The Desert Rats are Back in Southwest Arizona!
We don’t mind being called desert rats, since we usually spend our winters in Arizona. We even endured a long hot summer here, too 😦 We like this area and are always excited to see the Saguaros and the centennial sign of Arizona as we drive into the area.
Unlike our usual south/north trajectory, 2019 began in Florida, traveling east-to-west and eventually spending several summer weeks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Then, as usual we meandered back south to Arizona. It was a busy year, covering 7,460 miles and staying at 68 RV parks/campgrounds. We met up with many new and old friends, and visited family in California too. It was a year full of adventure, with some challenges thrown in to add a little excitement and anxiety to our travels.
But once again I’m getting ahead of myself…
From Boulder City, Nevada we were “winter homeward” bound as we crossed into Arizona, making several stops along the way to Tucson:
Located at the crossroads of the southwest, Kingman sits at the intersection of Historic Route 66, Interstate 40, U.S. Route 93, and Arizona Highway 68. It’s known as the Heart of Historic Route 66, because the longest remaining preserved stretch of the famous all-American road runs through downtown. We spent a day just cruising around and enjoying the surrounding basaltic hills and rock formations. We didn’t have enough time to see the airplane boneyard nor the 3 museums in town, preferring to enjoy the nice weather while sitting outside with a snack and a cold brew.
One of the popular trails in town is the 7-mile Monolith Garden Trail. As the name implies we encountered many interesting volcanic rock formations as we hiked through Mohave Desert vegetation, boulder fields, stacked rock and scalloped hillsides:
Less than an hour away from Kingman is the living ghost town of Oatman. To get there we drove historic 66 west on a twisted ribbon of pavement that climbed and wound along the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains, all the way up to Sitgreaves Pass. We stopped there to soak in the view and gaze into California and Nevada. It’s estimated that 36 million dollars worth of gold was mined around Oatman in 1930, but today the town is a popular tourist stop with an eclectic collection of gift shops, restaurants, a handful of historical buildings and the four-legged ambassadors that seem to own the town:
Arriving in Oatman, we were welcomed by their famous residents, the burros. They are descendants animals that worked the mines a century ago:
You may recall that we stopped in Wickenburg late spring this year to see if we might want to settle down here. This time we stayed a bit longer, checking out properties and getting a feel for the area. While the town was ho-hum during our last visit, this time it was bustling with horse-roping activities. Six roping arenas were filling up with horse trailers, horses, cows, and of course cowboys and their families.
October through March are the National Team Roping and other related events here, making Wickenburg the Team Roping Capital of the World – Hee-yah! We wanted to see what it would be like to live here during the “busy” time of the year.
Although we’re not really “horse people”, the town is still near the top of our list of places to settle down. We stayed at Hidden Hacienda Horse and RV Park for 12 days, where the owner also happens to be a real estate agent. She was a good source of information about the real estate market here.
While here we shared a trek at Vulture Peak Trail with our friends Mark and Joodie, who drove quite a ways for “hike and a lunch” with us. I had forgotten how steep the second half of the trail was, and told Joodie that she wouldn’t need hiking poles – my mistake! But we had a blast and since there were no disastrous falls into the abyss I was forgiven 🙂
Click here for Joodies funny story about our hike.
It was also time for Betsy’s annual maintenance, so we drove her to Freightliner Oasis in Tollerson, 60 miles to the east. We spent a night in their full hookup lot, and although the maintenance wasn’t as comprehensive as what we’re used to getting in Gaffney, SC, they seemed to have done a good job of changing the fluids and inspecting the chassis.
While Betsy was in the shop we met up with our friends Al and Ingrid. In the midst of our conversations, we realized that we were celebrating our friendship anniversary, since we’d been following each other’s blogs and first met 7 years ago at Cave Creek Regional Park. How time flies!
Usery Mountain Regional Park
The only regional park we hadn’t stayed at in the Phoenix area was Usery Mountain Regional Park, so we reserved a week there. We’ve always been happy with our stays at Regional Parks here; they’re well maintained with spacious sites, and there’s always hiking available just a short walk from the campground. We followed the popular Pass Mountain, Wind Cave and Cholla Forest trails during our visit. These trails have enough elevation to see spectacular vistas across the plains, the flat land south of the recreation area, and the surrounding mountains to the north.
We also enjoyed dozens of different birdies (native and escapees) that came to get a meal at our feeders:
Our stay coincided with the Thanksgiving Holiday, and we were grateful that we could spend the day of thanks with our friends, Al and Ingrid and Mark and Joodie, who graciously hosted us. We were rocking Mark and Joodie’s motorhome “Essie” with all of the laughter and fun during our visit. The food was superb, and we went home fat and happy with leftovers. We thank you all for your friendship, and cheers to more fun gatherings in the future!
Catalina State Park
One of our favorite state parks is Catalina State Park in Oro Valley, north of Tucson. The large sites are well laid out at the base of the Catalina Mountains. This is our third visit here, and I’ve written enough about the park and our activities that there’s nothing new to report. A great place to stay if you’re in the area, and the sunrises and sunsets are worth the price of admission!
Categories: Where we have been