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



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.


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.

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

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!

Experiencing nature in Pennsylvania

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We have spent a lot of time lately playing tourist – taking historical, chocolate, brewery and wine tours – so now it’s about time we experience the wild side of Pennsylvania.  Our home base on this stop was in the western part of PA at Woodland Campground.  Click here for Steve’s review if you’re interested.  Once settled in, we began researching things to do around the Woodland area.  Initially we didn’t find much, but we were happy to eventually find a few nearby activities.

Bilger’s Rocks

Located in Grampian, PABilger’s rocks was rescued and restored by a local non-profit group after teens in the area had used it for years as a party spot where they defaced the unusual boulders with graffiti.  Today, it has been cleaned up and promoted as the beautiful spot that it is.  Walking trails meander among the huge moss-covered sandstone blocks that average 20′ to 25′ thick.  This is the “greenest” spot we’ve ever seen!


300 years ago, “Rock City” as they called it was formed by Frost Wedging.  Water seeped into cracks of the sandstone slab and as it froze the rock cracked and eventually broke into sections away from the main body. As water continued to enter the cracks it slowly eroded the soft sandy soil out from under the broken rock sections.  Gravity then slowly moved the large boulders down the hillside, which is what we witnessed.

There are several trails in the area and we covered 6 miles of them that lonely day, for we were the only ones on the trail – just the way we like it!


Green, green everywhere!

Elk Country

We just learned that Pennsylvania is considered elk country, and to showcase that is the newly-built Elk Country Visitor Center located at Benzette, PA.  It was designed specifically to allow folks to experience these animals year-round and to learn more about them.  They even boast having the premier viewing location and home of the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern United States.  So off I went as Steve told me there would probably be no elk there this time of the year – he decided to stay home and clean Betsy.  Was he right?  Well, yes and no.  There were three viewing areas within the visitor center area and I did not see a single elk roaming around.

Elk country Visitor Center

One of the viewing areas at the Elk Country Visitor Center

During my visit I enjoyed an informative and interesting 30-minute 4-D show complete with a new level of sensory experience – smoke, snow, and crackling campfires.  An historical account of elk in Pennsylvania was presented, including their behavior during all four seasons.  The ongoing conservation efforts were also explained.  I learned that the current elk population came from Yellowstone, as all elk previously in PA were killed due to overhunting.

Although I learned a lot, the trip would be incomplete without seeing a single elk.  Luckily, on my way home and miles away from the visitor center, I caught a glimpse of these cow elk grazing quietly.  Getting proof that Steve was wrong after all brought a smile to my face!

Grazing Elk in Elk Country, PA
Cow elk (females) with their babies

Parker Dam and SB Elliott State Parks

Within 20 miles of our home base were two state parks, S B Elliot and Parker Dam State Parks at Penfield, PA,  where we found several trails to choose from.  The Old Horseman Trail at SB Elliott was a dud, muddy and not clearly marked.  We turned around after two miles of exasperation trying to follow the overgrown trail.  The park was very green, lush and quiet, however.

Parker Dam State Park, on the other hand, was a different story.  The Beaver Dam and Laurel Run trails were decent and well-marked, so we walked both of them.  There were some muddy and infrequently-traveled areas on these trails, and the gnats and other flying bugs were the worst we have encountered.

Beaver Dam Trail

Beaver Dam Trail

But despite those relentless critters we completed eight miles on the wildflower-laden trails, enjoying dense forest and the sounds of the gushing river as we trudged on.

Laurel Run Trail

Laurel Run Trail

Parker Dam State PArk

Just being stylish – not!  That white thing on my glasses is an insect repellent

Clearfield County Rails to Trails

On another day we found ourselves on a bike path in nearby Clearfield, PA, about 10 miles from our campground.  The crushed gravel path is fairly flat from Clearfield to Curwensville, and we chalked up a 15-mile ride there.  The trail initially parallels the PA879 highway, but after a mile and a half we rode in tranquility beside a river and more blooming wildflowers.

On our last day here we got up early and went back for a 6-mile walk on this path.  It was the day after a big storm hit the previous night, and there were several downed tress and branches blocking some sections.  But crews were already cleaning up and the path is well taken care of.

To regain all the calories we burned, off we went to Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub, home of some of the world’s largest burger challenges.  This place was a blast!  Steve loved it so much that we came here twice in one week!  Check out these burger challenges:

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub

Outrageous burger challenges

They have over 30 beers on tap, and 37 different sauces on their wing menu.  And for entertainment, how can you beat watching people trying to eat a 2+ pound burger in under an hour?  On the first day we were there, a man from NY was attempting to do just that.  We had to leave about 30 minutes into his challenge, but he was already about 2/3 finished.  However, we learned that although hundreds of people try it, this particular challenge is completed only once every few months.  And we find it hard to believe, but it’s true – one man completed a 15-pound burger in less than 5 hours, and another wolfed down a 3-pounder in 9 minutes and 3 seconds.  Wow!

And you know you’re living right when you get onto the freeway and see the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile just ahead of you!  Steve got up to 80 mph just to check it out, and of course I had my trusty camera at the ready.  How cool is that?  Check out the cute Wisconsin license plate.

I’m just realizing we were actually quite active during this one-week stop.  During our hikes and bikes I managed to get a glimpse of these very unusual and colorful mushrooms/fungi…

…and flowers with beautiful critters pollinating them…

…and some other notable critters.

Next up: Hanging out with friends in Warren, Ohio

Our upcoming stops – tell us about any “must do” tours, excursions,
restaurants, etc. you’ve enjoyed at these places, so we can check them out:

Niagara Falls


Adirondack State Park, NY


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