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. 

RV Friendly County – City

camping in Phoenix ArizonaI really enjoy places that are RV friendly.  For the most part, I’d say the majority of Arizona falls into that category…..

Maricopa County is a county located in the south-central part of the state of Arizona.  It’s population as of the 2010 census is 3,817,117 and the land encompasses about 9,224 square miles (23,891 km).

The city of Phoenix is Maricopa County’s seat as well as the Capital City of Arizona.  During the Real Estate boom of 2006, west valley municipalities ranked in the top ten fastest growing cities in the United States.

Maricopa County was founded in 1871 and has five Indian Reservations located within the county.

Now with the history lesson over, let’s talk about why this county and the city of Phoenix are so RV friendly….

First, and my favorite, are the Maricopa County Regional Parks.  You can click on the link for more in-depth information.  For now, I’ll briefly share with you what I know and where we’ve stayed;

we boondock at the shores of Lake Pleasant

Lake PleasantLake Pleasant Regional Park is located northwest of the city of Phoenix and is easily assessable off Interstate 17.  The lake is a popular draw with locals for water sports of all kinds.  There are three campgrounds as well as the opportunity to boondock.

This is a reservoir and water levels are closely monitored and managed.  In the fall, water levels are usually low, thus exposing plenty of land for boondocking.  By March all that exposed land is well under water.

Last February when we were camped at the lake, each morning we awoke to the water encroaching closer to our lakeside boondock spot.  The lake was filling at the rate of a foot each night.  It was a matter of days before the rangers notified everyone to move on and within the week what was once our campsite was now underwater.

Each morning the water got closer. The day we pulled out, the water was nearly to the pavement. No more fire ring to sit around….at least not without soaking our feet 🙂

Since it’s all about the water at this park, you’ll find warm, sunny weekends year round to be crowded.  As I said, its a popular place with the locals.

boondocking in Arizona
Thanksgiving 2012, Lake Pleasant….water level extremely low causing plenty of land for boondocking – the crowds were just beginning to show up for the long weekend

Cave Creek Regional Park is located north of the city of Phoenix.  Over the past three winters, we’ve spent the most amount of time at either Lake Pleasant or Cave Creek.  Cave Creek is probably our favorite…. due to its close proximity to our son’s home in addition to it’s peaceful tranquility and great hiking trails.RVing near Phoenix

Most of the campsites will accommodate just about any size rig, but there are a few sites that slope severely presenting a challenge for some RV’s.  The sites are well spaced and have nice views.  There are lots of great hiking trails accessible from the campground.

RVing in Phoenix
a typical site at Cave Creek Regional Park – sites are similar at McDowell and Usery

Shopping, fun sights, museums, and events are all within a short driving distance away.  Bonus; mornings and evenings the skies are filled with hot air balloons and the sunsets are spectacular.RVing in a big city

camping in PhoenixMcDowell Regional Park is located northeast of Scottsdale, Arizona.  It’s a favorite with many as evidenced by our inability to book a stay at this popular Regional Park. We’ve attempted several times to make a reservation at this beloved place to no avail.  So I have no personal experience, but based on the opinions of other RVer’s, the sites are similar to Cave Creek and Usery and the hiking/biking trails are top notch.

They do offer a dry-camping overflow lot for those unable to score a campsite, as do the other regional parks.

Usery Regional Park is located on the far eastside of the town of Mesa, Arizona.  It too is a very nice facility with an abundance of trails.

The campground has paved sites with a picnic table and fire ring.  Again, nicely spaced and lovely views.  We only spent two nights here last year and would have stayed longer if not for other obligations.

What sets this park aside from the others is it offers an onsite archery range and across the road from the main entrance is a gun range for trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting.  Saguaro Lake and the Salt River are within an easy drive from Usery Park.

Salt River
The Salt River….. north-east of Usery Regional Park

White Tank Mountains Regional Park is located on the very far west side of Phoenix.  In comparison to the above mentioned Parks, this is by far the most remote.  The camping facility is rustic.  Sites range in size from small, meant for tents or short trailers, to longer with the ability to accommodate large Class A’s or 5th Wheels.  There’s some pavement here and there but I’d say the sites are mostly gravel and spaced nicely.  This campground has the feel of boondocking in the middle of the desert but with the convenience of facilities.

We enjoyed our ‘waterfall’ hike at the White Tanks the other day, but probably won’t return because of its remote distance.  If you’re looking for a quiet, remote camping location with electric and water then this might be the place for you.

RVing in Arizona
interpretative trail at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

These five parks are all located on the outskirts of Phoenix providing a RVer with all the sophistication and amenities a big city has to offer while parking our rigs in a beautiful, nature surrounded environment.  The best of both worlds.  Oh, and let’s not forget…..these places are not just meant for RV’s but are also perfect for tents.

RVing in Phoenix
We loved our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park

Next up a beautiful state park on the east side of Phoenix…….Arizona sunset

Monday afternoon stroll

After three days of hanging inside the RV due to the weather, once Monday rolled around Al and I couldn’t wait to hit the trails.  Here in Phoenix, Arizona, it started raining early Friday morning and didn’t let up until Sunday.  It appears it was a record breaking rainfall for Phoenix for the month of November.White tank

We managed to stay comfy, cozy, warm and dry at our RV site, but other parts of the park didn’t fare so well.  The park experienced some minor flooding that required a little clean up.  By the time I took this photo, much of the water had receded and mud clean up was in process.

the RV Park experiences some flooding – this is already much improved

Monday brought clear blue skies with 70 degree temperatures…..perfect for a hike.  On the far west side of Phoenix is White Tank Mountain Regional Park.  With all the previous rain this was the ideal time to hike the ‘Waterfall Trail’.  The trail map says best seen after a heavy rain…..score!waterfall trail

This is a super easy 2 mile round trip hike; more like a stroll.  It’s a gorgeous day and the warm sun feels wonderful.  Much to our dismay and unbeknownst to us, children have a break from school.  No school all week for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Since when do kids get a whole week off for Thanksgiving?  We never did. 😕 So we shared the trail with lots of folks young and old

Waterfall Trail, White Tank Mountains

The waterfall itself is…..hum…..a trickle of water in the desert.  There are still some deep puddles here and there and the trail steps are covered in moving water, making for its own little waterfall.

the trail steps are covered in water, making for some slippery climbing.

hiking Arizona

Could this be water and a sandy beach in the desert?  In another twenty-four hours, the thirsty desert will absorb most of the water seen here.

Along the way are some petroglyphs.  petroglyphs


Our leisurely stroll took us about an hour.  Before heading home, we check out the campground located at White Tank Regional Park.  The sites are well spaced with electric and water and range in length.  Some sites are only deep enough for a pop-up trailer while others can accommodate much longer rigs.

This campground is less improved and more on the rustic side than Maricopa County’s other regional parks; Cave Creek, McDowell, and Usery.  It’s also much more remote and less popular.

Yep, the fresh air and sunshine sure felt good.

hiking Arizona
This is the ‘waterfall’

Vacation Time….seriously!

Vacation Time….seriously!

Since moving into the RV full-time, we’ve received a mix of opinions from loved ones and friends.  Everything from “You’re living the dream” to “You’re not serious”.  One comment we received recently from a dear friend was, “What do you do when you want to go on vacation?  Move back to town?”  Al and I chuckled because we both knew Rog was being a smart a*s, but it did get us to thinking.

desert sunsets
Nothing boring about sunsets like this!

Since we decided to park our rears at the RV Resort in Phoenix for three months, I wondered what happens if I get bored like I did while living in a sticks and bricks home?  The RV Resort is just that; like living in a subdivision, like any other community except everyone’s homes are all mobile in some form or another.  So its pretty much like living in a sticks and bricks neighborhood.  😕

RV Park
One street in the RV Resort. These are the larger, more permanent mobile homes

It appears I bore easily since it only took thirty days parked in this location and I was ready to move on.  Actually, I was ready to move on before we were fully set up….but that’s another story.  Due to commitments and financial reasons, moving on wasn’t an option BUT a short vacation was.  It also helps to be prompted by a friend.

Somehow I doubt when Nancy emailed me that they were all settled in to their winter camp host position in Lake Havasu that 5 days later we would pull in and become their neighbor.  We met Don and Nancy last year while camped at Cave Creek Regional Park located in Phoenix’ north end of town and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

Arizona State Park
We snag a prime site at Cattail Cove State Park

Don and Nancy went full-time about a month before we did and this is their first workamping position. We were eager to check out this State Park along Lake Havasu in western Arizona as well as meet up with this lovely couple.

We’d heard about Cattail Cove State Park from fellow blogger Mona Liza.  We also met the Lowe’s last year at Cave Creek Regional Park just after their 2 week stay at Cattail Cove.  For our visit, I was quick to use Mona Liza’s blog as a reference for some great sight-seeing and hiking ideas in the area.Colorado River

Upon arriving at Cattail Cove State Park, we were warmly greeted by our friends and quick to get to the business of catching up.  Eating, drinking, campfires, and conversations had our stay flying by.  As a matter of fact, when we arrived on Sunday the original plan was to leave on Wednesday.  We extended our stay to Friday.  Even that proved to be not long enough.  Our stay ended way to quickly as do most vacations and Friday morning we begrudgingly packed up and returned to the “Resort” in Phoenix…sigh.

There is so much to see and do in the Lake Havasu area as well as plenty of unique, out of the way spots to just chill and watch the clouds move, or in this case…. watch the waves roll in!

Lake Havasu
Nancy and Ingrid chilling lakeside

On our first day at Cattail Cove State Park, Don and Nancy introduced us to Whyte’s Retreat Trail.  This 2-3 mile hike starts at the campground and meanders on a bluff along the lakeshore before turning inland and returning to camp.

Lake Havasu
trail starts out meandering along Lake Havasu – there’s plenty of ups and downs

Trail maps are available at the ranger station.  We were fortunate to have our own personal hiking guides…..thanks Don and Nancy 🙂  The hike took us about an hour and a half which allowed for plenty of stops to chat and admire the views.

Al and I did the hike again the next morning and completed it in about 50 minutes.  I’m sure the gale force winds that second day were instrumental in keeping us moving at a steady pace.  This was the perfect trail to get us warmed up for the next days hike; aptly named “Crack in the Mountain Trail” …..

Whyte’s Retreat Trail takes us around coves – trail upper right
hiking Havasu
Whyte’s Retreat Trail meanders along Lake Havasu – we’re careful to watch our footing

OH, NO….she didn’t?

OH, NO….she didn’t?

RV ParkI’ve settled into life parked in a RV Resort in Phoenix, but I’ll be ready to move on come the end of December.

After our time spent in Colorado and Utah, I miss that ‘in your face, knock your socks off’ kind of scenery.  Although I find plenty of beauty around the RV Park, it just takes a little more effort to find it.

Every day I make it a point to either bike or walk around the Park seeking out things to photograph.  Allow me to share a little incident story that happened during our second week at the RV Resort…….

It’s a beautiful Phoenix, Arizona, afternoon.  I go for a stroll around the RV Park with camera in hand; searching for life’s little beauties.  I’m in my own little world enjoying the flowering cacti, the ducks near the pond, and butterflies.  Oh, yes the butterflies.Monarch ButterflyI’ve attempted to photograph butterflies in the past with virtually no success.  Today is different.  I’m excited.  A few of these lovely guys held still long enough, allowing me to snap a couple of really nice shots.

I’d like to continue snapping away but nature calls.  I’ve already been standing with my legs crossed long enough.  I really gotta go!  I’m just around the corner from the pool and restroom.  I quickly head in the direction of the ladies room entrance on the street side.  After using the pool several times this week, I’ve gotten in the habit of using the restroom and showers.  The women’s restroom is off to the right and the men’s is off to the left.  Pretty easy.

Just outside the restroom, I stop.  Ooh, ah…..there’s another butterfly.  I cross my legs again and snap a few more photos.  Deep in thought, I quickly run into the restroom on the right, pick the first stall, put the toilet seat down and ahhh….relief.  Hum, I wonder, “Why was the toilet seat up?  Cleaning was hours ago”.  And just as my eyes got big with disbelief, I hear a man’s voice, then a second one.  “Oh no, I didn’t?”

Oh yes, I did.  I find myself in the Men’s Restroom.  The women’s restroom is on the right when accessing from the pool area BUT on the left when entering from the street.  Oops!Butterfly

Oh my gosh, what do I do now?  I scooch my obviously female, painted toed feet back in an attempt to hide them.  I really don’t want to be discovered.  It crosses my mind to step out, politely excuse myself, and admit my blunder profusely apologizing, but the camera slung over my shoulder screams otherwise.  “You couldn’t bring the pocket camera today, could you?”

RV ParkWell as it happens, I picked the stall at the end giving me a good visual of most of the toilet and shower area.  I peer between the stall door.  I see one of the men at the end who had just come from the pool and was preparing to take a shower.  Oh, no, no, no …..do not take off your pants, please.  Thank goodness he entered the shower stall with swim trucks on.

Then the other guy walks toward a toilet stall.  I quickly back toward the wall wondering if I should stand on the toilet seat so my feet are not seen.  Oh dear…..how long will I be stuck in here?  With both men behind doors, I do a final scan between the panels before bolting out of there.

With heart pounding, head down, I don’t slow my pace or look back until I’m well away from the restroom, not knowing and frankly not caring if anyone saw me bolt. 

I have my camera slung over my neck and am reminded of some of the other shots I was hoping to capture today.  There’s these really cute gazebos in the pool area and the lighting is perfect.

I walk back to the pool area, put my hand on the gate….I can’t go in.  What if someone saw me running out of the men’s room with the camera?  My mind runs rampant…..  “There she is.  Catch that women.  She was taking photos in the men’s room”.  Oh the shame!  I have two more months scheduled at this RV Park.  I envision the whispers and pointing fingers as if I’m wearing a scarlet letter; V for violator.

No, the desire to photograph anything is long gone.  I rush back to the safety of my RV with every intent of not telling a single soul about what just happened. 

Shhhhh…..please don’t tell anyone.RV Park


Saguaro Cactus
A saguaro cactus in bloom

As I stand in the garage preparing for a garage sale, I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of crap stuff surrounding me.  I’ve never thought of myself as a packrat.  Nope, no hoarder here, but there’s plenty of stuff making for a nice sale.

Ever since our return from our winter RV excursion to the desert southwest, we’ve cleared out closets, emptied the basement, cleaned cabinets in the kitchen, and are now organizing the garage all in preparation to put the house on the market.

Parked at our son’s house in Phoenix, Arizona

Two weeks ago we drove to our son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, for a long weekend.  We took a trailer load of furniture and knick-knacks to give to our son as well as some items to store in his garage.  It was so nice to be greeted with 80 degree temperatures.  Bring out the shorts and flip-flops….yeah….happy dance!

I was also excited to see the desert in bloom.  I had never personally seen a Saguaro Cactus in bloom until this trip.  The vegetation in my son’s subdivision was alive with color.  The trees were covered in yellow and blue blossoms, the prickly pear were adorned with velvety yellow blooms, and the ocotillos sported a feathery maroon blossom.  I couldn’t help but smile as I strolled the neighborhood.

The guys unloaded the trailer, and I had a blast playing decorator and designer.  I was back in my element, doing something I love.  Son had to calm me down from bringing out the paint supplies or sledge-hammer.  Since it’s his house and his nickel, the remodeling will begin on a much slower schedule than I’m used to.  Ah yes, no loss for a project next winter.

a little decorating at son’s house

Back to my house, my project, and the term packrat.  Until our winter stay in Arizona, I did not know the “real” meaning of packrat.  I always associated the term with a person who is a hoarder.  Packrats are rodents who are interested in nest-building.  They are nocturnal and will spend their nights scavenging for building materials.  They love the hunt for really cool things that can become part of their nest.  They particularly like shiny objects and are drawn to the chrome on a vehicle.  Oh, and all those yummy wires and engine parts make for wonderful nest-building.

rope lightingDuring our stay at Cave Creek Regional Park, we noticed quite a few RVer’s using rope lighting outside.  The rope lighting was laid on the ground underneath their rig.  Al and I were somewhat perplexed as to why.  Is this some new trend I’m unfamiliar with? On one of my evening strolls around the Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, Arizona, I noticed all the camp hosts with lots of rope lighting.  One or two ropes under the RV and then another one or two under their vehicle.  On this same stroll, numerous truck hoods were open or hoods were ajar with a flashlight turned on inside the engine compartment.

It was a cold night and few campers were out and about.  I finally came across a gentleman who was in the process of propping his hood up.  “Excuse me sir.  What’s going on with all the hoods opened”?  He responds in a slight southern drawl, “Packrats, ma’am”.  In a questioning tone, I ask “Packrats?”  “Yes ma’am.  From what I hear, there’s packrats round these here parts.  There’s a full moon tonight and since packrats like it nice and dark, we’re propping our hoods to let the moonlight in.  Some folks use them there rope lights to ward off the packrats”.  As I wave goodbye, I say “Thank you, sir.  Have a good evening”, and rush back to the rig to share this info with hubby.

rope lighting
a camp host uses rope lighting under his truck to ward off packrats

That night we lay a couple of flashlights under the truck for safe measure and the next day we head to Lowe’s and purchase some rope lighting.

Next on our agenda, crawl under the RV and make sure there aren’t any openings.  We already have a can of expanding foam ready to seal the slightest of openings.  No free loading mice or rats allowed in our rig.   I guess this is all part of the adventure.

No packrat of ANY kind allowed in my home……..the purging shall continue!packrat

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 🙂

Valley of the Sun

Our journey takes us to Phoenix, Arizona, aka Valley of the Sun, the capital city of Arizona.  This sprawling city sits at an elevation of 1,117 feet surrounded by the Sonoran Desert.Travel

Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the United States and boasts a population of 1.47 million people.  I’m sure the population increases substantially during the winter months as the subtropical climate attracts thousands of retirees otherwise know as “snowbirds” – folks escaping the cold and flocking to the desert southwest for the winter.

Winter high temperatures range from 60 to 70 degrees with 85% sunshine.  Phoenix gets on average a mere 8 inches of rain per year.  During our second week in Phoenix we encountered a couple of overcast and rainy days.

Al and I watch the local news and weather on our television.  The rain was the main news story.  Folks on the street were interviewed…..Did you know they actually had to use their windshield wipers?  I know, wow – now that was news worthy!sunset

I will admit after the good drenching of rain, the desert appears more brilliant.  The cacti more colorful.  The trails no longer dusty.  The sky clear and blue.  The rain made everyone and everything smile (moi excluded).

The warmth and sunshine are always quick to return making Lake Pleasant, located northwest of the Phoenix valley, the perfect spot to call home for a few days.Travel

Farewell Sedona…

With trepidation, we hook up, load up and depart Dead Horse Ranch State Park leaving the images of Sedona in the rear view mirror.  We hated saying good-bye to Sedona’s natural beauty of red-rocks.Sedona

Many of these red-rock buttes, spires, and monuments have names, such as the popular Coffee Pot Rock.  Red Rock Country is definitely worth the visit on any trip to Arizona.  I know it’ll be a regular stop for Al and me.  We already look forward to returning.Sedona

And while the red-rocks are majestic and stunning, another site catches our eyes….McDonald’s.  Oh, but this McDonald’s is special.  It’s the only one in the world where the Golden Arches are Turquoise Arches.  Turquoise is a color most associated with the desert southwest.  As I’m taking a photo, a gentleman from Japan joins me to my left, while a woman from Spain joins me on my right.  Sedona is a highlight for folks from around the world.  We all comment about the Turquoise Arches and the southwest architecture as we snap away.McDonald's

With the Rig pointed south, we slowly meander toward Phoenix.  Arizona is a land of contrast and diversity.  The scenery is undeniably beautiful, ranging from hot and dry deserts to evergreen mountain forests to towering red rocks and canyon gorges.Sedona

One minute we’re traveling among ignored, undeveloped desert, the next we stumble across an old pioneer graveyard or ghost town.  Then within a few short miles, we happen upon a populated area of new homes and shopping centers.Dead Horse State Park

It appears everything in Arizona is either very old or very new.  What an amazing land.  And it’s ours to explore!Travel

Getting Wet

RVingThe gentle sound of rain hitting the RV is some how relaxing.  I stare out the window as the rain leaves a random pattern of water droplets on the pane.  I can almost sense the cacti smiling, arms stretched, rejoicing in the much-needed moisture.

We’ve been camped in the Phoenix area for about a month now.  This cold, rainy day allows Al and me to reflect on the past month of travel.Grand Canyon

In November we were exploring the Grand Canyon.  Wow, what an awe-inspiring place.  Did you know the canyon is about a mile deep and 277 miles long?  The north rim of the Grand Canyon sits at an average elevation of 8,000 feet, while the south rim sits at about 6,800 feet (2072 meters).Grand Canyon

The average distance between the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the south rim is about 10 miles with the greatest width measuring 18 miles and the nearest a mere 5 miles.  The diverse landscape and abundant wildlife, make the Grand Canyon a MUST SEE at least once.  I know Al and I will return.Bighorn SheepOur journey takes us from Grand Canyon National Park to Cottonwood, Arizona.  After a little research, Al and I decide on Dead Horse Ranch State Park as home for a few days.  This turned out to be the perfect campground for us to regroup.Dead Horse State Park

The weather is sunny and warm.  We have hiking trails literally in our backyard.  The restrooms have nice showers.  Ahhhh….after weeks of Navy showers, I’m able to bask in gallons and gallons of hot water.  Hey, with my long, thick, curly hair a long hot shower is indeed a treat. Dead Horse State Park

Oh, but it doesn’t end there.  There’s a skylight perfectly positioned above the shower stall.  So as I tilt my head back and revel in the glory of tons of hot water streaming over my head, I watch the thin, white fluffy clouds slowly drift by against a gorgeous blue sky.Dead Horse State Park

The shower felt wonderful.  However, it was never my intent to resemble a raisin, thus all things must come to an end.  After all, tomorrow is another day.  And speaking of tomorrow….we have some serious exploring to do….. Sedona here we come!