Sunday, March 23, 2014

Scenic Mountain Vistas

Buckhorn and Garfias Mountains in the distant
We couldn’t resist the spectacular off-road trip in search of Arizona’s “first resort”, Castle Hot Springs, located 14 miles SE from Wickenburg.  A very popular spot in the 1800’s, this 210-acre resort was a popular destination for people wanting to escape Phoenix until a fire destroyed the main building in 1976.  We’ve read that this natural hot springs still produces 180,000 gallons of 118-degree water a day.  It’s was disappointing that we couldn’t access the original site, but the trek in search of it was spectacular.  The mountain vistas and wildlife was something that you don’t see every day – all viewed from a dirt road that made you feel like you were the only person on the planet.  How awesome is that?

Mojave Rattlesnake that greeted us at the start!

Wild burro's checking us out.
Some unique turns in the road.

Free range cattle in the valley
Large number of Saguaro cacti.

Look close and you can see the dirt road to the left.

The winding road keeps going.

Rock formations with lots of green.

View of Lake Pleasant in the distance.

Talk about getting up in the sky as high as 5900 feet in elevation - with breathtaking scenery.  This is exactly what we experienced as we set off on our trip to Sedona which took us through the mountain towns of Yarnell, Prescott, Jerome, Cottonwood and others before arriving at the red rock “playground”.  Getting there was the challenge with lots of hairpin turns that those of us in RV’s don’t want to see and shouldn’t be on.  Taking this route instead of the interstate is definitely a “no-no” for an RV of any size.  Although, we did see a 45 ft. motorhome (with toad) thinking that they were absolutely crazy.
From Congress we start climbing.

At this point we see Congress way below us

Next stop, Yarnell where we stopped at a Bakery.

Town of Prescott
Leaving Prescott area for the vistas in the background.

As you’re driving you enter the Prescott National Forest (1.25 million acres) which borders three other National Forests.  At the lowest elevation you’ll see vegetation of the Sonoran Desert type but as you begin to climb higher, chaparral, pinion pine and Ponderosa pine pretty much take up the landscape of these majestic hills.  We forge onward with Jeff at the wheel (is this white-knuckle driving?) and Kay trying to take some awesome photos.

Just imagine miles of these Pinion Pine trees everywhere.

See the road below?  We were there and climbing!

We definitely see a lot of green at this high elevation.

This car passed us (bad car!)

Simply beautiful!

Starting the descent into Jerome, Arizona

Homes situated below the main town of Jerome
Outside of Cottonwood, we finally see the red rock.

Our Sedona moment finally arrived after driving 110 miles (a little over 2 hours) when we see red rock in the distant.  At an elevation of 4500 feet Sedona is split almost evenly between privately owned real estate and the Coconino National Forest.  We stopped to get a map for suggestions of what to see with the Jeep and then decided to do a good hike and drive the Red Rock Scenic Loop Road before we started the trek back to Congress (via the Interstate, this time!)

Magnificent Red Rock everywhere!

Parked near Airport Loop -  ready to hike!
 The sweeping red rock vistas were breathtaking.  Rock formations named after very worldly items such as Coffeepot, Cathedral, Sphinx and Snoopy (to name a few) is definitely in the eye of the beholder.  Some of the rock formations we observed when we hiked the Airport Loop Trail (approx. 3.25 miles around).  Taking photographs on the south side of this narrow trail was a little of a challenge due to the path being rocky.  In some areas an added feature - steep drop offs!  Yikes!!!  We definitely agree that the challenge level was for the moderate hiker.  All in all, we would highly recommend this hike for the beautiful vistas.  You definitely feel small in this big picture.

A view to the south on the trail.
Large Cypress trees along the edge.

A view of the rock to the north
We took turns following each other!

Path structures were rocky to smooth.

Leave it up to us to find flowers up here!

As our stay at North Ranch comes to a close, we had to check out the home made pie at the Mercantile in Congress.  Then, after we had our desert first, we decided to put in a take-out order for their nachos.  Delicious!!!

Pecan & Apple were eaten (sorry, no pictures!)

Jeff getting ready to devour the goodies!

(l-r) Steve (from WA), Rebecca (from CO) and Jeff

We definitely will return at another time in our travels.  We met new friends and have many good memories of this beautiful place in America! 

Hugs to all ~ Kay & Jeff

Travel Update:  We will be leaving North Ranch on 3/24 heading to the Lost Dutchman State Park outside of Apache Junction, Arizona.  We have reservations at the SP and will enjoy meeting up with relatives who winter in Apache Junction.  Our next adventure just could be Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeast Arizona.  At an elevation of 5000-6000 ft it's still a little chilly!  We have to start thinking about the trek home at some point, don’t we?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Top Ten Western Town

Escapee's RV Park
 Sometimes it’s nice not being on the go.  I guess you could call it a time to refresh.  This is exactly what we are doing at the Escapee’s RV Park at North Ranch in Congress, Arizona.  (We have been members of this RV club for about 6 years.)  The Park is about 6 miles from the town of Wickenburg where most of the action is in terms of restaurants, shops and museums.  We travel into the town of Congress to only pick up our General Delivery mail.  Here at the Park, being able to play catch up on laundry (and at a reasonable price) is always good as well as being plugged in to electric and water . . . so nice!  A time to meet your neighbors - who you hope can be a good source of information when needed.
Settled in at North Ranch. . .ahhhhhh
In this case, Jeff’s questions about our new piece of equipment that we are now “dragging” around with us (also known as the "Dish" satellite) has been quite the challenge for us novice users.  (Do we really need TV???) We broke down four days before the Olympics were over to sign on the dotted line for what they say is “endless entertainment”.  Do we have that yet?  Well, not exactly.  It’s pretty sporadic with us newbies so we have to pick someone’s brain, don’t we?

This was the case with our neighbor right next to us here in the park, Rebecca, from Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  What a delight to meet Rebecca and her two dogs, Cola (chocolate lab) and Sadie (black lab).  Her horse trailer with combined living space definitely told us that we would get along perfectly, having owned horses too.  So, with information in hand regarding how she works her Dish – and also the use of her satellite finder – we felt that we might have this under control.

(l-r) Tiger, Rebecca and Ferrari
Rebecca has a total of 12 horses, all dressage.  Currently, she boards two of her horses in Wickenburg (about 6 miles from the Park) named, Ferrari and Tiger.  Their breed is called warm bloods, originating from Europe.  We quickly asked if we could accompany her on one of her visits to see the horses.  Guess what we got to do?  Help with cleaning up the stalls, getting fresh water and the best was brushing their coats.  Did we like it?  You bet! 

Jeff enjoying the moment!

Kay finishing up on the grooming responsibilities!
We definitely didn’t think that we would be in the midst of horses so many miles from home.  The area around Wickenburg is definitely Cowboy/Cowgirl country - ranches complete with horse facilities, lots of horse trailers coming and here you gotta love "horse country".  Team roping is the "thing" to do around here and hopefully we can get to see some competition from the locals before we have to leave this area.
Steers are ready for roping by the Cowboys
Everywhere you look. . .horses. . .horses!!!
And, now for the cultural side of things here in Wickenburg.  A tour of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum was so much fun, strolling through special exhibit rooms, street scenes and an superb collection of Western art that we have ever seen in one place.  Add to that being accompanied by our friends from Alberta, Chuck and Sheila and you have the most awesome of days.  C&S drove in from Quartzsite to tour the museum with us and have lunch (and for us to play catch-up with what the other has been doing) before we all start the trek homeward.

Metal Sculpture outside of their Learning Center

Awesome horses!
The Cowboy's Cryptic Alphabet - see anything you like?
Tiled landscape greets you at the entrance of the museum

The landscape here is beautiful - quite different from Organ Pipe National Monument.
In the distant, Vulture Peak
Wickenburg has a "crested" Saguro - awesome!

The below photo is in memory of the 19 firefighters from this area who lost their lives in Yarnell (approx. 30 miles from where we are).  Do you remember these very brave men? 
Can't wait to share with you on our next blog the Jeep trip we took just recently.  We have a dirty/dusty Jeep once again, but Oh, what a fabulous day it was.  We now have to decide which photos to share with you so Kay had better get to work!

Hugs to all ~ Kay & Jeff

Travel Recap:  Everyone here at North Ranch RV Park is absolutely wonderful – staff and new friends that we have met – that we extended our stay for another 7 nights.  We will head Down the Open Road on 3/24 to the Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix), where we have a reservation for 4 nights.  You can be sure that we will take some great Jeep trips in the Superstition Mountain area.  Also, we will finally spend some quality time with Jeff’s cousin, Carol and her husband, Dale who live in Apache Junction during the winter.