A Tour of Phoenix

Since my last three posts focused on places to park our RV’s in and around the Phoenix area, I thought I’d share some things to see and do while visiting, The Valley of the Sun.

Capital Building
The State Capital Building – Phoenix, Arizona

Center valley – downtown Phoenix:  Since Phoenix is the capitol city of Arizona, you’ll find the state capital building and legislator buildings downtown.  Although the Capital building itself is not on the grandeur level of other state capital buildings, the beautiful park setting and war memorials make up for the simplistic architecture.

War Memorials
War Memorials – Capital Building in the distance

Papago Park is located in Tempe just north of Arizona State University. Here you’ll find the Desert Botanical Garden which is a great way to familiarize oneself with the plants of the desert southwest.  The Garden usually hosts a special venue or exhibition at different times of the year.  During a previous visit, they had a special Avery housing thousands of Monarch butterflies.

Papago Park
Papago Park located in Tempe, Arizona

Currently the Botanical Garden is adorned with vibrant glass art created by famous Artist Dale Chihuly.  Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from craft to fine art.   Sorry folks, no photos from me on this exhibit, as I took a pass on a visit to the garden this season.

Hole in the Rock
Hole in the Rock – Papago Park

Not interested in the garden?  How about a quick hike up to “Hole in the Rock”, located just around the corner from the Botanical Garden in Papago Park.  This is a favorite spot amongst locals to watch the sunset over the city. Nearby “Hole in the Rock” is the “Tomb of Governor George Wiley Paul Hunt”.  The Tomb is interesting – a mini pyramid, but the view from this vantage point is pretty awesome.  It overlooks Papago Park and the Phoenix Zoo.

Apache Trail
A drive along the Apache Trail provides beautiful scenery

East valley – near the town of Apache Junction is the Superstition Mountain and Lost Dutchman State Park.  I would put this on any “must see” list.  As we drive north on Highway 88, aka the Apache Trail,  Our first stop is on the right at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Just a short distance further up the road on the left is the Goldfield Ghost Town.  This old gold mining town is a fun little stop to stroll around and get a sense of life in the 1800’s.

Superstition Mountain
great hiking at the Superstition Mountain

As we continue north on the Apache Trail, the Lost Dutchman State Park is on the right and offers some of our favorite hiking trails.  You can access these trails from the Day Use area or from the campground.  The state park is a fee use area.  Rangers and volunteers are more than eager to share their passion for this one of a kind place. The Apache Trail is a scenic drive with lots of photographic opportunities.  We like to take our time and enjoy the scenery.  A stop at the shores of Canyon Lake is always lovely.  We’ve even thought about renting a kayak for a few hours but just haven’t had the chance thus far.

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake along the Apache Trail

After Canyon Lake is the town of Tortilla Flat, population of 6.  You’ll find a great little restaurant with a super fun décor and yummy burgers.  Even if you won’t be dining, do step inside and check it out and be sure to peek into the lady’s room for the comedic painted stall doors.  The general store also serves up some of the best homemade ice cream around.

Apache Trail
Past the town of Tortilla Flat the Apache Trail gets rugged

Should you continue the journey past the town of Tortilla Flat, be forewarned this is a gravel road with drop offs and not for the faint of heart.  The road will lead past Apache Lake and eventually end at Roosevelt Lake.  It’s a long, all day excursion.

Apache Lake
Apache Lake
Apache Trail
The Apache Trail north of Apache Lake

In an attempt to not make this blog post ridiculously long, allow me to quickly add some other things to see and do in and around Phoenix……..

  • Baseball –  In Spring AND Fall you’ll find plenty of major league baseball teams in training. There’s plenty of games to keep the sports enthusiast duly entertained.
  • Enjoy architecture? Visit Taliesin West
  • If music is your thing; The MIM…..Musical Instrument Museum
  • Meandering around old town Scottsdale is always a fun pastime.
  • Lake Pleasant – Lunch at Dillon’s Restaurant Scorpion Bay Marina on the floating pier/dock.

    Lake Pleasant
    Lake Pleasant – northwest of Phoenix
  • Retail shopping…..the list is endless and since I live in 250 square feet I refrain from frequenting these establishments…..wink, wink….”I know I can squeeze another pair of shoes in here somewhere, but let’s not tell Al” 😉
  • For true western fun – on a FRIDAY evening, visit the western town of Cave Creek and have dinner at the Buffalo Chip Saloon…..watch live bull riding and mutton busting.

    Buffalo Chip Saloon
    Buffalo Chip Saloon, Cave Creek, AZ
  • AND for a truly unique dining experience that you just HAVE TO try at least once…..the Organ Stop Pizza.  We enjoy the food but it really is an ‘experience’.

This is just a short list of things to see and do in The Valley of the Sun, and reason enough why RVer’s and non-RVer’s alike choose to call Phoenix home for the winter. 

Magical, Spiritual, or just Beautiful

As we approach the Lost Dutchman State Park, we are awed by the imposing Superstition Mountain looming in the distance.  We are on the far east side of Phoenix near the town of Apache Junction, Arizona.   Lost Dutchman State Park sits at the base of the intriguing Superstition Mountain and campers are graced with its beauty.

Superstition Mountain
Lost Dutchman State Park….we’re the first rig on the right – Jan 2013

I’m drawn to this place.  There’s something magical, maybe even spiritual about the Superstition Mountain and camping at its base at Lost Dutchman State Park affords a visitor an up close experience to its varying personality. Weather and light have an impact on the character and mood of this unique mountain.

Superstition Mountain
Camping with a view….Lost Dutchman State Park at the base of the Superstition Mountain

The campground has 104 campsites, 35 of which have electric and water.  Most of the sites are level and paved.  There’s nice spacing between sites and all offer great views.  Yep, it’s all about the view!

Our first visit to this lovely place was in the Spring of 2011.  The campground was booked but we were able to dry camp in the overflow lot.  We planned on staying four days but ended up staying ten.  I remember talking to my dad on the phone who lives in the Chicago area.  It was mid March and my dad was enjoying a warm 80 degree day and wearing shorts.  I was sitting in Phoenix, Arizona, wearing a winter coat and watching snow fall.  What’s wrong with this picture?  It was a very funny situation and although initially I wasn’t too thrilled about the cold temps, witnessing the rare beauty of it all was well worth the bundling up that was required.

camping near Phoenix
A rare spring snowstorm hits the Superstition Mountain – March 2011
camping near Phoenix
The many moods of the Superstition Mountain – March 2011

I tell you, there is nothing like waking up to this vision.  As the sun rises on the far side of the Superstition Mountain, it lights up the valley leaving those of us camped at the mountain’s base still clouded in its shadow.  As the day progresses, shadows seem to play a game of hide and go seek…. a constant moving of shade.  Later in the day when the sun is to the west, the mountain glows in a varying array of color.

camping in Phoenix
As the sun sets, the Superstition Mountain glows
RVing in Phoenix
As the sun moves throughout the day, so does the shade and shadows on the Superstition Mountain

Lost Dutchman State Park offers a picnic area for day use for those unable to spend the night.  So whether you are an overnighter or a day user, you will love the hiking and photographic opportunities here. I know it is one of our favorites. There are trails for every level of hiker.  If you only have time to pass through the area, I would highly recommend a short stroll on the “Discovery Trail”.  This easy interpretative trail meanders between the day use parking lot and the campground.  Along the way are plaques detailing sights, vegetation, and wildlife.

Camping near Phoenix
The sundial along the Discovery Trail
Superstition Mountain
The Superstition Mountain – photographed near the coyote sundial

I believe the best vantage point for capturing the entire Superstition Mountain is at the Coyote sundial located off the Discovery Trail.  I found myself meandering along this trail several times a day throughout our past visits.

Another plus to staying at Lost Dutchman State Park are all the other sights to see in the area.  That in itself will require a separate post(s).  We were never at a loss of things to see and do, but our favorite time was spent enjoying meals at the picnic table or drinks around the campfire.  With a view like this, what’s not to love!

camping in Arizona
dining with a view!

No trip to the Phoenix metropolitan area would be complete without a visit to the Superstition Mountain.  Whether you find it magical, spiritual, or just plan beautiful, this is a sight not to be missed.  I’m saddened that our adventures this year will not include a stop at Lost Dutchman State Park.  The memories of our past visits will need to hold me over until next years journey.  For now, I remain camped on the far west side of the valley watching the cotton being harvested  🙂

A Trip to Phoenix

I recently received an email from a friend who lives in the Midwest letting me know she and her hubby are planning a trip to Phoenix, Arizona this May.  She was wondering if I’d share some ideas on things to see and do in the Phoenix area.

Since she and the hubby will be flying into Phoenix and renting a car, I need to get my head out of the RV lifestyle first….lol.  Also it’ll be May in Phoenix, which means temperatures will be in the 90’s and100’s.  That said, the first thing I would do is find a Wal-Mart or Target.  Purchase one of those white disposable Styrofoam coolers and a case of bottled water (the 23 fluid ounce size) and a bag of ice.  Staying hydrated in the desert is crucial and each person should drink a minimum of 3-4 of these bottles a day.

Ok, with the important stuff out of the way, let the fun begin……   FYI – any words in blue are linked to additional information…..just click on the words in blue for further details.

Papago Park
Papago Park, Phoenix, AZ
Hole in the Rock
Romantic spot to watch the sunset over the city – hole in the rock

1Papago Park is located in the center of Phoenix.  The Desert Botanical Garden is a great way to familiarize oneself with the plants of the desert southwest.  Even if there isn’t time to stroll the Botanical Garden, a drive around Pagago Park is still fun.

During our most recent trip to Phoenix, we managed a visit to the “Hole in the Rock”.  This is a favorite spot amongst locals to watch the sunset over the city.  The hike up to the hole is relatively easy.  Much easier if you’re wearing tennis shoes and not flip-flops.  Yep, we saw a couple of gals hiking up in flip-flops…duh!

Near Hole in the Rock is the “Tomb of Governor George Wiley Paul Hunt”.  The Tomb is kind of interesting, but the view from this vantage point is pretty awesome.  It overlooks the park as well as the Phoenix Zoo.



2.  On the far east side of Phoenix near the town of Apache Junction is the Superstition Mountain.  I wrote about this stunning site in my last post and I would rate this high on the “must see” list.   How about an all day excursion?  Let’s plan the day……head out in the morning (be sure to have that cooler filled with water and ice) drive toward the town of Apache Junction and head north on Highway 88 aka the Apache Trail.

First stop will be the Superstition Mountain Museum on the right side of the road, even if it’s just to photograph this chapel.  Definitely worth a quick stop.

Just a couple more minutes up the road on the left is the Goldfield Ghost Town.  This old gold mining town is a fun little stop to stroll around and get a sense of life in the 1800’s.  If you started the day a bit late, this is also a great place for lunch, but I would recommend targeting Tortilla Flat for lunch if at all possible.

After Goldfield, continue north up the Apache Trail toward Canyon Lake.  We’ll reserve Lost Dutchman State Park for the return drive.  The Apache Trail is a scenic drive with lots of photo-op opportunities.  So take your time and enjoy the drive.  The marina at Canyon Lake offers various watercraft for rent.  Perhaps a little kayaking after lunch?

The town of Tortilla Flat, population of 6, has a great little restaurant with a super fun décor and serves a great burger.  Even if you won’t be dining, do step inside and check it out. Be sure and peek in the lady’s room for the painted stall doors.  The general store also serves up some of the best homemade ice cream around.

Now it’s time to turn around and head back for a stop at Lost Dutchman State Park.  By now it should be late afternoon with the sun in the west.  This is my favorite time to photograph the Superstition Mountain.  Enter Lost Dutchman State Park and walk the Interpretive Hiking Trail….super easy, informative, and great location to photograph the mountain.

On your way back to the hotel, stop at the Organ Stop Pizza for dinner.  Quite the experience and it IS an experience, and the food is pretty good too.

3.  A few other ideas….

4.  A full day excursion?  Escape the heat of Phoenix and head on up to Red Rock Country.  Explore the scenic town of Sedona and the surrounding area.Sedona

There’s no loss of things to see and do in this desert southwest city.  Phoenix known as the Valley of the Sun has become a second home to hubby and me.  I hope my friend and her husband enjoy their visit as much as we enjoy our visits.  Safe travels 🙂

A Favorite Stop

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.  We sure did.  We traveled out-of-town to visit family.  It’s always nice to catch up with family and friends whom we haven’t seen in a while.  During our short visit, we were able to share photos and travel tales of our winter excursion to the desert southwest.Apache Trail

Superstition Mountian….the Flatiron

It was during a series of conversations that I realized I never posted about our stay at Lost Dutchman State Park.  I guess the combination of poor internet and having way too much fun, put blogging on the back burner.

It was early January when we headed over to one of my favorite places in Arizona.  Nestled at the foot of the Superstition Mountain is Lost Dutchman State Park.  We first discovered this spot back in March of 2012 and for us no trip to the Phoenix area would be complete without a visit to this unique area.Lost DutchmanLost Dutchman

We enjoy camping at this State Park for at least a few days to be able to take in the beauty of the environment.  There are numerous hiking trails right outside our front door, and the view…..  Gosh, what can I say about the view?  The mountain looks different at various times of the day as the angle of the sun and the weather changes.  Simply stunning!Lost Dutchman

There are also lots of things to see and do in the surrounding area.  If you’re adventurous and looking for a scenic drive, I recommend taking Highway 88 from Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Lake…..aka the Apache Trail.  We did this all day trek last year.  Click here to read all about it.  There are some fabulous places to stop, hike, or even paddle along the way.  The beautiful lakes are a pleasant surprise in this desert environment.

Superstition Mountain
Siphon Draw Trail
Superstition Mountain
Siphon Draw Trail

Some of our most enjoyable hiking is here at the Superstition Mountain.  There is a trail for just about every level of hiker.  This year our stay at Lost Dutchman State Park was short.  Shorter than we intended due to commitments.  However, we did manage to get in a couple of two-hour hikes during our stay and even entertain some long time friends who live in the area.

I’ve always enjoyed entertaining and just because we’re RVing doesn’t mean we’re relegated to hot dogs and beans.  Nope, I still like a white table cloth…..even if it is plastic.  Lunch consisted of a grilled, marinated chicken breast on a bed of greens with a side of herbed flat bread.  The meal was paired with a couple of bottles of Pinot Grigio followed by a desert of apple crisp……yum 🙂 And of course, nothing but the freshest of ingredients and all prepared by moi.

Lost Dutchman State Park
White table-cloth dining with a view!

After a delicious lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent strolling the interpretive trail, hanging at the campsite visiting, and watching the sunset while enjoying popcorn and music around a campfire.  Yes, roughing it at it’s best!

Lost Dutchman State Park
Sundial – interpretive trail
Lost Dutchman State Park
Interpretive trail

After another fabulous stay, we vow to make Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Mountain a regular on our travels around Arizona.Superstition Mountain

Superstition Mountain

Where’d She Go?

QuartzsiteWhere’s Waldo Ingrid.  So where have I been?  Why haven’t I posted in 3 weeks?  First, I’ve been running around the back country of the desert southwest where internet service can be a challenge.  Second, because of internet problems, I’ve been on a blogging time-out.

Hubby was concerned for the safety of our internet “jet pack” as my frustrations with its performance grew.  “Put the mouse down, step away from the computer, and no one will get hurt”.  I think you get the picture!

The break was needed and although our internet is still somewhat intermittent, I’m learning to work with it and accept its short comings.Quartzsite

When my day starts with a sky like this, what’s there to get upset about anyway?  So back to where am I?  I’ve been boondocking in the desert outside of Quartzsite, Arizona since January 14th.  Quartzsite

We came here with friends we met last year at Lost Dutchman State Park.   We’ve managed to stay in touch via internet, and with their encouragement we decide to experience Quartzsite first hand.  And yes, it is an experience.

QZ1 016Imagine a sleepy little town in the middle of the desert with a population of about 3,000 invaded by hundreds of thousands of RVer’s from around the world.  Seriously, this is not an exaggeration.  The last two weeks of January is the annual RV Tent Sale followed by the yearly Gem Show.

Vendors from around the country come to Quartzsite, AZ to set up their tents and sell whatever, and I mean “whatever”.

RVingAl and I do a little shopping, but more looking.  It’s an eclectic mix of County Fair meets Rummage/Garage Sale.  My neighbor for the past ten days, Cheryl of Life in a Canned Ham did an interesting post with some unique photos.  RV Blogging buddy Mona Liza of The Lowe’s RV Adventure did an informative post with plenty of photos showing the festive activities that bring folks back to Quartzsite year after year.  Great job ladies and it was a pleasure hanging out!RVing

RVingWe are members of the Escapees RV Club and members of the “Boomers”, a club within a club.  As members of the Boomers, we join fellow Boomers in a remote parcel of desert land to the southeast of Quartzsite, which quickly becomes Boomerville.  Al and I are one of the first to show up to the party and most likely one of the last to leave.

Over the ‘official’ two week Boomerang are various organized get togethers, discussions, activities, and general hanging out and visiting with like-minded folk.  There’s an easy-up tent canopy with postings of all the days activities and a book to sign in to track the number of visitors.  This year 129 RVer’s passed through Boomerville.  Some, like moi, stay the entire two weeks (then some) while others stay only a night or two.Escapees

RVingRVingIt’s been a fun and active filled two weeks.  We reconnected with old friends and made lots of new friends, and although we all follow different paths our common thread is love of this adventurous lifestyle.  We like to think of ourselves as modern-day Pioneers, but with all the comforts of modern-day.  Most of us can forgo a daily shower but NOT our internet.

With the exception of a group of mom’s with little one’s, this is the only group of people I know of that talk openly about bathroom and shower habits.  It’s almost like a competition of sorts.  Al comments, “We can go 8 days without going to the dump station”.   Joe says, “Hey we can go 2 weeks”.  Then Steve proudly pipes in, “I got ya all beat.  We’ve gone as long as 17 days”.  “Wow, 17 days and ya didn’t run out of water or fill up your holding tanks?  Quite impressive!”

I ponder……impressive???  Something smells fishy or rather stinky to me.  Being self-reliant / self-contained can be interesting.  On that note, it’s time to let the “jet pack” rest.RVing


Home ?

Wednesday we left Lost Dutchman State Park and headed to a RV Park in Goodyear.  Lost Dutchman and the Superstition Mountain is a magical place….a spirital site….a location Al and I will be sure to revisit.  We barely touched or explored this glorious area and look forward to a return in the near future.  We weren’t ready to leave.  We experienced first hand the extreme weather changes and its impact on the character of the Superstition Mountain.  The changes in shade and color.  The change in personality.  The unique draw to explore this mountains’ nooks and crevices.  Obligations beckon and we leave Superstition Mountain with the fondest of memories.

We arrive at our RV Park.  Level up the Rig.  Take note of our surroundings.  After a week at Lost Dutchman, this is definitely a let down.  No offense to the RV Park, but there’s just no comparison….no views.  It’s a fine place to crash for a couple of nights.  It’s close to the Phoenix International Raceway, home to the Good Sam Rally.  We wanted to stay somewhat close to the location but not at the Rally.  We always have Bears’ needs to take into consideration and we didn’t want to be too far away from him or the Rig.  The Destiny RV Resort was an easy 15 minute drive from the Rally location.  Thus, we could spend all day at the event and return to the Rig for lunch and a dog walk if necessary.

Destiny RV Resort

Thursday morning we head off to the Good Sam Rally.  We looked at dozens of RV’s and visited booths in the Tent.  By mid-afternoon, we accomplished our goal and head back to the Rig.  We even manage to squeezed in a short visit with some folks we met in Mesquite earlier on our journey.

Al and I originally planned to return to Colorado nice and leisurely, wanting to take our time and spend a night or two in Tucson and parts of New Mexico.  Unfortunately, responsibilities require us to head home directly.  I’m sure Catalina State Park and Elephant Butte will still be there in six months.  That bucket list continues to grow 🙂

Friday morning we head north on Interstate 17 to Flagstaff.  With a son living in Phoenix, we routinely travel between Phoenix and Pueblo, Co…..last year five times.  So we have this route pretty well memorized.  Flagstaff can be a tricky location and we are always sure to check weather and road conditions prior to embarking on any drive.  Weather looks good, construction so, so.  We make it to Hwy 40 with no problem.  When we’re pulling the Rig, we take the drive in two days.  When we’re driving just the truck, we’ll take it in one day.  So since we’re pulling the Rig, our destination will be Albuquerque.  We like to stay in the Sandia Resort and Casino parking lot.  They have a great restaurant, bar, and friendly staff.  This is one of our regular stops whenever going through Albuquerque and one of our favorites.

Sandia Casino parking lot

The drive between Flagstaff and Albuquerque is fortunately uneventful and Al and I help the time pass by listening to an audio book.  I like to go on eBay and purchase audio books to help break up the drive.  My favs are romance novels and my favorite author is Johanna Lindsey.  Al and I are duly entertained and we arrive at Sandia in an energetic, good mood….dinner and drinks were yummy.

The next morning we pull out of Sandia before the sun rises and make the easy five-hour drive from Albuquerque to Pueblo West.  As we pull into the driveway, Al and I look at one another.  Home?  We feel detached.  We’re not happy to be “home”.  Why?  We’re tempted to turn around and head back out.  Where too?  Doesn’t matter.  Hummm, are we ready to go full-time?  Mentally and emotionally…YES.  Obligations and responsibilities still bind us, and thus the Full-time RV lifestyle will need to be postponed for a bit.  We now have a goal, a plan, and a timeline.  Too be continued!

Our Education Continues…

Oh, what shall we do today?  The Group (Escapees – Boomers) have a few different things planned for today.  Some folks will be hiking, some geocaching, and some attending a little class.  We decide we can never have enough information on Solar panels and batteries, and thus attend the get together and discussion on solar.  The couple leading the discussion have been full-timers for fourteen years and are a wealth of information.  We had an immediate connection with this couple from day one and know we’ll stay in touch and rendezvous with them back in Arizona in the fall.

The class/discussion on batteries, inverters, and solar panels continues for two plus hours.  I take notes, plenty of notes.  Some of the information is a repeat of info we’ve heard before but confirms our knowledge, basic knowledge that is.  We’re getting smarter and feel more confident of what and how to set up our Rig for future  trips.  Our biggest problem and thus our first purchase will be batteries.  I’m glad we didn’t make any changes to the Rig prior to this trip.  We most likely would have ended up needing to redo any changes.

We are learning so much and appreciate all the help and information from all the seasoned RVer’s we’ve met.  In a few months we will hopefully get’er all set up and properly outfitted for boondocking.  Speaking of “boondocking”.  After lunch, we had another little get together to discuss boondocking.  Topics included; how to conserve water, finding boondocking sites, dealing with gray water and black water, and an exchange of personal ideas and tips.

In the evening, I choose to have a little solitude and cuddle up with Bear while enjoying a glass of wine and reading a couple of magazines.  Al, the social butterfly, joins the group around the campfire.  All is well !  Tomorrow we’ll be heading out.  We have a reservation at a RV Park in Goodyear.  Thursday we plan to attend the Good Sam Rally and start heading home on Friday.

Beautiful Day…

It’s going to be a beautiful day.  Bear and I are on our morning walk, and yes it’s about 6:30 a.m.  Same time every morning.  That boys internal clock never fails.  The sun is still behind the Superstition Mountain.  There’s a lovely coating of snow near the “Flat Iron”.  Bear and I enjoy a nice, leisurely walk this morning.  Yesterdays walks were way to short leaving Bear well rested and full of energy.

"Flat Iron" - Superstition Mtn

Over coffee, Al and I decide whether or not to join the group on a hike.  We decide to opt out.  Early on in our trip, at different times, Al and I both incurred minor injuries.  Thus, curtailing our hiking abilities.  Not wanting to embarrass ourselves or hold the group back, we make our own plans for the day.  I’m super excited to take some photos of the rare coating of snow in the distance.  Al and I decide to take a quick drive to Canyon Lake and have lunch in Tortilla Flat.

We head out for our drive shortly after breakfast and find some scenic stops along the way….stops we did not make on our previous trip to Canyon Lake.  It’s a gorgeous day…amazing blue sky, light breeze, upper 60’s…can’t get much better!  We take our time and enjoy the scenery and the day.

Canyon Lake

There’s definitely more traffic today than there was a week ago when we took this same drive.  We assume it’s because the weather was so nasty over the weekend.

Dollar bills decorate the walls

We get to the little town of Tortilla Flat, population 6, just in time for lunch.  This “little” town resembles a long ago western town.  The restaurant is already bustling with activity.  We’re seated at a table to the rear.  The walls are plastered with dollar bills.  The bar stools are saddles.  It’s a fun little place and the burgers are very tasty.  They’re grilled over an open flame outside.  Service was quick.  Al enjoys a light Beer on tap brewed specifically for this restaurant at a local brewery in Phoenix.  I visit the restroom before leaving…..darn, wish I had my camera in here….way too funny.  Amusing paint job on the stall doors.  You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself!

Tortilla Flat

After lunch, we step into the gift shop and look around.  We head over to the ice cream shop.  We had heard they have fantastic ice cream.  I try to avoid dairy and opt to try the fudge while Al enjoys the ice cream.  Yes indeed, Al attests the ice cream is very good.  As for my fudge…yum…Mackinac Island, you have some serious competition.  We walk around a bit more and allow the sun to warm us and our food to digest before heading home.

Gitty up...

If you’re in the Phoenix area, I highly recommend a visit to Tortilla Flat for a relaxing and scenic day. The most enjoyable part is the drive getting there…very pretty.  If the weather were warmer, we might even consider renting a watercraft of some sort on Canyon Lake.  The Marina offers a variety of boats to rent including wave runners. 🙂  We return to our Rig and take Bear on a nice long walk around the campground.  Lost Dutchman State Park is one of my favorite places and not just on this trip.  We look forward to returning.

Lost Dutchman State Park

The group has returned from their morning hike and interested individuals are invited to try out WII Fit at one of the couples RV’s.  Fun… Al and I decide we MUST get one.  Entertaining and good for us.  So after we all play around, the group heads out to the Organ Stop Pizza.  Al and I have been there a couple of times before and are still immensely entertained.  The food is pretty good too.  I highly recommend this place, even if you’re not a big pizza eater.  In addition to pizza, they offer a salad bar and some Italian dishes.  This is home to the largest Wurlitzer Organ in the world and even if you’re not a fan of the Organ (that would include me) you need to see this place at least once and experience it for yourself.  It can’t really be described.  The Organ Stop Pizza is located in Mesa just off US-60        OrganStopPizza.com         A must see when your in the Phoenix area !

Gloomy skies…

It’s Sunday and we’ve said our good-byes to the “Superstition Square Wheelers”.  What great folks!  It’s cold, at least for Phoenix.  In the 50’s.  It’s raining and the Superstition Mountain is taking on yet another look.  We sit by ourselves in the Group Camp Area at Lost Dutchman State Park waiting for our group to arrive.

Lost Dutchman State Park

It’s actually starting to snow at the higher elevation on Superstition Mountain.  According to the locals, this is a treat to behold and many are extremely excited.  Snow?  Snow?  Really, people?  I left Colorado to get away from the snow.  However, I must admit the transition that occurred through-out the course of the day was breathtaking.  We sat in the RV with the most spectacular view out our back window.

View out of our rear window -

The rain, hail, and snow continues most of the day.  I call my dad, who lives in the Chicago suburbs, and let him know where we’re camped and tell him about the weather.  My dad can barely contain his laughter as he briefs me on the sunny blue sky and 80 degree temperature he is enjoying.  Wait, how can that be.  It’s mid March.  I’m sitting in the Phoenix area bundled up and he’s in the Chicago area in shorts.  We have a good chuckle and I promise to email some photos.

Bears’ walks are quick today.  He misses being able to lay outside.  We stay inside most of the day reading and catching up with paperwork.  Watching the weather and the mountain change has also been entertaining.  Shortly after noon, the first of our group starts to arrive.  This is our first event we’ve attended with any Escapees group.  We brave the elements with each RV arrival to introduce ourselves.  We keep it short and sweet and rapidly return to the dry and warmth of our Rig.

By late afternoon, our formerly empty Group Camping Area is nearly full.  In the evening we have get togethers in a few of the RV’s to get to know one another.  The plans for the up coming days are discussed and posted.  Should be a fun few days!

We have neighbors!

10 mph….

How is it we’ve driven over six hours today and still have over a half a tank of gas?  Trust me, it’s not the gas mileage! It’s six thirty in the morning and Bear starts to pace back and forth.  “Come on mom.  I gotta go.”  Al’s still sleeping.  I roll out of bed gently, trying not to wake him.  I throw on the clothes from yesterday and put on my sweatshirt.  Off we go for a brisk morning walk.  The sun isn’t up just yet and the Superstition Mountain takes on new shades of color.  The colors seem to change with the movement of the sun.  What a sight to behold.Lost Dutchman My neck is a little stiff this morning.  I had a somewhat restless night for some reason and am not in the mood for an all day activity.  When Bear and I return to the Rig, Al is up and has started the coffee.  Ummmm, love my coffee……oh, and Al too.  Al would like to check out Roosevelt Lake today.  There’s three ways to get there from Lost Dutchman State Park.  Al has it all planned out. *****************************************************************************************************

Roosevelt Lake
Theodore Roosevelt Lake

Al’s plan is to head north to Highway 87 toward Payson.  Catch Highway 188 south.  Hwy 188 runs all along Roosevelt Lake, allowing us to check out the campgrounds and any boondocking possibilities.  We’ll continue south on Hwy 188 until it ends at US 60.  We catch Hwy 88 and return to our camp at Lost Dutchman.  On this route, the roads are paved and access is not an issue or a challenge.  But oh no, Ingrid can’t just agree and go with Al’s plan………… *****************************************************************************************************  Hubby’s plan would be an all day trek and we would take a cooler with food and drinks.  I’m just not feeling up to the whole day thing and suggest we just go to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat and then return home.  This would be a short morning excursion.  Al, always the gentleman, acquiesces.  We forego the cooler.  Take a couple of bottles of water for us and big jug for the dog.  Since we’ll be back for lunch, we forego taking snacks/food.  (yeah, dumb move, I know…one should always carry at least a power bar, etc.)

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake is approximately fifteen miles or so up Highway 88 from Lost Dutchman State Park.  The drive is very scenic.  I drive, which allows me to pull over anytime I see a potential photo-op.  I’ve been known to be rather spontaneous when I wish to stop, and although Al has tried very diligently to pull over and accommodate my whims when I yell “stop”…..well, let’s just say, it works best when I’m behind the wheel when I’m struck with a whim.  You know, martial bliss and all 😉

Apache Lake
Apache Lake

Canyon Lake is beautiful.  The sky is an amazing blue.  We stop here, click, click.  We stop there, more clicks.  So it’s on to Tortilla Flat.  This is a “little” western town, population six.  There’s a restaurant, ice cream shop, gift shop and post office.  It’s barely 9:30 in the morning and things aren’t open just yet.  Al and I decide to drive a bit further….maybe to Apache Lake.

Apache Lake
Hwy 88 northeast of Apache Lake

Tortilla FlatAh, this is when our drive gets interesting.  The pavement ends.  Remember when I said that there’s three ways to get to Roosevelt Lake.  From Payson to the north of the Lake head south on Hwy 188 or from Globe, head north on Hwy 188.  The third and most challenging route and NOT recommended by most is to continue on Hwy 88 from Tortilla Flat to Roosevelt Lake.  Guess which route we’re taking?   Another 5-10 minutes, not so bad.  We’ve been on much worse.  Oops, should not have said that.  Here comes the wash board, rocks and holes.  Two lanes wide goes down to one and a half wide then down to one lane.  We climb in elevation.  The lane and a half dirt road is cut into the side of the rock and earth.  There’s no room for error.  Some crazy sh*t is pulling a boat!

Fish Creek Pass
Crazy guy pulls boat! Fish Creek Pass

Fish creek pass turns out to be the most challenging of the entire drive.  There’s a thousand foot change in elevation as we go up and then back down.  The switch backs are tight, quite often single lane.  If two vehicles meet, one needs to back up so the other can squeeze by.  This occurred numerous times.  What happened to that “easy” trek I recommended?

Hwy 88
They call this road a scenic highway? Fish Creek Pass….Hwy 88

We get to Apache Lake and find a restaurant with an outdoor patio.  It’s 11:30 and we’re hungry.  I order a BLT and share my bacon with Bear.  The waiter also brings Bear a large bowl of water.  I believe an extra nice tip is in order!

Apache Lake
Bear goes out to lunch

Apache LakeWith our internal organs readjusted, after the jolting from the rough ride, and tummies full, we’re off to Roosevelt Lake.  There is no way in heck we are driving back the way we came.  As we continue on our journey, the road widens but the washboard is the worst.  Every time I try to accelerate and go a bit faster, we get jolted so badly the rear of the truck starts to fish tail.  I’m sure the extra long wheel base on our extended bed truck is not helping.  Perhaps a Jeep would be more appropriate.Tonto National Forest Finally, we make it to Roosevelt Lake.  We check out some campgrounds and find boondocking at the waters edge….perfect.  We make notes for next winters excursion.  This is part of the Tonto National Forest and thus the cost of overnight parking should be $3-$6. We’re traveling on Highway 188 along Roosevelt Lake.  The road is wide, ah, the road is paved, double ah.  The speed limit is 55.  I’m driving at 45 …..it feels fast.  I bring’er up to 55….wow, now I’m going super fast.  I routinely check the speedometer to assure myself I’m not speeding (I would never do that…yeah, right!….who said that?)  After hours of travel at approximately 10 mph, 55 feels like 85. We continue south on Highway 188 until it intersects with US 60.  We switch drivers.  I’m all photoed out and exhausted.  “Beam me up, Scottie”.  Oh, how nice that would be at this moment.  US 60 still provides scenic vistas and by the time we drive past the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, I am somewhat recovered from the arduous drive and am tempted to have Al stop for a photo-op.  Nah, it’s been a long day.  I’ll make a note for next years visit.

Superstition Mountain
A very tired boy –

  We left at 8:30 this morning and returned shortly after 4:00 this afternoon.  Upon our return, we each down a bunch of water.  Bear eats his dinner, gets a quick walk, then crashes into a deep sleep.  I’ll grab a bite to eat then head off to the shower.  The same dirt that turned our shiny blue truck into a dull tan color has left a similar layer of dust and dirt on me. Al and I are clean but exhausted.  Over a glass of wine we discuss the events of the day.  We agree it was a fun, exhilarating adventure and we would do it again in a heart beat……..in a Jeep that is!Fish Creek Pass