"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, September 30, 2020

Wrapping up CA & Boondocking in Payson, AZ

Jamul, AZ
Thousand Trails 

After our fabulous time in San Diego, we have 2 more stops at Thousand Trails parks in the next few days before leaving California for Arizona.  First up was the Pio Pico location.
There are two sections to the park, one on each side of the road.  We chose the quieter one and picked a spot with a strong cell signal.  It's hit and miss out here.  It's an old park but clean and quiet.  It's still very hot and there aren't many trees where we could pick up a signal.  There were 2 swimming pools.
There also isn't much to do.  We only had a few days so we took some drives around after Steve finished work.  We drove into the small town and then up towards the next Thousand Trails we'd be staying at to check it out. 
We drove through the area that was on fire just a week before while we were down in San Diego.  The roads had just opened back up here in the mountains.  You could easily see the burn areas and the red from the fire retardant.

It was still a bit smoky.  Good thing we checked out the park at Descanso just an hour north.  There are only a couple sites large enough for us and the inner loop road would not have been fun to drive.  I'm not even sure we'd have been able to make the turn.  We stayed one more night where we were then headed out to Arizona.
On the way I read about the Desert View Tower landmark in Jacumba Hot Springs, CA off Hwy 8.  Bert Vaughn who owned the town of Jacumba built the stone lookout between 1922 and 1928.  It has a 70 foot tall tower with views of the deserts in the distance.  It has a museum decorated with random items.  

There we are.  We checked ahead to make sure the parking lot could hold us and had enough turn around room.

The fun part though is the Boulder Park seen below from the tower.  Random animals and people are carved out of the boulders.  We had just as much fun climbing around as some of the kids did.

We climbed around the boulders about a 1/2 hour to discover many of the animal rocks.

There are a couple tunnel rocks to climb under, through and over.

On the way back out we drove very slowly to get a few pictures of what appeared to be a drive thru flea market.  Either that or a very scary RV Park.
Who is that peering out of the window?
No one I'd want to visit!

It was a bit creepy.  A strange mix of weirdness with a little for anyone.  Glad we stayed in the truck.

Back on the road and through the colorful hills before we dropped back down into the sand dunes.

Driving alongside the All American Canal on I-8.

Casa Grande, AZ
Pinal County Fairgrounds

I didn't get any pictures but we only stayed overnight so we could split up the 7 hour drive to Payson.  We also popped in to see the progress on the new house our friends Curt and Glenda were building in Robson Ranch.  It's a beautiful adult-only park, no RVs.  Full of all those amenities like a golf course, pools, tennis etc.  Curt and Glenda are off the road now and residing here year round.  It is a very nice home and community.

Mogollon Rim/Payson, AZ
Old Rim Rd. (boondocking)

We've driven through Payson on our way in and out of AZ many times over the years and always wanted to camp here.  We drove up to the "Rim" just east of Payson.  Payson sits at 4890' elevation.  It is in the pines and reminds us of Placerville, CA where we used to live.  It is still pretty hot there but up on the Rim at 8000+ feet and is much cooler.  The 10 days we stayed here were mostly in the 70s/40s.
Old Rim Rd is right off Rt. 260 and easy to get to.  It's National Forest and free to camp in.  While you can boondock in so many places up here, this particular area has roughed in camp areas with a table and rock firepits.  They are numbered and have markers so show you boundary markings.  They want to protect the area and not have roads cut in all over.  Best thing is you're right on the rim.
Most sites are huge and there is lots of seperation from your neighbor.
The blue dot is where we camped and the exact coordinates are below.  Note the division of green to the left.  That is the cliff on the treed left.  Some sites overlook the cliff within feet.  Most of those sites didn't have room for us or the road would not accommodate us.  It is very windy at the edge as well.  Gorgeous views though as you will see later.

The road driving in to the over 100 sites is nice and wide and fairly smooth.
A bit about this famous area.
The Mogollon Rim (pronounced moggy-yunn rim), cuts across the northern half of Arizona for about 200 miles.  It forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau.  It's characterized by high cliffs of limestone and sandstone.  Western author Zane Grey built a hunting cabin near here and Louis L'Amour's novel The Sackett Brand includes writings of this area.
There was just a bit of smoke from a recent fire left looking over the rim before the days wind cleared it up.
The sun sets over the rim and makes for spectacular pictures.  There is a nice trail that runs right along the rim as well as a few pullouts on a nearby road.

We hiked here a couple of times as it was so pretty.  See the giant heart boulder?

There are also wild horses that roam around the campsites.  Elk are very plentiful up here.  It is rutting season and the boys are showing off their vocal skills.  Usually we see so many of them here.  Almost like Estes Park in Colorado.  We hardly saw any this trip but boy they were all around us and their bugling would wake us up during the night.
Bugling Elk at Night, eerie.  (turn up speakers)
While it was difficult to sleep at times with the Elk so loud, it didn't seem to bother Hurley!

Here is a look down at Rt 260 from the Rim above on the trail.

On one part of the trail we came upon this swing.  Carved into the seat was #therimswing.

The scenery up here is gorgeous.  We hiked alone most of the trail.  The cliff is a straight drop off.

More gorgeous sunsets from the Rim.

One day we drove all around checking out other possible places to camp and lake access to a couple nearby lakes to kayak.  After that we had dinner at Casa Ramos in Heber.  The drinks were great and the food very good too.

We grabbed a couple geocaches the next day on some of the trails near where we are camped.  This one brought us to the grave of Al Foulton.  All we know is that he was shot and buried here.  
There are 3 different versions of his death.  Who knows for sure if he was shot, hung, or fell of his horse?
While hiking back Hurley spotted this cute little guy.

There are a few lakes up here but getting to them requires long bumpy, dusty drives down dirt roads.  Some taking us an hour to get to.  We checked out Woods Canyon but it was very crowded and it wouldn't be easy to get our kayak to the lake.  Bear Canyon wasn't much better.  We opted for Willow Springs which was right across the road from us and much easier to get to.  We mistakenly thought the road in was closed but figured it out.
We chose Sunday to paddle hoping that most campers would be going back home.  This area is crazy popular and very crowded.  A warning if you are going to travel Rt 260 do not head east on a Friday or west (back to Payson) on a Sunday!  It was backed up for MILES!!
We were lucky as most of the people were gone and we had the lake almost to ourselves!  We paddled around for hours watching the eagles flying and smelling the nice pine air.

We had some RV friends that were camping at Homolovi State Park and we decided to meet up in Winslow to eat at the Turquoise Room.  We enjoyed  Standing on the Corner for the umpteenth time and walked around before heading to  the La Posada Hotel.

The La Posada Hotel is historical and beautiful.  I've written the history about it many times but you can read more about this railroad/hotel stop HERE.  It's a must see.  Plan to spend time at the grounds looking at the architecture, gardens and art after you've stood on the corner and visited Glenn Fry.  Plan a meal too as the food is outstanding!
Here we are with Ruth and Dale and Sherry too for our social distanced dinner.

We loved our time here, hiking and paddling and listening to the elk.  On our last night we tried out a bottle of red Snoop Dog wine.  It was actually very good!

Our last stop before our month stay in Surprise was at the Thousand Trails in Cottonwood.  Curt and Glenda changed their plans so that we could meet up before they moved into their new home.  

We took a drive through Cottonwood (another town we need to spend more time in) and Jerome.  On our way we stopped by the first geocache we ever hid (on my birthday :-) to replace the log and make sure it was in good shape.

Before saying our goodbyes, we stopped in at the THAT Brewery.  We had some appetizers and enjoyed each others company as this would be their last time as Fulltime RVers.
Good Luck in your new home!