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.

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


The Ocotillos are just turning colors
Solar Oasis
A sparrow taking a drink at the Solar Oasis


Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Areas

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


and other times the sky is on fire!


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




  1. Meeting new and reconnecting with old friends is one of the things we really like about this lifestyle. We will deviate hundreds of miles out of our way to visit friends in the area. The Spur Cross area looks very cool, love all the varieties of cactus in the area!

  2. Dave has become a real birder since we’ve arrived here. We enjoyed reconnecting with you both too and thanks for a wonderful “chili” dinner, hope we see you again while you’re in the Valley. You know Dave’s always ready to rub then smoke some meat. Glad you enjoyed Spur Cross as much as we do, we sure love our volunteer job. As for next winter, still up in the air but the early part will be in TX then who knows. We love this lifestyle, so many great friends we’ve made along the way. If we find we are within a few hundred miles of friends we will route ourselves their way.

  3. Nice variety of cacti especially the ancient Saguaro and Michelin Man. Love your idea of bird feeders. Must add to my list. Great pictures of the birds, the handsome hummingbird my fav. You’ve captured the good times with friends beautifully.

  4. Wow Mona Liza what a post. I don’t know how you had time to do those great hikes with all the people you spent time with. Your pictures are just fantastic Love the avenue of Saguaros and the wonderful fall colors with the saguaros behind and of course your amazing sunsets. You always provide me with some place I want to put on my list for when I finally get to spend a winter out west. Thanks again.

  5. Party, party, party! Love that hummingbird shot, and while all the landscape and saguaro photos are great, the sunset saguaro is just breathtaking.

  6. You have quite the bird sanctuary going on there:) Love that close up of that darling hummingbird:)

    Now that is a lot of friends and socializing! Good you had some quiet days on the trail:)

    Love, love each and every saguaro! But that ancient beauty is amazing. I don’t believe I have ever seen on with so many arms. Wow!!

    We don’t enjoy hiking on trails that horses share either. It is no fun to have to constantly watch where you step and have nature smelling rather unpleasant. I enjoy seeing them because they are beautiful but they need their own trail:)

  7. Great collection of photographs. I can tell you are enjoying your feathered friends. It was a fun get together. Thank you for hosting.

  8. It looks like you two have been having a great time partying with friends! Your site at Cave Creek is beautiful — we wouldn’t like those horse poop trails either, but your hikes at Spur Cross look wonderful. Gorgeous sunset photos, and I love the close-up of the (Anna’s?) hummingbird.

  9. Gorgeous photos! I love the cacti and it’s great to see you getting together with friends and having a fun time. 🙂

  10. Great photos. Had a wonderful time getting to know you and Steve. Definitely let us know when you get to AJ. We’ll be ready to party after the holidays.

  11. Hi guys, saw that you’re here at McDowell. We’re in site 40. Would love to meet you and maybe go for a hike while you’re here? That is if you’re not too busy partying 😉

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