After a week of shopping and socializing in Quartzsite it was time to move on. But not before fitting in one last social engagement in the form of a most excellent potluck hosted by Brenda & Hector and attended by us along with Nina, Paul and Polly. Then we had to make one last shopping trip to the hardware warehouse on Main St. where Tim found some cheap cans of spray paint to contribute to his metal W project. Finally, feeling like we had exhausted all opportunities for shopping and socializing, on Sunday morning we packed up and successfully extracted ourselves from the land of a million RVs. Our destination was Phoenix, or more specifically, the eastern edge of Phoenix where Usery Mountain Regional Park resides.
This is our second time around at Usery, although the first time we only stayed two nights because they were completely booked. This year I got smart and reserved our site several months ago. Good thing because the campground has been 100% full since we arrived. In a town that is crawling with generic RV parks, the regional parks in Phoenix stand way above the rest, and as a result are typically full for the winter months. The appeal is pretty obvious. Large sites, gorgeous scenery, easy access to hiking and biking trails, clean, newish bathrooms and showers, a blazing fast LTE Verizon signal, and a very un-rv park like environment all for the price of $25/night (water & electric included) is pretty hard to beat. Sure you could be fussy and complain about the noise from the shooting range across the street, the odd pull-thru sites that are really just pull-offs on the side of the road, or the lack of hot water in the showers, but I would take any of those things over a typical RV park setting. So no complaints here.
Large sites and good amenities aside, the very best thing about Usery is the lush desert landscape. I know, I know, lush and desert don’t usually go together. But in this case it’s the only way to describe what’s going on around here. While the desert in Anza-Borrego is beautiful in its own way, the desert here is truly in a league of its own. There are so many different textures and colors that it’s almost overwhelming to look at. It’s like a feast for the eyes. From the Ocotillos, to the creosote bushes, sage brush, and even the numerous varieties of cacti, everything is sporting a different shade of green. Which makes this desert seems more like a jungle. My favorite are the cacti. I love a good cacti display and there is no shortage of the spiky beauties around these parts. Cholla, Prickly Pear, Barrel in all shapes and sizes, and of course the mighty Saguaro.
We’ve also been lucky enough to have some lingering evening clouds lead to some spectacular sunsets.
With the exception of a few treks to the grocery store and laundromat, we’ve mostly stayed in the park since we arrived. There is a fairly extensive network of trails just a bit down the road from the campground, and we quickly got into the routine of taking an afternoon bike ride. Can I tell you how much I LOVE the trails here? Not too difficult, lots to chose from, incredibly scenic, and best of all they are right out the door. We’ve been hoping on our bikes and pedaling down the one mile paved park road to the trail head, riding a loop or two on the trails, and then back up the road to our site. Pretty convenient. It’s always hard to take good photos of a bike trail, because as anyone who has tried will tell you, riding a bike and wielding a camera do not exactly go hand and hand. Especially when the trail is lined with spiky obstacles! We’re working on making a GoPro video of one of our trail rides, but until then here’s a few shots taken with my phone of our biking adventures.
We’re booked here for a full two weeks and then will move over to McDowell Mountain for another week. I should say Tim will be here for a full two weeks because in a few days I will be flying east for a family visit while Tim stays here with the Airstream. Don’t worry he won’t be all alone. We just discovered that fellow Airstreamer Kyle, who we met back in Canada, is also at the park, and another Airstream family that we have yet to meet in person will be arriving this weekend. So plenty of social opportunities for Tim. Maybe he’ll even be inspired to write a blog post about his solo adventures! I’m hoping to write a post or two of my own from the other side of the country. Gotta get a little Atlantic ocean in this blog at some point.