2/29 Update

17 Feb 04, Tue: Budget RV Park, Apache Jct., AZ

We left our little piece of heaven in Tortilla Flat and returned to the real world this morning so we could do laundry and restock the pantry. Both being accomplished conveniently, we checked into this Budget Park. It's an old park so spaces are narrow, but its full hookups met our requirements very nicely.

18-19 Feb 04, Wed -Thu: Camp Verde Ranch, Camp Verde, AZ

The first miles of our Apache Jct. departure were plenty busy as we traversed routes 101 and I-17. The scenery changed to open expanses with mesas, and eventually evergreens added to the beauty. We were in the country on Stagecoach Rd and Carefree Hwy, and the beautiful scenery continued as we returned to I-17, and then completed our 136-mile trek here in Camp Verde.

We phoned Cal's cousin Cheryl in Prescott and made plans to run over there on Thursday. It was great to see her again, and we had excellent visiting time, first at the Golden Corral and then at the Prescott Mall.

20 Feb, Fri-Mar 1, Mon: Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ

We're delighted to return to a favorite State Park where we spent a couple of nights five years ago. They've been upgrading the park so now have water and electric for $19/night. We're at 3,100 ft and watched a snow shower on a westerly mountain at 6,000 feet elevation.

We were curious about how the park got its name and found the answer in the Park's brochure: “The story of the park's name begins with the Ireys family who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “the one with the dead horse, Dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the property, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of the deal.

We pulled a trick that's been quite common this season, checked in for a couple of nights and then kept extending 2 or 3 more at a time. The weather this far north has been very much on the sunless side, and we have a couple of destinations which would be much more pleasant in sun and warmth. This park is a perfect place to just kick back and catch up and relax. The little city of Cottonwood is 10 minutes from the park and provides a perfect place to do errands.

All those big black clouds we've been having day after day (and which are really quite beautiful in their own way) dissipated on the 25th so we took the 20-minute drive up to Jerome. It's a quaint little town clinging to the side of Cleopatra Hill.

That evening we enjoyed a dinner and entertainment at the Blazin' M Ranch just up the road from this Dead Horse Ranch. It's similar to other shows we've attended in the past – we sat down at a long table opposite a very nice couple from Gloucester, Massachusetts – folks from Maine were at the next table. The BBQ'd beef or chicken were delicious. Then the four cowboys who entertained us with old, familiar western songs and some humor made for a delightful evening. A highlight was their rendition of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” when thunder started crashing and strobe lights on the outside of the building simulated lightning. The lightning revealed a horse galloping by the windows with a ghostly rider covered with a sheet – very effective and fun

On the 26th we received an e-mail from New Hampshire friends, Rich and Lisa, who are visiting Sun City and were asking about our whereabouts. Cal invited them up to Cottonwood so we could show them unique Jerome. The rain and fog didn't dampen their enthusiasm the next day. We visited the Douglas Museum in Jerome first as it gives such good background and history of the town. We had a fine lunch, visited a few shops and a museum, then it was time for Rich and Lisa to scurry back to Sun City for a dinner engagement. Great to see them and have a super visit. (They brought us two large bags of grapefruit and oranges which they picked this morning.)

Sunday, the 29th, dawned bright and beautiful so we immediately put Sedona on our agenda. This community in the center of red rock monoliths with a backdrop of green was enhanced today with snow on the mountains. Many of the little gardens around the village shops are featuring pansies now, and they were peeking through a couple inches of snow.

If the mail arrives Monday, March 1st, the plan is to work our way down out of the hills.

Think Spring – Cal and Connie