boring birthday celebration, but in fact it was one of the best I’ve ever had.

I had no one to please or try to satisfy.

If my puppy is happy, so am I.


So whoever still thinks dogs are “man’s best friend” can tell that to Samson. We’re pretty tight, he and I.