Just doing this and that in Cottonwood, AZ

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I was grateful to Steve for organizing the three-day road trip for us to Canyon de Chelly and Walnut Canyon, AZ.  Not only did he take me to fascinating places, but the trip helped me in coping with my grief.  Like many other facets of our mobile lifestyle, returning after a major life event was challenging and interesting.  One part of that was reading every one of the comforting comments on our blog, and I thank you all for your thoughts.

After the road trip we mostly hung out at our home base at Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Steve’s review here).  Of course, there were many things to see and do in Cottonwood and the nearby cities of Jerome and Sedona.  Unfortunately I had a nagging cough and cold, plus jet lag that slowed me down a bit.

The upside was the gorgeous weather that allowed us to sit outside and be entertained by my favorite Arizona birds.  They came, they ate, they tussled, and then they scurried away. It was such a delight to watch and hear them again!

Great Road Runner

I caught this Road Runner in “non-running” mode

Gambels Quai

These male and female Gambel’s Quails seemed to strike a pose while foraging nearby

There was even one little guy doing an inspection of our coach:


A variety of activities can be enjoyed at this state park – fishing, horseback riding, hiking and bird watching.  Steve got me out of my chair to take a walk and get the blood flowing.  A sunny day with puffy clouds and chirping birds is enough to brighten anyone’s mood!  I felt my head cold clear up after walking around the park’s lagoon.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

During our walk, the erstwhile ghostly town of Jerome could clearly be seen high up on the side of Mingus Mountain.  It was beckoning us to go and pay a visit.


We saw that letter “J” on Mingus Mountain from our campsite

The town had changed little since our visit ten years ago during our flying days.  It’s been called “America’s Largest Ghost Town”, and is a tourist draw for its spookiness.

Our goal on this day was to check out a mexican restaurant that had been recommended for its food and margaritas, Vaqueros Grill and Cantina.  The moment we stepped in we were transported to a uniquely festive and colorful place:

Vaqueros Restaurant

We would say that the food was good but not great, and the margaritas were great but not good!  We enjoyed the meal and the view, and that margarita put my cough into sleep for a while.

Vaqueros Grill and Cantina

The atmosphere was fun, and the drinks rocked our world!


Finally, a dog I WASN’T afraid of…

On our last day at Cottonwood, we got a call from our friends Hans and Lisa who were camped nearby at Rancho Verde.  When these serious hikers invite us on a trek with them we try not to miss it (we enjoyed a great hike with them in Colorado), and we weren’t disappointed on this one either!  All of a sudden my malaise evaporated and I was really excited to see them again.


Apparently they had followed this trail twice in 2014 and called it The Best Hangover Ever, and now on their third trip they were sharing it with us and another couple.  I won’t repeat the details of this moderately-difficult 8.5 mile hike, but refer you to their second blog titled Hangover Hiking with friends.  We were introduced to a lovely creative couple, Lauren and Howard of the Nosh Bus.  Here are our pictures of this wonderful hike:

Hangover Trail

Yes Lisa, I’m right behind you!

Hangover Trail, Sedona

Lunch break at the saddle, bisecting two large red rock formations rising out of the canyon

Hang over trail, Sedona

The Hangover gang – Lauren, Howard, Hans, Lisa, myself and Steve – with a red rock backdrop

Hang over Trail

The section that gave the trail its name – rocks hang over the trail in spots



Hangover Trail Sedona

The trail winds down behind massive red rock formations rising out of the canyon

Hangover Trail

Hans, the leader of the pack gives us some information

This challenging opportunity to hike with Hans and Lisa was just the push I needed to get me back on the trails and more.


Next up:  Really Chillin’ in Prescott, AZ






A great place called Cattail Cove

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Cattail Cove State Park

On our first morning at Cattail Cove State Park, we were awakened by a strange pitter-patter on the roof.  Oh no – we just cleaned Betsy and the car, and now it’s raining!  Wrong.  After a minute we realized it was a flock of Great-tailed Grackle running around on the roof, and they sounded a lot like rain.  Their tiny running feet were fun to hear, and during the day a raucous pack of them filled our site with their ear splitting voices.  They ran around the roof for a few minutes at about the same time every morning after that, and it always gave us a smile.

In our travels so far, this park had the largest diversity of birds hanging around us, chirping, quacking, humming or just perching in the trees.  We were not only enthralled by the birds, but we also noticed that the park was quiet and clean, and the sites were spacious and level.  So off we went to the office to extend our stay for another week. We were very happy to learn they were running a deal – pay for 5 nights and stay for 7.  Now isn’t that something, the stars aligned for us and we came out of that office chirping and quacking ourselves!

In addition to the beautiful birds, there was a hum of activity in the park.  They have a mini outdoor amphitheater where movies were occasionally shown on the warm nights, free of charge.  Hiking trails all around – we were in heaven!  A boat ramp and trailer parking is available for water activity lovers and fishing enthusiasts.  The park rangers and park hosts were very friendly and made us feel like we belonged.  The park is tucked into a cove along the lake about 12 miles south of Lake Havasu City and a few miles north of Parker Dam, the construction of which created Lake Havasu in 1938.

The bird story continues:  After the great-tailed grackle visited us in the morning, along came the quack quacks – mallard and drake ducks – for their daily visit to plead for a dole out.  We never fed them since it’s not a good idea, but they showed up every morning just to make sure we hadn’t changed our minds.

As we lounged outside,  a covey of  Gambel’s quail ran along the ground foraging for food.  Now, these tubby little birds are really fun to watch.  The Gambel’s quail travel together and often communicate noisily with one another.  Once you’ve learned their call, you’ll always know when they’re around.  If you get too close, they will issue urgent alarm calls and quickly run away or fly off.  They are really amazing birds.

We often saw and heard humming birds hovering around, catching insects in flight.  We also heard the Eurasian Collared-Dove giving its rhythmic 3-part coo.  In the evenings, Steve couldn’t wait to sit outside and watch one of his favorite critters – bats circling the nearby tree and feasting on the insects there.

During our hikes we saw a Great Blue Heron standing statue-like, stalking fish and other prey along the shoreline.  A Red tail hawk soared in the sky over the lake.

One morning we saw several Javelina running near the park.  What is that?  Is it a pig?  A boar?  Nope.  They are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. They are normally nocturnal and they travel in herds.  But one morning we lucked out and saw a herd of them walking along the park road in broad daylight – a rare event according to the ranger.  We didn’t know what they were, but of course we began snapping pictures like a couple of maniacs.  Then we asked the ranger about them and learned they are common here in Arizona and  are classified as a big game species.

We enjoyed the Whyte’s Retreat Trail, a 3-mile round trip that begins at the boat ramp and provides views of Parker Dam and terrific vistas of California’s Whipple Mountains across the river.  The McKinney Loop section of the trail leads through a scenic gorge lined by bluffs.  We also created several of our own excursions higher in the hills and across highway 95 where the ATV’ers usually play.

Cattail Cove SP has won the Bronze Award for Favorite Snowbird RV Park or Campground – Arizona in the 5th Annual Reader’s Choice Awards presented by RVWest magazine. These winners were chosen by the magazine’s readers; thus, they represent RVers’ favourite places, attractions and other RV-related stuff.  Thanks to our friend Stan, who we met at Bullhead City and told us about this gem of a park.

And the sunsets were just magnificent!

Sunset at Cattail Cove State Park

Sunset at Cattail Cove State Park