First Time in Winslow, Arizona

We had a rough idea of where we wanted to spend the next 10 days between our visit to Cottonwood and our week in Las Vegas, and we also knew we wanted to spend it boondocking to help keep costs down for the month.  Northern Arizona is a pretty good choice for that, because there is quite a bit of free land to camp on.  When Lee couldn’t get the furnace started we knew it would be a little challenging as night-time temps are supposed to be down in the mid 30’s, but we decided to go ahead and give it a try to if we needed to we could head down to the lower elevation and warmer Vegas area sooner rather than later.

My number one thing to do in this area was see Winslow, Arizona.  My friend Deb visited the area and had her picture taken “standing on the corner” and I have wanted to do that ever since.  Unfortunately our routes have always taken us a little north or a little south of I-40 and we were close, but not close enough for us to reroute.  Finally the perfect opportunity with some free time and it was on our way, so Lee looked on Ultimate Public Campgrounds and Freecampsites.net and found a great free campground right outside of Winslow.  So we hitched up the night before and headed out early on Friday morning.

Our appointment was moved to 8am, but we still had to dump and take on fresh water, and then park and walk to the clinic, so we arrived at the parking lot around 7am.  After 15 minutes we started walking and it’s a good thing we did because Lee’s shortcut wasn’t so short after all! We made it with plenty of time though, and they took us both right away, staggering our tests slightly so the whole thing for both of us only took an hour.  We had drug tests, vision tests, color blindness tests, hearing tests, a flexibility test, and a test to show if we could consistently lift 30 pounds.  The whole experience was very pleasant, but it also felt like serious overkill for a campground host job, but we both passed and learned about our hearing.  Lee’s right ear and my left ear are the weakest, which is super funny because those are the ears closest to each other when we are driving most of the time.  Lee now has proof he can’t actually hear me from a doctor, which I was a little skeptical about before 😛

We left at 9am and then headed up towards Winslow.  It was another short driving day, only 128 miles, but did include an 18 mile 6% climb,  which took us from 3100′ to 7000′! Lee took his time going up the long grade at a very slow speed, but a few others didn’t and we saw folks pulled over because their engines overheated.  Our temperature was nice and steady and Lee put the blinkers on, stayed in the slow lane, and took his time.  About an hour later I saw a rest stop and asked Lee to pull over so we could eat.  He wasn’t crazy about that since we only had 39 miles left, but I don’t like to pull into campgrounds hungry.  The setup process can take a while and is not something we like to do when our  blood sugar is low, so he agreed and we had a quick-lunch at a very busy rest area.

Even with the quick-lunch we pulled into McHood Park at noon and saw a few campsites were available.  Luckily a prime spot by the water was open and we snagged it.  Each site has a picnic table and trash can and the view of the lake was awesome.  We set up pretty quickly and then enjoyed watching the fish and many birds around the lake. It was windy, which drove me inside, but Lee enjoys the wind and stayed out for a while.  He also went and found a geocache in the area which gave me a chance to do some blogging.

View from our campsite

Several fish were spawning really close to us.

These guys were huge. Maybe catfish?

The American Coot’s were going crazy eating the eggs.  I learned these are not actually ducks, but birds.

The trees were full of several types of birds including this Yellow-rumped Warbler. A first for me

Later we saw some boats come by, but no one fishing from them. At least the water is deep enough for a kayak if we decided to try it.  It’s really pretty, but need the wind to die down a bit.

The sun was bright all day and our batteries were fully charged so we closed the windows when it started to get chilly to keep the heat in the RV.  Our camper holds heat well and it was nice and pleasant all the way until we got to bed.  It was chilly in the morning, about 38 degrees, but Lee had built a fire ring the night before and started a fire, which helped take the chill off.  Then we took quick showers and headed out for breakfast at The Turquoise Room.

Lee built this fire ring by gathering a few rocks from all over the campground.

Lee watching the sun come up at 6am.  The birds were in a frenzy of mating activity.

I reached out to our friend Deb to tell her we were in Winslow and she recommended one of their favorite breakfast spots.  The Turquoise Room is in the La Posada Hotel, which is the last open hotel of the Harvey Railroad chain.  It is an amazingly nice hotel and the restaurant is very pricey, but we thought the treat would be worth it since it came so highly recommended.  The coffee for example is $3.50 a cup, but it was an excellent cup of coffee.  Much better than what you would pay similar prices for at Starbucks.  The breakfast was reasonably priced at $10.50, but was a mixed bag.  The sausage and bacon were mediocre, but the cooked potatoes were fantastic.  They had chilies in them and even though I don’t usually like spicy food, the flavors were so delicate they were absolutely delicious.  My main complaint was we only received one slice of sour dough toast and when it came out it was cold. I’m OK with occasionally splurging on a meal, but I expect it to be practically perfect in those cases.  The ambiance couldn’t be beat though, and our waiter was excellent, so if you have the means and you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth trying.  They had a really nice dinner menu, but the entrees start at $32 and that was just out of our price range.  Breakfast was $32 plus tip. We were curious about how this place could keep going since Winslow seems a bit depressed, but we were told by a local that the main railroad hub is in town and many railroad executives come through here.

The courtyard had lots of cool animal statues

Loved the architecture

This fountain was really neat

The gist shop was amazing, but not surprisingly pricey

Almost lost Lee in this specialized bookstore

The hotel was full of antiques. I loved this clock. The lobby and restaurant also had $2,200 Navajo blankets hanging on the walls for sale

The restaurant tile was amazing

The glass was very thick so even though there were trains running outside you couldn’t hear them

My favorite was these amazing lamps and the turquoise colored beams

The potatoes on the top of the plate were awesome. You can see my one slice of toast 🙂

Really good coffee and I liked the cup

After we ate we drove down to the “Standin On The Corner” park, and I was super excited.  As someone who adores Roadside Attractions, this was a great one, and taking a picture with the statue of the anonymous man and the other, newer statue of Glenn Fry, and listening to “Take it Easy” played on the corner area was awesome.  Plus we got there earlier enough there were few people and were able to take all the pictures we wanted.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

Great statue.  Check out the mural painting in the background, which is designed to look like a store window with a reflection of the flat-bed Ford from the song, with a girl “slowing down to take a look at me”. And below, the actual flat-bed Ford, sans girl. It’s a pretty neat effect.

 

Me and the flatbed Ford

We also stopped at another great Route 66 gift shop and I had to get a T-Shirt.  It may be one of my favorites since coming on the road and I’ll make sure I point it out when I wear it in future posts.  The owner of the gift shop was incredibly nice and was career Army and then he did a stint in the Air Force.  Really nice man and I was pretty happy to give him my money since his merchandise was unique and his prices were reasonable.  Plus, nice goes a long way with me.

Next up on the Roadside Attraction tour was the nearby Meteor Crater.  Lee had stopped here many years ago to see it, but it is much changed since that visit.  They have improved the visitors center and added a movie, but they are also now charging $18 a person to get in.  We almost didn’t pay it, but I was on a high from our last stop, so we went ahead and went in.  It is a cool site, because it is the first crater proven to be caused by a meteor impact (prior to the 1950’s scientists thought they were from volcanoes) and was also used by astronauts to simulate conditions for the moon landings.  We enjoyed it and the movie was particularly good, but I still think the price was way too steep.  So my advice is if you will only see it as a hole in the ground definitely skip it, but if you are interested in the phenomenon and its historical significance check it out.  We found it pretty interesting. Definitely watch the short movie before you see the crater.

Visitors center for MEteor Crater had a very nice gift shop, Subway, courtyards, museum with lots of exhibits, and a good movie

Piece of the original meteorite that hit is at 26,000 mph. They explained ta plane moving at this speed would get you from LA to NYC in 5 minutes

It’s a multi level complex and this was the first viewing area

It was greener than I expected and the bottom has a shaft for research.  They don’t allow anyone but scientists on the bottom

Really hard to show the size of it. The square rock (top center) for example is as big as a house and the crater could hold 20 football fields next to each other with a stadium of 2 million people. It’s big

Check out the little man-sized space person and flag in the middle right to give you a feel of the scope

The sides were amazing. I kept thinking of Independence day with the space ship plowed into the ground.  Looked kind of like that, only real.

Short walk down to this platform

These viewpoints were great. Each one was labeled and the scopes were locked in place to give you a better view of things at the bottom

The third tier was pretty steep, but the hand rail had sandpaper grips on it

Lee’s Panoramic from the middle level

Picture of us at the top

 

The parking lot had plenty of RV parking

Loved how they left this part of the wall out so you can look at the mountains

One last roadside attraction was down the road a little bit and was the ruins of Two Guns. If you are curious where I find these places, I am a huge fan of Roadside America, which you can either see for free online or pay a very reasonable $5.99 for the phone app.  I love it and use it all the time.  The story behind this place was a little confusing because multiple things have sat on this land so I will share what a local we met, Chris told us.  The land was part of a wild west town in the 1800’s, but in the 1930’s two men built a complex which included a zoo, hotel, and other attractions.  When the venture started to get into financial trouble, one partner killed the other than sold the property.  The new property owner found the dead partner in a shallow grave on the land and that is why people think it’s haunted.

The zoo had desert animals and featured mountain lions

Very cool canyon that splits and the attraction sat between both of them

 

This bridge is still open to drive over but I wouldn’t recommend it

We walked instead although I still had my doubts

Lee found a geocache!

The barbed wire is mostly pulled down so you can walk anywhere but be careful

What’s left of part of the hotel

The top of this stair for example was all rotted wood. Cool though

It was a Route 66 attraction, but eventually went the way many of them did and now it is just ruins.  We had a great time walking around and I had to get a little creative with some of the pics, because the place called for it, but it’s very picturesque.  After we were done, Lee brought me back and I did some blogging, but he ate some lunch and headed back out with the drone.  I am happy to wait while he drones, but he would rather take his time and a little alone time isn’t the worst thing.  Plus this was a 320 picture day and those take a while to go through so I was happy for some computer time to get caught up.  Plus I got to play with sepia tones a bit.

 

It was a  great day,  $100 between breakfast, the meteor admission, T-shirts, and magnets, but a great day nonetheless  We need to have these “touristy” days every once in a while, and we thankfully we have the budget for it.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer. 

First Time at Usery Mountain Regional Park

I am pretty sure that we had our shortest travel day ever as we only had to drive 13 miles from Lost Dutchman State Park to Usery Mountain Regional Park.  Even though they cost the same and the basic terrain is the same, the two parks have a very different vibe.  Lost Dutchman has better views and it’s extremely clean and orderly, but Usery has a more natural landscape, the sites are bigger and more spaced out, and the vibe is much more relaxed.  Because there were more openings at Usery we were able to get campsites all in a row and despite different departure times we all rolled in around the same time.  The park is water and electric only, so we visited the dump station right when we arrived and met a very nice couple from Connecticut who had just retired and purchased their first ever small travel trailer.  The husband was dumping for the first time and since he was only using what the dealer gave him in the way of hose, seemed at a bit of a loss.  The etiquette is to never offer assistance unless it’s requested, but when the gentleman was honest about how he wasn’t sure what to do Lee spent some time walking him through it.  Lots of people helped us when we first started out, so we always like to pay it forward, but again, only if someone asks.

After we got them squared away we emptied our own tanks, and then headed to our site, and it was a beauty.  The angle was a bit odd, so it took a few tries for Lee to put the rig right where he wanted it, but once we were settled I was really happy with the surroundings.  Deb did walk over and say they saw a pretty big snake when they pulled in to their site, so I was very careful about where I walked during setup.  In the entire time we’ve been on the road I have never seen a snake of any kind in the wild, which is fine with me because while I appreciate their purpose, I’m not a huge fan.

Our site, taken from the very back end. In the next picture you see can the picnic table in the distance, that should give you an idea how roomy these sites are.

Our rig

Deb and Steve on one side

Cori and Greg on the other

Cori made ribs for everyone for dinner in the Instant Pot and I paid close attention to how she did it.  She uses hers all the time with great success, and although I like mine I am not nearly as advanced as she is.  Once the ribs were finished, Greg crisped them up on the grill and added the sauce and everyone loved them.  They were fall off the bone tender and really flavorful.  I am definitely adding the recipe to my next cookbook, once I try it myself to make sure I can duplicate her efforts.  She also made Macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot and cole slaw, and Deb made strawberry shortcake!!  Then we all settled in for a nice fire and enjoyed the night.  Unfortunately, one of those fast desert storms came up with wind, lightning, and rain and we all had to go inside, but it was a great way to break in a new campground since none of us had been here before.

Deb added lemon flavored olive oil which made this desert extra yummy

The next morning I got up pretty early (Lee and I are still trying to get readjusted back to our pre-gate guarding sleep schedule) and decided to take a walk and get some pictures.  Right across from Deb’s campsite is a 1/2 mile nature trail, which has signs showing the different plants and is a paved path.  You can walk through the desert here, but I was nervous about it so felt much better staying on the path.  I saw lots of birds, several chipmunks (couldn’t get a pic) and enjoyed the flowers in bloom.  There isn’t as much color here as there was in Lost Dutchman, but I actually saw more animals on the walk.

This beautiful house is on a hill behind the campground. Nice pad. (Update: We learned later this is Stevie Nicks’ house)

People sometimes have the misconception that the desert is barren, and certainly some desert we have seen is, but in the area near Tuscon and Phoenix it is full of stuff and has it’s own beauty. It is also teeming with wildlife.  We have seen doves, quail, roadrunners, and hawks along with lizards and chipmunks.  Most everything is a brown or grey color to blend in so you have to look harder, but it’s all there.  I came back from the walk and got our laundry together because Cori, Deb, and I all went to a local laundromat.  We didn’t absolutely need to go, but it’s best to stay on top of it when you are on partial hookups plus it was a chance to hang out with the girls. On the way I saw my very first snake. Thankfully I was in the truck and it was stretched out on the black top covering about half the road but on the other side from where I was driving.  I slowed down to get a look, and it had the coloring of a rattlesnake, but to be honest I am not totally sure if that’s what it was.  It wasn’t that scary since I was sitting in my big truck, and I wish I would have taken my camera with me.  I swear that happens every time I leave it behind.

After that bit of exictement I followed Cori and Deb to the laundromat and unfortunately for me it was not the greatest.  I must be spoiled by the excellent one in Dilley, TX, but this one was crowded, had no restroom, and very limited seating.  But as Cori said, it served it’s purpose, I was just happy to get back to the peaceful campground.  Plus Kat and Bert were coming in today and I wanted to greet them.  We met Kat and Bert at the 2016 RV-Dreams rally and liked them right away.  We met tons of great people at that rally, but they are the first to be in the same area we are.  Bert reads the blog and reached out when she saw our paths would cross, and she ended up booking a spot in the same campground. I wanted to make them dinner since it was their travel day, and we all met for happy hour and I made chimichangas.  Cooking for 8 can be a little challenging with limited kitchen space, but Deb loaned me her stove and with some careful coordination we made it work.  Deb made beans and Cori made rice so we had a full meal which I was pretty happy with.

From left: Kat, Bert, Steve, Lee, a mountain top, Cori, Greg, Deb, and me, and a cactus.

My pretty chimis and they tasted good too.  I also served Kelly’s Queso dip as an appetizer. Made a double batch, Kelly, and it was almost all gone at the end.

After dinner we had a campfire and stayed up until 10pm telling stories and exchanging experiences.  It was really nice getting to know them better, and they were very patient listening to our stories. The next morning we all wanted to go kayaking, but the wind was too strong, so six of us went to the Superstitioun Mountain museum and Goldfield, and old gold mine town.  Both were free and a little touristy, but we did have some opportunity for some great pics. (The gift shop and outside area of the museum was free, but the interior museum required admission. – Lee) 

The museum

Some movies were shot here and I liked the cowboy boot prints

Who knew there were this many kinds of rattlesnakes??? Yikes!!

Giant stamping machine used in the 1800s to pulverize ore. It was moved here and restored, and they operate it on weekends for visitors.

Yes I have to always sit on the thing and take the pic!

Everyone’s favorite was this giant, outdoor train with tons of detail really neat

This little guy was my favorite. The sign was pointing to the Lost Dutchman Mine

(I took lots and lots of pictures of the model railroad, because I think they’re incredibly cool. Tracy says it’s not a good idea to put too many pictures in one post. I don’t work and play well with others. If you don’t like super awesome pictures of model railroads, go ahead and scroll past the next 20 pictures. But if you’re one of the cool kids, and also like pie, welcome to the club. Enjoy. – Lee) 

lIMG_4713

I wasn’t supposed to put this one in because it’s the same one she put in above, but hers didn’t include the bear. 

IMG_4741

IMG_4739

IMG_4737

IMG_4736

IMG_4735

IMG_4734

IMG_4733

IMG_4732

IMG_4731

IMG_4730

IMG_4729

IMG_4727

IMG_4725

IMG_4722

IMG_4721

IMG_4720

IMG_4718

IMG_4717

IMG_4716

IMG_4715

OK, back to the regular post.

The gold mine was right down the road mainly shops, but had a neat vibe. We went straight to lunch at this Saloon

Hats and boots on the ceiling

Our waitress was the only one wearing a costume.

Service was slow, portions were small, and on the pricey side, but the company was awesome!!

We went straight from the restaurant to a geocache hotel

Lee and Cori figuring it out

It was heavy!

The black and white tube was a huge log you could write on

The “sheet” to sign

Steve talking Cori and Lee through how to handle trackables

Cool cowboy church

I really liked the bordello

This was by far the best shop. All handmade.

Touristy, but a neat place to stop

Had to take some black and white

After we ate and shopped we came back and dropped off our extra books in the little free book area of the campground and then Kat and Bert treated us to Spaghetti Bolognese and bruschetta with homemade flatbread.  So, so good, and Steve broke out some nice red wine he brought from their personal collection in California.  Another nice campfire and then off to bed.  Tomorrow is the Boyd Thompson Arboretum.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is also available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.