April 1, 2016


“Just because you’re handed a cactus doesn’t mean you have to sit on it.”  Melissa Accadia

Carol writes:  After a delightful 6 weeks along the California coast, it was time to head east toward Colorado Springs for a targeted arrival date of mid-April.  Our first night back on the road found us in Yuma, Arizona, where we planned to spend a few more days soaking up the desert sun, with face and limbs covered in sunscreen, of course.  At the Las Quintas Oasis RV Resort we had an immaculate gravel site,

and the campground had a refreshing little pool and spa, a great place to cool off as daytime temperatures soared well into the 90s.  Yuma holds the Guinness World Record as the sunniest city on Earth, in addition to being in the top 10 of the hottest cities on the planet.

With extremely hot daytime temperatures already the norm, that meant an early start for a bike ride that we wanted to take along the Colorado River.

We had an easy paved dedicated bike path—our favorite kind!

The palo verde trees were covered in bees and were in magnificent full bloom.

We rode through a beautiful wetlands park that had a display to commemorate the Mormon Batallion March during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).  The men of this specially organized Mormon battalion were members of the only religiously based unit in United States military history.  The 2000-mile march from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego helped open up a southern wagon route during our country’s westward expansion.  The passage through what is now Yuma was nicely memorialized.


Al’s route to Colorado next had us going north from Yuma to Quartzite along route 95, an 80-mile stretch of highway through a truly desolate desert landscape.  Quartzite is a sleepy little town whose population of 3000 swells to as many as a million RVers during the winter months.  The surrounding area is sort of like the winter capital of the RV world, an experience every RVer should try at least once.  RVers love it because camping is free on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, but you must be content with no water, electric or sewer hookups (so-called “dry” camping).  Personally, that’s OK for only a day or two, and that is what we did during our visit to Quartzite in 2013.  Now that we have had the obligatory “real” Quartzite experience once, with our big diesel pusher, we much preferred the full hookup (water, sewer, and electric) that we had at a friendly family-run campground.

We have learned never to turn down shade in the desert, so we didn’t even mind lack of satellite reception due to a big shade tree next to our site.  Having no TV for two days was actually refreshing for a change!

When we went into town, we discovered that almost all of the seasonal vendors had closed up shop for the winter, so Quartzite was a lot tamer than our last visit in January 2013 at the height of the winter season.


From Quartzite, we headed toward the greater Phoenix area where we planned to spend a week and meet up with an ole friend from the days of Al’s brief career as a financial planner.  We were extremely lucky to get the week we needed at Fort McDowell, a campground on land of the Yavapai Nation.  We had heard it was the nicest campground anywhere near Phoenix.  As we pulled in, it was clear to us why we had heard such raves.  The spotlessly maintained campground was in a very unpopulated area along the Verde River and was surrounded by sweeping mountain vistas on all sides.

The neighboring town was Fountain Hills, a perfect little community out in the open hills east of Phoenix.  We suspected the town name would have something to do with a fountain.  Sure enough, Fountain Hills is known for its spectacular man-made fountain in the middle of the town’s lake.  Erupting hourly during daylight hours, the world’s 4th tallest fountain was indeed impressive!

The paved mile-or-so walk around the lake was just about perfect in every way with a panoramic view of the McDowell mountains in the distance, awesome Sonoran desert landscape, spectacular southwestern-style homes on the streets next to the trail, and even a Frisbee golf course.  Beautiful bronze statues were displayed strategically along the course; my favorite was the statue of the elderly WW I soldier saluting the flag at the Veterans Memorial.

For a little desert hiking, we headed out to the Saguaro del Norte Recreation Site.

We saw lots of boats and people (along with their dogs) enjoying this magnificent lake, each in their own way.

The Phoenix metropolitan area was certainly a busy place this time of year, and it all had something to do with Cactus League baseball.  Home to 15 teams for spring training, we had our choice of multiple stadium venues to see a game.  What we soon discovered was that these games are very popular; if you want to see some of the games, you need to plan way ahead.  Fortunately, we found a game on Easter Sunday that still had seats, so Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks it was at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick!

This particular stadium was on Indian community land and was the home to both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.

Truly—two tribes, two teams, one home!

Complimentary sunscreen was a nice touch!

I liked the small venue with a crowd of about 9000 fans.  It was a very enjoyable game, especially when shade reached our row!  The game was ‘spring training baseball’ with different players rotated in and out of every position, resulting in lots of hits.  A Rockies win in an extra-inning game was the icing on the cake…

And finally, I had a really great birthday dinner at the home of Mary Beth, a dear friend of ours from Al’s days as a financial planner for IDS.  I recalled that one of my most poignant memories was using my sewing machine one night at our house to sew patches on MB’s Army uniform when her reserve unit got called up to serve in the Persian Gulf War.  Stories and laughter filled the evening at Mary Beth’s lovely Phoenix home. 

What a delightful time we had enjoying the past few weeks of springtime in Arizona.  Time to head over to New Mexico and meet up with Barb and Jim once again to share a very special trip out to the place where a pivotal event in modern human civilization occurred.

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game.  True.  And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”  George F. Will

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