January 22- Present
In an effort to catch up to the present, I am bypassing individual blog posts in favor of one overview post covering the last few months. Since we haven’t visited anywhere new in a while, and the past 5 weeks have been spent in a non-adventurous kind of area, it wasn’t too difficult a task to summarize two months in a few paragraphs.
After attending the Xscapers Annual Bash, we made our way south to the tiny town of Why, AZ for an extended stay at the Coyote Howls East Campground. This was not our first visit to the area. My mom and step-dad like to spend their winters down here and typically stay for about 3-4 months. Last winter, we spent a week boondocking near Ajo about 20 minutes to the north, and another week in the campground at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 20 minutes to the south. This year, in an effort to be close for visiting, we got a spot at Coyote Howls right across the road from them.
Coyote Howls is a primitive park with partial hook-ups and scattered dirt lots that sometimes don’t even look like actual sites. I would estimate that at least 3/4 of the population are seasonal residents who return year after year. Many people have permanent looking set-ups with gardens, patios and shade structures.
The sites are arranged with an unusual amount of space between them which makes this place feel more like boondocking than campground living. It’s also really, really cheap. We paid $130 for a month, but for $575/year you can claim a site and leave things like a shed or other small structures behind. Because it’s so hot here in the summer, hardly anyone stays year-round but a lot of the seasonal residents leave their RVs behind when they go north for the summer. It’s kind of like having a really, really cheap second winter home :)
One of my favorite things about the park is that because it’s located adjacent to the Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, there are endless opportunities for exploration right outside the fence. We took full advantage of the situation and hiked around out there as often as we could.
We also drove down to the National Monument a few times for more hiking. Once on the Alamo Canyon trail, and another day for a repeat hike up the steep trail to Ajo Mountain.
The first week of February we left the trailer behind and flew to the Florida Keys for a 10-day visit. Instead of scrambling around to find RV storage in Phoenix (a task much harder than you would expect) we left it at Coyote Howls and drove two hours to the airport. Our reason for going to the Keys was twofold. One to visit my dad and help celebrate his 70th birthday, and two, to finally enjoy some warmth after an unusually cold January in Arizona.
It’s no secret that we love the Florida Keys. I mean, what’s not to love? Well, aside from the pesky bugs, humidity, and the crowds. But there’s also clear turquoise water, gentle breezes, tropical plants everywhere you look, and for us, lots of family and friends who we couldn’t wait to see.
My dad’s across the street neighbors generously allowed us to rent their upstairs apartment and we happily moved in for a glorious 10-day stay filled with fun and food (so much food). Some friends from Vermont came to stay with us and we lived it up in true vacation mode.
Two days before we were scheduled to fly back to Arizona, we got the news that Tim’s mom was having some health issues that needed immediate attention. Flights were changed and soon we were on our way to Connecticut. That was in mid-February and we’ve been here ever since. I don’t have a lot to say about our time here as it’s mostly been filled with doctor appointments, hospital stays, going to the gym (we joined the local YMCA), and remembering how to survive winter.
While neither of us would choose to be here under these circumstances, we are thankful that our lifestyle allows us to provide support in any way we can. It’s also a huge reminder to get out there and live to the fullest because you never know what life will throw at you.
Awesome crested cactus! Looks a bit like a ‘hang loose’ greeting, or even a ‘hook’m horns’. This was behind Coyote Howls East? We’ve stayed at their West campground (with Electricity!), Guess we need to time it better to stay for less on the other side of the street. Great pics, thanks for catching your readers up.
Yup, it’s only a short walk from the campground boundary. One of the coolest crested that we’ve seen!
Coyote Howls looks interesting! We might have to check that out for next winter. Sorry about the family health issues, but it’s good you were able to make it there for support. That is definitely one of the benefits of this lifestyle!
It’s a different kind of campground. Good for those who want a little more than boondocking, but less than a RV park.
Wishing you all the best as you deal with the family situation. I agree that one of the biggest blessings of this life style is that we have the unlimited flexibility to change plans so we can be where we need to be.
Absolutely! The flexibly during this difficult time has been priceless.
One thing that has surprised us about being on the road is that we are able to spend more time with family than ever before, despite traveling to far-flung locations. Glad that you’ve had the ability to be with family this winter, although not under uniformly good circumstances.
I agree! Since our visits are no longer squeezed into quick weekend visits, we’ve been able to spend more quality time with family when we do see them. While no one would have hoped for a long visit under these circumstances, we do feel very fortunate that we could be here.
Love the crested saguaro. This seems to be one of the two ways they crest. Real winter must have been a shock to the system. But glad you were able to change plans to be there for Tim’s mother. Sending our best to you, Tim, and his mother.
Yes, I have confirmed that real winter is not something I miss! Thanks for the good thoughts :)
What a great summary!! It really showcases the incredible variety of this country and how fortunate we are to be able to see all of it. Love that pic of Tim on the beach – such freedom :-) Hope your MIL is doing better. That campground in Why is a great find!
Yes, crisscrossing the country sure does reinforce the vast differences between regions, Lucky we get to see it all!
Wow, your Arizona hikes look so nice, it’s making me crave the desert! I’m sorry to hear about Tim’s mom, it’s good that you were able to be flexible to be there. We’ve been in Michigan for four months now, dealing with some family stuff too, and we joined a gym too. It’s nice for a change, but I’d rather be hiking! I’ll be thinking good thoughts, for Tim’s mom, and for you and Tim.
Thanks for the well wishes. Tim’s mom is doing good and we made it back to AZ to pick up the trailer before returning to the east. Feels so nice to be back in the desert! I know what you mean about the gym. It’s an efficient way to get exercise, but certainly doesn’t compare to hiking outside!