A week of partying and hiking – Cave Creek, AZ

As with our past winter sojourns in Florida and Texas, we were hoping to meet new folks here in Arizona while also reconnecting with our RV buddies.  Of course, gatherings and “happy hours” involve lots of tasty foods and drinks being brought to the table. Attempting to stay fit while socializing, we interspersed our get-togethers with daily hikes in the desert and were happy to have access to several trails right outside our door.

Not only were we excited to party with friends, I was also looking forward to seeing my other friends – the ones with feathers!  My interest in birds began here three years ago, when I became hopelessly hooked on them.  Now I have two regular feeders and a hummingbird feeder, so they too can party like there’s no tomorrow.  Is it just me, or do the birds at our sites seem a lot fatter when we leave?

Bird Party

We’ve been moving our dinette out to the center of the coach so we can enjoy the bird feeding frenzy while having our coffee in the morning.  Steve rigged up a hanger that placed the hummingbird feeder right in front of the window so I could photograph the little guys up close.  But to my surprise the bright red feeder also attracted other birds that seemed to love sipping the sweet concoction on their way by.

Hummingbird

Now that’s a handsome hummingbird!

house finches

Bird party on the picnic table – it looks like he’s jumping for joy!

Reconnecting with friends

If you love out-of-this-world smoked ribs and/or chicken like we do, you’re very lucky to have Dave and Faye (The Wandering Camels) at your party.  We discovered their skills last winter at Gulf Waters RV Park in Texas and were thrilled when we learned we’d cross paths again.  Oh, those smoked meats!  Hey Dave, where are you guys gonna be next winter?  I need to start planning!

Dave and Faye are volunteering at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area this winter, where we enjoyed some of the best hiking in the area during our stay.

The Wandering Camels

Dave’s here with the ribs?  Get outta my way!

Likewise, if you like desserts based on a Paleo diet, then Ingrid (Live Laugh RV) is your friend.  She brought her flourless chocolate cake and gluten free cupcakes – yum!  Ever since we first met her and Al at this very campground in 2012 we’ve kept in touch, birding in Texas and hiking in Colorado.  A recent addition to her travel blog is a food blog based on the Paleo diet called Dally in the Galley.  Check it out to find something yummy to add to your recipe list.

Live Laugh RV

New friends and bloggers Curt and Glenda of Camp Lowry: That’s How We Roll joined us at the party, and we’ll be getting to know them better when we meet again soon at Apache Junction.

Lowes Travels

“The gang” at our spacious site at Cave Creek

The laughter and conversation continued well into the evening, when the notorious desert chill, coupled with the depletion of our firewood supply, brought the proceedings to a close.

Cave Creek Regional park

“Everyone grab a rib and say CHEERS”!

Our new friends

We met other interesting folks here – bloggers and non-bloggers – to pack our week with happy hours, lunches and dinners.  We caught up with Jane and Lindsay, Australian world travelers who initially planned to visit the USA for six months but found themselves wanting to explore much more of our country.  We were fascinated with their lifestyle and how they manage their full-time world travels while at the same time abiding by numerous rules and restrictions imposed by various governments.

We also enjoyed time with new friends and non-bloggers Carla and Len, Don and Velma and Joseph and Randy.  They all gave us plenty of “food for thought” regarding places to visit in the last few U.S. states and Canadian provinces on our list for 2016.

Desert Hikes

We didn’t feel too guilty about all of this partying because we made sure to include plenty of hikes in between.  We picked up a trail right behind Betsy that led us to several connecting trails managed by Cave Creek Regional Park.  These were moderate hikes with lots of ups and down, some rocky and mostly dusty.  Our only gripe with these trails was the horse manure that littered sections of them, and the accompanying odors.  There were volunteers who came along to rake the piles off the trails after the last ride of the day, but by then we were done with our hikes.

Michelen Man

I hiked out to photograph the “Michelin Man of the Desert”, a very unusual Saguaro Cactus

Cave Creek Regional Park

Hikers yield to cowboys and cowgirls – and their stinky horses

Cave Creek Regional Park

Slate Trail

Avenue of green giants

Saguaro

A close up of a Saguaro, likely over 100 years old

Hedgehog

A giant Hedgehog Cactus

Jumping Cholla

Don’t touch that one!

Our favorite trails were at the Spur Cross Conservation Area, where Dave and Faye were hosting.  I strongly recommend taking the trails here, as they meander through classic Sonoran Desert landscapes, including dense stands of Saguaro, Ocotillo, Cholla, and other cactus varieties.  One trail crosses wide desert washes, and several offer dramatic scenic vistas of rugged desert mountain ranges and valleys in all directions.

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Painters at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Those colorful Cottonwoods are part of the Jewel of the Creek Preserve on one of the trails we followed

Saguaro Forest

Spur Cross Conservation Area

An ancient Saguaro showing many branches

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Ocotillo

The Ocotillos are just turning colors

Solar Oasis

A sparrow taking a drink at the Solar Oasis

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Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Areas

Sunsets in the desert are always eye-catching, as the colors are never the same.  Sometimes pink and mauve…

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and other times the sky is on fire!

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So far we’re having a blast in the desert, and it’s not even Christmas yet!

 

Next up:  The beauty of Lake Pleasant Regional Park