March 14, Tuesday
I’m very glad that my friends in Maricopa, AZ have a 20 amp plug in for me to use while I’m visiting. The morning is already heating up and it won’t be long before the A/C becomes necessary.
Tammy and I take a morning walk before it gets unbearable. Heading east has put me back into Saguaro country. Sonoran Desert National Monument isn’t too far away to the south and west.
We pass by a little shrine with a bench and cross dedicated to someone. It would be a nice place to sit if it wasn’t in the sun.
Creosote bushes are in bloom, lizards scamper underfoot, and cholla grow by the road, waiting to snag passing animals with their fruit. The Sonoran desert is my favorite, there’s a lot of life out here.
Near the end of the loop is a hill that can be climbed for a view of the surrounding area. The ridge of mountains makes a nice backdrop.
The afternoon is spent inside watching TV (a rarity for me) and supper is pizza.
March 15, Wednesday
When is the best time of day to drive through Phoenix?
That’s the question on my mind this morning as I prepare Cas for travel. In the end I leave Maricopa around 9:30 am, which has me going through after the morning commute traffic is gone before the lunch crowd is on the road.
It ends up being a good decision, I experience no traffic slowdowns. This doesn’t mean that driving through a large city while towing a trailer is fun, because it isn’t, but it’s the least stress possible given the situation.
The scenery on I17 north of Phoenix is amazing. Mountains, lots of cactus, and everything is green, green, green. I drove this route before two years ago, but it was in January in the heart of winter.
The road climbs north of Black Canyon City and at the top is Sunset Point, a busy little rest stop with a scenic view and ample grass. Already temperatures are more tolerable, it feels good to escape the heat.
It’s getting towards lunch time. I still get a little thrill from making food at a rest stop when the nearest restaurant or grocery store is miles away. After eating I check out the overlook, not bad!
A brown sign announces Prescott National Forest, and the grass gives way to juniper forest. The last leg my journey on I17 is all downhill. A sign announces a 6% grade for 7 miles heading into Camp Verde. Along this descent Prescott National Forest ends and Coconino National Forest begins. This is the one I’ll be camping in! The red rock cliffs become visible to the north.
At Camp Verde I turn off I17 onto 260, and near Cottonwood get on 89A heading northeast. A crossroads appears about eight miles down, with Forest Road 525 on the west and Angel Valley Road on the east. Both are open to boondocking, I turn down 525 and cross a cow grate. It’s Spring Break week, and the crowds are out in force. The first couple boondock areas along 525 are packed. Nope, not for me…
At the second cow grate a couple miles in, the road splits. 525 continues to the right, and 525C veers off to the left. 525C also has boondocking and I follow that. A couple miles on that and the road comes out on top of a grassy hill with a beautiful view of the cliffs.
This would be an ideal location, but there are only about eight spots and they’re all occupied. If I camped here I’d be on top of my neighbor. I value privacy more, so I end up a spot about a half-mile before the top, tucked into juniper trees.
Sometimes things don’t go your way when full-timing. I could be grumpy about not getting one of the “good” spots, but all that would do is ruin my enjoyment of the area. I can’t change the situation, so I might as well forget about what I don’t have and focus on what I do. For instance, it’s been a while since I’ve camped in trees which makes this spot more novel, and they offer good privacy from the main road. It overlooks a little canyon which is pretty cool. I don’t get much of a cliff view but the hills to the south are quite visible. And best of all, it’s free!
Visible in the above picture is a pole with a yellow sign, it says Closed Area: foot and horse travel permitted. My curiosity demands that I check it out sooner rather than later, but probably not today as the sun is already going down. Scouting out a spot took longer than I anticipated. Goodnight, Sedona.
March 16, Thursday
The little trail behind my site ends up being an extended camping area that has been dismantled, as evidenced by the ash piles without fire rings. There’s some trash back here which makes me sad. On a future day, I’ll bring a garbage bag out with me.
And true to the sign, there’s signs of horse traffic, although I’m not sure why as this isn’t a trail that goes anywhere.
In the evening, Xscapers friends Brock and Janine invite me and their neighbors over to their rig for dinner and a fire. They have a spot with a good view of the cliffs.
Dinner is chicken tacos, they’re delicious. I’ve brought my LED poi with me and have some fun at the fire. Brock has a real knack for photography and the kind of equipment necessary for low-light conditions. After months I finally have picture proof, here it is everyone, me spinning poi!
Here’s to food, fun, and friends!
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