Delayed Departure

Some medical issues pushed back our southbound departure by an unexpected two months. As a result we got to experience Buffalo’s Christmas Blizzard. Very memorable. When we finally did set out, it was to the beat of Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again”. We headed south to central Florida to be reunited with the Tincan. It was waiting patiently for us at Pat’s brother and sister-in-law’s house. After some family time we drove north to Crooked River SP in St. Mary’s, Georgia.

Site 9

Our site was surrounded by Long Leaf Pines and gave us a view of St. Mary’s River (THE CROOKED RIVER).

Those Long Leaf Pines produce large pine cones

The campground is just down the road from the King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base. Based on the traffic in and out of the base it must be a major employer in this largely rural part of Georgia.

The USS George Bancroft partially buried near the main gate of the base

The park offers a number of hiking/biking trails through the palmetto and pine forest as well as along the River.

There’s no telling who you’ll run into on the trail.

Gopher tortoise

The ruins of a Tabby Sugar Works from 1825 lies just down the road from the campground. It was part of the New Canaan sugarcane plantation.

Tabby is a type of concrete made from burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and other broken oyster shells. This technique is thought to have originated in Africa.


Part of the appeal of Crooked River SP is its proximity to the Georgia sea islands: Cumberland Island, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. A ferry ride is required to visit Cumberland Island but St. Simons and Jekyll Island are within an hour’s drive.

The Dungeness Ruins on Cumberland Island

We took our bikes on the ferry to explore Cumberland Island National Seashore. The island is undeveloped and about 17 miles long. With limited time, we didn’t want to miss the last ferry back to St. Mary’s so we concentrated on the southern end of the island.

We rode about 4 miles north down a sand road to checkout the underutilized Little Greyfield Beach

In the 1880’s Thomas Carnegie, (Andrew’s brother) bought up much of the island and built Dungeness Mansion. He died before it was completed but his wife Lucy and their nine children lived there until 1925. The deserted mansion burnt down in 1959. The island became a National Seashore in 1972.

Wild horses can be seen throughout the island

We made our way to Sea Camp Beach to check out this popular destination. The park service constructed a boardwalk over the dunes for easier access to the beach.

It sure is fun riding on the beach

Colonial era Fort Frederica is located on St. Simons Island about 50 minutes from our campground. James Edward Oglethorpe established this fort and colony as a way to challenge the Spanish in Florida. The grounds of this National Monument are lovely to wander.

The remains of the tabby powder magazine is all that’s left of the fort that guarded the twisty river approach to the town.

Just over the Georgia border in Florida is Amelia Island, again about 50 minutes from the campground. We ventured down to the island to explore the Eagan Creek Greenway.

We experienced some rainy weather so decided to leave camp and check out Brunswick, Georgia. The town boasts a brewery (Silver Bluff Brewing) and a rum distillery across the street. The brewery was crowded with St. Patrick’s Day celebrants so we opted for the distillery. Richland Rum proved to be a good choice.

We did a tasting and dove in.

In 1733 James Edward Oglethorpe established an English Colony on Jekyll Island. He named the island after his financial backer Sir Joseph Jekyll. The island now boasts 23 miles of biking trails, including 10 miles of beach riding.

In 1886, the island was purchased by the Jekyll Island Club. By the turn of the century they built a vacation resort patronized by some of America’s wealthiest families.

The original Club House

In 1947, the island was sold to the state of Georgia for use as a public park. National Landmark status was awarded to the island’s historic district.

The interactive Mosaic museum does a good job of presenting the history of the island

While the history of the island is interesting, the main draw for us are the beaches and bike trails.

Driftwood Beach
Horton Pond
Great Dunes Beach

We have visited Georgia several times in our travels but never had the opportunity to visit the “ Golden Isles”. We are certainly glad we made the effort this trip. But we are not leaving Georgia yet- next up is the beautiful city of Savannah- just two hours up the coast.

South Bound

Fellow travelers have been telling us about Greenville, SC for a number of years. They heaped praise on it’s walkable downtown park with a waterfall. SO…based on that we decided to include it on our trip south.We found a state park nearby and made our way to Greenville.

Paris Mountain SP site 26

The Reedy River runs through the center of Greenville. The river was the site of grist and cotton mills. While creating wealth and employment it also created pollution. After some forward thinking civic leaders pushed for cleaning up the river, Falls Park was created.

The curved pedestrian bridge over the river is a highlight.

The architecture of Greenville is an interesting mix of old and new.

As an added bonus you can find “Shoeless “ Joe Jackson’s last home. The house is now a museum and library open to the public. Sadly it was closed during our visit.

As you wander downtown you encounter lots of public art.

Dale Chihuly’s Rose Crystal Tower

While the city is fun to wander through, we enjoyed spending some time hiking the trails around Paris Mountain.

Lake Placid

The park was created in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and contains one of the last CCC amphitheaters. This was the site of church services and Strom Thurmon political rallies in the 1940’s.

CCC amphitheater

There was more to explore around Greenville and Paris Mountain. A return trip is in order but for now it’s time to move on to one of our favorite southern cities, Savannah.

Skidaway Island SP site 50

Part of the appeal of Savannah is that we stay at Skidaway Island State Park. The park is located twenty minutes from downtown and has a number of hiking and biking trails through the Georgia low county.

Due to it’s remoteness, Skidaway Island was the preferred location for moonshiner’s in the early 20th century. The number of stills peaked during prohibition.

Note the axe marks on the barrels, the result of a police raid
Beautiful tidal marshes surround the island
Dusk in the low country

While we didn’t spend much time in the city we sure enjoyed our time here in the low country. It was time to pack up and head to Florida for some family visits.

Site 43

We set up camp at Gamble Rogers State Park. The park is located on the Atlantic Coast near Flagler Beach. We’ve stayed here before because of its proximity to assorted family members and it’s easy beach access. However, beach access was unavailable due to the last hurricane that blew through the area.

Shelly’s sister lives nearby and can still access her neighborhood beach.

Pat and Andrea

We are always amazed by how underutilized the section of beach is.

Pat, Andrea and Jeff

We worked in a trip down to New Smyrna Beach to visit with some of our Nieces and Nephews.

Nancy Beth and Pat

After our brief visits along the Atlantic coast of Florida we moved inland to visit with Pat’s siblings Carolyn and Mike. Mike was kind enough to allow us to park the Tincan in his yard until we return in January. No need to winterize.

Tincantravels will resume after our return to Florida in the new year

Here We Go Again

While winter in the Southwest is hard to beat we’ll be heading to Florida this winter. We have too many friends and family members in Florida who we don’t see enough to pass up a visit in the Southeast.

Shamrock Pines, Franklinville NY

The plan is to take three or four weeks to get to Pat’s brother’s house in Florida where we’ll store the Tincan until we return in January. Our first stop was Franklinville to meet up with with our friends Bill and Sandy. We met in Florida in 2018 when they were full time RVers. It’s always a good time when we met up.

The Crew enjoying Fall in Ellicottville (Photo courtesy of Bill)
No trip to Ellicottville is complete without a visit to the Ellicottville brewery

The next day we packed up and drove to Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands of southern Pennsylvania . We hoped to catch some autumn color and we sure did!

Site 45

The name Ohiopyle is believed to be derived from a combination of American Indian words that mean “white frothy water “. That water is the Youghiogheny River, providing some of the best white water rafting in East.

Ohiopyle Falls

In addition to the fall foliage, we came to ride The Great Allegheny Passage. This Rails to Trails bike path starts in Pittsburgh and travels 150 miles to Cumberland MD. We rode 24 miles (48 miles round trip) of it along the Youghiogheny River.

We used our mountain bikes to ride the trail but it could be easily traversed on road bikes.

The trail was lined with mountain laurel. This would be a wonderful ride in the spring.

The laurel have set their buds for next spring’s bloom

The trail rises from laurel along the river and shows a great view of the river below. The 3 percent grade along this section gave us a good workout.

The railroad was originally used to move coal from this area. Coal veins can be seen in the rock walls along the trail.

That dark vein of rock near the bottom of the photo is coal

In addition to biking there is plenty of hiking to enjoy. We focused in on waterfalls and river hikes.

Cucumber Falls

The hike to Cucumber Falls is a popular hike with limited parking at the trailhead. The trick is to arrive early for parking and solitude along the trail.

The Meadow Run Waterslides are another popular hike. The fast moving water flume would be great fun on a hot summers day.

Across the river from the village of Ohiopyle is the Ferncliff Peninsula National Natural Landmark. This hundred acre peninsula was created by a meander in the Youghiogheny River. The peninsula has lots of hiking and closeup views of Ohiopyle Falls.

300 million years ago Pennsylvania had a tropical climate. As you hike the peninsula you can see fossils from that period along the trail.

Cordaites Fossil
Lepidodendron Scale Fossil
Calamities Fossil

After four days it was time to move on. We only scratched the surface of things to do. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and Kentuck Knob are nearby as well as more hiking and biking. Our next stop will be the Lake Powhatan Recreation area south of Asheville NC and a visit with our nephew Jack and his family.

Bent Creek Campground site 26
It’s hard to resist these photo opportunities
Lake Powhatan

The highlight of our stop was a visit with Jack, Emily and our great niece Sky.

Of Parks and Monuments

We left Kanab, Utah and made our way north to Torrey, Utah to visit Capital Reef National Park. The park’s defining geological characteristic is a wrinkle in the Earth’s crust known as the Waterpocket Fold.

We set up camp on a sunny ridge overlooking a valley
That evening the temperature dropped, the wind howled and snow arrived

Capital Reef features some short hikes and an 8 mile scenic drive that seemed like a nice option on a cold and windy day.

A view from the Goosenecks Overlook
One of the Fremont River’s Gooseneck’s
A view from Panorama Point

The scenic drive let’s visitors easily access many of the parks natural wonders.

The paved scenic drive ends with a dirt road that takes you back into Capital Gorge.

From 600 to 1300 C. E., indigenous people of the Fremont culture occupied Capitol Reef. Evidence of their presence can be seen in the petroglyphs they left behind.

The next day the temperatures rose a bit and the wind calmed so we headed out for to hike the Cohab Canyon Trail.

A steep climb is rewarded with some great views

The trail winds along the top of a mesa to a view of the valley below.

The valley view

We continued north to Vernal Utah which is a few miles from the entrance of Dinosaur National Monument. This park has been on our to do list for the past three years and we were finally able to work it into a trip.

The park includes one of the richest dinosaur fossil records on Earth. The Quarry Visitors Center is built around a wall of exposed dinosaur fossils.

In addition to fossils, the monument also offers some great hiking. We chose the three mile Sound of Silence trail. As advertised this trail offers one of the quietest hikes in the monument.

The hike begins following a sandy wash
The trail snakes through the colorful Chinle Formation
Eventually the trail leads you to the top of a mesa
You have great views of Split Mountain from the top

Dry Creek Canyon is located near Vernal and is home to the McConkie Ranch Petroglyphs. The trail stretches for about 3/4 of a mile along the cliffs above the ranch.

On a cold windy day we drove up to the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area to checkout the views. We weren’t disappointed.

That’s the Green River
The river is popular with rafters

From Vernal we headed East into Colorado and Grand Junction, home to the Colorado National Monument. The monument features the 23 mile Rim Rock Drive that takes you to the top of the Colorado Plateau for stunning views of canyons and rock formations.

Artist Point
Mummy Rock
Independence Monument
Balanced Rock

It’s been a great trip but it’s time to head East and home. Of course we’ll stop in Chicago for a visit with the grandkids before we end our travels. Thanks to those of you who’ve been following along and made the occasional comment (we enjoy hearing from you). This is our last post until we head out on the highway in the fall.

A Week in Kanab, Utah

We avidly read campground reviews and are always looking for new places to stay. Just as Covid struck we started hearing about a new park in Utah. We put it on the list for our next trip out west. Dark Sky RV is a relatively new park. It is a real gem and we would highly recommend it.

The park is just three miles outside of Kanab and close to the Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monument. After a long day of driving we picked a nearby hike to check out the Toadstool formations in the Monument.

The 1.6 mile round trip hike starts in a dry wash
The Toadstools greet you at the end of the hike

A short distance on the other side of town are some man made sand caves. The sand was being mined for glass production but have been abandoned for some time.

To access the caves you must first climb up to a sandstone ledge
On the inside looking out
A close up
Some of the graffiti that can be found in the caves

Besides hiking, the Monument offers a number of scenic drives. We chose the Paria Town Site Road.

The road offers expansive views of the Paria Box
Find Shelly
The road ends at the Paria River

The Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument has a number of unique geological features. They are often in remote and difficult to reach areas of the Monument. We hired a guide for the day to take us back along deep sandy roads to visit “The White Pocket “ formation. We spent over 3 hours exploring this 1 square mile area.

Approaching “The White Pocket “
The black stones are Moqui Marbles (sandstone coated by a layer of iron oxide)

Our guide Mike from Dreamland Safaris did a great job explaining the geology and history of the indigenous people in the area. We visited the remains of an ancient Pueblo and an unusual panel of petroglyphs.

Pottery shards and napped stone littered the site

We also had time to visit the Maze Petroglyphs and it’s unusual two headed snake attempting to enter a maze.

We remember Bryce as a beautiful canyon all dressed up in shades of cream, orange and accessorized with deep green pines. Our location in Kanab put us in position for a day trip to hike one of the jaw dropping trails.

We chose to hike part of the “Fairy Land” trail to the “Tower Bridge” rock formation. This trail is less populated then many of the other trails.

A Bristlecone Pine along the trail
The Chinese Wall
It’s a 1.7 mile hike down to the Tower Bridge formation

The road to Bryce Canyon takes you by the Forest Service park Red Canyon. We’ve passed it a few times but have never stopped. That changed this trip. A short hike got us to “Salt and Pepper “, two of the park’s hoodoos.

Our day at Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon necessitated a day of rest before heading out to hike the southwest’s longest and deepest slot canyon, Buckskin Gulch. We approached it by way of Wire Pass another slot canyon.

A walk down a sandy wash takes you to the entrance of Wire Pass
The way into Buckskin Gulch
Water in the canyon required careful navigation

After another day in the beauty that is Southern Utah we headed back to Dark Sky RV.

A Week Among the Rocks

We left Red Rock country and headed south and west to the central highlands of Arizona. We settled in at a private RV park, Point of Rocks RV, nestled in the granite Dells of Prescott AZ.

Site 63

We arrived to overcast skies, some intermittent rain and colder temperatures. Watson Lake was a short hike from camp and we wasted little time before going exploring, the weather be damned.

The lake was created in 1916 when Granite Creek was dammed as part a Chino Valley irrigation project.

Scrambling among the granite boulders surrounding the lake offers endless possibilities for exploration.

The Dells owe their distinctive look to long term weathering of natural cracks in the granite. These granite boulders are estimated to be 1.4 billion years old.

Nearby is the Pea Vine/Iron Lion trail. This 11 mile trail system runs along the bed of the former Santa Fe & Prescott RR.

The Iron Lion Trail emerges from the granite boulders into an expansive view of the Prescott Valley.

The Pea Vine Trail also has great views along the shore of Watson Lake.

Also close to camp is the Constellation Trail system that meanders through the granite Dells. The trails are owned and maintained by the City of Prescott.

White dots mark the trail

We spent a wonderful morning wandering through these magnificent granite boulders.

Thumb Butte is a distinctive feature in the Prescott National Forest on the westside of Prescott.

The steep two mile loop trail takes you to the “Thumb”. Whenever we’ve hiked the trail the final ascent to the top of the Butte has been closed because of Peregrine falcon nesting season. Regardless, the views are great.

That’s the Chino Valley in the distance

It’s been a fun week but time to move on.

Back in Red Rock Country

The allure of Sedona and its stunning scenery continues to draw us to this part of Arizona. We are not the only people who are drawn here. As a result Sedona can become a continuous traffic jam. It’s spring break for many which just adds to the traffic. We like to set up camp out of the fray. Our choice this spring is a private RV park in Page Springs, AZ., just off 89A.

Site 4 at Lo Lo Mai Springs RV
Oak Creek runs through the park

The campground is located in Oak Creek canyon which makes it difficult to watch the sun set. After we set up we drove toward Cottonwood in search of a sunset viewpoint. We headed to the Cliff Rose trails with high hopes.

The Cliff Rose trails are also used by mountain bikers. After hiking part of the trails we decided to give it a go on our bikes.

Everything was going great until we hit the backside of the outer loop. The cliff in Cliff Rose should have been the tip off.

A rocky trail runs next to the cliff drop off
We had a couple of close calls but we survived

We met fellow Airstreamers Noelle and Andy at Usery Mountain Park and realized we’d be in the Cottonwood area at the same time. We decided to meet up for a bike ride along Sycamore Canyon Rd..

We rode out toward the Sycamore Canyon trailhead until it was time for lunch. Using a rutted and cobbled Forest Service rode we headed for a lunch spot overlooking the Verde River. Shoutout to Noelle and Andy for braving this rutted road on their hybrid bikes.

Verde River Canyon

For an extra treat, as we ate the excursion train from Clarkdale went by on the opposite side of the canyon. This is the same train we rode during our visit in the Fall.

The next day we drove to the end of Sycamore Canyon Road(11 miles) where the trail through Sycamore Canyon begins. The trail had been closed when we last visited. The closure was due to fires and flash flooding during the previous year.

Sycamore Canyon
After a steep descent the trail begins
Debris littered the canyon

The fire and flooding necessitated the rerouting of much of the trail making it difficult to follow at times. We hiked in about one mile and then decided to head back.

Watercress thrived along this section of the creek

The crowd visiting Sedona necessitates planning when going on a hike. The trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. You have to arrive early (7:30-8:00am) or mid afternoon after the early birds are leaving. We opted to arrive in the afternoon to hike a section of the Hiline Trail and watch the sun set from Yavapai Vista.

The trail is open to mountain bikes
The trail
We chose to hike

The trail offers iconic views of Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Rock and Bell Rock.

Cathedral Rock
Courthouse and Bell Rock
Waiting for the sun to set

Bubbling Springs Preserve is located a mile down the road from our camp. The Preserve is a popular spot for bird watching and dog walking.

Blackhawk Trail

Along with wonderful scenery, Sedona also boasts a world class restaurant scene. If you want to eat at one of the more popular spots planning ahead is essential. Pat started looking for reservations a month before we arrived in town. She was able to find a coveted table on the patio of Mariposa.

Waiting to be seated

As we dined clouds and rain rolled in. The patio is covered, screened and heated so we ate in comfort.

Our table view

By the end of dinner the rain stopped and the clouds lifted.

During our Fall visit to the area we realized that we had not explored the West Sedona trails. We settled on the Thunder Mountain loop with a detour up to Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock after the climb
The view

The Thunder Mountain Loop Trail is located near the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park and is always worth a visit.

The Stupa

We decided to visit the Mogollon Rim which cuts through northern Arizona. These mountains can reach as high as 8000 feet and form the southern rim of the Colorado Plateau.

We hiked the Pine Loop in Pine Arizona
Ponderosa Pine Pat
Arizona isn’t just desert

On our last day in Sedona we decided to continue our exploration of the West Sedona trails. We chose the Pyramid Mountain Loop. It was a good choice.

The trail offers great views of Cathedral Rock along the trail.

Saying goodbye to Sedona for now

Tucson Redux

Site C19

We secured a week at a favorite Pima County Park, Gilbert Ray Campground. It is located in the Tucson Mountain Park which has wonderful mountain biking trails (the same mountain biking trails that we accessed from Desert Trails RV in Nov and Dec). The park exists thanks to the work of C. B. Brown who was able to prevent mining interests from developing the Tucson Mountains. In 1929 Pima County established Tucson Mountain Park on 29,988 acres of the Sonoran Desert. It was the largest country park in the United States at that time.

New bike, old friend
It’s all about the trails

Part of the joy of travel is discovering unique local restaurants. There are lots of Mexican restaurants in the Tucson area but La Indita offers an interesting twist. The family restaurant draws on its Tohono O’odham roots to influence the menu. One of the specialties is the Indian Taco. Think of a taco with the tortilla replaced with Indian fry bread.

We also found an excellent bread bakery that specializes in sourdough breads; Barrio Bread. If you find yourself in Tucson don’t pass up a visit.

Some of the Tucson Mountain Park trails require biking skill levels beyond what we are capable of. That’s not really a problem because those are the trails we hike. One of these is the 5 mile Brown Mountain Loop.

The trail offers great views of the park

While it’s only early March, spring has begun and this means wild flowers.

Woolly Desert Marigold
Globe Mallow
Fairy Dusters
Parry’s Breadtongue
California Poppy

After seven days in Tucson Mountain Park it was time to move on. We hooked up the Tincan and headed northeast to Catalina State Park. The park is very popular and we were only able to secure a few days in their overflow campground. Basically a dirt parking lot with spots very close together. You also have access to a very nice modern bath and shower facility.

Site 3 in Overflow

The upside is that the other campers are friendly and considerate of other peoples space and we had a spot in a favorite state park where we can continue to hike and bike.

Bridle Path
Biking the Nature Trail

Camping at Catalina SP also puts us within biking distance of the Steam Pump Farmers Market where we stocked up on coffee and greens.

On our last day in the park we decided to hike the Canyon Trail and check out some of the fire damage from the October 2020 fire that burned 47 acres of the park.

Burn damage lines the trail
Water in the Canada del Oro Wash
Photo courtesy of Julie and Scout

Tucson is our turn around point. From here we start heading north.

Lost Dutchman SP, Apache Junction AZ

The park gets its name from the legendary Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant, is purported to have found a rich gold mine in the late 1800’s. On his deathbed he gave a cryptic description of its location in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction. Prospectors are still searching for it in the hope of “striking it rich”.

Site 106 at the base of the Superstition Mts
The Superstitions at dusk

The park is a popular weekend destination for hikers. To avoid the crowds on the trail we did a scenic drive to the Salt River Canyon with a stop in Globe.

The Salt River

The Salt River divides the San Carlos Apache and Salt River Apache reservations. The Apache leader Geronimo once called this area home.

In 1875 silver was discovered on the San Carlos Reservation. The mining camp then relocated to what is now Globe Arizona which was incorporated in 1876. In 1880 copper mining took off and Globe grew along with it.

Besh-Ba-Gowan is an ancient 200 room pueblo of the Salado people who resided there between AD 1250 and 1450. It is located in a city park in Globe.

The site was excavated and reconstructed in the late 1930’s and was funded by the government Works Projects Administration.

The excavations uncovered a wealth of prehistoric artifacts. We particularly enjoyed seeing the Gila Polychrome pottery.

The mountain biking is limited so we spent more time hiking the trails leading up to the mountains.

Limited riding but some fabulous scenery
On the Prospector View Trail
And you do get views

The Siphon Draw Trail is a magnet for hikers. This strenuous hike takes you up into the Superstitions with an option to go beyond the Draw to the top of the Flatiron.

The trail is rocky and steep
The Flatiron
A view from the mouth of the draw
In the Draw

We were able to work in another concert at the Musical Instrument Museum. The Kenny Barron Trio with Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums provided an hour and half of inspired playing.

On our last day in camp we decided to make our way into town for a meal and a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum.

We primarily came to see an exhibit of post war Japanese photography
Mass (Colder Darker Matter) by Cornelia Parker
Wall Drawing #1146 c
A sphere lit from the top
by Sol LeWitt
The Firefly Room by Yayoi Kusama

“Become one with eternity. Obliterate your personality. Our earth is only one polka dot among the million stars in the cosmos.”-Yayoi Kusama

We stopped in to eat at Glai Baan which specializes in Thai street food. We highly recommend this restaurant, some of the best Thai food we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. We then wandered down 24th street to sample the offerings at Wren House Brewing. This brewery is highly rated for good reason.

Our week went by quickly as it always seems to when your enjoying yourself. There is more to explore in the area so we will be back.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park, AZ

The foothills that surround Phoenix are home to a number Maracopia County parks. White Tank Mountain is one we’ve not explored before. It’s located in the west valley of Phoenix in Surprise nestled in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains.

Site 28

As we drove through massive development throughout the west valley we wondered about our park choice. We came for the extensive mountain biking and hiking trails and we were not disappointed.

The Ironwood Trail
The Maricopa Trail
Hiking the Black Canyon Loop during the golden hour
Hiking up the Mule Deer Trail
A view from the Mule Deer Trail

The west valley had long been an agricultural area, where cotton and flowers were cultivated. This part of Phoenix is experiencing explosive growth with fields being replaced by new housing and massive warehouses.

A field of rose bushes and a warehouse six miles from the park entrance
A few of the graders and earth movers that are scraping the fields for development

As an antidote to the developing sprawl of the west valley we traveled 70 miles north of Phoenix to visit the experimental town of Arcosanti.

The architect Paolo Soleri proposed a concept based on the integration of architecture and ecology in the 1970’s. He named the concept arcology. He wanted to demonstrate that urban conditions could improve while minimizing the destructive impact of development.

The buildings are constructed of concrete made from materials found on site. The concrete panels were cast in a bed of silt acquired from the surrounding area and give the concrete a unique color and texture.

The Cafe

Beautiful architectural details can be found around every corner.

The community’s main source of income comes from the sale of bells, both ceramic and cast bronze.

One of the many ceramic bells on display
And bronze bells can be found throughout

White Tank Mountain Park provides a buffer to all the development. For the time being it is a natural oasis that provides a welcome respite. The picnic areas, hiking and biking trails are magnets for the people of Phoenix. We stuck close to camp to maximize our time on the trails during our stay.

On the Waterfall Trail

The waterfall that the trail is named after is seasonal. We didn’t expect to see water so we were surprised to see a pool of water at the base of the falls.

The white granite rocks where water pools during the rainy season is how the mountains got their name, White Tank.

The trail also features numerous petroglyphs created by the Hohokam people who populated the mountains 1000 years ago.

The trails are rocky but still very doable with a mountain bike.

The Ford Canyon Trail
There’s even a competitive track to challenge your riding skills
The Technical Segment of the Competitive Track is recommended for Experts only

Most of the trails in the park are multipurpose, available to hikers, bikers and equestrians. Our preference is biking but some of the trails are beyond our skill level.

Too rocky and steep for a bike

We decided to hike into the mountains to check out three canyons: the Mesquite, Ford and Willow. The eight mile hike took us into the backcountry. We took our time.

We were treated to some great canyon views.

The west valley from the Willow Trail

Spring in Arizona is not far away. Wildflowers are beginning to make their presence known.

California Poppy
Trailing Four O’Clock

On our last day in the park we drove to the Musical Instrument Museum(MIM). This is one of our favorite museums. If you find yourself in the Phoenix area don’t pass this museum by. There are permanent exhibits and every country of the world has a display featuring its native instruments and music. In addition they have rotating special exhibits, Treasures: Legendary Musical Instruments is currently on display.

Our favorite treasure was Eric Dolphy’s 1949 Selmer Balanced Action

The permanent exhibits also feature some very unusual instruments.

Trumpet Call Harmonica

The museum also has a wonderful 350 seat concert hall with amazing acoustics. We stuck around to hear Leo Kottke and Dave King. This unusual pairing was remarkable and a pleasant way to end our time at White Tank Mountain Park.