Leaving Tortilla

With many regrets we left Tortilla campground two days ago.  It was time to move on to the next adventure and we had an appointment with Camping World to fix a leak in our gray water system.  It was sad to say goodbye to the canyon and to our lovely neighbors, Laurie and Tony, who shared their campfire many nights.

Looking down into Fish Creek on the Apache Trail

I am trying to remember what we did this past week....We took a drive past the town(?) of Tortilla Flatts up a twisty, windy road to the top of the mountain where the pavement ended.  We had been told that it was a gorgeous drive over to Roosevelt Lake but we went no farther than an overlook about 6 miles up.

Another day we went on a hike led by a forest volunteer and learned to identify many of the desert plants. I can identify the teddy bear cholla, chain fruit cholla and christmas cholla.  I love to be able to identify plants!

One morning we discovered two Escapes from Texas had made camp on the level above us.  (Hello to Ranger Duke and friends!)  Our meeting with them has given us to question our travel plans.  They were on their way to Quartzsite and let us know that we would be missing the best part, the RV show, if we did not get there this week.
I am not sure if I can handle the crowds around the town and the show but we may be here only once and do not want to miss anything important!
So tomorrow we will see!  It maybe time to head west on to the real desert camping experience without any facilities.

Apache Trail scenic

Canyon Lake Marina


Tortilla Campground

I am sitting in a Burger King in Apache Junction so determined to post something before I make the trek back through the mtns to our campsite.  We have been at Tortilla campground in the Tonto National Forest for the past week.  There is no cell phone coverage there, nor an internet signal.
Such a wonderful place!  I saw my first desert lake, Canyon Lake, last Monday.  All so different from what we are accustomed to back east.  The campground has about 70 sites, all with water and sewer hookups.  The bathrooms have running water but no showers.  I was expecting pit toilets for the grand price of 3 dollars a day!

We have hiked and cooked and visited with many nice people.  On my first hike I had an encounter with the cholla cactus.  Very unpleasant as they have little barbs at the end of the spines.
While climbing the big mountain that overlooks camp, I thought that I might die. The last part was done one all fours.  But at the top, there was a moment that I did not feel 62....more like the 22 year old that still lurks inside of me.

We are still learning about survival in the desert without electricity.  In the back of the truck is our new solar panel system that we have just purchased.  We have learned that we don't need to run the heater all night.  That the comforter and an extra blanket keep us quite snug at night.

Wednesday night we learned that 3 showers without dumping and a leaking water faucet equals a flooded bathroom at 4 AM.  Crisis resolved with advice from fellow campers and a camphost that was willing to double as a plumber.

Canyon Lake

Tortilla Campground with Canyon Lake in background

Find Apache Junction, due east from Phoenix, and follow highway 88 up past Canyon Lake to Tortilla Flats to locate Tortilla Campground.


Dry camping

What should I talk about after our first week?  Looking back on the past 6 days, I guess I should mention the very long cold nights we encountered while camping without electric hookups at Catalina State Park.  It was so pleasant during the day with temps being around 75 and cloudless blue skies.  But when the sun goes down it is a matter of minutes before the cooling starts.  We were always in the trailer for the night by 6:30.  That first night I thought we could get through the night without any heat.  At 1 AM we woke freezing and I fired up the catalytic heater (for the first time while camping).  We were kind of scared of it at first but by Friday morning it was our new best friend!

The next morning I expected the sun to rise early and bring an end to the cold.  Wrong, it was 8:25 before the first rays got over the mountains.

We hiked that day (Wednesday) and I have already posted those pictures.  That night I was so irritated that my laptop's battery was depleted and I could not tinker with the photos that I had shot that day.

Thursday we rode our bikes around the campground and took inventory of egg campers there.  We saw one 1995 Casita from Colorado, one 2007 Scamp from Alaska and one Escape.  Then we rode our bikes to Best Buy (not too far) and I bought an inverter that was supposed to be able to power up my laptop.  It didn't.  But it did work on the MiFi that was also depleted.  I decided that we needed to keep it as we plan to do a lot of dry camping.

Friday morning my husband took a very bad fall over a rock next to the dumpster.  He fell on his cheekbone messing up his face quite nicely.  Luckily there was a former EMT camped across the street who decided that nothing was broken.  I cooked and broke camp that morning.

We have been in Scottsdale for the past two nights enjoying the marvels of electricity.  Our plans are to head east tomorrow toward the Tonto National Forest.  There's no internet coverage there with my Virgin Mobile MiFi so I am not sure how long I can handle being offline.

Here's picture of our current home.


Sonoran Desert

Saguaro cactus on the Nature Trail

We hiked the first full day at Catalina State Park.  Most of these are shots from the scenic Nature Trail and a few are from the campground

Old Saguaro

Cholla cactus
Evening sun lights up the mountains.

Night starts to fall on the campground

A very old Saguaro


Finally Tucson!

After 1,986 miles we have made it to our first destination, Catalina State Park, just outside of Tucson.  We got here a little late for pictures but it was so nice to eat a meal that we prepared instead of the road food.  The mountains are gorgeous and they just hang over the campground.  We think we see snow on one, probably Mt Lemmon which is around 9,000+ feet.
Tomorrow will be devoted to resting up from the drive and getting to the grocery store and maybe a little hiking.
Last night was spent at a Camping World campground on I-10 just before the N.M. line.  We were all prepared to boondock at a Cracker Barrel until I learned that it was going to be 28 degrees and, worried about freezing pipes, we opted for electric hookups to run the little ceramic heater.  (Our  camper did not come with a furnace). 
The space they assigned us was right next door to a brand new Casita belonging to a Washington state couple.  They shared that they had been in 17 degree weather at Big Bend without any negative pipe problems....but they had a furnance.
We are dry camping this week and I am back writing on the tablet.  My laptop's battery is half depleted after one hour of use and I want to save it for pictures. 
It's now 8:30 PM and my husband is crawling into bed.  I think I'm ready to call it a day. 

(Thought that I hit post but must have hit save.  This was written on Tuesday evening, 1/3/12.)


Perfect Weekend

This past weekend the weather, the company and the scenery all came together to provide the most delicious experience.  We picked McKinney Falls State Park as it was close to Austin and I wanted to see an old friend that lived there.  And I did think that there would be an outside chance that my blogging acquaintance would be in the area.  Glenda called it "serendipity" that she read my email as they were traveling by.  (This is Glenda from casitaescapes.blogspot.com.)
Campsite 66
Saturday we hiked from camp and saw both falls.  It was 70 plus degrees and shorts would have been more comfortable.
Bald cypress at the water's edge

Loved the rocks

Lower Falls

Such a great weekend!  Said our goodbyes (for now)
and got back on the road late.
Overnighting at a RV park in Ozona, TX.  I am not sure that we will get out of Texas by tomorrow night...such a huge state!