Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The best of times

I've had several people ask me about what I liked the best on this past trip 
(and other trips) and what we liked the least...

What I liked best..  that's a tough one.  
So many variables:
Campsite, Scenery, Privacy, Activities, Hiking etc etc

What I liked least - that's easy:
Being sick for a week or more and stuck in an RV Park 
(even if it was a nice one) in Tucson...  not fun.

What I liked the best.

How about some highlights?

Best State Park

Catalina State Park North of Tucson was best for its hiking, 
Lots of things to do nearby,  any type of shopping just outside of the park, 
great Verizon 4G  broadband making my work easier and trouble free...
While it might not have been the top in any single category...
It had a lot of everything.

It was our Christmas thru New Years Home Base

It had great restuarants.
Our Anniversary Dinner was Polish Food.

Old Spanish Missions

Modern Biospheres

Old West Movie Sets

Great Sunsets

We had Air Museums, Mt. Lemmon, Joe Bonanno's Grave
The Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park... 
We made new friends and had dinner with old ones...
Whew.  It was a heck of a visit!

Best Sunrises

One of the requirements for a good sunrise or sunset is a long range view.
Some interesting foreground and background elements sure can make it interesting...
Then after that -  you need nature to cooperate.

At McDowell Mountain Park, Northeast of the Phoenix Metro,
just outside of Fountain Hills, Az - those elements combined every single
morning into the perfect storm of beauty.

Most of the beautiful sunrise photos I posted were taken here.

The mornings here just blew me away...
Day after day!

Best Desert Experience

Ah Murphy Flats...

What a great time we had here!
Our Little encampment up on the flats at the Imperial BLM LTVA
was a world unto itself.

Our days developed into a familiar pattern.

We quietly began each day with a beautiful sunrise.

After everyone woke up there was usually a morning walk.
See the two asses in this photo?

Some mornings we walked to the lake

Some mornings to the airfield.

Every morning with a smile.

Then it was back to camp to replace those lost calories.

As the sun rose higher the ladies began the afternoon crafts.

Everyday was a new craft

In the afternoons while I was working we had visitors at the window

Soon.. the sun dipped lower and before you knew it,
it was dinnertime!

Every night a new and delicious treat.

Always topped off with one of Robs expressos
and Desert!

One night the Murphy Flats Theatre Group put on a rendition
of Shakespeare's famous play:
Lourdy Lourdy Squeeze My Gourdy.

Each night the Coyotes sung us to sleep and another day ended.

The camping was almost free.  We had a nearby water supply, tank dump,
Book exchange, Yoga Classes...
Plenty to do and see.
Minor groceries could be purchased at the nearby Yuma Proving Grounds
Yuma was only 30 minutes away for resupply.

Yup - this place was a winner and we'll be back.

Most Relaxing

Our time spent on Windy Hill on Roosevelt Lake was special.
Missing were our friends made along the way but
the quiet beauty of the area in early spring was something to see.

For starters - we had the place just about to ourselves.

The desert had greened up from the winter rains
and the spring flowers were starting to bloom.

Several nights we had an air show.

If there was one thing....  it was the quiet.
Most hours of the day or night you could hear a pin drop.

Until the Coyotes started howling that is.

So much to do in the area and we only got to do a tiny bit since we
were still recuperating from our colds.

We stayed on Windy Hill for 10 days.
Tonto National Forest charges $6 per day and we had
water hydrants throughout the CG, Solar Showers
and a nearby NF Dump Station.

We did get to drive the Apache Trail before we left.

We'll be back here for sure.  I still have a glove box full
of Tonto Passes and a bunch back roads I want to drive.

Best Sunsets

I had to figure out a way to get Gilbert Ray into the mix.
Located on the western outskirts of Tucson, 
we spent and excellent week here with Kristi and Jim 
and I couldn't leave this awesome place off the list.

Ah the sunsets.

We arrived healthy and departed in the beginnings of the bubonic.
My Macbook died here and had to be replaced.

In between we had Sunny days and starry nights
accompanied by our ever-present friend the Coyote.

The ladies continued the Arts & Crafts

Gilbert Ray is part of Tucson Mountain County Park.
Its located in a beautiful desert garden like setting.

Each evening we'd go to Jim & Kristi's house...

or they'd come to ours.  

Sometimes for Happy Hour
Sometimes for Dinner.
Did I mention that Jim is a Hellova Cook?

Did I mention that Gilbert Ray is a Hellova Campground?

Best Dining Out


Well we didn't eat out that much but when we did we always scored big.

For Breakfast there was Cindy Lou's Cafe in Tucson.

The Cafe was not much to look out but the breakfast was classic.
Fresh, not greasy, and served hot.
I had the Farmers Breakfast.
Sausage, Bacon, Eggs, Hash Browns, and Pancakes.


For lunch our venue required a 30 mile drive on paved roads then
another 10 miles or so on a dirt road.

The Desert Bar is an old Mine outside of Parker, Az
that has been converted into its present form.

All the food and drink must also travel up the 10 winding, dusty, bumpy roads.

Upon arrival you cross a bridge.
John rode up with us - thats him crossing the bridge in front of us.

The Gang at lunch

For being out in the middle of nowhere - they make a great burger on a wonderful bun.
The fries were homemade and delicious.
It was a great day in a great location with great friends.


Throw a Schnitzel and Potato Pancake in front of us and we are yours.

In Arizona about 10 miles as the crow flies is the town Sierra Vista.
Who would think that in this hub of the area lies one of the best German
Restaurants to be found.  

Written up in Arizona Highways as one of the best restaurants in 2011
we were not disappointed.

The owner is a native of Essen Germany..
Appropriately, in German Essen means "Eat".

Our visit coincided with Kates Birthday and was my reason for searching for
and finding this wonderful place.

Having been taught by a master... I know Potato Pancakes and can spot
an impostor from a mile away.
These were the real deal.   Home made from scratch.

Deeee lish!


I have to give a shout out to one more person.

Hey Lindsay!

Our friend Lindsay is a transplanted Arizona Native.
His family are original settlers of the region, and
Sedona Arizona is named after his great grandmother.

Throughout our journey thru Arizona he has passed along his knowledge
of the places and out of the way holes in the wall that truly enriched our visit.

From the best pies in the state to where to find homemade ice cream with
16% butterfat Lindsay was the man.

His sister is the author of the book Arizona 100 Years Grand,
the official book of the Arizona Centennial, which is a collection
of beautiful photography covering the history of this great state.
Contributors to the book include Sen John McCain.

I mention this because while we were in Tucson a package arrived for us
and inside was this wonderful book..  a gift from Lindsay.

It served as another guide for me of places to put on the list.

Thanks Linds.   We'll make it out to the coast in the fall.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunrises & Sunsets

A number of readers have emailed me asking about my favorite
Sunrise or Sunset, or what place did we enjoy the most and the least.

Today I thought that I would tackle the sunrises & sunsets and perhaps in
another post try and reflect on the latter.

Please bear in mind however that with over 4,700 photos taken,
 it's an impossible task to go back and select the best of the best,
so I just grabbed some that caught my eye.
For me, that is both the blessing and the curse of digital photography...
So many photos....   so little time.



Mc Dowell Mtn Park
Outside of Fountain Hills, Az

Every morning here we started the new day with an amazing sunrise.
Here are 4 different days.

 Quartzsite, Az

In Quartzsite the 5-star sunrises were less frequent but we
still had a couple of amazing days.

This was a single morning and shows the progression of light and color.

Imperial Dam LTVA
North of Yuma, Az

Catching a good sunrise requires 2 things:  
Getting out early...   and patience.

A morning might look like it is not going to be special but as you wait
the light and color constantly changes minute to minute.
Get out and wait...  see what develops.


Santa Catalina Mountains
Catalina State Park North of Tucson, Az

Almost every night the residents of the Greater Tucson area are treated
to a communal light show....
The setting of the days sun and the red glow of the Catalinas.

Cave Creek County Park, Az
Northwest Phoenix Metro

Quartzsite, Az
At the Montana Circle.

Gilbert Ray County Park
West of Tucson, Az

Gilbert Ray during the day...
It's such a beautiful Sonoran Desert setting I just had to post one day shot.

Rockhound SP above Deming, NM
Sunset and a comet.

Matagorda County Park
On the Gulf - Matagorda, Tx

East Bank ACOE Campground - Lake Seminole, Fl.
I liked the silhouette of the family enjoying the end of the day.

Finally...  home.
The view from the front porch.

And an oddball nod to my Non-Landyacht  sailing side....

December 2011 Sailing the Trade Winds across the Atlantic,
150 miles off the coast of Morocco enroute to
Grenada via the Canary Islands.

As said in the song " horse with no name" the Ocean is really a type of Desert too.