Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona


We haven’t spent much time on the bike here this year yet. It’s been cooler, and we got a great deal on a private car rental so we’ve been cruising in a convertible with the top down on warmer days.

1998 Sebring Convertible

1998 Sebring Convertible

We’ve also been participating in more activities in the resort, and not doing as much site seeing as last year. But, we have had a few adventures lately.

A couple of weeks ago we drove out to Papago Park, a half-hour drive north-west from here. We’d seen the big hole in the rock last year, but didn’t figure out how to get to it. This year Jim did some research and we discovered this interesting hike and beautiful park.

The walk up to the “Hole in the Rock” was an easy climb. It’s a very popular spot. It was difficult to get some of the shots we wanted without a crowd of people in them, but we managed a few dozen.

Hole in the Rock

Hole in the Rock as seen from the base.

Hole in the Rock

Looking up from the backside

Climbing up the trail

Climbing up the trail

Sun reflecting off the ceiling

Sun reflecting off the ceiling

The view from inside

The view from inside

Hole in the Rock

Oasis in Papago Park

After we left the hole, we walked up another hill to Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a National Monument in memory of the First Governor of Arizona. I found it interesting that his mother’s maiden name was Yates, the same as my mother. Maybe we are related!

Hunt Momument

Hunt Monument

From there we made our way back down to the treed oasis in the centre of the park. The late afternoon sun was perfect for snapping photos

Papago Park Oasis

Papago Park Oasis

IMG_4379 IMG_4411 IMG_4417An area of picnic tables by the pond would have been a great place to enjoy a picnic dinner. We’ll have to go back another day.

Football Fever in Arizona


While Hockey Fever is often rampant back home in Canada this time of year, in the United States ‘tis the season for football. Here in Arizona it is especially contagious this year because the Super Bowl is coming to Phoenix next month.

We have never been followers of football, but if you are on the patio during the days or evenings that the Arizona Cardinals are playing, and a crowd is watching it on the TVs, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. It’s even more so when the Cardinal’s opponents are the Seattle Seahawks because they have a very large following among snowbirds from Washington State. Many of those live on our block and are our winter friends, so if we’re cheering we too cheer for the Seahawks.

It is also apparent that many western Canadians support the “Hawks” as well, since Seattle is just across the border and not too far to travel for a game. My daughter and her fiancé are among them. The weekend before Christmas they even flew into Phoenix for the final game between the Cardinals and the Seahawks, which pleased me for the opportunity to spend some time with them.

On the Saturday we drove to Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, to join them for the day. The first item on the agenda was a tour of the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals and venue for all major games, including the Super Bowl. It was an awesome experience.

Where does all that turf go when the Bike Show is on?

Where does all that turf go when the Bike Show is on?

It's rolled out the back door, intact, on rails, to this usually empty lot.

It’s rolled out the back door, intact, on rails, to this usually empty lot.

The media moving in, setting up for the big game.

The media moving in, setting up for the big game.

Stadium2

Who’s that in the Press Box?

Most of the people on the tour were from out-of-town, and were there to root for the Hawks the next day. I think we were the only ones without tickets. Although we thought it would be fun to join Ann and Frank, by that time the only tickets left were $7,000! Imagine what they will be for the Super Bowl! We’ve heard rumours that park models and RVs as far away as Mesa can fetch upwards of $5,000 for the week of the big game. Hmm, maybe we should take the car or bike to California for the week. We’d like to see Disney Land. Anyone want to rent a motor home?

More Spelunking — Antelope and Rattlesnake Canyons


Since arriving in Mesa this time, we have revisited many of our favourite places, such as Tortilla Flat and Gold Ghost Town, on Superstition Mountain, Arizona Opry, and Organ Stop Pizza, often acting as tour guides to visitors or newcomers.

We also had the joy of some new experiences in December. Our Christmas/birthdays gift from Jim’s daughter, Cheryl and her family was a tour of the famous Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona. Jim’s gifts to them were two tickets to come visit us. Cheryl, Craig and their two children arrived the second week of December and the six of us left for Page the next morning. Our only vehicle being the motorcycle, we had to rent a van to accommodate all of us.

We made a stop in Sedona to give them the opportunity to climb Cathedral Mountain, as we’d done last year when Karen was here.

Cathedral Rock

Craig, Victoria & Jim below Cathedral Rock

Our tour of Antelope Canyon was booked for 9:00 am the following day, so we had booked rooms at the Travelodge for the night. The morning was cool; Craig hadn’t had time to pack a warm jacket so had to make a quick trip to a nearby store to find one. In the meantime, Victoria and Sterling were excited to discover that their “elves-on-the-shelf” had found them.

When we got to the tour office, after first going to the wrong one, we learned that this tour, Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours, included a hike through Rattlesnake Canyon. This is the only tour company that is permitted to do so, because  it is on Navajo land and the company is owned by a Navajo family. We climbed into a big 4 X 4 with our guide, Kim, and headed off across the desert sands to Rattlesnake Canyon. Kim was an excellent guide, telling us some history of the Navajos and the canyons as we drove. When we arrived she also displayed her additional skills as a photographer, setting our cameras up so we would get good photos, pointing out the best angles for certain shots, and often taking photos for us so we could be in them. What we saw was incredible.

Rattlesnake Canyon

Rattlesnake Canyon

Hello Sterling!

Page Book 6 Rattlesnake1 Rattlesnake6 Rattlesnake7 Rattlesnake10 Rattlesnake Canyon

Rattlesnake Canyon

Almost stuck!

Rattlesnake Canyon

Climbing Out

Antelope Canyon

This one is more often photographed and has some beautiful walls, but we found Rattlesnake more colourful.

antelope canyon

Antelope Canyon

Do you see the heart?

Antelope Canyon

Spelunking at Kartchner Caverns State Park


Our last stop before settling into our spot in Mesa, Arizona was at Kartchner Caverns State Park, near Benson Arizona. We’d reached Benson before noon and could easily have continued on to Mesa that day, but I’d picked up a brochure about the Caverns at the last KOA, and we were actually two days ahead of schedule, so took the opportunity to investigate. This is a state park with full-hook-up for RVs and can accommodate large rigs in the spacious sites. We booked a site and signed up for the 1:30 tour of the caverns. While we waited we enjoyed a sandwich and shared a piece of home-made pie with ice-cream purchased from the deli.

Kartchner Caverns

Spacious RV sites at Kartchner Caverns

P1030039M

Nestled in the mountains

Nestled in the mountains

The tour of these live, limestone caves was incredible! Unfortunately no pictures were allowed to be taken of the intricate stalagmites and stalactites, to help preserve the site, and to keep tours from getting bogged down waiting for many people to get their shots. The story about how these caverns were discovered and kept secret for over a decade is part of the tour, and very interesting. You can also read about it on the website. By the time the tour was over and we’d looked through the museum and the gift shop in the Discovery Centre, the deli was closed so we were forced to search through our now nearly bare cupboards and fridge to find some dinner. It was either that or unload the bike to ride the ten miles into Benson. It was a beautiful spot to be, nestled between mountains and away from the sounds of traffic and train whistles that we’d had most of the trip. We watched out the window for a while, hoping to catch a glimpse of some critters that might be foraging at night, but no such luck.

Grass Hopper

The only creature we saw was this very large grass hopper!

Another glorious sunset

Another glorious sunset

After a great night’s sleep, we left at 9:00 the next morning, and pulled into Mesa Regal at 1:00 pm. It was nice to be greeted by many of our friends from last year who too were just returning. There was a happy reunion on the patio at Happy Hour.