As I switch out the calendar hanging on my wall, I’m saddened by the thought that 2019 has come to an end. I had a fantastic year, a year filled with good health, mingling with friends old and new, lots of time connecting with family, and traveling in a relaxing sort of way. So, as I reflect on the passing of yet another year, I look toward the future.
Not only is it a new year but a new decade. 2020 sounds so George Jetson like, doesn’t it? And although we may not have a Rosie in our lives, we do have Alexa, Siri, Roomba, self-driving cars, smartphones, and all the other gadgets out there that supposedly make our lives easier. I’d say, we’ve come a long way in the past decade and it’ll be interesting to see where this new decade takes us.
Resolutions are made up of goals.
Yeah, 2019 was a good year for me, an excellent year, but there’s always something refreshing about changing out that calendar. With a new year and a new decade in front of me, I feel a sense of a blank slate that needs to be filled with hopes, dreams, and goals. I don’t usually do the whole New Years Resolution thing per se, but I do think about loosely set goals. However, goal setting, in general, is something I consider regularly and not just yearly.
Hmm, I wonder what’s the difference between resolutions and goals?
While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are intertwinded. Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something. Goal: the object of a person’s amibition or effort; an aim for a desired result.
Goals provide a direction to follow to achieve a desired outcome. Goals involve planning, preparing, and taking action. Ah, I do have goals indeed and perhaps even a resolution thrown in the mix just for fun.
My top five goals for 2020
Eat healthier and hopefully lose a few pounds (isn’t this on everyone’s list?)
Exercise more – get more physically fit (again, popular)
Save more, spend less money (this should be on everyone’s list)
Blog consistently – for fun and to provide helpful information
Embrace cooking and try new recipes regularly.
Ah, I’m sure those top three goals aka resolutions are on most peoples list and usually are every year. Guess I’m not being too original, but I’m ok with that. However, seeing these goals down on paper (or rather computer screen) seems like a lot to be working on all at once. I know I’ll have good days and bad days achieving these goals, but I’m hoping by writing things down via a daily journal that I’ll have more successes than failures. I assure you my computer’s cookies are loaded with how-to “bullet point journal”. Did someone say cookies? 🍪🍩🍪
It also helps that Al, darling husband, shares these same goals … well, except for #4 and #5. First, he doesn’t blog, and second, he doesn’t cook, but rather encourages me to cook and him to suffer through the taste testing. Don’t you feel sorry for him? Actually, he can cook when he has to, but not the kind of dishes I’d eat … very bachelor/guy kind of stuff. Between you and me, I don’t think even he likes his own cooking. He much prefers encouraging me in the kitchen and he’ll even run to the grocery store to help me out. Awe, isn’t he sweet? Did someone say,Sweets? (Diets suck!)
So now that you know my goals for 2020, I’m relying on you to help keep me accountable 😆
2020 Travel Plans
Having lived and traveled in our RV fulltime since 2013, we’ve slowed down the last couple of years … not that we ever crisscrossed the country like some RVers or had any specific travel goals in mind like visiting all 50 states. No, we’ve always planned our travels more on a whim and keeping visits with our children in mind.
Now that both kids live in Phoenix, Arizona, it makes travel planning super easy, at least the winter plans. We enjoy spending the winters in Phoenix and the rest of the year is determined by the direction we point the RV.
Last summer, we spent three months camped on Al’s sister’s property near Hayward, Wisconsin … lakefront property I might add. We had a great time, so much so, that we’ll be doing a repeat this summer. We do have a few out and back trips into Minnesota and the Upper Penisula of Michigan planned, but we’ll have to see how that all plays out. Ya know how that goes … plans written in jello with lots of wiggle room.
The main difference between last year’s travels and this year will be the journey between Phoenix and Hayward. Last summer we took almost four weeks to drive the nearly 2,000 miles. This year we don’t plan on meandering but rather focus on the destination and hightailing it in about four days. Our route will be determined by spring storms and the avoidance of running into Dorthy and Toto aka tornados. Yeah, the month of May can be a dicey month crossing the Great Plains and keeping an eye on weather conditions is paramount.
Happening around our RV
Even though we’re only five days into the New Year, I’m down a pound. My meal planning has been successful and my legs are feeling the activity. So far, so good! And things on the blogging plan front? Well, that still needs a ton of attention. I’m still suffering from a creative block. That’s a real thing, isn’t it? I haven’t been out with the camera much and I certainly haven’t been writing. Perhaps I just need a nudge and if that means staring at a blank computer screen for thirty minutes or just taking random photos of something, that’s what I plan on doing to try and get myself back into a creative mood … ya know, get those creative juices flowing again. After all, that’s when I’m at my happiest; when I’m creating.
I’m excited about the possibilities, goals, and plans for 2020. Whether I’m exploring new places or revisiting some old favorites, my hope is to start the new decade on a positive note and keep it going throughout the new year and beyond.
How about you? What are you looking forward to the most in the new year?
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Spring in the desert southwest is always enjoyable. The weather is near perfect and the wildflowers are blooming. It’s so pretty and a great time of year to visit Phoenix, Arizona but as we get further into the month of April, the Phoenix desert starts heating up. We’ve already had some days exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Listening to the local weather report can be quite entertaining, especially when they talk about cold fronts. We have family members who live in northern Wisconsin. While our Wisconsin family remain bundled up in winter attire shoveling out from a recent snowstorm, we too suffered a cold front; gusty winds and a temperature high of only 75 degrees F. We almost couldn’t wear shorts. I guess, a cold front is a cold front, it’s all relative 😄
I assume that you aren’t exactly feeling sorry for me and my weather woes, but when I tell you who I’m likely to share the trail with while out hiking, you might feel differently. 🐍
It’s snake season but also baby season
As much as I’m loving the warm sunny weather, so do the snakes. I’m not sure I’ll ever get comfortable coming face to face with a Diamondback rattlesnake, and each snake encounter causes me to stay off the trails for a while … and may be the cause of a few more grey hairs!
Being startled by a rattlesnake sure gets my heart pounding, and I feel quite rattled as I’m sure does the rattlesnake.
Eventually, my apprehension to hike subsides, and I’m back out hiking but choosing trails that are wide and popular with plenty of other hikers out on the trail. I’ve also learned to keep my eyes down while scanning the trail.
By choosing a popular hiking trail, it’s my hope that the activity keeps the snakes away or that someone else spots her first, which was the case in my recent diamondback rattlesnake meet up.
Two weeks ago, Al and I decided to start our hike at the Desert Vista Trailhead which is part of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. I’ve hiked here before and knew about a Great Horned Owl’s nest. Her nest is huge and constructed between the arms of a large saguaro cactus. Really interesting to see.
I figured by early April, momma owl most likely would be caring for her offspring, and I wanted to see if I could photograph her, or at the very least, see a little owlet.
Score! Ms. Owl was pretty far away and I had to zoom in as much as possible (600mm). I wish I could’ve captured a better image of her and her owlet, but it was still fun seeing mom and baby through my zoom lens.
After a few camera clicks, we continued on our hike. As we rounded a corner, another couple hiking stopped us to warn us of a rattlesnake along the trail. Cool! I had fair warning, and therefore, wasn’t startled … this is the best scenario if you’re going to meet a rattlesnake on the trail.
What to do when you see a rattlesnake?
The first thing you do is grab your camera … okay, no you don’t. The first thing you do is step away slowly to not alarm the snake. The snake will strike if it feels threatened. If you are a safe distance away from the rattlesnake, then maybe you can take a photo or two. But keep in mind, a rattlesnake can strike about half its length and is fast. So, if you see a six-foot snake know that it can possibly strike a subject three-feet away. And when they’re coiled up, it’s hard to tell exactly how long that snake is. Always veer on the side of caution!
Arizona is home to thirteen different species of rattlesnakes. Some may rattle before striking, but not always. So, they are definitely unpredictable. Each hiker, Al and I included, walked past her quickly … giving her a wide berth, but she did rattle with each passerby. As hikers, we not only had to worry about the snake striking but also not walking too close to the Teddy Bear Cholla cactus aka jumping cholla. If you get too close to one of these cactus, a needled segment will break off and fly at your body. Crazy, huh! And the thorns are like little fishhooks … ouch!
After our diamondback rattlesnake encounter, the rest of our hike was pleasant and uneventful. And these days, I’m sticking to trails that are wide and popular. This gal doesn’t like surprises!
How to make your desert visit safe?
Watch your step and be on the lookout for snakes. Rattlesnakes are known to blend in with their environments. When traveling at night, carry a flashlight to make sure every step is the right one.
Think twice before walking through vegetation and never put your hands where you can’t see them. You could be reaching blindly into a shrub, bush, or rock where a snake may be hanging out.
Don’t approach or provoke a snake. More than half of all rattlesnake bites are caused by provoking or approaching a snake. Keep a close eye on children and pets.
Never make a snake feel threatened. It doesn’t want to strike you any more than you want to be bitten.
Tips if you’re bitten
Keep the bitten area still and stay calm.
Seek medical attention immediately.
Remove any jewelry near the affected area in case of swelling.
Elevate the wound area if possible.
If you’re hiking, call 911 and if possible slowly walk to a trailhead or the nearest trail marker. Do not run. Keep body activity to a minimum to avoid the spread of venom.
Don’t drive yourself to the hospital.
Don’t use ice to cool the bite.
Don’t cut open the wound and try to suck out the venom.
Don’t use a tourniquet. This will cut off blood flow and the limb may be lost.
Don’t attempt to administer your own first aid.
Most popular snakes found in the Phoenix area
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (venomous). This is the most commonly encountered rattlesnake in the Phoenix valley and can be found anywhere where neighborhoods are near native desert habitat. They are large, aggressive, and venomous, so keep your distance and let it move on. They can be identified by the rattle, white and black striped tail, and white-lined diamond pattern on the back. Coloration is usually drab shades of brown or grey.
Sonoran Sidewinder (venomous). Sidewinders are small rattlesnakes that live in sandy desert areas. Most are 2 feet long or less and move with a distinctive side-winding motion. These are common in the outskirts of the Phoenix West Valley in washes or flat, open areas. They avoid rocky areas. They are easily identified by the horns that protrude over each eye, and the white and brown ribbon going down the back.
Speckled Rattlesnake (venomous). Speckled rattlesnakes live in rocky areas near mountains or hillsides. They vary in color, from a white/grey in the South Mountain and White Tanks areas, brown in North Phoenix, and orange and red going North into Cave Creek and the Anthem areas. They have a loosely banded pattern that is highly flecked to resemble granite. They’re most common in the South Mountain area.
Sonoran Gophersnake (harmless). The Sonoran Gophersnake is a large snake that can be found everywhere in the Phoenix area, even in alleyways and backyards in urban areas. These are very commonly mistaken for rattlesnakes due to a very good impersonation, which includes flattening the head, loud hissing, striking, and even a rattling tail. While they can become quite large and give a painful bite, they are otherwise completely harmless and great to have around for rodent control.
Images of challenging hiking trails accompanied by beautiful scenery are most likely not the first thoughts that come to mind when envisioning city living, but Phoenix isn’t your typical city. Phoenix, Arizona, and her surrounding suburbs have done an amazing job with urban planning. There are parks everywhere … from small neighborhood playground type of parks to large picturesque, rural feeling parks complete with challenging hikes and even campgrounds.
I’ve made it my mission to visit as many of these larger parks as possible. During each of our winter visits, I try and explore a new to me park. Although, I do have my favorites that I find myself returning to time and again making it difficult to check out the dozens of other amazing parks throughout the Phoenix valley. I’ve already mentioned how much I enjoy the Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park … a definite favorite, but I do have a couple more favs to share.
I never tire of the scenery. There’s something about the diverse eco-system found at this park that makes it incredibly special.
All the trails start off with the usual desert scenery, which in and of itself is stunning, but eventually, you’ll find yourself hiking among cottonwood trees and crossing streams, an unexpected surprise in such an arid desert climate.
There’s a wide range of trails to choose from making it perfect for every level of hiker. Our hike at Spur Cross with Liesbet and her husband turned into a longer hike than we originally intended, but with near perfect hiking weather, I believe we all enjoyed the three-hour six-mile hike.
We saw wildflowers, birds, folks riding horses, stood next to some of Arizona’s oldest living saguaros, crossed streams, and generally had a fun time.
One word of caution about visiting Spur Cross Ranch …. flash flooding. Although the road to get to the trailhead is paved, the last couple of miles or so gets narrow and a little rough in spots. The biggest concern is during heavy rains, including rains from the night before. There’s a couple of low-lying places/washes that are known to flood making it impossible to cross the road until the water recedes. Normally those sections of road are bone dry.
Earlier in the year, I tried introducing a new neighbor at my RV park to Spur Cross Ranch, but our hike did not go as planned. Although we had no issue driving to the trailhead, we did have a problem on the trails.
The moment we started walking on the Dragonfly Trail, I could hear the rushing of water, a sound I hadn’t experienced before.
I knew the creek would be running fast but wasn’t prepared to see exactly how fast it was flowing. The nice little boardwalks that we normally use to cross the creek were washed away.
Unfortunately, my hike with Karen was short-lived due to trail flooding. I’m hoping Karen and I can try again next winter.
The upside to all this water results in a lush landscape. The saguaro cacti along the Metate Trail are said to be some of the oldest in the state of Arizona and have more arms growing than the usual saguaro. I’m guessing the healthy dossing of moisture they receive is due to their growth and longevity. Some of these cactus are supposedly over 200 years old.
Our three-hour hike with Liesbet and Mark started on the Dragonfly trail (DF). We then connected to the Spur Cross trail (SX) to the Metate Trail (MT) where we admired the huge saguaro cacti before returning to the parking lot. Great hike!
Pinnacle Peak Trail … uphill both ways
We’ve been visiting Phoenix, Arizona, regularly every since our son moved here nine years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that I discovered Pinnacle Peak Park. Sure, I’ve admired the peak off in the distance while driving the 101 freeway on the north side of Scottsdale but had not seen it up close until this past winter.
The Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers an amazing out and back hike. However, the trail does connect to other parks if you wanted to extend your hike. Personally, the 3.5 mile out and back uphill both way hike is enough of a butt burner for moi. It usually takes me about 2 hours to complete depending on how frequently I stop to catch my breath or take a photo. The wildflowers have been absolutely stunning lately requiring extra stopping!
Pinnacle Peak is a super popular trail and the parking lot usually fills by 9:00 a.m. and then hikers start parking along the road. The only time I couldn’t find an open spot to park in the parking lot was during my recent hike with my daughter. We arrived before 9:00 on a Friday morning to a full parking lot. What I failed to take into consideration was spring break … families and kids everywhere. Somehow the crowd had very little impact on us. Perhaps it’s because the trail is wide enough to easily pass one another.
Also, most of the families turned around at the summit which was a smart move. The most challenging part of the hike is on the backside of the peak where the last quarter mile is rated strenuous. I can definitely attest to that!
Once we arrived at the end of the trail and it was time to turn around, we noticed exactly how steep the trail back up was and tried to focus on the pretty wildflowers instead of our huffing and puffing. Okay, my huffing and puffing. Daughter is in a lot better shape than I am. Let’s stop and look at the pretty wildflowers was my excuse for needing a rest.
Pinnacle Peak is another beautiful trail in the Phoenix valley not to be missed. For those not wanting to hike the most difficult part of the trail, my recommendation would be to hike to the “Owl’s Rest” viewpoint then turn around. You’ll still experience a little of that uphill both ways scenario but nothing as strenuous as it gets beyond that point.
Do these images look like we’re in a city?
If we look through the images on this post, do we feel a sense that we’re in a large city … the fifth largest city in the United States? Boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, a boatload of nature, and all the happenings available in a large city, it’s no wonder tourism is huge business around here.
Rural parks, award-winning chefs, and tons of shopping … yep, go for a strenuous hike in the morning, be a shopaholic in the afternoon, and go out for fine dining in the evening. What more could a gal ask for? Hmm, maybe I need to start checking out some of that fine dining … ya know, purely for blogging purposes 😉
Ever hear a photographer say “look at the bokeh in that photograph” and wonder what the heck they were talking about? Well, what they’re referring to is the dreamy soft background in a photo.
More specifically, they’re referring to the quality of the blur or quality of the dreamy soft background. Certain lenses and cameras produce better bokeh than others.
Why use bokeh?
Good photographs are supposed to be sharp, not blurry, aren’t they? So, what’s up with bokeh? Although the background is purposely blurry, the subject is still meant to be in focus.
We want to create an effect like this to draw attention to our subject. This way, we’re literally pulling the viewer into the photograph and showing the viewer what we want them to focus on. They really don’t have a choice because the rest of the photo is literally a blur.
Fun Fact: the origin of bokeh is Japanese and it literally translates to blur!
How do you pronounce “bokeh”?
I think it’s pronounced “bow-kay”, but you can watch the attached video to see all the different pronunciations and decide for yourself. Personally, I keep saying “bow-kuh”, which I’m pretty sure is incorrect.
How do we achieve bokeh?
First off, it depends on the type of camera and lens we use to create bokeh. With a DSLR, we’ll want to use a wide Aperture like f2 or even better f1.4. The goal is to create a shallow depth of field.
With a point and shoot camera or phone, you’ll want to experiment a bit and see what works best with your equipment. With my P&S camera, I set it to the “food” setting and zoom in. The more I zoom in on my subject, the more background blur I create. Good bokeh has a soft dreamy feel to the background, and it’s something we see a lot of in food photography.
I’m certainly no expert when it comes to creating bokeh, but I do have fun trying. How about you? Do you like creating images with bokeh?
It was day two of our blogger get together. I had another fun excursion planned for the day sharing some of my favorite Arizona scenery with friends. While getting ready that morning, I received a text message from Nancy reluctantly bowing out of the day’s activities.
Although I understood why she wasn’t able to join Teri and me, I couldn’t help but tease Nancy with a reply, “NO! You are my plus one for the HOV lane. You have to join us”. (HOV=High Occupancy Vehicle – aka carpool lane, 2+ lane). In order for me to pick up Teri at her hotel, I’d be traveling from the far north end of the Phoenix valley down to the far southeast end of the valley, which’ll take me a little over an hours drive through the thick of Phoenix traffic. I’d have to time my travels with rush hour traffic in mind since losing my plus one. “Why Nancy, why?” 😥😆😘
FYI for trip planning to Phoenix, Arizona. March is the busiest month of the year. Our population explodes with tourism due to the fantastic weather and baseball spring training. RV parks are full and hotels charge double during this time of year. And traffic is insane, like most major cities. Although, the city is super easy to navigate considering it’s laid out in a grid style manner.
Valley Talk … The term “Phoenix valley” refers to the actual city of Phoenix as well as her dozen or so surrounding suburbs. You might hear folks comment, “That’s in the east valley (meaning Scottsdale or Mesa) or that’s in the west valley (meaning Glendale or Goodyear). Then there’s the north valley where I’m camped and I’ll need to travel to the south valley to pick up Teri at her hotel … I think you get the idea.
Rugged scenery near Phoenix
On the far east side of the Phoenix valley lies the Superstition Mountains (aka the Superstitions). This beautiful and rugged terrain is a favorite of mine, and anytime I’m able to camp at Lost Dutchman State Park or even visit just for the day, I’m a happy camper.
So, of course, I just had to share this stunning landscape with Teri. Knowing Teri was a flatlander from Ohio, I was very selective about which trail we’d hike and made sure she was well prepared for the terrain and strong sun. With that said, she still wasn’t convinced I wasn’t trying to kill her; was it the uphill climb, or our second ever get together, or was it the folklore surrounding the area …. hmm?
How the Superstitions got their name
Stories and mystery abound. This mountain range was called several different names by explorers long before the local farmers in the late 1800s gave it its final namesake. The Salt River Valley farmers had heard stories about strange sounds, people disappearing, and mysterious deaths from the Pima Indians. An overall fear of the mountain influenced the farmers to believe the Pimas were superstitious about this particular mountain, and therefore, the name Superstition Mountain was born.
And then there’s the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s gold, which is another mystery to the Superstition Mountains. To this day, many people believe there is a hidden fortune to be found out there somewhere.
Due to the severely rugged nature of the terrain, extreme changes in temperature, harsh winds, and dangerous wildlife, the Superstition Mountains have had their fair share of casualties.
There are more disappearances here than any other mountain range in Arizona. On average, about four to five hikers die each year and rescues are a common occurrence.
But hikers and explorers trek on. Unfortunately, many are unprepared regardless of warnings by local Rangers. Whether these hikers are adventurous, reckless, gullible or superstitious, the reality remains that there are a great number of tragedies linked to this wilderness area. It should be revered and respected. When visiting the Superstition Mountains, please wear sturdy shoes. Leave your flip-flops at home and bring plenty of water.
The perfect hike for a flatlander
Knowing this was Teri’s first time hiking at the Superstitions, I wanted to introduce her slowly to the beautiful landscape, and not scare her off with too difficult of a hike. Once parked at the Saguaro day use area at Lost Dutchman State Park, we started our hike on the handicap accessible informative Discovery Trail which connects the picnic area to the campground. (DI in red on map). Super easy trail and great for a warm up.
We then connected to the Siphon Draw Trail (SD is shown to the right in brown on the map). The Siphon Draw Trail is a continuous uphill hike that will eventually lead to the top of Flatiron …. experienced hikers only. We hiked a short portion of Siphon Draw before connecting to Jacobs Crosscut (JC in green). Due to the continuous uphill hike, Siphon Draw was the most challenging stretch of the trail for Teri, and I’m sure she was wondering what this new friend of hers had gotten her into.
After I did a little prodding to keep us moving, Teri eventually found her hiking groove especially on the Jacobs Crosscut trail, the perfect trail for a flatlander. The trail runs parallel to the mountain and is mostly level with only a little up and down in spots. By the time we reached the crossroad for the Treasure Loop trail (TL is shown on the left in brown on the map), Teri was even contemplating extending our hike instead of returning to the parking lot. Clearly, she was bitten by the hiking bug and realized her new friend wasn’t trying to kill her after all.
This is a loop hike I’ve done several times before and normally I can complete it in an hour, but since Teri and I were stopping to admire the scenery, taking photographs, and doing lots of chit-chatting, it took us an hour and a half to complete. This is the perfect hike for any desert newbie and/or for those easing themselves into trail hiking.
And remember, if you start feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. You can’t possibly drink too much water out on the trail. I kept harping on Teri to drink her water. I promise you won’t need a restroom. The desert sucks the water right out of you. Lack of hydration is the number one reason visitors to Phoenix get into trouble and need rescue aid.
Time for lunch
After our enjoyable hike, it was time to head up the road for lunch at the quaint little tourist town of Tortilla Flat. The drive itself is beautiful, but be forewarned, it is a twisty curvy road with drop-offs.
The food was just okay. The atmosphere was entertaining, but we really enjoyed the scenery outside of the restaurant much more. The Salt River was running fast and furious and Teri and I had fun just sitting along the water’s edge.
I had a couple more stops in mind, but one glance at the clock had me remembering rush hour traffic. It was either hit the road before 3:00 or wait until after 6:00. Since I was already running low on energy plus had obligations the next day, I reluctantly took Teri back to her place before 3:00 and started my one-hour-plus drive home.
More hiking in our future
I had a great time meeting Teri, and I’m already looking forward to more photography outings and hikes with her in Arizona. Hopefully next time, we can schedule more time together and our good friend, Nancy, will be able to join us. This tour guide has a lot more plans up her sleeve!
For a few more things to see and do in the area, please click here.
And for more information on the hiking trails at Lost Dutchman State Park, click here.
Wilderness, wild horses, pristine waters, and adventure await, all within a mere thirty minute drive away from the hustle and bustle of the big city of Phoenix, Arizona. I always enjoy my time exploring the far east side of the Phoenix valley, and my recent excursion with blog friends did not disappoint.
A blogger meet-up
First, I’ll need to set the stage. It was the last week of February and the first pleasant weather of the month. What a crazy winter we’ve had in the desert southwest this year. The wonderful weather was perfect timing for my cyber friend Teri to come to Arizona for a visit.
Teri and I have followed each other’s blog for over five years, yet this would be our first connection in person.
Let’s add in another blogger, Nancy. Again, she and I started off as cyber friends via our blogs, but since we live only a ten-minute drive away from one another, we’ve socialized regularly.
So, there you have your three bloggers; Nancy, Teri, and me. Our common thread is blogging and a passion for photography. Therefore, our get together had to be centered around gathering blog material and capturing interesting photographs. Oh, we’ll add in a little goofing around just for fun.
It was a sunny Monday morning when I picked up Nancy at her place then jumped on the interstate to head to the FAR southeast side of the Phoenix valley. Nancy and I live on the far north end of the valley. Seriously Teri … could you have picked a hotel any further away? Just asking! 😏 An hour plus drive and a few hugs later, the three of us, along with our three cameras, were on our way in search of wild horses.
More driving, too much talking, distracted driver, missed exits, turned around BUT not lost 🤣 … we eventually made it to our first stop along the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest.
Water is life
There’s a saying in the west, “Whiskey’s fer drink’n, and water’s fer fight’n over“. Water is a precious commodity in America’s desert southwest, and anytime one stumbles upon a body of water, it’s a special treat. And the Salt River is indeed a special treat in an otherwise dry landscape.
Through a series of dams creating reservoirs, the Salt River provides water to the Phoenix valley, as well as local wildlife. The wildlife and beautiful scenery were our focus of the day, and we really got lucky scoring a fantastic day.
Our first stop was a simple picnic area just off the highway. Unfortunately, densely covered tall reeds obstructed any photographic view of the water, but our second stop had these three bloggers doing a happy dance. Teri was busy photographing reflections in the water while Nancy was enamored with Four Peaks covered in snow, and of course, it was all about the shorebirds for me.
Teri capturing reflections
Nancy in love with the landscape
I spot an Egret and zoom in
We could’ve spent hours here just exploring and taking photographs, but we were on a mission which included tracking down a herd of wild horses.
Our next stop was at the Coon Bluff Loop picnic area. I immediately zeroed in on a small group of photographers with long camera lenses standing near the river. There’s something about living the RV life that transforms a normally shy introverted individual into an out-going stranger approaching person. Stranger danger … what’s that? 🤣 After a brief chit-chat with one of the wildlife photographers, we took his advice and were on our way up the road to the location he shared. I never did figure out what they were photographing at Coon Bluff.
Supposedly, the guy had spent that morning photographing some wild horses near Saguaro Lake. So, that’s where we decided to go. We hoped he wasn’t sending us on a wild goose chase.
Salt River Wild Horses
Sure enough! We found the herd of horses that the nice gentleman told us about. They were gorgeous and looked healthy. We kept our distance, walked around slowly, spoke softly, and reminded each other that these horses are wild.
Out of respect for the horses, we didn’t hang around too long. After all, they were trying to take a nap. So, once we had our fair share of photographs, we were on to our next stop. For more information on the Salt River horses, please visit this website – Salt River Wild Horse Management Group.
Saguaro Lake picnic
It was already past noon and our stomachs were growling when we bid farewell to the wild horses. Unbeknownst to my friends, I had packed us a picnic lunch and knew exactly where to snag a picnic table with a view. I also knew we’d be pretty far away from any food establishment which is why I came prepared with lunch. A good tour guide knows these things!
“Pssst … you distract her while I go in for the food”.
Setting up lunch! Our picnic table with a view.
Nancy enjoying her lunch
However, little did I know we’d have additional guests for lunch. The squirrels were rather aggressive and when one jumped on the table … well, let’s just say Miss Nancy was none too pleased. I’m not sure if I heard “disease-carrying rodent” or “don’t touch my wine“. 🤣 The words “attack of the wild squirrels” may have even been thrown around. Ah regardless, they provided another source of laughs, wildlife photography, and entertainment for the day.
After lunch, it was time for a little stroll along the waters edge and more photo snapping.
Our last stop of the day was at a scenic overlook. This is one of my favorite stops for afternoon photography. I discovered this spot about six years ago and always make it a point to stop here whenever I’m in the area, even if I only have five minutes.
Wrap up of Day One
That about wraps up day one of our blogger get together. Day two will include more photography and a scenic hike. That’ll be in my next post. Until then, I’ll share a few more pics of the day and a map of where we stopped. To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.
Bush Highway near Phoenix, Arizona
Salt River with snow-capped Four Peaks in the background
Saguaro Lake – a trail along the shore.
Teri and Nancy photographing a “rabbit ears” saguaro.
I was grateful that the Phoenix, Arizona, weather finally returned to temperatures we love and expect in the desert southwest during this time of year. With clear skies once again upon us, I didn’t waste any time getting out with the camera and exploring.
It has been a crazy and hectic week for me, but in a good way. Therefore, today’s post will be short and I’ll share just a snippet of what I’ve been up to.
Popular valley hike
On February 21st and 22nd, Phoenix encountered some record weather … cold, rain, hail, and snow. Yes, snow in Phoenix, Arizona. What a rare treat to behold! And although, we spend our winters in Phoenix to avoid cold and snow, this storm truly added an unexpected beauty to the landscape.
We woke up to clear skies on Saturday the 23rd, and I just had to get out and take in the landscape. I bundled up and headed off to hike the Pinnacle Peak trail located in north Scottsdale. The cold brisk air (37 degrees Fahrenheit when I first started) didn’t deter me or other hikers on this popular trail.
I’ll do a detailed write-up on the trail once I have a little down time.
Tour guide duty
Then came Monday and Tuesday which kept me extra busy exploring and visiting with a couple of blogging gal pals. Teri and I have followed each others blogs for over five years, yet this would be the first time we’d actually meet in person. On the other hand, fellow blogger Nancy and I have hung out many times. Fortunately, Nancy lives a mere ten minutes away from my RV Park making it convenient for us to hike together anytime.
Since the three of us all met via our blogs, we’re always looking for blog material. With that in mind, it was time for me to pick up the ladies and go into tour guide mode. Actually, I seem to be doing a lot of Phoenix tour guiding this season, and I’m loving every minute sharing some of my favorite sights with out of town friends.
Our growling tummies told us it was time to bid farewell to the horses and move on. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Saguaro Lake followed by a little hiking along the shore … all of which included lots of photography. The next day, we were off to a new place to take in some other popular yet picturesque sights in Phoenix’ east valley.
We had such a great time together and hated to say goodbye to Teri. I assure you, she didn’t seem eager to return to the weather in Ohio. So, I’m hoping she’ll make it an annual trek back to Phoenix for more blogger shenanigans. And yes, I’ll need to do a more detailed post on our two wonderful and fun days hanging out together.
The fantastic weather is making it difficult for me to stay home and get anything done. I’ve been enjoying new discoveries, as well as visits with friends and family at every opportunity, and today I’m attending a wedding.
I think, next week I’ll slow things down and hopefully get some posts written up. In the meantime, hope life is good wherever you are. Enjoy these wildflowers!
Is it me, or has this winter weather been absolutely crazy? Talk about challenging winter weather conditions all across the United States, and for those living south of the equator, I hear you’ve had your own weather challenges. Crazy stuff, huh!
We’ve been comfortably parked in an RV Park on the far north side of the Phoenix valley since early October. I use the term “comfortably” loosely. Although, we are enjoying the RV park, our RV site, and the great neighbors, the weather has been anything but “comfortable”.
I love my RV, but living in a tin can RV during cold and rainy weather isn’t much fun. Sure, we’ve had some nice days which were perfect for hiking, but the inclement days seem to be more frequent this winter than previous years. And don’t even get me started with the wind, hail, and flash flooding.
With all that said, compared to other parts of the country, I really shouldn’t complain. The upside to all the extra moisture we’ve received here in the desert southwest over the past few months will be a colorful reward – a kaleidoscope of spring wildflowers.
Last year the desert was dry, brown, and sad. This year, she is green, plump, and happy. So, even though the weather has been colder and wetter than I’d prefer, I know there’s an upside. Can you believe those blooms have already started showing up … and it’s only February? March is going to be amazing!
Last week in Phoenix, it actually snowed. Not the fun pretty kind of snow, but rather, the slushy irritating kind we call graupel. This stuff I didn’t enjoy, but I did enjoy a snow outing last month.
Snow in Arizona
Even this desert dweller occasionally longs for white fluffy snow. Yep, I miss snow every once in a while. So, in January, after a substantial snowfall in Sedona (mere rain in Phoenix), I hopped in my little red truck and took the 90 minute drive up the hill (Interstate 17) for a day of fun in the snow. I love Arizona’s diversity!
After about three hours of traipsing in the snow along ice-covered trails, I’d had my fill of winter … especially after a near fatal fall on my derriere. It all happened in slow motion. While my feet where sliding hither and yon, my arms were flailing in all directions in an attempt to steady my balance …. all the while, at the forefront of my mind was my trusty Panasonic camera and saving her from a deadly fall. In the end 🤭, my naturally well padded bottom took the brunt of the fall while Panny survived unscathed and ready for more shutter clicking. Disaster averted! We don’t need to talk about the softball size bruise on my …..
So yeah, I’m good with winter weather and won’t need a snow fix until next year. I’m ready for spring. How about you?
Weather – a photo prompt
For this week’s photo challenge, let’s share images of what the weather looks like in your neck of the woods.
Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations
Wednesday is the day I like to share a photograph(s) centered around a theme. Photo challenges/themes are a great way for us to share our love of photography and engage with other like-minded people. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR, or something in-between, I hope you’ll join in on the challenge. Share and connect!
When I envision a desert, thoughts of dull, boring, remote, dry, hot, and maybe even dangerous come to mind. At least that was the image that came to my mind years ago, and I think most people would have similar thoughts. But when we look closer, we’ll find the desert to be anything but boring … it’s still hot and dry, but not boring or dull 😄
A little desert knowledge
Did you know deserts cover about 20% of the Earth? Deserts are characterized by extreme environmental conditions with little precipitation. Yet with minimal rainfall, they are able to inhabit plant and animal life. I’m totally enamored with deserts, especially the Sonoran Desert. Deserts are a fascinating ecosystem, but not all deserts are created equally.There are four types of deserts;
hot and dry (Arizona’s Sonoran Desert)
semi-arid (America’s Great Basin)
coastal (Atacama Desert in Chile)
The Sonoran Desert in Arizona is real
As a child growing up in the Midwest among lush green vegetation, I never had any aspirations of living in a desert. As a matter of fact, I thought those images of red rock bluffs, three-armed cactus, and ever abundant tumbleweed were a fabrication of cartoonists. I remember watching the cartoon “The Road Runner” which took place in America’s southwest. Ah, poor Wile!
The thought of art imitating life wasn’t something I had considered. The scenery, vegetation, and animals drawn in the cartoon seemed surreal to me, but real they are. However real the landscape and animals, the cartoon itself was filled with a lot of imagination and fabrication making it ridiculously funny. Wile E. Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions to try to catch the Road Runner, which always “backfire” resulting in an injured coyote. Many of the items for these contrivances are mail-ordered from a company named Acme Corporation. Hmm, I wonder if Jeff Bezos got his business idea for Amazon from the Acme Corporation 😆
You can image my excitement when I saw my first ‘real’ road runner, not to mention laying eyes on the strange yet beautiful landscape of the desert southwest. And the night-time howling of a coyote always brings a smile to my face. Yeah, living in the desert is never dull or boring.
The star of the Sonoran Desert
Although there are so many things that make a desert special, the real star and main attraction of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is the saguaro cactus. It took me weeks of living among these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly – pronounced: sa-wha-ro.
Each saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own. The Sonoran Desert’s bi-seasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than any other desert in the world, and it’s the only place in the world where you’ll see saguaro cactus growing naturally.
The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters) and is native to the Sonoran Desert.
Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years. It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop a side arm. Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.
Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two its first eight years. The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location. Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus will visibly expand. This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall. The cacti are doing a happy dance!
this saguaro looks like it’s doing a happy dance
this cactus looks like a soldier
They grow very tall – note the cyclist
a saguaro blooming
the desert skies are amazing
Every saguaro cactus seems to have its own individual personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like a cartoon character, and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two identical.
A crested saguaro
AND then there is the rare crested saguaro. Why are some crested? Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms. The growing tip on rare occasion produces a fan like form which is referred to as crested or cristate. Biologists disagree about why some saguaro grow in this unusual form. Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, freeze damage. Fascinating to say the least for whatever reason!
The importance of water
To accommodate a potentially large influx of water, the pleats of a saguaro expand like an accordion. I was fascinated with the plump texture of the saguaro after a heavy rainfall. You can literally see the water trapped below the skin’s surface. By trapping and conserving water, the saguaro are able to thrive during harsh, drought weather.
The pleats are plump with moisture
Because the majority of a saguaro is made up of water, an adult plant may weigh as much as six tons or more. This tremendous weight is supported by a circular skeleton of inter-connected, woody ribs. The number of ribs inside the plant correspond to the number of pleats on the outside of the plant.
the skeleton of a saguaro
Saguaro cacti are host to a great variety of animals. The gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities inside the saguaro’s pulpy flesh. Large birds like hawks and owls also use the saguaro for nesting and hunting platforms. Their stick nests are constructed among the arms of a large saguaro.
In mid summer, the saguaro cacti provides a source of food for animals with its ripening fruit. Jackrabbits, Javelinas, Mule Deer and other animals will eat the saguaro’s flesh during dry summer months, providing these animals with a water source.
Additional saguaro cactus facts
The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.
Most of the saguaros roots are only 4-6 inches deep and radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall. There’s one deep root that extends down into the ground more than two feet.
After the saguaro dies, the wood ribs can be used to build fences or furniture. The holes that birds nested in can be found among the dead saguaros, and Native Americans used these as water containers.
The saguaro cactus flower is Arizona’s state flower. The flower is considered nocturnal – closing midday and opening during the night. The primary nocturnal pollinator is the lesser long-nosed bat.
Harming or vandalizing a saguaro in any manner is illegal by state law in Arizona. When houses or highways are built, special permits must be obtained to move or destroy any saguaro affected.
Best places to see naturally growing saguaro cactus near Phoenix, Arizona
First off, you won’t find saguaros growing throughout the Sonoran Desert. For the most part, you’ll find them growing abundantly near the cities of Phoenix and Tucson. If you’re in the Tucson area, you’ll definitely want to visit Saguaro National Park. If you’ll be visiting Phoenix, here are my picks to get up close and personal with the southwest’s main attraction: the saguaro cactus. Note: There are certainly more places to see the saguaro cactus, but these are my personal favorites; all have ample parking, hiking, and photographic opportunities.
Top 5 places to see saguaro cactus
Maricopa County Parks. This Arizona county offers some of the best parks near a big city that I’ve ever experienced. We love camping at Cave Creek Regional Park as well as Lake Pleasant, but my favorite park to hike is the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. There is a day use fee at all the parks and some even have campgrounds.
Desert Botanical Garden. This is always a favorite stop for me, especially in spring. You’ll see some of the most bizarre and unique plants ever in addition to the saguaro cactus.
Sonoran Desert Preserve. Since I’m usually camped not too far from the preserve at the far north end of Phoenix, you’ll find me hiking here quite often. It isn’t necessarily the most scenic, but during spring the trails are lined with wildflowers. Also, if you are just passing through Phoenix and want some photos of the saguaros up close, this is a convenient stop since all three trailheads aren’t far from Interstate 17.
South Mountain Park. I still haven’t had a chance to explore this park personally because I’m usually camped on the north end of the valley and it would take me about an hour to get to South Mountain. Therefore, I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve heard great things about the park. Therefore, I wanted to include it on this list.
Tonto National Forest. This national forest is huge, encompassing nearly 3 million acres of rugged and beautiful country that ranges from a forest of Saguaro cactus to pine-forested mountains. The Superstition Mountains are located with the Tonto, and Lost Dutchman State Park is a great way to access the trails.
The Sonoran Desert in Arizona continues to intrigue and fascinate me. There’s a beauty that may not be obvious at first glance, but just spend a little time exploring this unique land, and I’m sure, you too, will discover its lure.
Are you an adventurous traveler? Are you looking for a scenic memorable day trip near Phoenix, Arizona? Well, I’ve got just the day excursion for you. Al and I first drove this 80 mile scenic loop several years ago and it still ranks as one of our top favorite day trips in Arizona.
On the far southeast side of the greater Phoenix valley lies Arizona’s oldest highway. This former stagecoach trail which runs through the Superstition Mountains was originally used by the Apache Indians, thus aptly named The Apache Trail.
The Apache Trail is officially known as State Route 88 and links the town of Apache Junction with Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
The trail was developed into more of a road in the 1930’s to support the development of dam’s along the Salt River, creating some beautiful lakes in the process.
There’s oodles of interesting sights and beautiful views along the way which necessitate lots of stopping. Photo-op anyone? Thus, the Apache Trail Circle Loop requires an entire day. It’s also not for the faint of heart, which I’ll explain in a minute.
Be sure and pack a lunch, snacks, and plenty of water because you’ll be exploring some desert backcountry during this scenic day trip drive. It helps if you have a high-clearance vehicle, but we saw plenty of regular cars on the dirt portion of the road from Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Lake. That doesn’t mean I’m saying a basic car is a good fit for the terrain. It means, I saw regular cars navigating without apparent issue.
My recommendation; be sure it didn’t rain the day before, take your time, watch for bumps, and be prepared for washboard road conditions. When in doubt, check with a Tonto National Forest Ranger for further clarification and up to date road conditions.
We’ll start our journey from the town of Apache Junction, Arizona, and head north on State Road 88, aka The Apache Trail. Our first stop is the Superstition Mountain Museum.
A picturesque museum
The Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves, and displays the artifacts, history, and folklore of the Superstition Mountains. Even though we knew we had a long day in front of us, this picturesque museum is worthy of a photo-op and stroll around the historic buildings. We made a note to tour the museum another day.
Exploring a Ghost Town
Just a short drive north of the Superstition Mountain museum is our next stop; the Goldfield Ghost Town. Goldfield was once a happening gold mining town back in the 1890’s. It’s now a popular tourist attraction which is rooted in Arizona history. It’s a fun and interesting stop. They still actually mine gold here, but that’s blocked from public view. Guess they don’t want to share them there gold, huh!
Goldfield Ghost Town offers free parking and free walking around, but there is a fee for each attraction. You can click on this link for more information on those attractions. We don’t usually do the tourist type of thing, so I can’t vouch for any of the paid attractions.
The quaint little shops at the Goldfield Ghost Town offer unique trinkets specific to the area along with the typical tourist stuff … T-shirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs, postcards, etc. The grounds are loaded with original mining equipment, and it’s obvious, these are the original buildings and have stood for a very long time. As a matter of fact, during our visit, a museum building was closed while construction workers were busy shoring up a second floor balcony.
As I strolled around Goldfield Ghost Town, I could envision the harsh realities of life over 100 years ago. These were hardy folks living in an unforgiving and harsh environment. However did they survive living in the desert without air conditioning? And no A/C in that covered wagon either 😱
I found it funny that the Bordello was located near the church. How convenient is that? Play hard …. pray even harder. Sow your wild oats on Saturday, and pray for crop failure on Sunday!
During this particular visit to the east side of the Phoenix area, we happened to be camped just up the road from the Goldfield Ghost Town at one of our favorite campgrounds; the Lost Dutchman State Park. For those unable to secure a campsite at the Lost Dutchman State Park, Goldfield Ghost Town does have a campground. It’s a bit rustic, but at least it’s a place to park the RV in a pinch.
The hiking trails are amazing and the campsites are comfortably spaced. And the views are absolutely stunning!
For those interested in visiting the Lost Dutchman State Park but not interested in camping, there is a day use area. For a small fee, you can enjoy the trails all day. The day use area offers plenty of shaded picnic tables, restrooms, and easy access to all the trails. Seriously, this is a “must see” place during any visit to Phoenix, Arizona, especially in March when the wildflowers are blooming.
A beautiful body of water in the desert
As we continue our scenic drive north of the state park, the road starts to climb, twist, and bend. I highly recommend driving this stretch of road without an RV for the first time due to potential length and height issues.
Shortly after passing the Lost Dutchman State Park we enter the Tonto National Forest. The scenery becomes more rugged and stunning with each new mile. March is particularly beautiful as the road is lined on both sides with yellow blooms from the brittlebush and desert marigolds.
Twenty miles north of the town of Apache Junction, we round a bend and are graced with the sight of an oasis in the desert. Canyon Lake with it’s deep blue waters surrounded by rugged cliffs and rocky terrain is a pleasant and unexpected surprise.
Definitely worth a few photo-ops around here, wouldn’t you agree? Canyon Lake itself is a great day excursion; perfect for a picnic, kayak adventure, or even a cruise aboard the Dolly Steamboat.
Canyon Lake offers a marina for daily boat rentals; powerboat, kayak, and even SUP’s (stand up paddle board). There’s also a campground, but it is rather pricey for what you get, in my opinion anyway. The last time I checked, it was over $50 a night. With that said, the drive is also something to consider. It could be quite challenging for larger RV’s due to length and height. Considering we all travel with different types of RV equipment and have our own comfort level, I recommend checking it out first without the RV.
A town with the population of 6
A few more miles up the road, past Canyon Lake, is the cute little town of Tortilla Flat – population 6. This is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, especially if you forgot to pack a meal, like we did. The restaurant serves up great burgers and has a fun décor.
This is the one and only time my daughter intends to pose for me in the ladies room lol.
Money, money, money. The walls are covered in dollar bills.
The restaurant has saddles for barstools.
My daughter enjoying the wonderful ice cream at Tortilla Flat, Arizona
(to enlarge photos in a gallery, simply click on any image)
The walls are covered with dollar bills stapled all over, as well as old mining tools and historical photos. The bar stools are saddles and the ladies restroom has entertaining painted stall doors. I think this is the one and only time that my daughter allowed me to photograph her in a restroom. I had to bribe her with ice cream. The little general store serves up some of the best ice cream around and the fudge was pretty good also.
The adventure begins
With tummies full, it’s time to brace ourselves for the truly adventurous part of the drive. Just past the town of Tortilla Flat, the pavement ends.
Most rental car companies will not want you driving this road and it’s not recommended for any vehicle over 25 feet in length…. definitely no RV’s. Although, we did notice some guys pulling their boats 😮
The gravel road is wide and in pretty good condition up to the scenic view parking lot. The vista and scenery is worth the dusty, bumpy gravel road to get to it. For those less adventurous, this would be the perfect place to turn around and retrace your journey home. In my experience, the gravel road from the town of Tortilla Flat up to the scenic overlook is usually in good condition for any vehicle to navigate, but beyond that point, it can get dicey and very interesting.
Al and I are used to driving unpaved mountain backcountry roads with steep cliff drop-offs with no safety barriers or guard rails. In other words, this next stretch of road between the scenic overlook and Apache Lake is not for the faint of heart. (Tip: if you’re interested in visiting Apache Lake, but don’t want to drive over Fish Creek Hill, access from Roosevelt Lake. The road between Roosevelt Lake and Apache Lake is much easier to navigate and without the high drop-offs.)
As we continue past the scenic overlook the road narrows and winds. This two-way traffic road narrows down to about a one to one and a half lane wide road. There isn’t enough room in most spots for two vehicles to pass each other. Those going down hill supposedly have the right of way and it’s not uncommon for someone needing to back up to a wider spot in the road so vehicles can pass by each other.
Fish Creek Pass, aka Fish Creek Hill, is the worst part of the journey with sheer drop offs, a very narrow road, lots of turns, and a steep elevation change. Fish Creek is the most stressful and challenging part of the drive and not for the faint of heart. Once we navigate Fish Creek Hill, one lane bridges and washboard road conditions continue to add to our adventurous day.
Once we reach Apache Lake, another beautiful oasis in the desert, the road becomes a little easier to traverse. Due to the washboard condition of the road and our extra long wheel base on the F-250, it was very slow going for us. This is when my Tacoma or a Jeep would be perfect, but my Tacoma was back in Colorado during this excursion. Even a Honda CRV would’ve been a better choice for this road than the long wheel base of our Ford truck.
Two and a half hours after leaving Tortilla Flat and 22 miles of gravel road later, we finally arrived at the Theodore Roosevelt Damn and Lake. We averaged about 10 miles per hour with lots of photo-op stopping along the way.
We leisurely tour the campgrounds and the boondocking opportunities along the lake shore. We are pleasantly surprised and make notes. We will definitely keep Roosevelt Lake as a possible place to camp in the future. It’s pretty. It’s remote. It’s inexpensive, and located within the Tonto National Forest.
I’m entertained by using the term “forest” around this barren looking land. You won’t find any of the usual trees that most folks would expect in a National Forest.This is still the desert and you’ll find a forest of saguaro cactus and their cousins in lieu of any oak or aspen trees.
This unusual forest may look barren at first glance, but upon closer inspection, you’ll discover an amazing ecosystem with the ability to survive and flourish in some of the harshest weather and terrain.
The beautiful scenery continues
The fascinating and majestic scenery continues from Roosevelt Lake to the active mining towns of Miami and Superior and onto the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Oh, how I wanted to stop at the Arboretum, but by this point in our journey, we were tired, photo outed, and ready to just get home. Besides, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum would require its own day.
There are so many interesting sights along this scenic loop that we wanted to stop and explore further, but we realized we couldn’t see and do it all in one day.
We took notes for future day excursions, as well as future overnight RVing spots and promised ourselves to return again and again. I always look forward to spending time in the Phoenix valley. Whether one is looking for solitude or a host of activities, this part of Arizona seems to have it all, and it rarely disappoints.
I remain in awe by Arizona’s raw beauty and fascinated by the plants and animals that survive in this harsh land. What an adventurous day we had!