Archive for February, 2016
Jeff and I are about to wrap things up in beautiful Mesa, Arizona. We pulled into Mesa on November 6 and will be heading out by March 10.
With the exception of two weeks in Quartzsite, that put us in one spot for four whole months! How is that possible?
It’s been a fabulous stay and Mesa in the winter could not have left us wanting anything more. Pleasant daytime temperatures for ANYTHING sport/outside related, daily sunshine to give a healthy glow, cool nights for snuggle and sleeping perfection. Winter is more than tolerable here in the Grand Canyon State!
Another special thing about this place is that you have some amazing hikes all within 30 minutes of home base. And you can get as easy or as technical as you want.
So here are the hikes Jeff and I did while in the area.
Our very first hike in the Mesa area was at South Mountain. Jeff and I did a night hike with our buddy Marshall and wrote about our hike here.
South Mountain is the largest municipal park in the US. It boasts 16,283 acres of desert goodness dating back to the Calvin Coolidge presidency (1924) with original Civilian Conservation Corps infrastructure from the early 1930s.
There are 58 miles of trails to mountain bike, horseback ride, trail run or hike…from easy to heart pumping. Whatever tickles your fancy, it can all be done here.
Views here are of the Phoenix. But if you time your hike at dusk you will treat yourself to a fabulous sunset and twinkling horizon as the city settles down for the night.
Superstition Mountains-Flat Iron
I wish I could say I have a love/hate relationship with Flat Iron since it was brutal to the demise of our winter plans. But even in spite of breaking my wrist here I still LOVE this hike.
It’s one of the most challenging hikes (outside of the Grand Canyon) I’ve ever done both in elevation and technicality.
The trail starts from the Siphon Draw Trailhead in the Lost Dutchman State Park and lulls you into a false sense of ease for about the first mile. The trail is a pure gentleman here and is conversational grade with easy footing. La, la, la…look at those pretty cacti over there!
Then BAM! After making a left turn you are confronted with the realization that this mountain is going to beat you into over 2000’ elevation submission!
Pure vertical. Pure scramble. Pure bouldering. There are no switchbacks here and your gluts, quads and lungs will be screaming for mercy!
I LOVE this hike despite it showing me whose boss on my way down.
Tonto National Forest
We just skirted Tonto National Forest on my first hike after my infamous fall. Jeff and I were hiking again with buddy Marshall on Christmas Day and kept things easy and surefooted.
Tonto is the sixth largest National Forest in the US with almost 3 million acres that stretches from the desert floor (1300’) to ponderosa pines (7,900’). Its uniqueness is evidenced by six separate ecosystems in one forest.
I was unable to find out how many miles of hiking are available here. But with 3 million acres…I’m guessing your could hike for a year and still not explore everything.
Easy to challenging hiking, horseback riding and jeeping are everywhere. We stuck to simple jeep trails that could go on for days in and of itself.
This is a beautiful local park plopped right in the heart of Phoenix.
The park includes two golf courses, the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo and a few miles of red desert trails to explore. It is a popular place for the locals to get their Saturday morning burn on. Nothing too strenuous here and lots of families come for the easy park and hike to “The Hole in the Rock” before hitting the Zoo.
Jeff and I wanting to do some trail running and actually ran around the park twice to get in 6 miles. This place was a bit more crowded and limited than my liking. But for a quick “hike” feel without having to leave the city, it will do in a pinch.
Jeff and I were really trying to take in some of the top “must see” places in Mesa before moving out of the area and Wind Cave came in as a top destination on our Internet search.
Wind Cave is located in Usery Mountain Regional Park located on the Valley’s east side. Usery has a stunning campground, and once you have hiked up to the cave you take in beautiful views from 2,840’.
I use the term “cave” loosely as Wind Cave is nothing more than an indentation in the side of a small mountain. So inspiring I didn’t even take a picture of it!
The hike is a short 2.9 mile round trip and is pretty popular. Wind Cave is not too challenging and can be hiked with kids. It was a bit steeper than I had been hiking post wrist surgery, so I was a bit unnerved in a couple of spots due to my over sensitivity to falling.
But overall it was a nice morning hike with RV’ing friends that we hadn’t seen in a couple of months.
If you come to Phoenix and ask about a hike, undoubtedly Camelback will be mentioned immediately.
It is the mountain that locals and tourists alike come to conquer at 2,706 at its peak.
Camelback gets its name from the shape of the mountain that looks like the humps of a kneeling camel.
The hike is not that long but it is certainly challenging with an accent of 1,280’. There are two approaches to Camelback. The Echo Canyon Trail will get you up 1,280’ in 1.14 miles verses the Cholla Trail in 1.4 miles.
Jeff and I chose the Cholla Trailhead to ease my post fracture fears of scrambling.
This is an extremely busy trail (as is the Echo Canyon Trail). Street parking is at a premium and will require an additional .5 mile hike uphill just to reach the TH. We were actually there for a Thursday lunch hike and had trouble finding a place to park. There are no other parking options except along the street, so we circled a couple of times before a spot opened up.
Though dogs are allowed on this trail, we really should have left Sam at home. I ended up going against the leash laws and let Sam off his leash in order to prevent tripping up other hikers. There was a sign posted at the TH that stated that they were holding meetings to discuss shutting the trail down in the future to dogs. This is one of those rare times I might agree with the “No Dogs Allowed” policy.
Camelback truly is a great hike if you are patient and is a moderate hike until the last .3 miles. It is a pure scramble and bouldering for the last push. It was beyond my ability with a still healing wrist, so Sam and I waited in the saddle while Jeff summited the peak.
The city views are amazing and I am glad that we made the effort to do this well-known hike. But it was too crowded for my liking and we will probably stick to the Tonto National Forest in the future to get our hike on.
So that is my hiking summary for the Phoenix/Mesa area for winter of 2015/16. All in all it’s been a wonderful place to burn up a cold winter in the lap of warm sunny luxury.
We have a three-week trip with multi-stop flights to Nashville for a Sales Conference and 2 weeks home in Bentonville, Arkansas before flying back to our home on wheels in Mesa.
March will have us moving north for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah to cross another destination off our bucket list. Oh…the tragedy of our life!
It’s been a while since my last post. Partly because of healing my wrist, partly because we have been stationary.
As new temporary residents of Mesa, Arizona we’ve become quite familiar with city streets, favorite Walmart stores, the local cycling club and yummy places for lunch. Even Sam has been in on the action for grooming and walking the canals.
But these RV’s are made for roll’in and roll’in is what we do!
After 3 months, we had to refresh ourselves on how to hook up the Domani. It felt odd to be pulling out of our temporary driveway with something a little bigger than a bicycle behind us.
But just like riding a bike, it all came back to us quickly. We were finally headed away from sirens, helicopters and thumping music of the city and heading towards yipping coyotes, running generators and whipping winds of the desert.
Here we come Quartzsite!
The Quartzsite RV Show, or “Q”, is billed as the largest gathering of RV’ers in the world. Folks from all over North America come to the desert of “Q” for warm January temps and cheap RV living. “Q” is surrounded by unlimited BLM, making this quirky destination a playground for boondockers, solar enthusiasts and ATV’ers.
We were here last year working a booth for Dometic and we were here to do the same this year.
Working a booth at a RV show is a fascinating study in people. Especially RV’ers!
“Q” is always a different kind of show in that the majority (98-99%) of this audience is actual RV owners. And not just owners but what I would consider RV super users… those who live in their RV’s 6-12 months out of the year.
And with super users comes lots of experience and lots of stories! Usually experiences and stories that center around bathroom habits and holding tanks.
I had to laugh when a 70-something woman asked if we had any toilet seats that fit into a receiver hitch of a truck because, “I aint poop’in over a log no more”. I deferred her to Amazon…they have everything in two days or less for Prime membership.
One of our friends shared his story about emptying his black tank at a dump station. Unbeknownst to him, the dump was full which he didn’t find out until he saw his black water running all over the ground. After shutting off the valve he was left with suspending both ends of the hose in the air with his hands in order to contain the sludge until someone would let him dump in another line! OMG!!!
Other toilet discussions at the booth drove me to drink at the end of the day. And since I’m such a light weight, half way through a glass was sufficiently enough to regain my sense of humor.
On another funny note…did you know that Escapees has a nudist club? They sure do! And Jeff and I got a first hand look at it while delivering a Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer to their encampment…on BLM…in “Q”. Y.U.P.
I offered to deliver the item as the purchaser was on a motorcycle and he happily accepted my offer. While being rung up he slipped in a, “oh-by-the-way”, and we were off to the nudist encampment hoping the cool temps and cloud cover would keep the in-the-buff RV’ers a bit more covered!
Of course the ONLY person that was not covered up when we got to the area was this nice gentleman’s wife…buck naked…in front of his coach.
Not being well prepared nor experienced in this sort interaction, eye contact was our top priority as well as a keen concentration to keep our jaws from hitting the desert floor. I was relieved when his wife offered to put some clothes on. But that relief was short lived when she returned with only a wrap around her waist.
Introductions were made and a tutorial on how to operate their new purchase was given…topless…boobs a sway’in in the gentle breeze…bent over the freezer on the ground. There are just things you can’t un-see folks!
After declining their invitation for a beer we were treated to a boob photo bomb while having our picture taken with their rig logo. Yup…in her full glory…in the background of a picture her husband took with OUR phone.
Oh…could it possibly be that I now have seen it all? Probably not.
Jeff and I have had one other run in with nudists. It was on our honeymoon 22 years ago in Jamaica. The resort had a clothing side and a clothing optional side. When we arrive the first night we were informed that our room on the clothing side was not available despite our specific reservations.
The next morning our beautiful ocean front balcony view was marred by the bare butts of wrinkly old men strategically moving their lawn chairs directly in front of our room. Not the full moon over the water view I had in mind!
From my total of two nudist “shock-and-awe” incidents, I’ve noticed that nudists are not usually the bouncing six pack stacked Bay Watch type of people to be gazed upon with appreciation for the human form. But leathery sun worn bodies that have sufficiently been pruned over time. Just my humble unwanted observation!
Butt But you know what? More power to them!
It was an interesting time at “Q” as it usually is. We did see friends and managed to stay an additional week in beautiful desert BLM solitude after the show.
The incredible desert sunrises and sunsets burned new images into my retina’s that I will carry with me as we head back to Mesa. Even the illumination of the full moon will forever be a memory too! 😉