Christmas tends to be a very quiet time in the business. Unfortunately, it was even more so than most years. It usually provides a rare opportunity for Corinne and I to get away with relatively few day-to-day pressures. That wasn’t so much the case this year but we still managed to get away.
The goals of the trip were to find warmer weather, great hiking and play a little golf. We managed to find some great hiking and play a little golf but it was a cold Christmas and New Year in the southwestern desert.
We purchased a used 29 foot Recreational Vehicle (RV) last Christmas. We had a great time learning the ins and outs of RVing. This year we replaced the RV with a slightly larger, albeit older “diesel pusher”. The one up side of the economic depression is that there are some absolutely great deals to be had by those that have a little cash in their jeans. We took delivery of our new (1997) almost never been used Country Coach on day before Christmas Eve. Shawn immediately took the opportunity to bash it into a wall at an entrance arch into a campground. Yep, $23,0000 damage in the first hour. Shawn was devastated. We were pretty sure our trip was off. However, to our surprise a local RV body shop was working on Christmas Eve and happened to be the favorite (turns out these guys are the only) body ship for RV’s according to our insurance company. They agreed to assess the damage and help us to a piece of plywood over the bashed in rear port (that’s left for you non-boaters) window. It turns out we were going to be able to get away despite the bad beginning.
We were off the next morning, Christmas Day! Our ultimate destination was a large Arizona (AZ) State Park just outside of Tucson. Christmas day we drove from Las Vegas to Wikieup, AZ. There is not much in Wikieup but two pretty nice RV parks. We stayed at the Hidden Oasis RV Park, which is the more rustic of the two. It had the advantage that it bordered a couple thousand acres of BLM land. That afternoon we took Prince for a longish walk up the washes on the BLM land to a rock outcrop overlooking the valley. It was really beautiful.
Wikieup is at the northern edge of the Sonora Desert. It is also at the northern edge of the saguaro cactus that is famous from all the old westerns. These cacti are huge and tend to grow in colonies of long straight lines that give the desert a strange stretched look. This is especially true when the sun is beginning to set and the long shadows stretching away for the cactus enhance the effect.
The number and variety of the scat that we found in the wash impressed Prince (bunnies, coyotes, cows, squirrels, deer, etc.). In Prince’s world they are all “mouses”, except coyotes, which are called “Wiley” after Wiley E. Coyote of cartoon fame. We actually ran into a coyotes walking back to the camp. Prince gave chase. Fortunately, Prince is getting a little older and slower and doesn’t chase as far as he used to do!
The next morning we were up early and out for another walk. Then we head off to the outskirts of Phoenix. We stopped in Buckeye, AZ. This was the only disappointment during the entire trip. The Woodall’s campground guide gave the impression that golf and great hiking were nearby. They were close if you had a car but otherwise the advertised activities were a little too far to walk. So we made the best of things and spent the late afternoon walking around the park.
The next stop was Catalina State Park located just outside of Tucson. This was a combination wilderness hiking and horseback-riding park. These are the type of trails that balance the challenge and length that we all like. They also tend to be under populated which means that despite leash regulation Prince gets to do some off-leash backcountry hiking. We walked part of the 8-mile loop trail in the afternoon and then did the entire loop the next day. It was one of the longer and more physically difficult hikes that we had done in a number of years. There was a very significant elevation gain. The backside of the hike had a “rock” road that was particularly dangerous with its ankle twisting boulders. The difficulty gave the completion of the trail a feeling of accomplishment. We all slept well that night.
The next morning we were off to Yuma. We were still looking for warmer weather. The days had been mostly cold and cloudy and we were ready for a nice day or two. We decided to stay at the Cocopah RV Resort. It advertised an 18-hole golf course and dog park. The park is located on an Indian Reservation. It was very well run and had the amenities as advertised. It worked out well for Corinne and I, as we got to play golf. However, Prince felt the dog park was not to his liking and disapproved of the limited number and duration of the walks.
The weather improved significantly during our stay. It was possible to play gold in short-sleeves shirts until the late afternoon as the sun was setting. However, while in Yuma, we had an earthquake that was reported to have started just south of Yuma in Mexico. It measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and really shook things up.
The next day we started to head north toward Las Vegas. We drove north along the Colorado River. This is a beautiful drive. The road meanders back and forth through farming country (pecans and vegetables), hard desert and eventually along the river.
Our next stop was La Paz County Park just north of Parker, AZ. We were surprised how large and spread out the park was. Although, it did not have great hiking, the gravel roads and beachfront sidewalks inside park trail provide a couple miles of walking with at least half meandering along the river. Prince was allowed to swim in the river and had a great time playing and wading in the water. On Saturday morning there was a flea market. We walked through it before the crowds showed up and picked up a few things for the RV.
We also got a chance to play 9-holes at the golf course across the street from the county park. The course was beautiful and very challenging. Unfortunately, they had too many players on the course and it took nearly 5 hours to play 9-holes. Furthermore, after a beautiful start to the day, it started to cloud over and get quite cool in the afternoon.
The next and last stop was in Davis Camp in Bullhead City, AZ. This is another county run park. It was also quite spread out. However, this park had a wonderful little forest of tamarisk trees that provided lots of excellent hiking and “mouse” hunting for Prince. Since it was along the river, it also gave Prince lots of opportunities to play and wade in the water.
All in all, it was a good trip. The weather was a little disappointing but we did get lots of exercise, found some new parks and hiking trails. We also played a little golf. This added a new and interesting dimension to our RV experience.
The following link will take you to a Google/Picasa photo album of a few pictures from our trip –