Monday, April 9, 2018

Cattail Cove State Park, Arizona

Cattail Cove is a great Arizona State Park just south of Lake Havasu City. We stayed there April 3 through April 7. 

We really like it and hope to go back. Besides being close to the lake (created by a dam on the Colorado River about ten miles downstream from the park), it has 61 camping spots, a white sand swimming beach, a boat dock, lots of hiking trails, a dog beach (the only one I've ever seen in the years we've camped near water), a big dog walk area, a really nice staff, and ice-cream for sale at the office. Can't beat that. A marina, restaurant, and 70 more camping spots are supposed to be added by next March.
Jim and Arlo on the dog walk path at Cattail Cove. Last fall the Arizona State Park system was named the best managed state park system in the nation.  Runners up were Washington, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
Cattail Cove swim beach.  They must have trucked in tons and tons of white sand.
Maddie at the dog beach. Throw a ball at a dog park and Maddie will most likely ignore it.  Throw a stick in the water however, and she's right there. 
The campground.  It has water, electricity and a dumpsite.
Front entrance to the well-cared for park.  We talked with a couple who have been camp workers there for ten years. They were about to head home to South Dakota after their latest six-month stint.
We spent one afternoon in Lake Havasu City picking up supplies, then went to a brewpub called Hangar 24. It had a lot to choose from in porters and stouts (that I like) and in IPAs (which Jim likes) so we got a flight of four of each kind.
Jim paddling into Lake Havasu from Cattail Cove's beach. Right after I took this photo the small wave you can see forming rolled water into the kayak.  
Maddie near blooming blue palo verde trees. Up close the blossoms look like yellow cherry blossoms. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Chandler, Arizona and friends

We spent the nights of March 31, April 1 and 2 at a pretty fancy RV park (their website calls it a "boutique" RV park) in Chandler, Arizona, a southern suburb of Phoenix. Chandler is home to lots of high-tech companies including Intel, where Jim used to work. Intel has a chip manufacturing plant there with over 11,000 employees.  It's also home to some of the autonomous (self driving) vehicle companies and we saw a lot of those cruising nearby.

We spent part of a day walking around downtown Chandler, which looks like its being torn down and rebuilt. Easter morning we hiked part of a nice trail at South Mountain Park, a Phoenix municipal park and the largest city park in the US per Wikipedia. And there was an outlet mall on the other side of I-10 from where we were staying so I had to go there. Our type of camping is usually closer to deserts and forests (which we like) but I couldn't pass up a trip to a very nearby outlet mall. I did more looking than buying.

But most fun were visits with two friends of mine from my former lives.

First was dinner with a friend from high school who now lives in nearby Mesa.  Another day Jim and I drove to North Phoenix to see someone who worked with me at the Postal Service. It was nice to see old friends and catch up.

Bev and April, who graduated from Wellington, Ohio, High School, class of 1969.  I remember going to an alumni meeting the year I graduated. When the 50-year class was introduced I thought "How do those people even walk?" April and I are walking quite well, thank you.  Thanks for meeting up with me, April.
We stayed at MotorCoach Resort in Chandler.  The 18-month-old RV park has beautiful desert landscaping, was very clean, and had level cement parking pads.  But it was the most expensive place we've ever stayed at $65 a night.  I find it hard to find a good RV park at a reasonable rate near Phoenix.  A lot of them have age restrictions on motor homes (rigs older than ten years not allowed) or weight restrictions on dogs (no dogs over 20 pounds.)  Our rig is a 2003 and our dogs are 40 and 50 pounds so we are a no go on those.  Motor Coach Resort disallowed trailers and fifth wheels.  Jim said he thought it was because none of their sites were pull throughs, but that's the first I've ever heard of a "no trailers" policy.
Arlo and Maddie looking for who knows what out the window of our RV. Maybe for a trailer trying to make an illegal entrance.
A fountain at  the RV park where we stayed.   The park was in an industrial area, just barely off of I-10, and across the freeway from a race car track.  But it was very convenient to shopping, restaurants, and all the stuff you need when you travel.
Craig and I worked together at a USPS Law Department in Utah.  He and his wife Maryanne now live in North Phoenix. Craig listened to the radio at work and was my news source -- he reminded me that he's the one who told me Elizabeth Smart had been found (just a couple of block from our office) nine months after being kidnapped.  When Craig retired I became way behind on the latest news.
Craig, Maryanne, me and Jim at Craig and Maryanne's lovely home in north Phoenix. I might never recover from the video Maryanne showed me of a snake slithering up a saguaro.  
Jim and the doggies at South Mountain Park Preserve in Phoenix, which has 16,000 acres and 50 miles of hiking trails.  We did only about a mile and a half, so there is plenty for next time. Unfortunately, it was also the site of the slithering snake mentioned in the above photo.  I'd still go back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Three weeks in Tucson

Our stay in Tucson was shorter than usual. For three weeks we had great weather, well behaved dogs, and nice RV neighbors on each side of our rig -- one couple is from Boise and the other from Gresham, OR.

During those three weeks we read (Bev), watched TV (Jim), went to the Air Force base gym every day (except for on the weekends, as the base closed the gym on weekends to retirees, which was a bummer), and walked, walked, walked the dogs.

Other major activities:

--Visited the downtown Tucson Museum of Art and North Tucson's DeGrazia in the Sun Gallery.

-- Made our usual tour of local breweries and beer bars:  Barrio, Yard House, Ermanos, Arizona Beer House, Public Brew House, Pueblo Vida, Drunken Chicken, Crooked Tooth, and Black Rock. Wow. That was a lot of beer places to type. Guess that pretty much delineates our major activity. Like lots of cities, Tucson has breweries popping up all over. We'd recommend any of the ones mentioned but especially liked Public Brew House, Crooked Tooth, and Black Rock. Those are tasting houses (no food.)  If you want food, go to Barrio.

-- Went to Bev's favorite Tucson restaurant, El Charro.

--Walked around Tucson's funky, artsy Fourth Avenue area.

--And then walked the dogs some more. We saw another dog on base that looked like Arlo (lots of small black spots with one big black spot on his back, brown spotted lower legs, and a brown face). We stopped the car to talk with the human. I rolled down the window on the passenger side, and doggie put his paws on the open window and hauled himself right into the car and onto my lap.

-- And, we spent most of one day on a rig repair. We got the rig ready to drive to an air compressor so we could fill the tires, but the truck battery was dead. We have road-side assistance through both AAA and our RV insurance (Foremost).  After a long wait to get a jump from one of them and see if the problem was only our old battery -- or something more serious -- turns out neither service could get on base. Luckily for us, the base has an auto repair shop and they had the battery we needed -- so Jim just changed out the battery.
A painting at Tucson's downtown Museum of Art, plus a close up of the same painting. Exhibits also included western scenes by Tuscon artist Howard Post (including three paintings of fence posts, which were actually cooler than that sounds), and a display of mid century modern paintings and objects.
A self-portrait of Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia, who designed the many buildings and rooms of the ten acre DeGrazia in the Sun Gallery.  He also built it himself with the help of native American friends.  Lovely building and grounds. DeGrazia is famous for colorful painting of native cultures of the Sonoran Desert. His gallery is home to more than 15,000 of his works.
DeGrazia used materials from the southwest to build his home/gallery, including one section that used slices of cholla cactus. DeGrazia died in 1982. A few years before his death he hauled 100 of his paintings via horseback to a mountain where he burned them to protest inheritance taxes on works of art.
One of our new favorite Tucson bartenders in Tucson, this time at Public House. Jim keeps track of his beer in an app called "Untapped" which says he's tasted 398 different beers.  Mind you, that is over the course of five years -- not just our three weeks in Tucson. But I'm guessing he'll pass 400 this weekend.
On Tucson's Fourth Avenue we saw displays of locks. Right before Valentine's Day people could buy locks from a charity, decorate them with a friend/love, then lock it on the display and throw away the key.
Murals like these cover a lot of building walls in downtown Tucson.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The snow birds are flying

I don't know if we've ever stayed at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base RV park when there were so many empty camping spaces. There were at least 30 available spots every day near the end of March.   

But it's getting warm -- hot actually -- and the snowbirds are homeward bound. I'm a little behind on my posting and we've left Tucson as well. We were only there three weeks this winter and are going to miss it.
Our spot at Agave Gulch, the RV park at Davis Monthan after our next door neighbors left.  They were nice folks from Portland and Boise. The campground has about 200 camping spots and we've been there when there was a long waiting list to get in. Not this time of year, however.
This is from several weeks ago but I had to post it.  It's the Oscar Meyer weinermobile.  We saw it March 9 on I-15 just south of Salt Lake.