More Fun In Prescott National Forest and Beautiful Views At Grand Canyon

We were glad that we decided to spend a couple of extra days at Lake Pleasant, near Phoenix.  After moving to the other side of the lake, we joined our friends Al and Ingrid for some fun happy hours and beautiful sunsets!  Check out their blog “LiveLaughRV” for some fun pics of our get-togethers.

Beautiful Lake Pleasant

Beautiful Lake Pleasant

We eventually tore ourselves away and headed up to Cottonwood in the Prescott National Forest.  We settled in to a *free* boondocking site on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) for a couple of weeks.

Dry-camping in Cottonwood, AZ

Dry-camping in Cottonwood, AZ

Sweeping views, including the red rocks of Sedona

Sweeping views, including the red rocks of Sedona

Enjoyed this view early one morning

Enjoyed this view early one morning

The last time we were in this area was during the government shut-down, so the National Monuments were closed to visitors.  This time we were able to tour the ruins at Tuzigoot National Monument.  This 2-3 story pueblo ruin had 110 rooms and was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400.  An interesting feature is that the rooms had very few doors.  Instead they used trapdoor openings in the roofs and ladders to enter each room.  We enjoyed touring the museum and reading all the history of this development.

A portion of the Tuzigoot National Monument

A portion of the Tuzigoot National Monument

We also visited the Montezuma Castle National Monument, one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.  Also built by the Sinaguan people around 700 AD.  Americans discovered this cliff dwelling in 1860 and named them incorrectly thinking that Montezuma had been connected to their construction.   When actually, the Sinaguan dwelling was abandoned in 1425 AD, 100 years before Montezuma was even born!  It is also not a castle at all.  It is more like a prehistoric high rise apartment complex, with multiple small rooms.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

We made a special trip to Sedona to buy a pair of hiking boots for Lucy.  Arizona has been rough on Lucy’s feet.  So many stickers!  And she licks and chews on her feet after every walk outside, so she is sensitive to something out there.  We thought we’d try the boots with her and see if that helps.  As expected, she hates them.  We’re hoping she can get used to them, but the jury is still out on whether this will work.  She didn’t even want to pose for this picture.

I think she hates us now.

I think she hates us now.

This is a 10-second video of Lucy’s new Clydesdale horse-style walk.

We were very excited that our friends John and Nancy (who live here in Cottonwood) would be joining us on the Verde Canyon Railroad Wilderness Train.

Enjoying the open-air car which adjoined our first-class seating car.

Enjoying the open-air car which adjoined our first-class seating car.

This is a 4 hour train ride that passes red rock pinnacles, Indian ruins, over trestles and through a 680-foot tunnel, as it travels through the beautiful canyon wilderness that follows the upper Verde River.

Verde Canyon Railroad Wilderness Train

Verde Canyon Railroad Wilderness Train

We saw eagles soaring overhead

We saw eagles soaring overhead

We had such fun on the train!  The views were amazing.  It was a beautiful day and we certainly enjoyed the additional amenities that came with our first class tickets.   The champagne, food, lounge style seating, aaaand more champagne!

Feeling really happy at the end of the train ride

Feeling really happy at the end of the train ride

We enjoyed getting together with John and Nancy a few more times during our stay in Cottonwood.

Nancy, John, Mike, Linda

Nancy, John, Mike, Linda

We also enjoyed hiking in Cottonwood, taking day trips to the cute little hillside town of Jerome and shopping in Sedona.  All of these places were written about and pictures posted in our last trip here a few months ago in October 2013 (click here to see).

Our Phoenix friends, Debbie and Dan, stopped by to check out our RV and see what this lifestyle is all about, on the way to their Prescott home.  The next day we drove to Prescott for a fun afternoon with Debbie and Dan at their beautiful mountain home.  Dan’s an impressive do-it-yourselfer.  They bought this house a couple of years ago, and we saw the before and after pictures of the projects they have completed and are currently working on.  Wish I had that kind of vision for remodeling.  Coupled with their impeccable taste, the results are amazing!  Then, we enjoyed margaritas and Mexican food at a cute little restaurant in historic downtown Prescott.  We are so lucky to have so many special friends in our lives!

Mike, Linda, Debbie, Dan in Prescott

Mike, Linda, Debbie, Dan in Prescott

Our next stop was Williams, AZ.  We made a reservation at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park.  We figured that we would want to go to a full hook-up RV park after spending over 2 weeks dry camping (or boondocking) without water, electricity, and sewer.  We chose this park because it is a Passport America park which gives us a 50% discount.  I don’t think we’ve ever paid full price at a private park.  We always use our Passport America membership for private parks.  However, our preference is to stay at National Parks or National Forest campgrounds, State Park campgrounds, regional park campgrounds, or BLM campsites because of the larger sites and natural settings.  Fortunately, our Senior Pass gives us half price at all National lands, and many State parks, too.

Williams was the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1984.  The town’s heritage features the Old West and Route 66 from the heyday years of the ’50s and ’60s.  It is also known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”.  The elevation here is 6,770 ft., so it is cold!  We weren’t thinking about the elevation when we booked it.  Brrrrr!  Good thing it is a full hook-up so we can set the thermostat on the heater at night.  We didn’t turn it on the first night we were here.  We ran the heater before bed, then turned it off when we turned out the lights.  When Mike got up in the morning, water that was left in a cup in the sink was frozen and no water came out of the faucet!  We’ve kept everything warmed up since then.

27 Williams entry

Strolling through Williams

Strolling through Williams

29 Route 66

We spent one day touring Flagstaff and walking all the streets in the historic district.  Enjoyed lunch on the patio of the historic Weatherford Hotel.  One might think that I would have had my fill of champagne after the Verde Canyon Train ride with John and Nancy, but noooooo.  I couldn’t resist ordering the Mimosa after seeing the people at the table next to us drinking them.

Lunch at Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff

Lunch at Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff

Historic Weatherford Hotel

Historic Weatherford Hotel

The last time we were in Williams, AZ was in 2007 when we took our grandchildren on a month-long RV vacation from California to Texas and back to California.  We called the excursion PAMOSA (Papa and Mamma’s Outstanding Summer Adventure) and even had t-shirts made for all of us.  The whole trip was completely focused on kid-friendly places and activities.  What a wonderful memory.  On that trip we took the Grand Canyon Railway to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  The train ride includes singing cowboys and a shoot em up train robbery by bandits on horseback.  It’s fun when you have kids with you.

However, this time we decided to drive our car to the Grand Canyon, which is about 50 miles from here.  Then we were able to do the 25-mile Desert View Drive, with its multiple scenic pullouts, along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It was a perfectly beautiful day and we were treated to breath-taking views all day long.

Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon South Rim

19 Grand Canyon

Scary close to the edge!  It made me dizzy!

Scary close to the edge! It made me dizzy!

Sun in my eyes

Sun in my eyes

We are now sitting out a VERY windy final couple of days here in Williams.  It’s been blowing consistently 25-35 mph, and gusting regularly over 50.  We decided to pull in our slides because we were worried about damage to the slide covers.  The wind was trying to turn them into parasails.

This is our regular amount of living space with the slides out and we watch the large screen TV

This is our regular amount of living space with the slides out and we watch the large screen TV.  Hahaha, I just noticed all Mike’s beer bottles on the table!  We must have just had company over before I took this picture.  Uh-huh.

Now we're all squeezed in and watching the little TV at the front because the slide covers up the big screen.

Now we’re all squeezed in and watching the little TV at the front because the slide covers up the big screen.

Now the weather report calls for snow showers tonight.  Yikes!

Rodeo in Tucson, Family and Friends in Phoenix

After departing Kartchner Caverns State Park, we moved over to Green Valley (south of Tucson) for a few days of fun.  We arrived on Valentines Day and decided to go out for dinner at the Cow Palace (sounds romantic, right?)  Actually, it was quite fun.  They had a country band, dance floor and good food in a saloon-style setting.  I shot a picture of the full moon from the car as we were driving to dinner.

Happy Valentine's Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

01 Full moon over Amado AZ

We were near the charming little town of Tubac, where we could hike the De Anza Trail from Tubac to Tumacacori where we visited the old mission remains.

Hiking the De Anza Trail to Tumacacori
Hiking the De Anza Trail to Tumacacori
Mission Church San Jose de Tumacacori
Mission Church San Jose de Tumacacori
This is how it looked back then
This is how it looked originally
And sadly, this is all that remains.
This is all that remains.

I’m writing and posting this blog update at my sister-in-law’s house because I’ve got internet access from here.  However, I don’t have my informational brochures with me right now, so I can’t pick off the interesting historical information about the places we’ve been recently.  Now I COULD just look up some details on the internet, but I’m just trying to get this done fast so I can pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to watch the Academy Awards with Diane!  History, schmistory!  On with the show!

OK, so we toured the Titan Missile Silo and Museum.  It was quite fascinating to see .. and scary.  I remember those days.  The air raid exercises in school, everyone building bomb shelters, all that stuff that is more frightening to me now than it was then.

06 Titan Missile Museum

Down in the missile silo
Down in the missile silo
The last remaining missile - preserved as a museum
The last remaining missile – preserved as a museum

We had a really fun day at the Tucson Rodeo.  My girlfriend Jane joined us.  Mike and Jane bought cowboy hats and they both looked so cute.  Wish I’d taken a picture of them.  I was just trying my darnest to get some good shots of the Rodeo action.  Jane actually got better pictures than I did, so I used some of her pics below, as well as some of mine.

Lots of great action at the Tucson Rodeo
Lots of great action at the Tucson Rodeo
Good stuff, that is!
Get some air!

Rodeo5

Buckin Bronco
Buckin Bronco
Ladies Barrel Riding
Ladies Barrel Riding

Rodeo3

The kids are in there, too!  So cute!
The kids are in there, too! So cute!
More kid stuff
More kid stuff
I wonder if he knew this wasn't going to work out well?
I wonder if he knew this wasn’t going to work out well?
Owww
Owww
Lots of shopping at dozens of booths around the arena
Lots of shopping at dozens of booths around the arena

We departed Tucson and headed up to the Phoenix area next.  First stop was a return to Lost Dutchman State Park.  We loved it last year and wanted to try the Siphon Draw hike one more time.  Could we make it to the top if we started earlier?  Let’s try it!

Towards to top, it just got tooooo steep for me.  I started to feel panicky!
Towards the top, it just got tooooo steep for me. I started to feel panicky!

We couldn’t do it.  We started to worry about Lucy slipping (good excuse, right?)  But the views were fantastic from where we turned around.

View from Siphon Draw Trail in the Superstition Mountains
View from Siphon Draw Trail in the Superstition Mountains
Another nice view half way back down the mountain
Another nice view half way back down the mountain

Next stop was a little closer to Mike’s sister Diane in Cave Creek.  Would have loved to stay at Cave Creek Regional Park again, but they are booked solid at this time of the year. So we stayed at the Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  That was still a 30-40 minute drive to her house!  Yikes, we’re really ‘out there’!

Lake Pleasant
Lake Pleasant
Hiking around Lake Pleasant
Hiking around Lake Pleasant

We stayed at Lake Pleasant for 12 days and that gave us lots of time to visit with the family and to see a few friends that we’ve been wanting to catch up with.

Mike escorts his Mom to the table.  She is always so happy to see him!
Mike escorts his Mom to the table. She is always so happy to see him!
Mike, Mom, and Diane
Mike, Mom, and Diane
No guilt filling up on sushi at the Sushi Station
No guilt filling up on sushi at the very affordable Sushi Station
Mom was craving some real Maine lobsta' (at the Salt Cellar Restaurant)
Mom was craving some real Maine lobsta’ (at the Salt Cellar Restaurant)
Dog Show in Scottsdale with Jane
Dog Show in Scottsdale with Jane

My girlfriend, Jane, is a champion Westie dog breeder.  She came up to Scottsdale (from Green Valley) to check out a very special male Westie.  This was my first dog show and it was fun!  I’d definitely attend another, the next time I have a chance.  Jane explained so much of what was happening.  It really helped me understand what the heck they were doing!

Dinner at Debbie and Dan's BEAUTIFUL home
Dinner at Debbie and Dan’s BEAUTIFUL home

We loved seeing Debbie and meeting Dan for the first time (even though they have been together for years).  Debbie and I worked together years ago and it was so fun to get together again!  Their home is absolutely gorgeous on one acre in Paradise Valley.  We dined outside on a terraced patio next to a massive outdoor fireplace, listening to the sound of their rock waterfall, cascading into the beautifully curved swimming pool, while Lucy frolicked on about a quarter acre of the greenest grass I’ve ever seen gently sloping down a hill that is called their backyard!  So, so pretty.  Debbie just retired a week ago (freedom!), so we are hoping that Debbie and Dan meet us again while we are up in Cottonwood.  They have another home in Prescott, so, hopefully they’ll spend a weekend up there in the next couple of weeks.

I haven't seen John in over 40 years!
I haven’t seen John in over 40 years!

John Hellman’s parents were close friends with my parents.  They used to live across the street from us.  I was his babysitter when I was a teenager!!  We recently reconnected via Facebook.  So it was fun to see each other again and share the stories of our lives.  Hey, Valarie .. John told me that you were his first crush!

Walking the dogs at Diane's.  This is what the street normally looks like.
Walking the dogs at Diane’s. This is what the street normally looks like.

This weekend dumped some heavy rain on Phoenix.  Last night we got hit with a hail storm!

After the rain and hail finally stopped!
After the rain and hail finally stopped!

And, now I’m going to try to insert a 10 second video of the hail coming down.  It was amazing!  I hope this works.

OK, that’s it.  We did lots of fun stuff with great friends and family.  We’re hoping to meet up tomorrow night with some fellow bloggers, “LiveLaughRV“, for sunset drinks before we head out the following morning for Cottonwood.  We enjoy getting together with Ingrid and Al and look forward to seeing where our travel plans merge this Spring!