January 6, 2019

December! Gilbert Ray, Picacho Peak climb, Lost Dutchman, Oregon Coast & Christmas in Idaho!

We started out the month of December in Apache Junction, Arizona.

I think we've mentioned it before but we have a Thousand Trails Zone membership...which allows us the flexibility to be in an RV park (with hookups, laundry facilities, pools and other such amenities) for up to a couple of weeks at a time (with a minimum of one week outside the system in between).  We weren't sure, the first year of travel, how/if that membership would work for us, because we really love to be out in the boondocks, but we find that we do enjoy the opportunity to mix it up at bit. 

The close proximity to neighbors in most of the Thousand Trails parks is the obvious drawback, but oftentimes we are so busy exploring the neighboring cities and getting our fill of art festivals, movies and other such city-things, that we don't really mind the neighborhood.  And, our neighbor here was Mike's dad!

I love this graphic shot of our little neighborhood!
We left the RV 'hood for our favorite desert camp spot...Gilbert Ray, just west of Tucson.  It's a first-come, first-served campground, very popular in the early springtime, but this time of year we didn't have a problem getting a great spot!  We spent the week mostly just enjoying the Sonoran desert!  Beautiful sunsets, perfect temperatures for bike rides and short hikes in and around the campground...

Seriously, this desert is amazing!

A little bit of the Christmas spirit in the way of our tiny decorations!

These teddy bear cacti were adorned with their own festive decorations!

Everywhere I go I find these heart rocks! 
They always makes me smile
and sometimes I leave it for others to pick up!

We had our own saguaros, representing us!

A cool drone shot of our loop!

I was flying the drone as this 3rd Airstream drove through the campground!

Gilbert Ray really is one of our favorite spots in Arizona...we'd have stayed longer but they have a 7 day limit!  It's an easy drive into Tucson, the sites are adequately spaced, they have a nicely laid out dump station...and this desert here is lush and prickly!

We visited the Desert Museum just outside of Saguaro National Park (and the park too!) and highly recommend this special museum/zoo/garden!  The free flight show was fantastic (next time we'd go all day so we could see both the morning and the afternoon flights)...the gardens were beautiful...the hummingbird enclosure was so cool (they were buzzing right past my head, honestly it was hard not to swat!)..and Mike loved the reptile exhibit.

Mike is fascinated by snakes, while I prefer to see them behind glass!

We met some fun new friends while visiting the area, they had followed us on Instagram and messaged us with an invite to a yummy breakfast and then to a fun wine-walk event in downtown Tucson.  And, while staying at Gilbert Ray, we had a visitor, a very sweet couple who lived nearby and saw, on Instagram, that we were there so they came by to say hello!

Instagram has been an unexpectedly great way to not only meet people, but also a place to share information with fellow travelers!  We started our Instagram largely for family and friends to follow along on our journey (knowing I would NOT keep this blog up to date!) but quickly learned it was a really great social media platform to 'talk to' other travelers!

A crazy huge Saguaro in SNP!

We left Gilbert Ray after our week long stay and traveled over to another great park, Picacho Peak State Park.  Again, a nicely laid out campground in and amongst the cacti!  The sunsets in Arizona are phenomenal...and we were treated to a few really beautiful ones!

One of the big draws at this state park is the peak!  Mike had hiked/climbed it once before, last year, and, as I was struggling with a shoulder injury, I opted out...  Oh, did I mention that the hike requires upper body strength because there are cables?!  I'm not an avid hiker, but this one, though steep, was short and interesting...so I said I was in this time.

The Peak!

We made it!  (And I was kind of dreading the downhill portion!)

Crazy, but fun!
We then moved up to Lost Dutchman State Park...another of our favorite spots!

From here, I flew up to Oregon, to spend a week in Pacific City...and Mike did this...

At the top of Flat Iron!  He's kind of a stud for an old guy (who just turned 59)!

Amazing night skies!

PDX carpet

Tired of beach pictures yet?!  I saw everything from raging winter storms to beautiful (chilly) calm days...and didn't do much other than stare out the windows!  Oh, and enjoy the bathtub!  It was heavenly!

Last sunset!

Happy to have gotten a week to myself in my favorite place
but ready to be with my favorite people!

Mandatory PDX picture!

Oh, and I did find this lovely treasure on my last beach walk!
Okay, his smile was the best greeting!
 It was cold and snowy in Pocatello!  But seeing these faces was the best!


Ozzy stayed warm and cozy inside.

Sweet Myla!

Love this family!

We had a fun Christmas morning with this kid gang!  Last year we opted to stay in SoCal for the holidays and it was okay...but this was better!

Sisters at their favorite new cookie spot!

One more squeeze with this little man!
Leaving the cold...

Arriving in Phoenix was wild...it no longer felt like December!

It really was surreal, leaving the cold winter wonderland for the sunshine and 75 degrees!  Tough transition, but I think I found my way to the pool the next day!  

Mike's dad picked us up and it was great to see his smiling face again!  And within a day or two, another family member joined our little RV gang...Mike's sister, Kelly, and her hubby, Mark, arrived with their pups in tow!  We were excited to see them and excited that we were going to go adventuring together!

We were neighbors, once again, with Marion (Mike's dad)!  Good to hug on him again!

Another neighbor!

We celebrated Mark's birthday in this funky little Mexican restaurant
and they had this artist's work on their walls...really cool!

USA Today has an online read...and they were doing an article on the culture of Airstreamers and we were the featured photo!  So cool!

We finished out 2018 in love and in gratitude...for our friends and family and for the freedom we have to roam this amazing country with our home in tow.  

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