2014 Adventure Wrap-Up

It was with some sadness that we turned east and headed for Arizona because that meant we were now winding down our big Adventure.  Still, we’re talking about Arizona here; long one of our favorite states.  We spent a month there, working our way from the northwest corner of the state to ultimately exit at the southeast corner.

Before long we were back in Texas – enjoying the splendor of the state’s southwest.  We’ve always liked the Texas State Parks and it was a pleasure to visit three of them, especially Davis Mountains State Park, as we worked our way east.

After almost seven months we’ve now arrived back where the Adventure began: Lake Conroe Thousand Trails. We towed the 5th wheel about 6300 miles and then drove about the same distance sightseeing and “just living.”  We stayed in about 40 different campgrounds, generally for a week and a half at a time with several shorter stays when we were in “repositioning mode.”  In January I’ll release our budget figures but we pretty much stayed on target through the year.

It was a great trip and I’m already looking forward to return visits to and through these areas.

Campground Review: SKP Saguaro Co-Op – Benson, AZ

We loved it at the Escapees SKP Saguaro Co-Op in Benson, AZ. In some ways it is my favorite campground to date. The resort was designed by and for fulltime RVers who are members of Escapees. The fulltime philosophy and common sense approach is evident everywhere from the wide, paved roads to the excellent and much used activity center.

The property has no pool or spa and reservations are not accepted. Escapees facilities are famous for always finding a place for a traveler to park their RV even it has to temporarily be a spot with no hookups. The activity center has a large meeting room with a full-sized commercial kitchen, a large library, a workout room with modern equipment, and a crafts room. There’s also a nice porch with a view of the valley below and the Dragoon Mountains. This view is especially pretty at sunset.

If you get the idea that I like this place you are 100% right!

Click this for full screen photos

2014 – Sightseeing in Southeastern Arizona

We enjoyed our time in Southeastern Arizona. Our RV Resort, located in Benson, was a great place to stay while exploring the area.

Leaving Tombstone we drove on down to Bisbee to take the Queen Mine Historic Mine Tour. After buying our tickets we looked a the displays and watched a video about mining. When they called our tour we lined up and were given hard hats, slickers, and miners headlamps. We then went out and got on a small tram that took us down into the mine. Two guides gave us a great tour telling us how the mine was laid out and what it was like to be the miner. They demonstrated the tools they used and talked about the dangers they faced. At two places we got off the tram and walked down the tunnels to see what it would have looked like to the miners. It was both educational and fun and we highly recommend not only the mine tour, downtown Bisbee which is a unique experience in itself.

We know we hardly scratched the surface of interesting things to see and do in this area. On future trips we’ll check out the “Cochise Circle” of historic places related to the great Indian Chief, Wonderland of the Rocks at Chiricahua National Monument, and so much more.

Click this for full screen photos

Shortstop: Countryside RV Resort – Apache Junction, AZ

Our early October stay put us in the resort just ahead of the first winter arrivals so the property was very quiet and empty feeling. There are people around. Apparently, they stay year around – weathering the Phoenix furnace-like summers. In a month or less I’m guessing this place will be filling up with it’s 55+ crowd of winter people.

At the heart of the campground is an Activity Center and pool. There’s a large meeting hall and library plus a billiards room, post office, shuffleboard, and other amenities. I think it would be interesting to try this place out in January-March when things are in full swing.

Click this for full screen photos

Sightseeing review: Cottonwood, Sedona, Jerome, AZ

We enjoyed our time in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Jerome, AZ area.  To be honest, though, we mostly relaxed at the campground doing a few needed chores.

A short distance from Cottonwood is Jerome — a city built on the side of a mountain with a marvelous view of the Verde Valley. Jerome was a mining town and across the years it produced over a billion dollars in copper, gold and silver.  There were two mines there.  The first was the United Verde Mine and the second was the Little Daisy mine which was owned by James Stewart Douglas. We stopped at Jerome State Historic Park and toured the museum in the Douglas Mansion which is built over the Little Daisy Mine.  The video of the city of Jerome and the mining industry there was fun and informational. Most of the rooms have city and mining memorabilia but the family library is still set up and the billiard room has a billiard table and a piano that belonged to the family.  From the park we continued into Jerome and found the streets are as narrow, steep, and twisting as advertised.  There is public parking making it easy for those who want to shop or eat.  Many of the original buildings are still in use although some are now private homes. We drove up and through the town to a scenic overlook.  It is an exceptional view.  From the overlook I looked up the mountain and spotted a trestle from the mining days.

We enjoyed looking around the area and know that there is much more that we didn’t see.  Really, though, that’s part of the fun of our touring lifestyle.  We plan on returning and will continue our exploration of this area then.

Click this for full screen photos

Campground Review: Verde Valley Thousand Trails, Cottonwood, AZ


We’ve enjoyed our time here at Verde Valley Thousand Trails, just south of Cottonwood, AZ. Off hand I say this particular Thousand Trails is one of our favorites so far. The campground is bordered by the Verde River, which can flash flood into impressive proportions but is generally a docile stream and not really visible from the campground. The setting is desert but with enough trees to provide some welcome shade. Many campsites have patches of green grass which is watered and protected by “keep pets off the grass” signs.

There are a variety of campsite configurations. Many of those that are pull through are “double sites” in which two campers are parked back to back, pointing in opposite directions. However, even in that configuration there’s usually a larger “front yard” that is shared with the one of the campers in the next double site. It’s a workable setup and those sites are quite popular. We picked a back in site that is rather deep but not very wide. As it turned out we didn’t have neighbors on either side of us so we had plenty of elbow room.

The campground has added cabins and, in addition to the campground set aside specifically for long term use has sold several sites for annual use. Still, there have been many nice sites available all the time we’ve been here. This, though, is a popular campground and there are certain times of the year when it is full.

This campground is a real winner for Thousand Trails and we’re already looking forward to future visits here.

Click this for full screen photos

A day at Grand Canyon, AZ

Our last visit to the Grand Canyon was in 1985 and our return for a day’s visit there reminded us of just what a amazing place it is. We took many pictures but we know they can’t begin to show the depth and color we enjoyed. In addition to the canyon views we saw three condors soaring above us at one overlook. We also saw elk wandering around the park which was an added plus. There are free shuttles and everything from walking trails to major league, challenging hikes to the canyon floor allowing people at all levels of fitness and time the opportunity to enjoy the park. This trip should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Click this for full screen photos

Shortstop: Canyon Gateway RV Park – Williams, AZ

This RV Park is a couple of minutes from I40; a good spot for those traveling and in need of a place to land for the night. It’s also about 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Both the I40 and the Grand Canyon proximity made Canyon Gateway RV Park in Williams, AZ a good shortstop for us. Admittedly, there’s some traffic noise off the Interstate but we didn’t find it to be especially objectionable. They are building a truck stop adjacent to the campground, so in the future being sandwiched between the highway less than a mile away on one side and the truck stop on the other noise may become an issue.

Still, I see this as a good spot for a short stay. The sites are level with full hookups. The restrooms and showers were very clean and the campground offers decent WiFi and even a few channels of cable TV. In addition to the mega attraction of the Grand Canyon being an hour away, downtown Williams is a fun place to visit. After a stroll up and down the main street we especially enjoyed our meal at the Pine Country Restaurant and recommend it. Williams also is where the Grand Canyon Railroad begins. This RV Park doesn’t pretend to be a destination, but it works well for travelers as well as folks who want to spend a day at one of our nation’s most visited, and beautiful, national parks.

Click this for full screen photos

Shortstop: Sunrise RV Park – Kingman, AZ

After a 300 mile drive across the Mojave desert – past the famous mothballed aircraft field, Edwards AFB, Boron (and Twenty Mule Team Road) – we arrived at Sunrise RV park in Kingman, AZ for a one night stay. Using our Passport America discount we paid $17.50 and were assigned one of the drive through sites. We have 50 amp, full hookups although the sewer is way at the back of the site and situated in such a way that it is almost uphill from the camper.

We have neighbors just a few feet away on either side of us and some kind of discount Marriott motel is looking down on us from across the street. Still, for an overnight this works just fine. The restrooms are clean, the roads are paved, the interstate is just a few minutes away, and the sites are pretty level. The campground offers free WiFi but I found it very slow and went back to my Verizon 4G. There are restaurants in walking distance. For an “in town” RV park that can be had for the price we’re paying it will do just fine.

Click this for full screen photos