Flying high before leaving Arizona – Parker, AZ

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Cessna Corvallis Tt

As we begin our trek north, our final stop in Arizona was at Buckskin Mountain State Park, scenically located between the Buckskin Mountains and the Colorado River.  It’s also situated along the Parker Strip, an 18-mile stretch of land that runs between Parker Dam and Headgate Dam.  The stay here was shortened due to our 10-day detour to Mexico, but it turned out to be a delightful respite with excellent views of the river and surrounding mountains, plus a special surprise.

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Yup, that’s California over there!

We didn’t waste any time exploring the park, and followed a connecting trail that led to a nearby overlook.  From the top we had a commanding view of the Colorado River that separates Arizona and California, and the mountains that line the river on both sides.

Buckskin Mountain State Park

A great view from the nearby hilltop

With the short time we had here, we decided to combine several trails to create an excellent hike – the Lightning Bolt, Buckskin, Abandoned Mines and Interruption Point trails.  It added up to just over four miles, but was good enough to give us a decent workout with interesting views.

Buckskin Mountains

This guy is happy to be back on the trail again!

Amidst this rugged desert landscape were a few budding Beavertail Cactus, some Creosote bushes and a lone Saguaro.

Beavertail Cactus

I spotted a lone Beavertail Cactus bloom

Beavertail Cactus

Beavertail Cactus full of buds

Interruption Point Trail

Steve is always way ahead of me, and here he is arriving at Interruption Point

Lonesome Barrel Cactus

Buckskin Trail

The Buckskin trails are well maintained and provide a good workout

We were impressed that an overpass had been built just for hikers from the campground who want to check out the interesting trails and old copper mines.

Buckskin Trail at Highway 93

Pedestrian Bridge aptly named Buckskin Trail crosses Highway 93

A few weeks from now these dainty wildflowers will spring up everywhere to give the copper-colored mountains some beautiful color contrasts.

Notch-Leaf Phacelia

Notch-Leaf Phacelia

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But the highlight of this stop turned out to be a flight aboard the sleek Cessna Corvallis TT owned and piloted by Rod, Steve’s pilot buddy who stopped by on his way to Scottsdale from northern California.

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Is this thing gorgeous or what? Twin-turbocharged and over 300 horsepower!

Steve was blown away by the the all-glass cockpit and over-the-top features of this plane. What a thrill it was to take a ride around the area.
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Steve takes the controls for our tour, the first time he’s done so in several years

We flew over Parker Dam, the “deepest dam in the world.”  What makes it the deepest is the fact that 235′ of its 320′ height are sunk beneath the river bed.
Parker Dam
It’s a concrete arch-gravity dam built between 1934 and 1938 by the Bureau of Reclamation.  It’s a hydroelectric power dam that created Lake Havasu.
Parker Dam, Arizona
 We also did a flyover of our RV park…
Buckskin Mountain State Park
 …and tried to zoom in on Betsy – but she was well-hidden in the trees
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A selfie of Rod and the happy passengers

Thank You, Rod for the ride, We had so much fun!

Thank you for the ride Rod, we had a great time in your fantastic plane!

It was a short but exciting last stop in Arizona, and now we’re moving from a river to a lake…

 

Next Up:  Hello Nevada!



Northern Exposure – Talkeetna

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Talkeetna

While  roaming around Denali National Park, we hoped that we would not be one of the 30% of visitors who won’t see Denali. It turns out all we had to do was move on to the next destination, and viola! Her magnificent beauty appeared behind the clouds.

Mt Mckinley or Denali

Mt Mckinley or Denali a rare appearance

Denali showed its awesome beauty with just a few cloud cover. We were on the Parks highway when it revealed to us and we saw lots of it when we arrived in Talkeetna.

Mt Mckinley or Denali

Mt Mckinley or Denali

We arrived in Talkeetna, the town which Cicely was modeled after. Cicely is the  the town in the tv series “Northern Exposure” and Janine Turner was my favorite actress on this series.  Talkeetna is the mountain town of Mt Mckinley where all its climbers begin as a jumping off point.This little town is bustling with climbers and tourists alike wanting to climb Mt Mckinley or just do active stuff such as boat rides, hiking, fishing,  biking or glacier landing. With our glacier landing out of the way we ventured around town and checked it out.

Nagleys, one of the original/oldest store in Talkeetna

All About the Moose store

Local micro-brewery, Denali Brewery

At the tasting bar inside the Denali Brewery

Gift Shop

Kiss the Moose

On our third day here the sun came out beautifully. Since the highlight of our stay here has been satisfied we followed the town’s biking trail. On this bike ride we met a very nice couple from North Carolina, Joe and Judy. We first met them during our long Arctic Circle tour. Then we encountered them again along the Alpine trail in Denali park, then we crossed paths again on the main street of Talkeetna. Then on this bright sunny morning as we were admiring Denali without any cloud cover, we heard someone calling Steve’s name. And there were the Grubbs’ again, Joe and Judy. We hung out for a while and exchanged stories about the awesome views that we have been experiencing.

We met initially at the Arctic circle tour, Joe and Judy

Hanging out with Joe and Judy with Mt. McKinley as our backdrop.

Then we moved on with our biking and hit the road. We stopped by a coffee shop and a Salmon Smoke House.

At the Salmon Smoke House, they were removing bones and salmon skin.  This is the tedious part of creating high-quality smoked salmon.

Bakery where we stopped for coffee and a scone

In the coffee shop

The biking trail provided us with excellent clear views of Denali, beautiful daisies and of the river.

Biking along beautiful daises

Hey look, over there! Is that a………oh, never mind – that’s not a moose!

Pose with Mckinley in the background

Denali

River view of Mt. McKinley

Denali

Another beautiful day to admire Denali.

Oh, that hill is too steep, time to walk the bike.

We thought we had enough of the mountain views but when we got back to the viewpoint later in the afternoon, we saw another perspective of the mountain with the sun shining on it creating shadows. Obviously when you are here you can never get enough of Mt Mckinley or Denali when the clouds are not hiding it.

Mt Mckinley

Another perspective of the mountain except that she is behind the clouds

We stayed at Talkeetna RV Camper  Park, a small but nice campground walking distance to town and near a train station.  One interesting note  is that they advertise as Full Service RV park yet there was no sewer on any site, just power and water. Our site was wide and we were able to park our CRV next to Betsy.

Next stop: Anchorage