"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Last Days in Usery, then on to Catalina - AZ

Mesa, AZ
Usery Regional Park

We have a couple of days left here in Mesa before we drive south to Tucson. There was a hike and a kayak trip we wanted to get in.

Lee and Trace were out for the day so it was Steve, myself, Bert & Kat going on the hike.
The Wind Cave Trail is a 3 mile moderate round trip hike.  The cave isn't really so much a cave as it is an overhang.  It wasn't anything too special but did have a great view from the top.  If you wanted to get more technical, you could continue around the cave and up to the very top, but it is said to be rough and steep.  It was later in the day and our group chose to just go to the cave.  I was also a bit leery because there is a known bee colony up there.

Before we headed out another Rattlesnake slithered by Lee & Trace's site.

The view as you head up. 

This is the hive hanging on the top of the "cave".  I'm zoomed in. Luckily for me, there weren't too many bees buzzing around.  I wasn't too sure if I was going to join the others at the cave as a couple coming down warned us that there was a swarm at the last switchback.  Turned out not to be the case.  Just some bees collecting pollen on a tree, not a swarm.  Although the sound is unnerving.  I tried my best to remain calm.  I only flinched once while doing the video when a few flew by me.  Have I mentioned I hate bees?

Deciding if we'll go on up or just head back down.

Down it is.  The trail is pretty rocky and we didn't feel up to the scrambling today.
Nice enough view from the top.

Once down, we hiked another trail and did a little geocaching.

Looking back up at the cave trail.
We relaxed the rest of the day and joined Kat & Bert for a nice dinner and watched the sun go down.

We really wanted to get back on the water once more so Lee, Trace, Steve & I spent the morning kayaking on Canyon Lake.  Canyon Lake is one of four reservoirs that were formed by the damming of the Salt River.  There is a small river inlet that is calm and beautiful.  That was our destination for lunch.
Lee and Trace have a very nice inflatable kayak that is more easily stored than a typical kayak.  A little inflation and viola!  Your on the water.

This is a favorite spot to fish as well.

Trace & Lee

This was a popular place for kayaking today.

It's a beautiful little canyon, but for some reason it was a much shorter paddle than we remembered.  After a nice lunch drifting about we headed out to the larger part of the lake to see if we had enough time to paddle towards the next connecting lake.

Trace & Lee

The lake is pretty open and can get very choppy quickly.  It wasn't too bad so we stuck near the shore and looked up at the canyon walls.

You can see the tip of Weaver's Needle in the background.

Trace spotted this Bighorn Sheep up at the top.  This is the best I could get with my cellphone.

We circled part way around the lake and wanted to make a couple of stops on the way back for some pictures at a couple of pull outs.

At this pull over there is a nice view of Canyon Lake from above.

Another short walk to Weaver's Needle View Point.  Not really that great of a view of the Needle though. (back, middle)  Weaver's Needle hike on the other side of the Superstitions is fantastic though and we highly recommend it.  We did it last year.  You can see the blog post on that hike and see how impressive Weaver's Needle is from the other side!

Before saying Goodbyes to all of our friends, we had one more dinner to go to at Jeff & Shelly's.

On the way we took one more picture of Flat Iron.  This angle gives a good view of part of the trail.

See the slightly darker "line" going from the middle up to the top?  That is the "draw" portion of the trail where you are doing the most rock climbing.  And yes, it is as steep and straight up as it looks.

Jeff & Shelly moved here to Gold Canyon last year from where we lived in Placerville.  It's nice to be able to see them as we spend quite a bit of time in Arizona.  They have a very beautiful place on the golf course with a great view of Flat Iron.

Jeff is quite the chef and really spoils us!  Filet Mignon, shrimp in creamy polenta, baby potatoes and homemade Ceasar salad.  I didn't get a picture of his homemade Crème Brule, but it was amazing! 

We ate poolside and watched the Full Pink Moon rise.

Flat Iron in the background from their rooftop viewing deck.

Shelly & Jeff

Thank you for another great evening!  See you again later this year.

After saying goodbyes to Lee & Trace who are moving on to Las Vegas and then Oregon, we headed off to Tucson for a couple of days with Kat & Bert.

Catalina State Park has some nice long campsites with great views of the Catalina Mountains in the distance.  It's a great park, but a bit further from Tucson itself.

Our nice, private spot.

After a lazy day we watched the full moon set and drank some wine with the girls at our firepit and talked about the rest of our trips.  They will be heading to Lubbock, Texas and we'll be heading towards the NM/TX border.

With one day left Bert and I decided to do a little bike riding.


Later that day we had some business to take care of in town and then a short bike ride before meeting some RV friends whose blog I follow but have never been able to meet yet.
I thought this would be a good ride as even though it was a hot and windy day, it followed the Rillito River. The lizards didn't seem to mind the hot pavement, they were everywhere!

Why do I always forget that many of these rivers are dry during most of the year?  The path was nice, but just didn't have the scenery I was hoping for.

On to Thunder Canyon Brewery to finally meet Steve & Mona Liza of The Lowe's Travels.  They are always on some great hike and Mona Liza takes beautiful pictures.

We really had a great time.  So nice to meet you both! 
Onward to Texas!


  1. Very nice! So how is the inflatable kayak? Easy to maneuver?

    1. I haven't paddled in one, but the people we know that own them like them. I think if you kayak often hard side is the way to go, but if you only paddle occasionally and/or have space issues, they are a good alternative.

  2. We hiked the Wind Cave this year too and Ron and I tried to hike on past the not maintained sign. We didn't get too far. Too much scrambling and the trail is not easy to follow. Looks like your friends do have a nice home. I need to remember Catalina SP. Looks like a great place to park for a while. Did you dry camp there or some hook ups? Enjoy the travels eastward.

    1. Catalina SP had water and electric. Great views from many of the sites.

  3. A naturalist at the Desert Museum told us that bees will 'bump' you first to let you know that you are getting too close to the hive. He said if you start getting stung, run 1/4 to 1/2 mile away from the hive, as they won't wander that far from it. Best to avoid them like you do, if you know they are there.

    1. I try not to get anywhere even near close enough to get "bumped"! And don't worry about me running 1/2 mile away either. Only thing you'd have to worry about is if you were in my escape route! I can't promise you wouldn't get knocked over!

  4. OMG, stop with the rattle snake pics or at least zoom way out so they look real small - LOL. Snakes is one thing that startles me.

    We have the same inflatable boat as Lee and Trace have, judging by the photo. It's a Sea Eagle Fast Trac 385. It is way easy to maneuver.

    Here is a link to my research - hope it's okay to post it?


    Really nice you all had a chance to get together. I've been reading about it on Trace's site as well. You all from the class of 2014 remain my heroes. That was the year I began considering going fulltime and found your blogs. Really learning a lot from you and the group.

    1. Sorry, wish I could say the snakes were small, but.... (that's ok, I feel the same way about bees/wasps!)
      Thanks for the link, didn't think to add one. Yes, it's the same model I believe. Us 14er's remain close and see each other quite often. We're really lucky to have such a fun group! Now you need to get out here!

    2. I've been a hobby beekeeper for nearly 10 years. Lots of folks have come out to my hives to get over fear of bees. Really an interesting insect. Easy to know what to watch for once you have been around them a lot. Suppose the same thing can be said about snakes.

      Bees do bump you to warn to stay away. But, some parts of the country have Africanized colonies which I have no experience with their attitudes. Foraging honey bees have zero interest in stinging you. That usually happens when you swat them or try to get them out of your hair. A swarm of bees is nearly as docile because they are not guarding a hive and their stomachs are full of honey, while looking for a new home.

      It would not be surprising if the bees you saw on the tree were part of a swarm, left behind when the main swarm left with the queen. For example, the bees that were out looking for a new home return and smell where the queen had been. My hives are building queens to swarm so it's that time of year, at least here. They don't collect pollen in large groups.

      An interesting note is they often put off a banana smell when they sting. It's a pheromone they put off to warn other bees. Non-Africanized bees will not chase you far. Maybe just a few feet. I've had hives that total 700,000 bees in an area of 10x20'. I've got no problem walking up to them in shorts and flip flops during certain times of the year. I should do a blog post about bees for those worried.

      Have fun in your travels Debbie. Really enjoy your posts.

    3. Ack! Cool hobby, I get it, but still don't like them. As a person with long hair, others don't get it. I don't know if they "smell the fear" or whatever, but I swear they will pick me out to torture! Not much worse than a pissed off bee buzzing all tangled up in your hair! Yes, I'm fairly familiar with the Africanized bees. I prefer to stay far away from any of them! Thanks for the info though ;-)

  5. We just have to do Canyon Lake next winter. Catalina SP looks great, will have to consider that when we get to Tuscon next time.

    1. The lake is a nice alternative when it really starts to get hot. Catalina is nice for being on the east side, but it really is a ways from the other Tucson activities.


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