Sunday, November 29, 2015

White Tank Park-Black Canyon Loop Tail

11/25/2015.  Wednesday.  Another cool morning and overcast.  Six of us including Joe, the leader, headed West of town this time to White Tank Park at the base of the White Tank mountain range, about 15 mils away.  The White Tank Mountain Regional Park encompasses 29,271 acres of desert and mountain landscape, it is the largest regional park in the county.  Opened in 2010 and located at the park's entrance, is the White Tank Library & Nature Center that features views of the park plus live native reptiles, information center, and gift shop.  There are several picnic and campground areas.  The AZ regional parks are fee paid areas and you can also buy a yearly pass per car that saves on the entrance fee, so several hikers from the park have a pass. 

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The park is better renowned for its extensive network of 26 miles of hiking trails.  Only six of us made the hike this time for the 4 mile Black Canyon Loop Trail.  Joe called us “Joe’s Hiking Harem” since he was the only male!

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It started off cloudy but then the clouds started breaking up and we began to see some nice blue sky.  It sure made for some nice pictures.  This hike was far more scenic than the one on Monday. 

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It finally warmed up enough for us to take our jackets off, especially with Joe just taking off down the trail!  Gosh, but it was pretty out there and pictures really don’t do it justice.

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Joe just wanted to make sure his “harem” was headed in the right direction when we came upon these 2 cowboys heading out onto the trail from the While Tank Stables next to the trail and the park.  Loved it!  Found some real cowboys!  I got to pet the horses.  The cowboy in the second picture convinced me I could ride, so 3 of us gals are going to go for it!  I will let you know if I chicken out! The ladies that want to go are a bit older than I am, so I can’t let them show me up!  I love the second picture because the background is so pretty that it almost looks like a backdrop instead of being real.    

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We finished the scenic loop hike under the warm pretty sky. 

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We had a great morning and were back home before noon. 

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Lost Burro Trail at Lake Pleasant-1st Hike of the Season in Surprise, AZ

11/23/2015. Monday.  I’m back and at it again!  Oh, boy!  I was really looking forward to joining the hiking group here at the park.  I was a little worried that the scenery might not be as pretty as it was in Tucson since some of the mountains are not that close.  I was not disappointed!  It is just as scenic and our small group of hikers headed out to Lake Pleasant.  This group hikes twice a week! Whew!  Sure hope I can keep up.  The leader is tall and has long legs, likes a faster pace, so he really moves!  Everyone knows I love taking pictures of scenery so I am getting really good at taking pictures on the run! 

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Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a large outdoor recreation area straddling the Maricopa & Yavapai border northwest of Phoenix, and is a major recreation area for the Phoenix metropolitan area.   The morning was a little chilly and warmed up quickly.  There were only 7 of us.  We left the park at 8:00 AM for about a 20 minute drive to the park.  All the hikers I met were very nice. 

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The cornerstone of the park is the 10,000 acre lake, created by the Waddell  Dam, the largest agricultural dam project in the world. The lake was filled by the Agua Fria River, capturing a large watershed throughout Yavapai County. Lake Pleasant is used as a major water sports recreation center.  A number of boat docks and beach access make the lake a popular destination for water sports, plus there are a couple of campgrounds.  There is a big resort out there as well, but we didn’t see any of it from where we were.  Our trail took us around this end arm of the lake. 

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Break time!  A nice hike to start getting into shape for some of the longer hikes ahead.  This one was in and back out for a total of 4.5 miles.  I don’t like hats (except my cowgirl hat) but that old nasty thing called A-G-E has given age spots a new host!  I do worry about so much AZ sun, so I have resorted to a hat to protect my face and neck.  I just tell everyone I am the trail guide and looking for a new safari to lead! 

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Surprise, AZ, Our Winter Home For the Next 5 Months

11/15/2015 until 4/15/2016The morning was overcast so the drive through the mountains towards Surprise didn’t give me the opportunity for very good pictures. We have made the drive before so these are scenes from last fall as we headed to Tucson from Camp Verde.  It really is a pretty drive as you begin to see the Saguaro Cactus. 

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Surprise is a city in Maricopa County in AZ and is the second fastest-expanding municipality in the greater Phoenix area.  The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much".  Although there were only a few houses and a gas station on the one-mile -square parcel of land when it was subdivided to build inexpensive houses for agricultural workers, Surprise has experienced tremendous growth in the years since.  It incorporated into a city in 1960.  Even now in 2015, the whole place is just exploding with development!  There is a huge enclosed mall and most of the chain stores and restaurants you would find in any other larger town.  Unfortunately, excessive traffic came with it!

This is our first stay at Happy Trails Resort.  We visited friends in the park last Spring and decided to stay here this year after the crime we experienced in Tucson last winter.  The first question we asked at the gate was about the security.  We were very pleased with the answer.  The park is very large, very well landscaped and maintained, and also has a golf course. 

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The “Town Center” is located in the middle of the park and includes several buildings.  It has the usual library, post office, several craft rooms, and activity office for upcoming entertainment in the ball room.  I also like the fact that the park has its own church services in the ball room.  The park has its own little restaurant with really cheap prices for breakfast and lunch cooked and served by folks here in the park.  

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In this resort, people own their lot and have built RV ports and/or park models and AZ rooms. We like the idea that just about all the sites do have RV ports over most of the site area to protect your RV from the AZ sun and offer some nice shade.  I picked our site from the on-line rental listing with picture and thought I was getting a pretty easy site to get into.  Boy, was I fooled!  Doug said it was the hardest back-up job he has ever had to do!  The RV posts were closer together than we thought.  I sure was glad our friends were here and watched one side of the RV while I watched the other and Doug had to maneuver close to one post while watching the structure supporting the RV port roof.  But at 37’, we got in.  Then we had to move back and forth so we could let out our 4 slides between all the other support posts.  Whew, I was glad that was over with!  But, our relief was short lived.  Our friend said he saw something dripping from under the truck.  Sure enough we had an oil leak! How long we had it, we didn’t have a clue.  So even before we got all set up, we had to put a pad down on the driveway to catch the oil until we could find a Dodge dealership for the repair.  So in the picture below you see our rental car that we had for a full week. Thank goodness it was a free rental!

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Even the resident Hummingbird helped us park.  I think he was telling us the first thing we needed to do was put he feeder out!  The couple behind us have the back of their motorhome painted with a scene.  Funny, after I hung the feeder, it looked like the feeder was intentionally placed in front of the mountain scene that could be anywhere. 

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We feel we made the right decision.  Everyone that we have met has been so nice and we have already had our first “street party”.  We met more nice folks that we will be getting together with over the winter.  We like the security and they patrol 24/7.  The park is surrounded by nice neighborhoods witch add to the feeling of safety.  We don’t even have to lock our doors or lock up our bikes (after ours were stolen in Tucson).  I think our stay will be enjoyable.   

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gorgeous Sedona and Red Rock Country

11/12-13/2015,  Thursday & Friday.  Sedona, the land of soaring red rock monoliths in a mesmerizing geological wonderland.  On the list of Most Beautiful Places In America, Sedona is number 1, and we can see why.  We have been before and my last post on Sedona was in the Spring when I took the overnight hiking trip with the group from our park in Tucson.  Since Sedona was only 30 miles away from Camp Verde, we just couldn’t resist the chance to go.  So we went twice!  Even as you get closer to Sedona through Oak Creek from the South, the scenery just jumps out there to awe you. 

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The first day, we got up early and had breakfast at the Teapot CafĂ© in downtown Sedona.  We had eaten there before many years ago and the food was good!  Sure is popular because the place was packed.  Of course, it seems that Sedona is always that way after becoming a real tourist trap.  I think it is that way all year around.  We managed to be lucky enough to grab a parking spot right on the main street.  Doug was so sweet as he waited for me to look for an item I couldn’t find in Albuquerque Old Town.  Mission accomplished! That was after finding it in the very last store I went in after going up and down both sides of the street.  Guess I should have started at the other end! 

The day was just beautiful, so we took a short 6 mile drive up Oak Creek Canyon to Slide Rock.  It is a state park with picnic area and people hike down to the river to swim.  It is a nice setting but  Slide Rock is a fee pay area and at a $10 entrance fee, it  was just too much for such a short visit.  So we turned around and headed home.

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The drive goes further up the canyon to a higher overlook, but we had been up there twice on previous trips.  The sky was so blue and just really showed off the contrasting colors of the rock canyon walls along the drive. In the first photo, can you spot the dragonfly?

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The next day was also gorgeous, so Doug said he wanted to go as far as oak Creek and Bell Rock and do a little hiking.  It was a cool morning so just right for a hike.  We parked at Bell Rock for our first of 2 hikes. If you want to hike in the area, you better get there early!  We were parked before 9 A,M. and when we finished our short hike, the parking lot was completely full.  Even after hiking the same area in the Spring, the scenery from the trail was just as awesome as it was then.  The colored rock formations are just so striking!  Believe me, it was difficult to chose which pictures to use out of the 100 I took! 

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We knew there was a nice view of the valley from the airport on top of a mountain, so we drove up there to see it again.  Still a great view!

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Our second hike was just a real short one part of the way up the trail to Cathedral Rock not far from Bell Rock.  The parking there was even worse.  The small parking lot was full, and we saw that people were having to park all along the road and right far away from the trailhead.  We drove past then turned around.  We tried our luck in the trailhead parking and caught a spot just as someone was pulling out.  Others were still driving around and around waiting for someone to leave.  Cathedral rock is the icon of Sedona (2nd picture at the to).  You see it on many postcards and on front of the travel brochures.  We were facing into the sun so some of the pictures had a glare, but still a nice walk through the landscape. 

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What a fantastic 2 days we had in Sedona.  Both were just picture perfect!  We would return in a heartbeat!