So it was in to the Rover’s Roost SKP park in Casa Grande for a short maintenance stay. Again we passed up the opportunity to go check out Picacho Peak State Park, but we will eventually get there. We did squeeze in a run to the Casa Grande Nat’l Monument to see the Indian ruins there. The remains of a 4-story building are protected by a modern era metal roof. Entry into the structure is prohibited, but evidence of centuries old grafitti is visibly etched into the mud walls. They do have rangers and volunteers who provide narrated tours and programs, if you are so inclined, but we passed on those and toured on our own.
Clothes cleaned, tanks empty & water full, we set out for a spot on BLM property at the foot of Vulture Peak outside of the megalopolis of Wickenburg, AZ. We got set up with a great view of the peak and just a stone’s throw from the trailhead. The spring bloom was not quite ready, but the cholla’s were thicker than flies.
Our first activity was the hike up to the saddle between Vulture Peak and Sawtooth Ridge. Woody came with us but precluded us from doing the hand-over-foot climb at the end to the top of Vulture Peak. But the saddle hike was very scenic and quite the workout.
The next day we chose to take the Scenic Loop drive, mostly unmaintained county road where high clearance and 4-wheel drive helped out in a couple of spots. On one stretch of the road I spied another crested saguaro quite a ways down a gully and up the other side, just a little too much to try to hike to. Thankfully someone invented the zoom lens, I at least got a picture of it. We had some pretty good mountain views while we ate lunch, then near the end we happened across a small slot canyon that we let Woody explore. He tends to go crazy trying to chase the lizards, we worry he may find a rattler sooner or later.
There is another hike we found, leading up to a formation called Dana’s Arch. It was not a real big elevation change, but the hike was a good one, 4-5 miles round trip. Just after starting the hike, we encountered a small arch and got temporarily disappointed thinking we found it. Thankfully, the trail continued up the canyons and through some washes. We followed several trails and offshoots, some of which were marked, until we found the actual Dana’s Arch. The day was perfect for hiking, not too hot, clear skies, and no crowds (we were alone the whole day).
On our last day of activities we took the 35 mile scenic drive over Castle Hot Springs Rd. The rich and famous use to cavort at Castle Hot Springs Resort, like Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and JFK, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, as well as big business figures. The resort has long since closed and is currently fenced off and in need of repairs (aka: kind of an eyesore), but the drive takes you right on by as you drive through the riverbed. There were some pretty amazing views over mountains and canyons full of green, even though most of it was cacti.
After 5 nights of boonies, it was time to lift jacks and head in for laundry, tanks, and general preparation for the daughter and grandchild’s arrival by air in the next few days. North Ranch, another SKP park in Congress, AZ, suited those needs. We did squeeze in one little jaunt to the Pioneer Cemetery to see some of the old grave sites, many unmarked. And while here at the SKP park I learned that crested cacti are not limited to saguaros and organ pipes. The park has an extensive cacti garden, as well as many scattered about the park sites. The monstro cactus does get crested and quite more frequently than the saguaros. And the boxing glove cholla appears to always become crested. Not being a rocket scientist, I would venture a guess that the cresting of the boxing glove cholla is what gives it it’s name – the growths kind of resemble boxing gloves! Sometimes I just amaze myself…Once our chores were completed, we headed back to the big city (Phoenix area, yuck!) to chase the grandchild around at Spring Training.
We chose McDowell Mountain Regional Park on the northwest side of nowhere (outside of Fountain Hills) as our home for our time there. The park is OK, water and 50A electric, with a dump site near the front of the campground. We did have a rough time trying to get level at our reserved space and after a half hour of monkeying around unsuccessfully, we hit the office up for another site. The park was full at the time, but we were able to change sites to a more level one, albeit for a $5 extortion fee. The main problem with this park was we were 40 miles from anywhere we needed to go, except for the Fountain Hills area. We got settled in, picked up Jenn and the Gladiator at the airport, then commenced to have a good time with them. The park had a nice play area for kids which Max really enjoyed, particularly the snake slide and climbing the spider web. And we got a visit by one of the locals…a speckled rattlesnake set up in our “front yard”. The camp hosts came down and helped us out with a little “witness relocation” for our visitor.
We picked 2 Giants home games to go see, the Rangers and the Dodgers. Max brought a few baseballs and he got a few autographs after the Dodgers game, most notably Matt Cain.
While we were here, my former boss and his wife, Dave and Jane, popped in for a visit. They just happened to be camped out at Usery Park, another regional park in the area. We had a nice visit catching up on things. And before Jenn and Max had to leave, we got them out on a short hike at Papago Park in Phoenix. It is a popular park with some nice rock formations and paths/trails for hiking, biking, & jogging.
But, alas, visits always end, that’s the nature of visits. We said a tearful goodbye to Jenn and Max and set about our next relocation. Jacks up, time to head into Prescott, AZ. We wanted to check that area out a little better than before as a possible landing zone for when we retire from the road.
Jeanne found the Point of Rocks RV Park for our new home. Hookups allowed us to do our chores and the park is next to Watson Lake, which has some very nice hiking trails around it. We took Woody on the Watson Lake Loop trail, which was about 5 miles total. Very scenic, especially if you do the Over the Hill part of the trail which takes you in and among the various rock formations as you circle the lake.
Well, it’s time to work on our taxes (blah!) now. Hopefully, we will be able to finish with time for maybe one more hike or sight-seeing jaunt. Until next post…