On the Road With Doris & Ez

We're going on a road trip!!!! Could be three weeks could be three years, we'll see. Read below to see where we are now.....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yuma Stopover - April 2008

Our first stop after leaving Scottsdale was Wellton, Arizona, about 30 miles east of Yuma, to visit two of our favorite people. Joe and MJ spend winters at their casita in Wellton and travel in their motorhome for the summer. Not only are they generous hosts, they have a great group of friends who also made us feel at home. Social gatherings are kicked off when the host brings out a gallon jug filled with golden raisins soaking in gin. Plastic spoons are handed out and then the jug is passed around so everyone can have a heaping bite of raisins and “juice.” This may or may not be good for what ails you, but it’s a great way to start a party.

Joe and MJ lured us to Wellton with the promise of an ATV trip onto the Barry Goldwater Military Reservation to see the famous fence being built between Mexico and the U.S. We couldn’t have picked a better day for our trip. The weather was perfect. Not a lot grows in this part of the Sonoran Desert – mostly lots of ocotillo cactus – and they were all in bloom. (That's Ez above next to an ocotillo.) The orange of the ocotillo blossoms stretched for miles across the desert floor. What an amazing sight!

It’s a forty-mile trip from Wellton to the border fence (pretty ambitious, huh?) through lots of rugged country. We saw military camps with soldiers out on maneuvers, but not many other civilians. After miles traveling along dusty tracks and down sandy washes we reached the fence. It’s hard to see how it can keep out any determined terrorists or illegal immigrants (like the pair in the picture!), but we’re told that there are lots of cameras and other technology that have reduced the traffic through this area to a trickle.

After relaxing and enjoying lunch, we headed for home. When we made a brief stop to check out the scenery, we noticed a disturbing development – a big old spike stuck in the tire of the ATV Ez and I were driving – ACK! Stranded in the desert over 30 miles from civilization! After a brief discussion, Joe and MJ decided to head into Wellton while we waited with the vehicle. (I did have a moment of concern when they yelled “We’ll miss you at happy hour!” as they rode off on their mission of rescue. . .) Happily, they were back a little more than two hours later with a truck and trailer. And we had another “brush with death” adventure story to tell for years to come.

Another highlight of our visit was a trip to the Yuma County Fair. This is a typical small town fair featuring lots of arts and crafts, entertainment such as the “bird lady” and the Budweiser Clydesdales, and competitions like the Tortilla Toss and Belching Contest. (Sadly, we missed them.) For the local 4-Hers and FFA members, this is the opportunity to show the livestock they’ve raised. We wandered through the livestock barn and then watched the proud owners trot their animals around the auction ring. The most interesting for me was the cooler with windows where the dressed carcasses were displayed next to photos of the 4-Hers and their stock – each accompanied by a handwritten description of how they had cared for them. Made me recognize how farm kids are raised differently than us city kids. . .

After our brief stopover in Wellton, we’re off to San Diego for a week. More to follow. .

Monday, April 07, 2008

Things to Do in Phoenix in the Winter - February-March, 2008

This is the second winter we’ve spent in Phoenix in the motorhome. Because we lived here for many years before selling our house and retiring, we find it hard to think of ourselves as visitors here. It’s easy to fall into a routine and forget about all of the great things the area has to offer, so we found ourselves making an effort to get out and discover (or rediscover) this part of the southwest.

Puerto Penasco (or Rocky Point as it’s known to the gringos) is the closest Mexican beach resort to Phoenix. It had been several years since we made the four-hour drive to this south-of-the-border destination, so we decided to check it out again. There are lots of new high rise resorts along the beach, but many of the roads are still dusty and bumpy. It was a treat to relax on our balcony overlooking the pool and beach with the port twinkling in the distance. We made our first visit to the legendary JJ’s Cantina in nearby Cholla Bay and checked out the residential areas where Americans are building Scottsdale-style McMansions on the beach. My favorite memory – flaming Spanish coffees prepared tableside while we watched the sun set over downtown Rocky Point.

With all the rain this winter, we’ve had a bumper crop of wild flowers in the desert so we headed out several times to take advantage of this unique opportunity. One day we headed east to Apache Junction, the Superstition Mountains and on to the historic Apache Trail. This is rugged country and the rocky hillsides were covered with a thick blanket of yellow and orange blossoms. It was a perfect spring day so lots of other folks had the same idea. Here’s the crowd at Tortilla Flat, an historic stage coach stop on the Apache Trail that’s now the top choice for lunch with all the nature lovers out enjoying the landscape. After our stop at Tortilla Flat the road turns into a twisted, narrow dirt track where we were briefly delayed by a truck and trailer struggling to navigate a sharp turn from the other direction. After that we continued on past Apache, Canyon and Sahuaro Lakes on our way to Roosevelt Lake. The desert hillsides were so green it reminded us of Ireland! No more close calls, but lots of drop dead gorgeous scenery.

One of our favorite day trips has always been the back road from Wickenburg through Yarnell and on to Prescott. It’s always a pretty drive and we like to stop and check on our niece and her husband who have spent the last nine years building their dream house in the rugged hills above Kirkland Junction. This time we decided to spend the night at the historic St. Michaels Hotel on Prescott’s famous Whiskey Row. The elevator was a genuine antique and our room hadn’t been updated since the Hoover administration, but it overlooked the courthouse square across the street. (The downside – the noisy bikers who emptied out of the saloons below in the early morning hours.) We enjoyed a couple of good meals and took the long way back through Skull Valley – a little community with more charm than its name would suggest.

We made several trips to our building site in Tonto Verde this winter. (We always claim we’re checking on the status of the sahuaro cactus that sits in the center of the lot.) While we’re there we always stop by the nearby ranch owned by the development that sits on the banks of the Verde River. Across the river is a bald eagle nest that is monitored by volunteers or Fish and Wildlife employees and we always bring along our binoculars to check out the activity at the nest. This spring there are three young chicks that are active and thriving. Yea! We’ll think of them often as we explore the northwest again this summer.