Friday, February 23, 2018

A week in Mesa

February 16 (Friday)
Today was travel day. We left the desert behind and headed to the big city of Phoenix. We had family down from Winnipeg. We had booked a park near them.

After the terrifying drive through Salt Lake City in late October I wasn't looking forward to the run through Phoenix and into Mesa, but the freeway system in Phoenix seems to be much easier to follow. Exits are well marked and you have plenty of time to make lane changes. I'm also getting used to the drivers cutting you off and making random lane changes without signalling. A few collisions on the I 10 slowed us to 15 MPH a few times but we made it unscathed to Mesa Spirit RV Park.

Can you spot the monster arising from the generating plant just west of Phoenix?

Downtown Phoenix from I 10.

Tunnel on the I 10.

Our site. We were on a corner lot so no neighbours on one side.

This is a big park (they all are around here). It takes about ten turns to get from the front gate to our site.

This isn't really our kind of place, especially after spending the last couple of weeks in the desert. The front reception area at Mesa Spirit would not be out of place at the Marriott. It is an Encore Park and is starting to show it's age. Lots of very old park models. Apparently they had a water line break across the road from us and my neighbour said they had water 50 feet in the air.

They provided an escort to our site which was a good thing as the streets are very narrow and there are golf carts running around everywhere. Our escort was VERY good and he helped direct me into a very narrow spot on the first try. I've never done that before!

We got set up and proceeded to dump our tanks and flush the black tank. The cupboards were a bit bare so next stop was the local Fry's Grocery. We didn't get back until about 7:30 and getting through the maze of narrow park roads in the dark was interesting.

February 17 (Saturday)
I took a long walk around the park and down the streets. A typical big city.....lots of traffic, sirens, jets landing and departing........just noisy.

We loved going to the Arizona Marketplace in Yuma so we thought a trip to the Mesa Marketplace would be a good idea. This place is HUGE. (forgot to take pictures, I was too busy leaving bread crumbs so we could find our way to the truck!) At least three times the size of Yuma's. Mesa has some different types of vendors but lots of multiples (same stuff sold by more than one vendor) and certainly doesn't have the fun atmosphere as Yuma.

We did end up buying a few things we couldn't live without. We made our way home to relax a bit, make supper and enjoy a nice sunset.

February 18 (Sunday)
Today we headed over to the big RV sale at the Stadium. LaMesa RV had 600 units in the huge parking lot. Trailers, fifth wheels, Class C and A's. All sizes and prices. We went through quite a few but really didn't see anything better than what we have. Bigger maybe, but not better in my opinion.

Funny that you think of just heading across town to see some RV's, but in a huge city like metro Phoenix, 'just across town', means a 40 mile oneway trip. It seems that everywhere we went in this area meant a long road trip.

We headed home and enjoyed a nice supper with family.

February 19 (Monday)
We headed down the Interstate and 374 to Maricopa and visited with family. Hugh and Penny live in a beautiful home on a lake (yes a lake in Arizona!) within a well cared-for community. Hugh is an excellent photographer and we enjoyed a great visit discussing photography and catching up on family and the things we've been up to over the past 30+ years. We had a pleasant tour of their community and the amenities. We even spent time viewing some of the new show homes for sale. It doesn't cost anything to look, right?

February 20 (Tuesday)
Today we drove to the south end of Phoenix and over to South Mountain Park. We took the 5.5 mile twisty road through the beautiful desert up to Dobson's Overlook. The trail then extends a couple of more miles past the TV towers to some great views of valley to the south.

From their website: "At more than 16,000 acres, the South Mountain Park/Preserve actually consists of three mountain ranges; the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe; and is one of the largest municipally operated parks in the country.  It boasts over 51 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.  Additionally, the roadways that traverse the area are a favorite amongst road bicyclists.  Dobbins Lookout, at 2,330 feet, is the highest point in the park that is available to the public."

From right: my brother Brian, his wife Deb, and Cheryl


East toward Mesa, Gilbert and Apache Junction.

From the stone cabin at Dobbin's Overlook

Southeast from the other side of the mountain.

South from the mountain toward Maricopa.

Some nice homes down there. Lots of swimming pools to be seen.

A popular location for transmission and cell towers. We counted about 50.

Next stop was the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, just south of Mesa. This is a photographers paradise. There have been 298 different bird species identified in this area. Here is some information from their website:

"In 1986, the Town of Gilbert made a commitment to reuse 100% of its effluent water. The Town’s desire to create innovative and unique ways to combine water resource development with wildlife habitat, educational and recreational opportunities led to the development of the Riparian Preserve in 1999. Of the 110 acres, 70 acres make up the 7 water recharge basins that are filled on a rotating basis with treated effluent and allowed to percolate into the aquifer where it is stored for future use. One of the ponds has a unique distribution stream that mimics the action of an ephemeral desert stream. An additional lake is filled with reclaimed water, and is designated as an urban fishing resource through the Arizona Game and Fish Department."

We spent a couple of enjoyable hours walking the trails and obviously photographing as many birds as we could. A return visit is a must.

Cute little fellas

Turtles basking in the sun.

This guy showing off his man-bun.

We spotted most of these.......

.....and all of these!

Egret fishing.

Egret taking off. Too many photographers for him.

Rare Hooded Merganser. Male on the right with his hood down.

Green back heron, roosting.

Green back heron flying away.

Even the plumbing fixtures had a bird theme!

Tonight we went to the Silver Star Theatre starring The Rythym Cats Band. They put on an outstanding buffet followed by a musical show by the Band. They have had a rough year with one of their members unable to join them due to a motorcycle accident and then at the end of December one of the band's leaders died of a heart attack on stage. Regardless the shows went on and they did an outstanding job. We haven't been to Barleen's (another popular dinner and show) but from those that have been to both the reviews are equal in quality. A very nice night of entertainment.

February 21 (Wednesday)
Today was a designated shopping day. We headed over to Hobby Lobby, Costco and Fry's.

Earlier today I took a long walk through the park and dropped in to visit the Woodworking Shop on site. The guys there are into Intarsia (defined here: "Intarsia is a woodworking technique that uses varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture with an illusion of depth. Intarsia is created through the selection of different types of wood, using their natural grain pattern and color (but can involve the use of stains and dyes) to create variations in the pattern. After selecting the specific woods to be used within the pattern, each piece is then individually cut, shaped, and finished. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle and glued to wood backing which is sometimes cut to the outline shape of the image, often with the intention of creating a three-dimensional effect."

Here is a sample of intarsia:

These folks make some incredible pieces and were very anxious to show me pictures and examples of their work. The woodworking shop in this park has every saw, planer, shaper, grinder you can imagine. For a mere $40 for the season a member can use any of the parks tools. A great hobby and a creative way to spend the winter.

February 22 (Thursday)
A return visit to the Riparian Preserve. This time I took my tripod and telephoto lens. My lens is not very sharp and although the pictures turned out ok, they aren't great. I think I see a new lens in my future.

No idea what this bird was but he was ugly and a bully.

Ring-necked duck


This guy had yellow eyes.

This guy had red eyes.

Lots of rabbits here.

We saw some of these.

What a great place!

The best shots of the day was the heron catching and eating a fish in front of us.





Wash it all down with a drink.

This was also laundry day. What should have been a quick couple of hours at the park's laundry turned into a three hour marathon. One washer flooded and required a mop and pail to clean up. The office was closed so no one around to inform. Then two dryers insisted we hadn't cleaned the lint traps so we gave up and found a couple more. Usually permanent press cycles gives us lots of heat but not these dryers. So we waited and waited some more. Talked to some very nice folks and got some parts of the picture puzzle done while we waited. By 7:30 we were finally home.

February 23 (Friday)
Moving day today. Our week at the Mesa Spirit resort is over and we headed out to Lost Dutchman State Park.

Quite a difference from the Mesa Spirit RV park. The views here are incredible. The Superstition Mountains right at our back door.

....and that was Our View From Here!


  1. Mesa and Phoenix are just big cities that we try to avoid, once you have camped in the desert we fin it hard to go into a campground.
    Enjoy the state park and more fun adventures.

    1. The desert spoils you that's for sure! Lost Dutchman is awesome.

  2. That's quite the variety of birds. Great shots, especially the Heron with the fish. Enjoy Lost Dutchman, it's a great park!

    1. It was a photographers dream. I was very lucky, and patient.
      Lost Dutchman is awesome!

  3. Barb and I are with you and would rather leave the big cities behind. Great pictures of all the waterfowl and shorebirds!

    1. Not our thing, for sure. We really enjoyed that Riparian Preserve. Two visits in as many days!

  4. Great pictures. Glad you had a chance to visit with family. Always nice to do that.

    Sounds as if you enjoyed your time in the area very much. A few draw backs but just as many positives as well.

    A park is a park. They vary of course, we pick and choose the amenities and locations that are important to us and base our decisions on those factors. Not every park is suited for every person but as long as it suits you that's what matters.

    Thanks for the great ideas on things to see and do while in the area. Maybe we'll check out the Mesa Marketplace while we're in the area next week.

    Enjoy your time there.

    1. I know you and Riley enjoyed the Yuma market. Be warned though.....the Mesa one seems to be more expensive.
      I know you guys wouled enjoy the Riparian Preserve. Highly recommended.....and free!

  5. It is unbelievable how time flies when you are having fun and you have the pictures to prove it.
    After Boondocking in the Desert it is hard to get used to a park even for the shortest amount of time.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. I didn't think we had done that much until I started to do the catch-up blog. Yikes! A lot for one blog.
      The desert sure spoils you.

  6. I love the monster picture! Wow you had quite a week there, nice to spend time with family though I'm sure! We take the long way around to avoid Phoenix, seems that city goes on forever! Beautiful pictures and now I'm looking foreward to seeing pictures of Lost Dutchman it' looks beautiful so far! Reservations required?

    1. Cheryl spotted the 'monster' and grabbed the shot from the truck.
      Lost Dutchman is great, but you need to reserve many weeks ahead. Definately worth it though.

  7. Glad you are enjoying your spot at the Lost Dutchman we checked out for you last December :)

  8. Great pics. You guys are keeping real busy. The Riparian is a favourite of ours as well. Lots of great trails in Lost Dutchman right out your back door. Make sure you check out the Apache Trail to Rosevelt Dam. Lousy road but great views. Stop at Porters in Superior for a great burger on your return trip.
    We checked out Mesa Spirit and others for next year but think we will be back to Gold Canyon next year. Pricey but clean and spacious.

    1. The Riparian is a photographers dream for sure.
      We did get as far as Tortilla Flats but no further. Ran out of time.
      Mesa Spirit was ok if you were into woodworking, or crafts, or swam a lot, but at this point we wouldn't stay for the whole winter. I was hoping to get out to Gold Canyon but we just ran out of days.