RVing in a Big City

I love the diversity of spending time camped in nature one day and living near a major city the next.  It’s an amazing joy not to have to choose one or the other and it’s probably one of my favorite things about living in the RV full-time – I’m not committed to a location. This sense of freedom is hard to explain, but I firmly believe it’s one of the top reasons RVing can be addictive.

Fork in the road

Fork in the road – city living or country living?

When you come to a fork in the road take it! – Yogi Berra

Fork in the Road …

The freedom to choose where we camp is wonderful, but there are times I feel torn and have trouble making a decision.  Which way should we go? There’s so many things to see and do in a big city; museums, events, restaurants, stores … the list goes on, but the solitude and beauty of nature is always a strong draw and many times that’s my preference.

photo taken with Panasonic DC-ZS70

Taken with my new Panasonic DC-ZS70   Set on Auto – F6  – 1/125 – 373mm

Guess what? I don’t have to choose one or the other to call home.  One month here, one month there, or next month it’s something in between. That’s how we roll. Ah, the beauty of full-time RV living. We get to be non-committal.

After spending three months in Phoenix, Arizona (Oct, Nov and Dec), we started off the New Year by moving over to western Arizona to the small tourist town of Lake Havasu City. We’ve visited this area many times before and love returning. Even though our first two weeks here have whizzed by, I’ve had time to reflect on our three month stay in the big city.

inspiration, crafts, ideas, quotes

Phoenix, Arizona

It’s a rare treat to find a RV friendly city, and when we do, we like to plan a lengthy stay allowing us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in everything big city life has to offer. Since our children live in Phoenix and Phoenix is RV friendly, this city has become a regular stopping point for us. You’ll find us traveling in, out and around Phoenix regularly.

Phoenix resorts

JW Marriott Camelback

The Phoenix valley is not only a super popular snowbird location, but also popular with vacationers and convention traffic.  Peak tourist season is January, February, and March … March being the busiest due to baseball spring training.

Reservations for whatever kind of travel you choose during those three months are a definite must. You’ll also find lodging prices at a premium.

The lodging options are abundant and diverse. For those of us with RVs, we can find everything from basic campgrounds to full on RV resorts complete with pools, pickleball courts, and golf courses. For non RVers, there’s everything from inexpensive hotels, to Airbnb’s, to mega resorts, and everything in between.

Did I mention how awesome the weather is around here? That is, excluding summer of course!

Lost Dutchman State Park

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park is one of our favorites. Barely fifteen minutes to grocery stores, restaurants plus amazing hiking trails right out our door. Scottsdale and Phoenix are an easy drive away.

I can't adult today

There’s a never-ending schedule of art shows, craft shows, or home shows to attend throughout the year in the Phoenix valley. My daughter and I always manage to find time to attend a few.

I’m never at a loss of things to see or do during my visits to the Phoenix valley. Although hiking and photography top my list of favorite activities, there are so many other great recreational and educational opportunities to explore.

Here are some of the things we’ve done in Phoenix …..

Scottsdale farmers market

Farmers market held all winter long in Old Town Scottsdale. Photo taken Dec 23 – yep, DECEMBER!

beignets farmers market

My friend,  Faye, and I enjoying freshly made Beignets at the farmers market. Come on, can’t be all about veggies! Since we visited the farmers market early morning, it was still on the cold side. By noon, we didn’t need those jackets any more. There are bunches of 5 star restaurants with award winning chefs located throughout Phoenix and Scottsdale …. plenty of culinary delights to satisfy any palette.

TD Ameritrade seminar

Conventions and seminars are held throughout the year. Our son and daughter join us at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Resort for a TD Ameritrade seminar.

JJ Kinahan

This was the second day of the TD Ameritrade seminar and I got to meet Joe “JJ” Kinahan. If you’re a trader or CNBC watcher like me, shaking hands with JJ was a treat. JJ was getting ready to hit the links and enjoy the beautiful Phoenix weather while it was snowing in Chicago. TD Ameritrade and Think or Swim hold educational seminars once or twice a year in Phoenix and Al and I try never to pass one up. Always educational. We attended one of the best seminars yet this past December and had a couple of ah-ha moments.

I was really excited about attending the WordPress Camp, but was sorely disappointed. I thought I’d be surrounded by fellow bloggers in the audience, but instead the vast majority of attendees work in the tech industry. This conference was geared toward businesses who work behind the scenes, who write code and do lots of other stuff that I can’t begin to articulate. It was all Greek to me. At least the food trucks were good!

Desert Botanical Garden butterfly display

Daughter taking a selfie with a butterfly at the Desert Botanical Garden

Chili and Chocolate FestDaughter and I watch a cooking demo at the Chili and Chocolate Festival

western history

Lots of western history to explore around here along with the amazing trails.

Family and friends

Being able to spend time with family and friends is our number one reason for hanging around Phoenix

Let’s get social …

Because Phoenix is such a popular travel destination, we never know who we might bump into. It’s always a pleasure! During our three-month stay in Phoenix, we enjoyed several get togethers with bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

Blogging

Happy hour at Cave Creek Regional Park. From left to right: Dave, Faye, Al, Sue, Dave, me, and Lewis in the front. We all met via our blogs first – blogging leads to friendships!

Jeanette doesn’t write a blog but she’s been following mine for a while and she reached out to me last year as she and her husband were preparing to RV full-time. Since then, they’ve sold the house, moved into the RV and are workamping at Usery Regional Park this winter. We’re hoping to do some boondocking with them this spring once the hot weather pushes us all north.

Nancy on the left, me on the right. Nancy and her sweet man don’t RV but they do like to travel. They own a home just north of Phoenix. She and I met via our blogs a few years ago and we enjoy getting together whenever we’re both in town. She’s always so kind including us in their social gatherings at their home. Thanks Nancy

This is just a small sampling of the folks we socialized with during this years three month stay in Phoenix. Every time we visit this city, our social calendar is as full or empty as we’d like it to be. Over the years, we’ve made some great friends via the blog and via RVing and Phoenix is the perfect city to physically connect with like-minded people.

How about wildlife?

Although I enjoy most aspects of big city living, I have a need to be close to nature and wildlife. Fortunately, with plenty of parks and open space, I’m still able to get my nature fix while staying in Phoenix.

coyote

You can expect to see or at least hear plenty of coyotes.

wild burro

wild burros are more elusive and a treat to see while out hiking

Gambels Quail

The Quail are everywhere and I find them exceptionally entertaining.

Gambels Quail are everywhere, and if you can’t see them, you can quite often hear them. Since they fly as a last resort, spotting a covey of quail running across a street, sidewalk, or trail is a common sight, and always makes me smile.

Hummingbirds are also very common and entertaining to watch. Gosh, those little things buzz around so fast that it takes a great deal of patience to capture a photograph of one – a non blurry photograph. Obviously my patience during this visit eluded me as evidenced by the lack of a photograph. Oh well, next time!

Another fun thing to do …

There’s some great scenery in this part of Arizona. Just outside of the city is one of my favorite scenic drives. Driving the Apache Trail makes for a perfect day trip, but before embarking on this drive do your homework. The stretch of road between the town of Tortilla Flat and Lake Roosevelt is a gravel road and can be pretty rough in spots.

holidays in PhoenixIt was a very busy three months …

Aside from all the socializing and activities, we tried to get in as much hiking as possible to work off all those extra calories consumed. It was the holiday season after all.

In addition, we managed to complete a bunch of maintenance on the trucks, RV, and our teeth 😒 And as if that wasn’t enough, I threw myself into a RV remodel project.

I’m not ready to reveal the remodel just yet, but let’s just say, there was at least 24 yards of fabric involved with 10 more yards in my future. I’m loving my new window treatments and the fresh new look and wish I’d a done this sooner. Since we’ll be bouncing around Arizona the next few months, I’ll focus on completing the remodel in May when we’re back in a full hook-up site and sitting stationary for a few months. We  plan on spending most of the summer back in Prescott, Arizona again.

And speaking of sitting still, it came as a total shock to Al and me that at the end of our three-month stay in a RV Park in Phoenix, we weren’t ready to hit the road. Usually we get antsy after about a month and can’t get the wheels rolling quick enough.  Not this time! We hemmed and hawed about extending our stay …. there’s that fork in the road again …. decision time. In the end, we lifted the jacks on New Years day in search of new scenery.

Cheers to new and fun adventures in 2018! Maybe we’ll bump into you down the road 😀

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Rattled

I’ve always enjoyed walking, but I didn’t develop an interest in hiking until a road trip my daughter and I took back in 2007 to the Black Hills in South Dakota.  I’m not sure what possessed me to agree to the almost four hour round trip hike with a 2,000 foot elevation gain up to Harney Peak, but Ashton had me convinced we could do it.

hiking in ArizonaIt turned out to be a fabulous hike – my knees may have disagreed, but  Ashton and I both agreed it was extremely enjoyable even though we arrived back at our vehicle tired and sore.

Although the hike challenged me, I found it invigorating.  It made me feel so alive.  I couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, experiencing that kind of feeling, and couldn’t wait to plan our next hike.

I should probably mention that at the time, I was an out of shape workaholic carrying an extra twenty pounds more than I currently carry.  The day after the hike, my legs and feet hurt so much I had trouble walking, but I felt awesome.

Fast forward to today, hiking has become a regular part of my life.  Granted, I don’t embark on any epic all day hikes like some of my RVing pals (you know who you are 😉 ) but I thoroughly enjoy those one to three-hour hikes amongst beautiful scenery.wildflowers

This time of year is particularly pretty in the desert southwest with the trails lined with wildflowers.  The cactuses are budding and some are starting to bloom.  Up until two weeks ago, I could be found in the morning hiking three to four days a week for an hour or two somewhere in the Phoenix metro area.  There are so many fabulous parks in Phoenix to hike and explore that getting bored would be difficult.

desert flowersAnd then the weather started getting hot …. hotter than normal for this time of year, which required I get out on the trail a little earlier.  On that fateful morning two weeks ago, I knew I was running late, temps were already in the 80’s (Fahrenheit) and I would need to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for snakes.

I left the camera at home wanting to focus on exercise and not allow myself to get distracted.  Yeah, good luck on that!  I always carry my cell phone with me for emergency purposes and it just so happens it takes photographs, which works in a pinch.

I was clipping along, making good time on my morning hike.  In spite of the heat, I kept my pace quick all the while keeping my eyes peeled on the trail in front of me and scanning the vegetation from side to side.  I’m not freaked out by snakes, but I’m also not a fan of the slithery creatures.rattle snakeI was on a trail leading me back to the truck with maybe fifteen minutes left to go and that’s when the movement in the brush stopped me in my tracks.  Mr. rattle snake was coiled in strike position and his head was bobbing back and forth as if he was dancing.  His tongue was flickering while our eyes met.snakes

I stood there frozen for a split second then gently backed away.  Once I retreated, he slowly lowered himself and starting slithering first toward me (I walked backwards some more) and then toward the other side of the trail.snakes

I stopped a women and her dog from passing me.  She was grateful that I had seen the snake first or she might have walked right by it.  We watched the snake cross the trail and counted five rings on his rattle.

This was not my first snake sighting on a trail.  I almost stepped on a bull snake in southern Colorado.   He was crossing the trail and I wasn’t paying attention.  Fortunately, I looked down before stepping on him.  Although a little started initially, I continued on my hike without concern.desert hikingThis encounter with the rattle snake rattled me …. rattled me to my core…. to the point it took me nearly ten days just to get out on the trail again.  Even then, I couldn’t enjoy that hike.  I’m afraid I’ve turned into a nervous hiker, but am hopeful in time my fears will ease.

All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 5, and thus, not the best quality.  From now on, I won’t leave home without my Sony DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera (Black) Since this was my first rattle snake encounter in the wild, I wish I had gotten better photos of the snake, especially considering its my goal not to come face to face with another snake!desert hiking

Asian shrimp

 

Less time on the trails, means more time in the kitchen…… much to Al’s delight.  Click here for my Lemon Shrimp recipe.

Gals & Guys

While hanging at the EXPO, the four of us discussed getting together one more time before Linda and Mike hit the road.  They were off to explore parts of northern Arizona while Al and I were extending our time in Phoenix just a little longer to help our son with some projects on his house.Phoenix Botanical GardenAlthough the EXPO provided the guys with shooting opportunity, it was just enough shooting to wet Al and Mike’s appetite.  As I listened to the two guys conversing, much of the language was lost on me as I’m not necessarily a fan of guns.  Thus, the conversation sounded more like, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours”.  Ah yes, boys and their toys.

sporting clays

the guys get ready to shoot sporting clays – safety first.

Mike is more of a pistol shooter while Al is predominantly a shotgunner.  The previous week the guys, along with their sons, spent time at the Pistol Range at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility allowing Mike to share all his toys with Al.  Now it was time for Al to share his toys.  Plans were quickly forged for Al to introduce Mike to Sporting Clays.

Wanting Mike’s first experience to be a fun one, Al arranged to have a large, slow-moving target brought in.hot air balloons“Aim for the smiley face, Mike”.  In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the balloonist was thinking landing in the middle of a clay target shooting range.  In the photo above, you can see to the left of the picnic table is shooting station number 13.

Ben Avery shooting range

Staff members were quick to approach the balloon.

sporting clays

balloon lands in the center of a clay target shooting range

Since this occurred prior to 7:00 a.m., no shooters were on the line just yet as shooting doesn’t start until seven.  Staff quickly informs the balloonist that it was not ok to land.  After some conversing and laughing the pilot fired off the burner and off they went for a safer spot to land.hot air balloons

I’m sure it was an exciting morning for everyone.  Oh well, Mike and Al will just have to aim at the little black disc in the air.

The guys of course had a great time shooting, but Linda and I were more interested in seeing the desert flowers.  After all, spring in the desert is beautiful and not to be missed.  Thus, the two of us were off to the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Phoenix Botanical Garden

Me and Linda crushing maze as we tour the “plants & people of the Sonoran Desert” loop

Phoenix Botanical Garden

We match!

This was our second attempt to visit the Botanical Garden.  The winds kept us away the first time, and although we missed the peak of the wildflowers, the weather was perfect; sunny, in the upper 70’s/low 80’s, with a gentle breeze.

Phoenix Botanical GardenWe were excited to see all the cactus just beginning to bloom including the saguaro. The saguaro cactus are late spring bloomers, but seem to bloom a little earlier at the Desert Botanical Garden than in the wild.Phoenix Garden

Phoenix GardenSitting on 140 acres, the Botanical Garden is a museum of living plants with more than 50,000 in its collection.

There’s five main loops, each focusing on a variety of plants; wildflower loop, desert discovery, herb garden, nature loop, and plants & people loop.

There’s additional exhibits including a butterfly pavilion.  It’s a beautiful botanical garden as seen in the photos.

 

It was a great day for both the guys and the gals 🙂

Plants of Arizona (Falcon Guides)
Sloggers 442DB01 Women’s Wide Brim Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard – Dark Brown – Rated UPF 50+ Maximum Sun Protection

The Wild West lives on!

Hubby and I have always enjoyed a wide range of diverse activities.  We’re the kind of people who enjoy dressing up and attending a Ballet, Play, or Fine Art Museum in a major city and the next day we’ll equally enjoy hitting the road for a back country trip.wild westYears ago, you could find us visiting Chicago’s Art Institute one day and the next we’d be packing up the truck, tent, and canoe and heading toward northern Minnesota for some remote woods roughing it.  Those trips were always an adventure filled with campfires, fishing, and wild blueberry picking.  We’d need to keep an eye out for any black bears while stealing their blueberries as an actual bear encounter was not usually part of the plan.  Fun times, bear encounters included!

blooming saguaroArizona’s Phoenix valley, offers the diversity that Al and I enjoy.  In my last post, I attended a Fine Arts Festival in the upscale community of Carefree.  The terms refined and polished can easily be used to describe the northeast part of the Valley of the Sun aka Phoenix.

Old Town Scottsdale, the Musical Instrument Museum, and the Desert Botanical Gardens could also fall into the class of polished and refined.  All well worth visiting.

But let’s not forget, Arizona is located in the WEST and there’s still plenty of WILD left to entertain us all.

Time to leave the polish behind and inhale some dust and gun smoke.  Folks around these here parts like their guns, horses, and four-wheelers.cowboy mounted shooting

Arizona Game & Fish EXPOWith our friends Mike and Linda in tow, we attended the Outdoor EXPO at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility located on the far north side of Phoenix.  This family friendly EXPO was hosted by the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

Upon arriving, our attention was quickly drawn to the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Competition taking place.  The four of us could have spent the entire morning watching this event.

cowboy mounted shootingThe horses seem to be having as much fun as the shooters.   Talk about the relationship between a horse and rider….  Wow!  If you’re not sure what cowboy mounted shooting is, I encourage you to watch this 3 minute clip.

kayakingOnce we tore ourselves away from the horse activity, it was time to check out the guns.

Actually Mike and Al checked out the guns while Linda and I sat at a shaded picnic table watching folks test out kayaks in the pool.  We also needed to discuss our plans for a Desert Botanical Garden visit. Spring in the desert is not to be missed.

shooting EXPO

Al checking out a Glock

Gosh, who thought there could be so many different types of shooting and guns.  Here’s a list of the different station areas for the various types of shooting;

  • steel target shootinghandguns
  • practical pistol shooting
  • cowboy action shooting
  • air gun shooting
  • benchrest shooting
  • black powder shooting
  • .22 rifle steel target shooting
  • BB gun shooting
  • Intro to shooting

target shootingAnd then there were the event areas for Archery and Fishing along with special tents for exhibitors.

Phoenix gun EXPO

I am not a birder!

A third area was geared toward four-wheeling and shotguns.  Want an exhilarating ride in a OHV? (off highway vehicle)  Hop in one of these while an experienced driver whips you around the arena kicking up mud.  Another area was set up for Rock Crawlers.OHVIn the above photo, the rock crawling boulder track and Jeeps are seen on the left in the distance.shootingshooting expoAnd no event would be complete without plenty of vendors to supply food and drink.  BBQ and hamburgers took center stage with a choice of meet for the burger….. Angus, Bison, or Elk.  Al went with the Elk while I prefer Angus.

With the exception of a few of the shooting stations and food, this whole event including parking was FREE of charge.

RVing

the original RV

It was a fun family event……  and this coming from a non-shooter.  Refined?  Polished?  I think not.  Rough and tumble at it’s best.  I needed a shower afterwards to wash off the layer of desert dirt coating my skin. Ben Avery shooting range

The wild west is alive and well.  Time to go strap on my six-shooter 😉Valley of the Sun

FurReal Friends Butterscotch, My Walkin’ Pony Pet

UFREE Large Mechanical Rocking Horse Toy, Ride on Bounce up and Down and Move, 44” for Children 4 to 15 Years Old (Black Mane&Tail)

A Tourist Destination

While February found us exploring southern Arizona, March had us meandering around the Phoenix valley.  Phoenix, Arizona, has become a regular stomping ground for hubby and me ever since our son moved here five years ago.

Superstitions

approaching the Superstition Mountains located on the far southeast side of the valley

Phoenix AZOver the past five years, Al and I have taken advantage of our visits by exploring all corners of picturesque Maricopa County.  As an RV’er, we’ve found this area to be one of the most RV friendliest of places giving us oodles of parking options.

Not into RVing?  That’s ok as the lodging options are endless in that arena as well; from quaint Bed & Breakfast’s to Mega Resorts and everything in between.

Superstition Mountains

Spring in the desert

Maricopa County wants you to visit.  It’s a tourist destination.  Whether you spend a long weekend or spend the entire winter, all visitors are greeted with open arms and offered amenities for just about anyone’s personal interests and taste.  And with nine months of beautiful weather and plenty of sunshine, it’s no wonder northerners flock here during the winter months.

Speaking from experience; June, July, and August can be uncomfortably hot making it near impossible to engage in any outdoor activities.  This is the desert after all.

Arizona hiking trails

hiking near Phoenix during spring time

Spring TrainingThere’s no shortage of beautiful Golf Courses, wonderful hiking trails, or delicious restaurants.  Then there’s the various festivals, music venues, and sporting events.  This past February, Phoenix even hosted the Super Bowl.

Folks that enjoy baseball usually plan a vacation to Arizona in March to take in a Spring Training game.  The Cactus League is big business around here.

With only so many hours in a day, hubby and I picked our priorities for the month of March.  Hiking, socializing, and festivals seem to top our agenda.  Since I’ve already posted on some of the hiking we’ve done around Phoenix, I’ll focus on the socializing today.

bloggers

We enjoy happy hour over at Mike and Linda’s of “Bear Tracks Blog”. Mike fixes cocktails while I prepare nachos.

We reconnected with some old friends and met new ones along the way.  New friendships were forged with fellow bloggers.  As bloggers following each other on the internet, we seem to know a lot about one another but rarely meet in person.  It’s always an entertaining time though when we do connect face to face.

Since Phoenix is such a great place to live AND visit, it’s not uncommon for one to live here full-time, part-time (like me), or sometime meaning there’s always another blogger in the vicinity.  So if you visit Phoenix, be sure to put it out on your blog – if you’re into socializing that is.  You never know who will reach out to you and say, “Hey, I’m in the area.  Interested in meeting?”

Phoenix ArizonaThat said, it’s easy for two strangers to quickly become new friends.

A one hour coffee date turned into a three-hour chat fest with Nancy over at Two Trails One Road.  We could have easily moved from coffee onto cocktails as we got to know one another beyond our blogs, but alas obligations had us bidding farewell to each other.

We were so engrossed in our visit, that neither one of us remembered to take a photo.  Oh well next time, as I am sure there will be a next time.

Another morning I headed off to a Fine Arts Festival in the town of Carefree; a community on the far north side of the Phoenix valley.  This was my second time attending a festival in this lovely community.  The first time was with fellow blogger LuAnn and involved chocolate.

Carefree Festivals

Al and Mary from Tales from the Backroad

art festivals

Me and Mary in front of her stunning photography

No chocolate involved this time, but meeting this artistic couple was right up there.  Mary and Al are a couple of VERY talented people.

Mary writes a blog over at Tales from the Backroad.

Not only was it great meeting Mary and Al, I loved seeing their art work.  Did I already mention how incredibly talented these two are?  Impressive!  I hope to run into them boondocking in the desert next season.

The communities of Carefree, Cave Creek, and old town Scottsdale are known for their art galleries, unique one of a kind shopping venues, art walks, and festivals.  It almost makes me want a house again.  I’ve always appreciated the arts and find people’s talents almost mind-boggling.  I’m amazed by the vision of an artist and awed by the wonderful sculptures and paintings one creates.

If fine art isn’t your thing, stay tuned for a little rough and tumble type of Expo we attended.  No arts or crafts involved…. it’s a guy thing!arts and crafts festivalsI’ve managed to do a bunch of previous posts on Phoenix, Arizona.  For another post with some different info, click here.  AND if you’d like to meet a lot of bloggers all in one place, consider attending the WordPress Event being held in Phoenix on April 18th.  Click here for more info on Press Publish.

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