Oh darn! I seriously thought finding the images for today’s post would be easy. I scoured through photographs downloaded on my laptop. I racked my brain for possible photos in one of my external hard drives. I seriously have thousands of pictures, but do the images depict the color purple?
We enjoyed a glorious spring here in Phoenix, Arizona. We had above average precipitation and near perfect temperatures. The desert heat is upon us now, but I can still revel in the beautiful wildflower season we had. I tried getting out and about with the camera as much as possible.
Did I capture purple wildflowers or do they appear more blue?
My neighbor has the most beautiful tree adorned with an abundance of purple blooms. I’m not sure what kind of tree it is though. I really should download one of those apps on my iPhone that identifies a plant or flower.
As I sit in my comfy chair writing this post and occasionally glancing out the window to admire this beautiful tree, I struggle to think of other purple objects. Well, that is until my attention is drawn to the kitchen. The sweet aroma of baked goods still wafts in the air from the freshly baked coffee cake removed from the oven just a short time ago.
Blueberries or Purple-berries?
In my opinion, no Sunday brunch is complete without a tasty coffee cake. And I make one heck of a yummy Blueberry Coffee Cake, or so I’ve been told.
Blueberries definitely look blue when whole, but once we cut into them the color appears more purple. Am I right? Plus, after working with blueberries, my hands are definitely stained purple. Thus, let’s call them blueberries when they are whole and purple-berries once we start working with them … that is cutting them or pureeing them. #purple 😁
My hands can attest to the purple hue every time I make this coffee cake. I usually use frozen blueberries and after dipping my hands into the bag to retrieve the blueberries to add to the batter, I have to wash my hands immediately or else risk spreading the purple hue onto other surfaces.
Mother’s Day Brunch
Today is Mother’s Day and my favorite meal to celebrate the day is breakfast. My daughter is making brunch for me today and we’ll toast with mimosa’s. Nothing like a little mother-daughter time to bring a smile to my face. Of course, we’ll indulge in a slice (or two) of this delicious blueberry coffee cake.
And it would be just plain rude of me if I didn’t share the recipe for this scrumptious coffee cake, especially after showing you the pictures. Be sure and let me know if you give this recipe a try.
2 cups all-purpose 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt
Wet Ingredients for cake 1 large egg 3/4 cup milk (or water) 1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw, use frozen)
CRUMB TOPPING 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 cup butter, slightly softened and cubed
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For the cake: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large measuring cup, whisk together egg and milk then add to dry ingredients. With a spatula or wooden spoon start mixing then add the melted butter. Once all ingredients are incorporated, fold in the blueberries.
Transfer to a greased baking pan (9×9 square non-stick or 10″ cast-iron skillet). Set aside.
For the topping: In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a fork forming small pea-size crumbles. When all the butter is combined forming a crumbly mixture, top the cake evenly with the crumble, then place the cake into a preheated 375-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. (Do not overbake). Serve warm or at room temperature.
Did you know I became a grandmother last year? Yep, I know, I know, I don’t look nearly old enough 🤣🤪🤣 Ok, we can stop laughing now. Alas, the passing of several decades puts me in the category of being plenty old to bear the new title, “Mimi”. and I wear it proudly.
Every Monday I’m caregiver to little Lillian, my yummy little Cupcake. She was born the day before my birthday last August and has been the light of my life ever since. But, I’ll tell you, she’s exhausting and I’m convinced that’s the reason women go into menopause in their 40s LOL. There’s a certain age when we aren’t designed to raise children full-time anymore. I admire the older mom’s out there or the grandparents raising their grandchildren. I don’t know how they do it without dropping from sheer exhaustion.
Yep, spending one day a week with my special little Cupcake is perfect and I look forward to it every Monday. Right now she’s almost 8 months old and crawling everywhere. Each week I see a steady progression in her development, and she’s now pulling herself up, trying to walk and climb, not to mention, learning to eat. That’s always a fun time with pureed food ending up in places it doesn’t belong.
Lillian is merely one of several reasons why I’ve come to embrace our stationary lifestyle. We were in town for her birth and the moment she was placed in my arms, only hours old, I was smitten. The love I feel for this tiny human is hard to describe but those of you who are already grandparents understand.
And as much as I adore spending Mondays with my special Cupcake, come 4:00 in the afternoon, I count down the minutes to the five o’clock hour when her dad (my son) comes to pick her up. By 5:00 I’m beat and spend the rest of my evening in front of the television in a somewhat vegetated haze watching baking competition shows (The Great British Baking Show) or some sort of reality TV. Do I dare admit that I watch ridiculous shows like The Bachelor and Bachelorette? 🥴 Sure I will. That little human keeps me busy all day exhausting me more than any long hike on the trails ever does and by the end of the day, there’s not much left in me. But I love every minute!
So, now you know how I spend my Mondays. What do your Mondays look like?
The weather across the U.S. this past winter has been absolutely crazy and unusual. We have seen just about every extreme play out across the country. Here in Arizona, we experienced a cooler and wetter than normal winter. and I am extremely grateful I wasn’t living in our RV. Inclement weather can really zap the fun out of the RV adventure.
With all that additional moisture, our normally parched desert was doing a happy dance, and as soon as the weather warmed, she produced a stunning show of colorful wildflowers … wildflowers just waiting to be photographed.
Sunday Stills Photo Challenge
With my new camera in hand, I couldn’t wait to get back out on the trails and see these desert blooms up close and personal. I did find myself battling with wind and camera settings but did my best to capture the beauty surrounding me.
So, of course, I need to share some of the images as the desert shows us her colors. For this week’s Sunday Stills Photo Challenge, Terri asks us to share photographs depicting pastel colors. I’m not sure just how pastel-y the flowers are but it’s an excuse to share these lovely wildflowers regardless.
It has been a gorgeous spring thus far, and I’m trying to enjoy every moment. The extreme desert heat will be upon us soon enough, but not before the cacti show us their beauty.
Hope you enjoyed seeing our beautiful desert at her finest. Till next time …
I’ve often told my daughter that life is like a rollercoaster. It’s filled with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, plus plenty of thrills, fears, and unknowns. Since moving into a house and selling the RV, an RV that we called home for eight years, my life has definitely felt like a rollercoaster. Although we chose the change of lifestyle, I found the change challenging at times.
However, if I’m being truly honest, I think like so many others, the challenges started during the pandemic but personally were exacerbated by our move.
This blog has always been about lighthearted fun, photos, travel, and adventures. I’m not one to write about anything too serious especially anything that might come across as being a Debbie Downer. That’s just not me, but life happens, and we all go through difficult times so I’ll leave it at that for now. Nonetheless …
When I realized I hadn’t picked up my camera in over a year and hadn’t written a blog post in almost that long, I noticed the things I loved turning to for enjoyment and using as an escape from the-every-day had been ignored. I had allowed my mental and physical health to get the better of me. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable talking about the subject of depression other than knowing it firsthand. There are far more articulate and knowledgeable people out there on that subject.
Perhaps, in future posts, I’ll share some of the physical issues I’ve been dealing with … nothing overly serious, more annoying than anything. Ah, the art of aging! 🤪
Suffice it to say, I am in a much better place these days. Instead of mourning the years of yesterday, I’m embracing the todays and the tomorrows. Hey, when you’re in the fourth quarter of life, every tomorrow is a gift and should be celebrated. Am I right?
In an attempt to snap out of it and pull myself out of that dark hole, I joined the local camera club. I started attending meetings, and classes, and last week went on my first camera club outing.
AND I bought a new camera!!! Well, new to me anyway. A Panasonic Lumix GX8 with a couple of lenses. My beloved Lumix FZ300 had been used and abused and developed some glitches. So, this new camera has ignited a spark.
With a newfound passion for photography, I’ve been out and about in search of subjects. I find myself struggling with photographic compositions, but I’m working on it. After traveling full-time for so many years and encountering in-your-face photo ops, it’s going to take some practice to focus in new directions. I’m feeling up to the challenge and enjoying the new camera more with each outing.
At the end of the month, the photography club is going on an architectural tour in downtown Phoenix. I’ll let you know how that goes.
A couple of months ago, WordPress congratulated me on 11 years of blogging. Eleven years? Really? The best thing that has come out of starting this blog is the friendships forged over the years. The first blogger I met in person was MonaLiza and that encounter was right here in Phoenix, Arizona, at Cave Creek Regional Park back in December of 2012. Mona and Steve were in their first year of living in their RV full-time and Al and I were getting ready to sell the house in Colorado and join the community of full-time RVers.
Over the years, ML and I shared numerous RV adventures together including bird photography along the Texas Gulf Coast, and just a couple of weeks ago, we got together for a wildflower photography hike. Who knew back in 2012 that both of us would end up settling down in Arizona, selling our RVs, and remaining friends all because of a thing called a BLOG.
ML was just the first of many friendships formed from blogging. Last week I was included in a gathering of bloggers, and even though I’d taken a hiatus from blogging, I’m grateful this lovely group of gals reached out. This luncheon reminded me of why I enjoy blogging and perhaps it’s time for me to jump back in and reconnect with all of you.
Navigating through the twists and turns of life can feel like an interesting (or maybe not so interesting) mystery novel. Each chapter is filled with unexpected scenarios with some chapters more thrilling than others including an abundance of suspense, usually. I can honestly say, the past couple of years were filled with more suspense (more like stress) than I’d care to acknowledge. Thus, it was time to change the plot.
Time for a new chapter
Even before the pandemic struck, Al and I were feeling unsettled. We’d lost the passion for travel and exploring. Perhaps the law of diminishing return had set in. There were things we loved about the RV lifestyle and there were things we disliked. Our teeter-totter was no longer balancing between love and hate. The negative aspects of RVing had started weighing on us, dragging us down. So, we bought a house, a real house, one without wheels in hopes of regaining some balance in life.
After spending the summer in northern Wisconsin, we returned to Arizona in mid-September. And here we are at the start of a new year settling into life in a real house. The first two months passed in a blur after box upon box was unloaded with intermittent painting projects thrown in in-between. I’m still perplexed as to how much stuff we hauled around in our RV, not to mention all the stuff we had in storage. Some days I’d ask myself, “Whatever were you thinking holding onto to this?” On the other hand, opening some boxes brought a huge smile to my face … “I’m so glad I kept this.” There were times it felt like Christmas morning unpackaging treasures large and small.
When we returned to Phoenix, the focus on our new to us house was liveability and preparing for a festive holiday season. Al and I promised each other that any major remodeling would be pushed down the road. We wanted to relax and enjoy the process and the holidays. Mission accomplished!
Friends, Family, and Fun
Family and friends are the main reason we chose the Phoenix area for our home base and that decision has not disappointed. November and December were filled with social engagements along with continued house projects. One of Al’s sisters lives less than two miles away, making for easy last-minute get-togethers. Our son and daughter live a mere 20-30 minutes away, which we’re loving. We hosted a Christmas morning brunch with family and friends and had a wonderful day shared with loved ones.
And then there’s the RV community; a community that has been part of our lives for the past ten years. There’s a bunch of former full-time RVers who have now settled in Arizona. With Phoenix being RV friendly and a host to numerous county parks, state parks, and private RV parks, there’s always an RV friend or two passing through this part of Arizona…. not to mention blog friends. Phoenix is a popular travel destination offering a variety of accommodations making it a great place for meeting fellow bloggers in person.
Friend-iversary! It’s hard to imagine that later this month, it’ll be ten years since I started this blog. I’ve made so many amazing friends via this platform as well as RVing. When both worlds meet, there’s a common interest that makes for a long and (hopefully) lasting friendship. MonaLiza and I met via our blogs back in early 2012 as she and her husband were starting their full-time RV journey. Comments flowed back and forth regularly on each other’s blogs and when an opportunity to meet in person presented itself …. well, let’s just say, we haven’t stopped talking or getting together since.
Over the years, we’ve met up in various states and even shared holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas together. MonaLiza and Steve came off the road about a year before we did and now have a home base a mere one-hour drive away from our home base. As soon as Al and I were no longer tripping over boxes, we invited the couple over to our place and as usual, had a wonderful time catching up. MonaLiza reminded us that we met for the first time exactly nine years ago right here in the Phoenix valley. Wow! Where did the time go?
MonaLiza and Steve had a goal of visiting all 50 states which they accomplished during their full-time RV journey. On the other hand, Al and I had no such goal. Quite frankly, we never had a travel goal and traveled hither and yon based on whims. That just goes to prove that there’s no right or wrong way to RV. It’s all about freedom … and what a ride it has been.
Ah, the memories!
Not only have we had amazing adventures and experienced incredible scenery via our RVing journey, but the folks we met along the way also added a richness to the overall experience. MonaLiza and Steve just happened to be the first of many friendships to have been made via blogging and RVing. I’m fortunate to have met so many more wonderful people over the years (too many to list) and made long-lasting friendships for which I’m grateful.
As I continue to sort through our stuff and fine-tune our decor, I’m reminded of our journey over the past ten years. It wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns but it was most definitely memorable. An adventure I don’t regret, but as with all things in life, there’s a beginning and an end. Al and I reached that point where we were ready for that change.
Although it has only been four months of living stationery in a real house, we have absolutely no regrets about our decision. When we first purchased this house, we weren’t excited. It didn’t check all our boxes (it quite frankly, checked very few). It wasn’t anything that we thought we wanted other than we knew it was time to end our nomadic lifestyle and this house would work for now.
Much to our surprise, we’re liking our house more and more. Granted, the house isn’t new and we don’t have those picturesque vista views that spoiled us during our RVing years, but we do have a nice yard and a location that’s convenient. We’re back to city living and as much as we thought we didn’t want to return to this kind of lifestyle, it’s working perfectly.
So what’s next?
Our plans are a little blurry at this point but we do know we don’t have any major plans to travel anywhere in 2022. We may take the occasional 1-2 hour drive in any given direction for a change of scenery from time to time, but that’s it. This means we do plan on staying in Phoenix all summer. Considering we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada in the 90s, we know exactly what a summer in the desert feels like …. HOT!
We have house projects that we look forward to working on slowly and then there’s the wedding. Our daughter will be getting married later this year and wedding planning is in full swing. I love the fact that I have a great relationship with my daughter and she wants to include me in all aspects of the big event. We’ve already been dress shopping and attended a wedding event at the Phoenix convention center, but lots more to come.
As to my plans for this blog? Hmm, I’m still not sure. Since we won’t be RVing this year, I’m not sure what to write about or what photographs to share. I’m not sure what YOU, my readers, would be interested in. Should I join more photo challenges and share images from our past travels? Are stories from previous travels of interest to you? Does blogging still bring me joy? Does reading blogs still bring you joy? Has the blogosphere changed? These are all questions I need to ponder, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below.
So, now you know! We’re enjoying life in a sticks and bricks house … no regrets, no mistakes, and embracing this new chapter in life with hope and enthusiasm.
“It’s not an ending, it’s just the point in the story where you turn the page.”
It’s a cold and gloomy Sunday. We said our good-byes to our new friends that morning and are now sitting in the warmth of our dry comfy RV parked in our little corner campsite all by ourselves. The abundance of windows in our tiny home allows us to watch the nasty weather roll in. It turns into an entertaining sight, and I’m incredibly thankful I’m camped in an RV and not a tent.
Al and I are shocked when we see snowflakes fall. It’s March 2012 near Phoenix, Arizona. We’re camped at the Lost Dutchman State Park, and I’m seeing snow accumulate on the Superstition Mountains. Really? The rain, hail, and snow continued most of the day. Bear’s walks were quick, much to his displeasure. I call my dad, who lives in the Chicago suburbs, and tell him where we’re camped and all about the weather. My dad can barely contain his laughter as he briefs me on the sunny blue sky and 80 degrees F weather he is enjoying.
It’s mid-March and I’m sitting in the Phoenix valley bundled up in winter attire while dad is in the Chicago area wearing shorts and a golf shirt. What’s wrong with this picture? We enjoyed a good chuckle and I promised to send him lots of photos.
RV Group Camping
Shortly after noon, the first of our Escapees Boomer Club starts arriving. This is our very first ever RV group event and first with the Escapees organization as well. We brave the elements with each RV arrival to introduce ourselves. Wanting to return to the dry warmth of our RV as soon as possible, we kept the introductions short. By late afternoon, our formerly empty group camping area was nearly full.
The next day, the only sign of the inclement weather from the day before was the dusting of snow left behind on the Superstition Mountains. From what we gathered, snow is a rare treat to behold around here which caused photographic excitement amongst locals and non-locals alike. Al and I changed our opinion from disgruntled to fortunate. After all, we did leave Colorado to escape the cold and snow, and here we were in Arizona experiencing the very weather we were trying to avoid. But back home, that weather is the norm while here it is a rarity, and we were able to witness this rare sight. So, we considered ourselves fortunate even though we weren’t necessarily happy about pulling out the winter coats.
With fair weather upon us once again and a group of around twelve RVs gathered, the organizers posted a list of activities for the upcoming three days. We had a choice of activities in which to engage. While the days were filled with hikes, seminars, and outings, the evenings centered around various get-togethers either at the pavilion or inside someone’s RV, activities determined by the weather.
One of the daytime outings with a couple of our new neighbors included a visit to Tortilla Flat for lunch. A few days earlier, Al and I had driven through this entertaining town and vowed to return. So, here was our opportunity. The restaurant walls are plastered with dollar bills covering every square inch of wall space and the bar stools are made from saddles. It’s a fun and busy place plus the burgers are tasty.
I believe this was the first time I ever snapped a photo in a lady’s restroom. The stall doors were each painted with a different dance hall gal dress design. So once you stepped up to the door, your head finished off the design. Too cute! After lunch, we stepped into the gift shop for a look around and then over to the ice cream shop. We had heard that the ice cream is delicious and shouldn’t be passed up. Feeling compelled to confirm that tidbit of info, Al and our friends confirm that the ice cream was definitely worth the indulgence. Nice job team! Unable to tolerate the dairy, I looked on longingly … sigh!
One evening, a large group of us car-pooled over to the Organ Stop Pizza for a meal and entertainment. This was our second visit to this one-of-a-kind establishment. Organ Stop Pizza is home to the world’s largest Wurlitzer Organ and even if you’re not a fan of Organ music, it’s an experience I highly recommend at least once. We enjoyed the food as well as the entertainment, but others in our group shared a different culinary opinion. Regardless, we all had a fabulous time!
RVing education seminars
Our days whizzed by as our RVing education with the Escapees Club continued. We learned about solar panels, batteries, inverters, holding tanks, boondocking, and more. We learned so much from these seasoned RVers and appreciated their time and friendship. We were sad for this way too short of a gathering to end. Alas, it was time for us to move on with more education to be had at the Good Sam Rally being held in the town of Goodyear, AZ.
Our stay at Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Mountains left an indelible impression upon us. It’s a magical place … a spiritual place … a place we feel compelled to revisit time and again. There’s a unique draw to explore this wilderness area, a longing to experience its ever-changing personality with the weather, and a pull to uncover its hidden secrets. We left with the solace of knowing we’ll return … I must return!
Good Sam Rally
Our drive from Apache Junction to Goodyear took less than an hour. We set up camp at the Destiny RV Resort which was an easy 15-minute drive to the Good Sam Rally location. Thus, we could spend all day at the event with a quick return to the RV for lunch and a dog walk if necessary. Thursday morning we headed off to the Rally. We looked at dozens of RVs and visited the majority of vendor booths set up in a huge event tent. We looked at the seminar schedule and attended a partial seminar with a lackluster interest.
I think we were on RV information overload at this point especially after the previous days camped with the Escapees. By late afternoon, we had accomplished our goal and decided we wouldn’t return to the Rally the next day. We also knew our six-week road trip was nearing its end, and we’d need to start the 800-mile journey home soon.
On one hand, it felt good to be home, on the other, we felt sad. Our appetite for RV travel was awakened and we wanted more. We weren’t sure what the future held, but we knew we wanted to keep the wheels rolling in new directions.
Is this the end of our RVing journey or is it just the beginning?
This concludes my series of posts stepping back in time for my blog to book series. For more info on what I’m talking about, please check out this post – My Plan
We left Lake Pleasant a bit reluctantly but were excited to be heading to a new location. We wanted to check out more of the Maricopa County Regional Parks. If the other parks were even half as nice as Lake Pleasant, we’d be happy campers. We knew we were running a risk traveling without reservations, but Al and I were still in flitting mode with no real destination in mind. Well actually, we did have a destination in mind but that wouldn’t be for several more days down the road. So for right now, we had a few days to fill up before that rendezvous with the Escapees group.
March 17, 2012 – When we arrived at Usery Mountain Regional Park, we were told the campground was full, but we could boondock in their overflow lot until a campsite came available, which might be in the next day or two. We opted to stay in the overflow lot for the night which was nothing more than a paved parking lot located right next to the park entrance. It wasn’t ideal, but we figured for one night we’d make it work while we discussed how we wanted to spend the next several days.
It was still morning when we unhitched the RV in the Usery Mountain Regional Park overflow lot. It was a lovely day and the sky was a beautiful bright blue. The sun was warm and the breeze light. We absolutely must take advantage of this gorgeous day! Al and I packed a light lunch, drinks, loaded the dog in the truck, and headed up the road a piece. This funny expression was one of Al’s mom’s little phrases that always brought chuckles. Today’s destination; Saguaro Lake.
Wow! Al and I were awed by the beauty of Saguaro Lake. It’s a much more picturesque setting than Lake Pleasant. We found a quiet covered picnic table and enjoyed our lunch while admiring the view.
After lunch, we spent a little time driving around exploring. The marina rents various watercraft, and we were tempted to rent something the following day, but we wanted to see if we could get into a campsite at Usery Park first.
It’s 6:30 in the morning when I awake to Bear’s restlessness. That dog’s internal clock is spot on. He’s ready for his walk at the same time every morning. Even though we were camped in a parking lot, we slept ok. I throw on some clothes, hook up Bear’s leash, and slip the camera in my pocket before exiting the RV. The cactus are blooming at this time of year, and I was hoping to capture a few photos of one particular pink bloom.
It’s a brisk calm morning. Bear and I stroll up the road that leads to an Archery range. I take in the amazing array of cactus and vegetation while watching bunny’s dart across the road. Since the sun isn’t fully up just yet, he and I are totally alone enjoying the landscape and fresh air. I’m in my own little world and daydreaming. Suddenly, I’m startled by some screaming girls in the distance. I realize it was spring break, but screaming girls at 6:30 in the morning just didn’t seem right.
I listen again and that’s when reality hit me … coyotes! And they didn’t sound all that far away, plus we were walking toward the commotion. Bear and I swiftly turn around making our way back to the RV. Photos of the flowering cactus will just have to wait. I have no intention of running into a pack of coyotes this morning.
Back at the RV, we eat breakfast and after a couple of cups of coffee, Al and I decide to move over to Lost Dutchman State Park. Our plans would be taking us there in a few days anyway to join the Escapees. So, we figured, why not show up early. However, before hooking up, Al calls the state park to verify that they indeed have room for us in their overflow area.
Al talks to the head ranger who informs him that no group is booked in the group campground prior to our Escapees group, and thus, gives us the okay to set up early in the group area that’s reserved for our Boomer’s Escapee rendezvous; our very first Escapees anything.
Thirty minutes later, we pulled up to the fee station at Lost Dutchman State Park to check-in. Oops! The ranger had made a mistake, and yes, there was a private group booked that would be arriving the next day. We were allowed to camp in the group campground for the night, after that, we weren’t sure where we’d go. The ranger would leave the decision up to the incoming group whether we were allowed to stay or would need to go. The group campgrounds were the only overflow areas available at that time and overflow camping was only available when the group loops weren’t reserved.
We set up camp in a corner of the lot and knew we could stay in this spot for at least the night. The next day the ‘Superstition Square Wheelers’ would show up and determine our fate. The Superstition Square Wheelers is a local group of square dancers that share non-dancing outings a couple of times a year.
Not only did they allow us to remain in our camp spot, they graciously embraced us and included us in activities. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. What an incredibly warm and generous group of people. We had a wonderful time, and by Sunday morning, we were exchanging contact information and hugs good-bye. But before we bid our new friends farewell, we embarked on an adventure that the group recommended.
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 1930s to support the development of dams along the Salt River creating some beautiful lakes in the process. There are a bunch of interesting sights and views along the way which necessitate lots of stopping. Photo-op anyone? Thus, the Apache Trail Circle Loop requires an entire day for the excursion. It’s also not for the faint of heart due to the condition and topography of the road.
From the state park, we headed north on State Road 88, aka The Apache Trail. As we entered the Tonto National Forest, the road starts to climb, twist, and bend. The scenery becomes more rugged and stunning with each 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 its deep blue waters surrounded by rugged cliffs and rocky terrain is a pleasant and unexpected surprise. A few more miles up the road is the cute little town of Tortilla Flat; population 6. In the future, we’ll need to stop here for lunch. We hear they serve up a great burger.
Beyond Tortilla Flat, the paved road turns into gravel. The gravel road is wide and in pretty good condition up to the scenic view parking lot. We loved the vista view and for those less adventurous this would be a good spot to turn around and retrace the journey home. But for us? We’re off on an adventure plus Al and I are used to driving unpaved mountain back roads with steep cliff drop-offs. In other words, we already knew this stretch of road between Tortilla Flat and the Roosevelt Dam would be somewhat challenging.
As we continued beyond 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. Those going downhill supposedly have the right of way and it’s not uncommon for the need for someone to back up to a wider spot in the road so vehicles can pass by each other. Fish Creek Hill/Pass is the worst part of the journey with sheer drop-offs, very narrow road, lots of turns, and a steep elevation transition. Expect white knuckles!
One-lane bridges and a washboard gravel road add to the overall adventure. Once we reach Apache Lake, another beauty, 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’s slow going. Two and a half hours after leaving Tortilla Flat we finally arrived at the Theodore Roosevelt Damn and Lake.
Now it was time to complete the circle and return home to the Lost Dutchman State Park. The majestic scenery continues from Roosevelt Lake to the active mining towns of Miami and Superior and passed the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The Arboretum looks worthy of a visit, but by this point in the journey, I’m photoed out, tired, and just ready to get home. This one-day excursion was not long enough to see everything, and we made mental notes for things to see and do in the future.
Whether one is looking for solitude or a host of activities, this part of Arizona seems to offer it all. I remain awed by its raw beauty and fascinated by the plants and animals that survive in this harsh land. I find myself smitten with the landscape and left with a desire to explore more.
As much as we loved our campsite along the Colorado River at the Davis Park, the winds in Bullhead City were relentless. Thus, it was time for us to move on and head back over to Phoenix. After a little internet research, I discovered the Maricopa Regional Park system, particularly Lake Pleasant Regional Park. Ah yes, more water and hopefully less wind.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park – March 6, 2012
With more than 23,000 acres of water and surrounded by the beautiful Sonoran desert, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a popular recreation area located in the town of Peoria on the far northwest side of the Phoenix Arizona Valley. This desert oasis was exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure a campsite reservation online so we decided to just show up and see what camping options were available. One can hope for a campsite cancellation.
After our three-plus-hour drive from Bullhead City to Lake Pleasant, we pulled up to the Lake Pleasant fee station and confirmed that the campgrounds were indeed booked. Sigh, no cancellations! We asked the ranger for camping options. She precedes to tell us and show us on the map all the boondocking areas, but her favorite and her recommendation would be the 10 lane boat ramp. A boat ramp? Did we just hear that right?
I’ll admit, after driving all morning, Al and I were a little on the tired side and didn’t fully comprehend all that she said, “There are lots of places to park at the spillway which is just past the 10 lane boat ramp … there are two ways to get there, but I only recommend one yadda … yadda … yadda.” I think we were more confused by her information and directions than enlightened. We paid our daily admittance fee along with two nights of shoreline boondocking and headed off in search of this place to camp that she recommended.
Before we even hit the road, Al and I had made a promise to each other that when it came time to search out boondocking spots, we would first explore without the RV in tow. We’d call it a scouting mission and this mission would help us avoid getting ourselves into a pickle. Great plan … when implemented.
Boondocking is a term used by RVers to describe RV camping without being connected to services – no water, no electric, no sewer. Unlike dry camping, boondocking is dispersed camping that is not located in a designated campground.Popular boondocking locations are in National Forests or even approved parking lots like a Walmart.
We were off in search of a campsite. After the first correct turn, Al and I asked each other where we were supposed to turn next. We were both confused. It was either fatigue or information overload that found us turning onto Sunset Ridge Road, and just as the name implies, it’s a road on a ridge. The paved road quickly turns into a dirt road that eventually winds its way down to the shoreline. Not exactly an RV-friendly road. We soon realized our mistake and stopped before venturing further down the dirt road and further into a situation that we couldn’t safely get out of.
It was at that moment that we had our aha moment and realized, after the fact, that this was the route that the ranger didn’t recommend. Eek! Time to make a quick decision. Al and I jumped out of the truck (fortunately, we were all alone … no witnesses, thank goodness) and assess the situation. Al was pretty sure the tight turning radius capability with a 5th wheel would allow him to turn around. If he’s wrong? … well, guess he’ll go tumbling off the side of the hill. Hmm, did I pay that life insurance bill? Snicker! In all seriousness, we were both pretty stressed and concerned. We preceded with extreme caution. I serve as a spotter while Al makes the tight and precarious turnaround. This turn was so tight that it would not have possible with a travel trailer, and we are so grateful we have a 5th wheel. The next day, we confirmed that we made a wise decision and that it definitely would not have been a good idea to continue any further on this road. Oh, we probably could’ve made it, but not without some possible RV undercarriage damage.
With the turnaround successful and a mishap avoided, we gathered our composure and eventually found the correct turn and the spillway. Ah yes, this will work nicely! We settle in for a couple of nights and end up extending our stay several times for a total of ten days camped along the shores of Lake Pleasant.
Meeting interesting people!
During the weekdays, we practically had our perfect waterfront campsite to ourselves. The weekends were a whole different story … jam-packed might adequately describe it. On warm sunny days, every square inch of shoreline is occupied with people as locals flock to Lake Pleasant in droves for weekend water recreation. This is when Lake Pleasant isn’t so pleasant.
More than once, we witnessed ignorant and rude behavior, even a verbal fight that almost turned into a fistfight. Case in point – ignorant behavior; It was a beautiful Friday in March and there was a steady stream of weekend warriors rolling in all day in all kinds of RVs. By late afternoon, the shoreline was packed with RVs and new arrivals started setting up camp in the rest of the paved lot. Earlier that day, neighbor Tom had parked his truck on the other side of his RV so he wouldn’t accidentally get blocked in by a new arrival as well as be neighborly, and we did the same.
Late Saturday afternoon as I was returning to our RV after walking the dog, I watched a large motorhome squeeze, and I mean squeeze, in between Tom and Kay’s RV and another RV to their right. I’m not exaggerating when I say the side of that motorhome was maybe three feet away from the front nose of Tom and Kay’s 5th wheel and maybe less to the neighboring RV. To top it off, the motorhome pulled all the way up to the water’s edge then immediately started the generator which caused the exhaust to blow straight at Tom and Kay who were sitting outside trying to enjoy a quiet evening with plans to watch the sunset. Oh, and because the generator was so loud, the motorhome folks had to play their music even louder.
By 10:00 a.m. the next morning, the motorhome home had pulled out along with other RVers, and by late Sunday afternoon, the majority of RVs around us had departed returning Lake Pleasant to pleasant once again. When we noticed Kay and Tom sitting outside, we walked over to discuss the audacity of that motorhome the evening before. These folks were in their 12th year of full-time RV living and Al and I were in awe. We had so many questions. They took the motorhome event in stride and shared more RV bad behavior stories that they’d witness over the years. We learned a lot from these two and were sad to see them leave the next day.
It didn’t take long before we had new neighbors. These friendly RV folks were quick to come over and introduce themselves. Once again, the conversation flowed smoothly, and we discovered not only did we have similar 5th wheels, but we shared a similar background in aviation. However, there was one subject where we were definitely not on the same page.
Turns out, this delightful couple had just spent six weeks camped in Quartzsite … at the magic circle. Say what? Oh my, another clothing-optional couple! Al and I began to wonder if we were some kind of magnet or if we had a sort of look. Thankfully, they weren’t into spouse swapping like the Lake Havasu neighbor, but they did share plenty of photos of their clothing-optional vacations from around the world; their favorite being in the south of France. TMI folks!
Aside from these seasoned RVers sharing a little too much of their too little clothing lifestyle, they enlightened these RV newbies on solar panels, batteries, and making RV modifications; information Al and I gladly soaked up. We appreciated their time and knowledge.
Enjoying lake life!
Although we relished engaging with fellow RVers, we enjoyed plenty of quiet time as well … time to sit, relax, and reflect on life. I think Al and I needed that downtime … time to watch the clouds pass overhead and the ducks paddle by.
It’s 110 (bleeping) degrees Fahrenheit outside today without a cloud in the sky. It’s hot! Who would’ve thought Al and I would still be sitting in Phoenix, Arizona during the first week in June? Certainly not I. Thank goodness we have a flexible mindset and were able to readjust our plans after this most recent delay.
But it’s fricken hot 🥵 No sugar coating it by saying it’s a dry heat. Even an oven is a dry heat. Oh well, this ain’t our first rodeo experiencing extreme desert heat. We lived in Las Vegas, Nevada in the nineties. You learn to adjust.
Our initial plan was to depart Phoenix in mid-May and point the RV toward Wisconsin, but a few things happened that derailed those plans. First and foremost is that nasty virus that shut the country down … shut the world down. We wanted to wait for some level of normalcy to return (even just a glimmer) before we hit the road.
In reality, we didn’t mind changing our departure date until after Memorial Day Weekend because one of Al’s sister’s recently (April) moved to Phoenix. We were enjoying visits with her and her husband and assisting any way we could as they settled into their new home. So a couple of extra weeks in the valley spent with family would actually be fun.
Extending our stay turned out to be a good thing, a very good thing, as I encountered a potential little hiccup in my health. A couple of medical tests later followed by a teleconference with my doctor and we were once again good to go and set a new departure date. (I’m fine BTW)
The truck was ready. The RV was ready. Al and I were ready, and after one final gathering with the family to say our goodbyes, we’d be hitting the road a couple of days later, or so we thought. The day prior to rolling, Al lost a crown while eating a relatively light lunch. No peanut brittle involved. Well, he didn’t exactly lose it, it ended up in his hand instead of being securely attached to the tooth in his mouth.
Poor Al! However, after three uncomfortable hours in the dental chair enduring some major work, he’s doing great and currently waiting on the permanent crown to be ready for installation. Turns out, that old crown and root canal were most likely older than the dentist. Now that’ll make ya feel old! 😆 So obviously, that tooth was something that needed to be taken care of before traveling and we’re glad we were still in the valley when the crown fell out.
As soon as Al gets his new crown installed, my crowned king and I will be hitting the road. Fingers crossed 🤞 we won’t encounter any more faux pas. We’ve already encountered one too many for my taste!
TheRVers werequarantined in their snug littlehomes, while visions oftravel danced in their heads …
“Okay Ingrid, snap out of it”. I do believe the soaring 100 degree plus Fahrenheit temps in Phoenix, Arizona, have caused something to dance in my head, or is it the increase in consumption of brownies and alcohol? 🤫 Staying housebound in a tiny home, aka RV, during the Phoenix hot season is obviously not an ideal scenario.
Weather is temperamental
April is always an interesting month for the weather. The changing of seasons is rarely gradual. When we lived in Colorado, April always found winter making at least one final appearance by dumping a boatload of snow just when we were ready to welcome spring. It’s as if winter is talking to spring and saying, “Ah ah, not so fast”.
It’s somewhat similar here in the desert southwest, but instead of cold, it’s heat. Sometime in April, the weather warns us of the impending summer heat by sending us those soaring hot temps. We’ll get a reprieve (hopefully) before real summer sets in. Last year, we enjoyed lovely weather in May, but so far this first week in May is not looking promising for any kind of break from the soaring temps. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out. Let’s face it, so far 2020 isn’t playing nice. So I don’t have high expectations for anything these days.
With that said, it’s that time of year in the desert southwest when those that can do and those that can’t suffer.
I’m talking about hitting the road and escaping the desert heat. Fortunately, we fall into the lucky category where we get to leave Phoenix for the entire summer.
Others will try and get a reprieve on weekends by traveling either up to northern Arizona or to the White Mountains in eastern Arizona where temperatures can easily drop by at least 20 degrees.
Our plan is to endure the Phoenix weather until the end of May and then hightail it up to northern Wisconsin to stay on Al’s sister’s property. We stayed there last year but took a little over three weeks to drive the 1,900 miles. This time around, Al has fishing on the brain and just wants to get there asap, plus with this whole pandemic thing, it’s probably best not to meander. Beam me up, Scotty!
I don’t think anyone could’ve envisioned something like a pandemic shutting down the country and impacting our freedom to travel, but I think it’ll be okay for us to drive to Al’s sister’s place by the end of May. However, we will be cautious on our drive there and reconsider doing any further excursions this summer once settled on private property. I had a list of places in Michigan’s Upper Pennisula that I wanted to visit, not to mention returning to the north shore of Lake Superior. Time will tell how it’ll all play out this summer!
For those of us living a nomadic lifestyle, we’ve had to rethink our travel plans and some nomads have needed to do some serious scrambling just to find suitable accommodations to abide by the ‘stay at home / shelter in place’ orders. Sue and Dave over at Travel Tales of Life have recently written a series of blog posts showcasing folks from around the world and how the pandemic has impacted their lives personally. I was honored to be asked to be a guest writer. You can check out their blog here.
Back to visions dancing in my head
So with visions of Wisconsin dancing in my head, I thought I’d share a lake tale with you …
Ingrid and the Game Warden
It was a beautiful summer day in northern Wisconsin. Al had spent the better part of the morning on the boat fishing. After several hours of fishing, he returned home to take a nap.
Considering it was such a lovely day and the lake looked so inviting, while Al napped, I decided to take the boat out. I motored out a short distance to a quiet bay, dropped the anchor, and began reading my book. “Ah, this is the life!”
While turning a page, I glanced up at the approaching boat which appeared to be a Game Warden. He pulls up alongside my boat and says, “Good morning, Ma’am, what are you doing”?
“Reading a book”, I replied, (thinking to myself, “isn’t that obvious”?)
The Game Warden informs me, “You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area”.
In a very polite voice, I responded, “I’m sorry officer, but I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. So, I’ll have to write you up a ticket”.
“For reading a book?”, I asked quizzically.
“You’re in a Restricted Fishing Area, Ma’am”, he says rather matter of factly.
Somewhat exasperated, I stated once again, “Sir, I’m not fishing, I’m reading”.
“Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I’ll have to write you up a ticket and you’ll have to pay a fine.”
“If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,” I responded.
“But I haven’t even touched you”, explained the Game Warden.
“That’s true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment”.
“Have a nice day ma’am”, he responded and quickly motored away.
So maybe this didn’t actually happen in real life, but it could’ve.🤣
MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.
I hope you enjoyed a little chuckle and you all are having a great day and staying healthy. And although we may have to rethink our travels and possibly make new plans for the summer, we’ll get through this challenging time and may even discover new hobbies in the process. Cyber hugs!
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