July 15 – 17
(16th 9:10 pm)
Oh friends… Cindy, Tom & Thayer, Max, Freddie, Mahala and all the dear hearts who follow us… I so wish you were here. I just broke off and came inside to try to describe to you the mesmerizing skyline surrounding us tonight.
Let me set the scene. It’s deep dark out. There is no sound. There is a high cloud layer thick enough to block the moon that extends for miles around this basin we are in (Scottsdale, AZ).
Imagine the Northern Lights but, not.
This is a true desert light show. My dad, Jack, called it sheet lightening and we would sit out in lawn chairs at our funky fishing “lodge” in Wildhorse, Nevada, to watch. The adults getting more inebriated and the kids falling asleep gradually as the show went late into the night.
In a wide arc – in the sky above, north to northeast and to the northwest – of us lightening, not the jaggedy kind but huge sheets up so high they are unseen, lights the upper atmosphere. Wild snaps dance around the horizon brightening miles wide swaths of sky to dusk levels of light. The hidden moon is illuminated, the towering clouds are illuminated, and the mountains are shot in sharp definition. There is color. A sunset orange tone, lavender and pale pink, white and an almost blue color fly above the clouds.
It’s as if light is dancing, the earth her willing partner. I wish you were here to be captivated. I imagine your eyes darting around and above to try to find the prettiest sight. You would sigh and wonder at the incomprehensibility.
15 July, Back to Reality:
This day was stressful! From Roper Lake State Park, we headed up 70 through Geronimo, Bylas and Peridot to Globe, turned down 60 and made our way to Fort McDowell, AZ to a commercial RV park – Eagle View RV Resort. We drove through several tribal lands and, though the map neglects to mention it, up the mountains and down again. I will say the road was (mostly) new and (mostly) had reasonable passing lanes to let cars pass slower vehicles on the uphills.
On the 7% grade downhills – yes, 7% look find out what that means to a vehicle weighing around 20k – please, because we sure found out!!! On the downhills, there were no passing lanes and the cars LINED UP behind us. Deal is, Barb had to gear way, way, way down and use engine braking (thank you, Workhorse engine) to keep us from hurtling down the mountains. We went slowly and pulled into runaway truck lanes to cool the brakes and let folks pass. At one point we unhooked the car so that weight wouldn’t be pushing us. Ironically, we were near the end of the downhill when we finally did that…
[9:52 on 16 July: The storm from the skies has finally reached us. Rain. There is quite a wild lightshow and the wind is intermittently rocking the RV now. Barb says… Monsoon Season in the desert! .]
As soon as we got out of the Mountains (elevations over 3000’), around Apache Junction, the big city traffic and roadways took over. Good reminder for us of why we are enjoying smaller highways!
We made it to the park, registered in the pleasant reception and ‘clubhouse’ area and went to our site. Our site had a spindly tree behind the RV. The park is mostly asphalt with some rock divider areas planted with cacti. There is a very small pool, a clean laundry and a fitness room I had no time to visit.
As soon as we got hooked up we took off to visit Scottsdale’s newest museum: Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Spirit Museum Link
The Museum is a LEED Gold Certified Eco-friendly building design and houses the most amazing collection of Cowboy, Trapper and settling of the West ART. The Museum is currently showing: “The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History”; “Of Spirit and Flame: John Coleman Bronzes from the collection of Frankie and Howard Alper”; and the ongoing exhibition of “The Abe Hayes Family: Spirit of the West Collection”.
We tried out the horse painting that ran from wall to floor – not bad!
If you are in the area, this is a spot that you must visit. The building is gorgeous and located near Old Town Scottsdale. The collections made me feel as if I were born in the wrong era and yet… glad I was born in the time of Cowboy Movies. Rennard Strickland’s collection was amazing – from billboard to postcard sized movie posters and broadsides. From chaps and spurs to sculptures and fine art, this museum shows you the West.
Another museum we visited was MIM: The Museum of Musical Instruments. I expected to be disappointed, mostly because I’d visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels, Belgium. We didn’t have much time because it was our last day, so we got there when they opened. We still did not have enough time! This is a fabulous museum with free headphones, they come on when you stand in front of a screen that shows the instruments in any given display being played. People sing, drums beat, people dance and watchers just can’t hold still! About MIM
Being Frank Lloyd Wright fans, no visit to Scottsdale would make any sense without a trip to and tour of Taliesin West (pronounced Tally-essin) Wright’s winter home and school. Both of us were captivated by how Wright used the mountains and lands to create this very modern community where the outside is constantly brought inside. Five of his original students along with a cadre of current students continue living and working at Taliesin. Contemporary art from furnishings to the walls, the architect worked on the property constantly until his death. At first, there was no glass but as Wright stayed longer each year, the canvas curtains were replaced – which did nothing to ruin the invitation of the outside to the inside. As the two of us reflected on our experience at Taliesin, we drew parallels between Wright’s work and that of a later contemporary artist, Donald Judd. Furnishings especially reminded us of those Judd made and as we read the Interpretive Guide, we found that Wright had influenced Judd.
We went to see Barb’s Aunt Ginny twice a day and very much enjoyed being with her. Though she is 97 and her memory is a little like swiss cheese, reminiscing was no problem. She and Barb had so much to talk about! She remembered me the third time we visited, no mean feat that! I enjoyed watching her mannerisms and hearing her speak – so much like Barb’s mom, Kay. Aunt Ginny seemed to enjoy the visits and asked the staff what could have delayed us one day for our second visit.
We also did a bunch of grocery shopping etc. and had a pretty darn good meal at a local brewery: O.H.S.O. Distillery and Brewery. The beer though shot this place out of the park.
One night we fell into a little local place, Saba’s Mediterranean Kitchen for dinner. A tiny restaurant that serves delectable food – Greek mostly. There was one server who showcased the Greek Flaming Cheese presentation – wowzers! We had George’s Caprese (5 stacks of mozzarella and basil) and George’s Spanakopita which was the traditional spinach pie smothered in the restaurants Avgolemono soup (sauce). Both were memorable. Jared was a great server! Saba’s Link!
Interesting town and we would love to come back for another visit with Aunt Ginny!
From Scottsdale (in a valley at 1248’), we went to Congress, AZ, via US 60 and SR 89. Climbing up and over to end up in another valley at 3314’.
Why would we do that? Well, Congress is kind of in the middle of nothing… BUT! The Escapees have a park there – North Ranch Escapee’s Park. At the park is Weighmaster Ron James! Ron is an amazon.com author who writes about his cat (who is a butterscotch cat, but believes he is solid gold). We stayed the night, washed the Caliche off our rig and got weighed! Wheel by wheel both the RV and the tow vehicle. Ron gave us a GOLD STAR! We are underweight for our chassis, don’t pull too much weight and have the tiniest bit of shifting from side to side to do. Huzzah! Smart Weigh by Escapees
Weigh in completed we headed for Dead Horse State Park, AZ. The roads were good – we headed on SR 74 to I-17 and then up to Cottonwood, AZ. Barb is loving the mountains but I loved being close to Red Rock Country: Sedona.
We took a day for Sedona. First, the views are amazing and the colors mind blowing.
We drove to the trailhead for Boynton Canyon early. This is a 5.8 mile (RT) hike, with a 400’ gain in elevation – the first part runs along the “Enchantment Resort” which was NOT enchanting. After about 1.5 miles, you get to silence. No car noise, no beeps, no people talking. Hawks were playing in the sky above us, between the red rock spires and slopes, deer fed along the trail (nonplussed by us human’s huffing our way along, and we walked into a forest). Cool breezes blew the heat from our bodies and the silence. Heaven.
Fwop-Fwop-Fwop-Fwop-Fwop… You know what that means! Helicopter. Right over head. I was incredulous. Tourist’s who don’t want to hike, I guess, just hire a noisy machine to help them see? Urk!
The hike was lovely. Several times on the way in and out I felt super-energized, light weight and moving (despite the sweat and heat) was easy. There were two places though, that I felt like my feet were lead, I needed a nap and almost fell asleep while I walked… go figure. Maybe vortex energy? Anyone care to weigh in on that idea?
After the hike, we consumed ten tons of water and our remaining food (which we had left in the car) and headed to the Amhitaba Stupa Peace Park in Sedona. It was lovely, quiet – nobody there but us for a while – and though I was exhausted, I felt energized when we left. My feet even stopped hurting! We walked the traditional three turns around the Stupa praying for compassion and healing for all beings. I prayed that the folks leading this country are infused with compassion that pushes out all greed. I prayed for Cindy and for Aunt Ginny and for Erin and the baby, healing and love.
Since we were there, we looked for somewhere to eat lunch and settled on ChocolaTree. Who could resist that name? Turns out it was a very interesting place to eat. Not only was everything organic, GF, mostly raw, and live but much of the menu was available to buy to take away. Please, go to their site and read their story – it involves cacao growing and a chocolatier. Interesting read on Chocolatree.
We could easily return to Sedona and Cottonwood to check out all the wineries (yes, Verde Valley Wine Region) and enjoy gorgeous Dead Horse State Park on the Verde River. So much to see there and walks to take! Luckily we have TwoGalsGo to remind us of places we must return.
Today – what day is it anyway…. checking… Oh 21 July! Wow, how did that time pass so quickly.
Today we drove through Cornville, AZ to I-17 N as far as elevation gain 6500’ at Munes Park) Flagstaff (elevation 6500’),where we hopped on I-40 W – continuing up to elevation 7070’ – which encompasses part of the old route 66. Then we went down several 6% grades (we weigh 21500, towing). Thank goodness for our 8.1 Vortex Workhorse engine with engine braking.
We went as far as Kingman (3033’) and thought we’d take a shortcut on SR 60 to the other side of the Colorado River and Bullhead City, NV (540’) (and I did not miss a zero). This was technically a shortcut – mileage wise but this route was elevation-ely challenging!
From Bullhead City we got on NV ST 163 and crawled on US-95 N… climbing to Searchlight, NV at 3540’. We hung a right on Cottonwood Cove Road to get to our Campground DOWN on the Colorado River – it was another drop of about 3000’.
Cottonwood Cove, on their website, looks lovely. In reality – I’m sorry to say, the RV park is about the worse one we’ve ever been in. Sites pony one on top of each other. Ugly, trashy, and dog poopy. Lake Mojave is lovely. Sky blue and inviting, we would have been swimming if the temperature wasn’t 111* and the walk too long to bother with.
RVing TIP: Fellow RVers. Please don’t do this to yourselves. Either inflict these elevation changes (UPs and DOWNs of an Rver’s life) upon yourselves at all or please, don’t do it in June. Feel free to shake your heads and chuckle over our wacky plans. Just don’t do it unless you are serious desert rats and don’t mind outrageous temperatures! The worst part? We are climbing back out of here again tomorrow! I know, a week playing on the lake in our own boat, heaven… leaving tomorrow, not so smart. Phew. I’m caught up for a bit. Next stop… Central Valley, Calif – staying in Chowchilla, Ca to conduct business in Merced, Ca.