Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Catching Up - Part 8 - December 2017 - Greg heads to AZ: Picacho Peak, El Dorado Hot Springs, Piestewa Peak, Phoenix, Sedona, Twin Arrows, Sandia Resort & Casino- New Mexico

I (Greg) took a trip to Arizona to get out of the cold winter of Los Alamos for a few days.

The first stop was Faywood Hot Springs for a night soak in their hot springs pools. See earlier blogs for more about Faywood.

Lunch at Tuscon Sweet Tomatoes.  
I wanted to hike up to Picacho Peak, so staying at Picacho Peak State Park made sense. (Electric hookups for about $25 with nice shower/bathrooms).  Arriving just before sunset, I found plenty of sites to choose from. Before bed, a good hike around the entire park area was called for. After dark, the walk was fun with beautiful lights in the distance.

My campsite at Picacho Peak State Park.


The next day, I headed up the front trail (Hunter Trail) to Picacho Peak. It's not an easy hike (Rated: Difficult). Bring a lot of water. When I got to the saddle, I discovered that the trail dropped quite a long ways down the other side before it rose again to head to the top. I wasn't really ready for that drop and decided I wouldn't go all the way to the top on this visit.  There is a trail from the back side (Sunset Vista Trail) that doesn't do this unexpected up, down, up. Next time, I will take the back trail up to the top. 2-3 liters of water is recommended for these trails.

Looking down from the hike up Picacho Peak.

The view on the hike up Pacacho Peak.

Sign at the Saddle of Pacacho Peak.

Meanwhile, back in Los Alamos.

After my partial hike up Picacho Peak, I headed north to the El Dorado Hot Springs in Tonapah, AZ. El Dorado is a funky place with nice hot springs tubs. If you camp there you get 2 hours of private hot springs use. There is also a public area to soak 24hrs.

I arrived on an early December Thursday. The place was pretty much empty.  I signed up to soak in the Desert View pool around sunset time. It was great. After my hour, and wanting more soaking time, I headed to the public area called "Desert Pete."  I was the only one in the Desert Pete area my whole time there and enjoyed a full moon while laying on my back in the largest of the hot pools.

I have reviewed El Dorado Hot Springs in a past blog HERE.  It's $30 for 1 person to camp, $50 for two. $20 more for each person. (kids $10). Add $5 for access to an electric plug.

I got the Katie's Corner camp site and paid the extra $5 for an electric connection. You have to hunt for a working 15amp connection. Bring a really long electric extension, you might need it.

"Desert View" hot springs tub at El Dorado Hot Springs.
After my stay at El Dorado Hot Springs, I wanted to find a nice hike in the Phoenix area.  The Piestewa Peak Summit Trail looked like a great hike, so I programmed Google Maps to get me there.

Piestewa Peak turned out to be a really great hike. It's a short distance hike at 1.2 miles up but you rise 1,200 feet, so it is a heart pumper! There are fantastic views at the rugged top.

It's a popular hike.  Get there early. I got one of the last parking spots at 2:30 pm.

Lots of folks hiking up to Piestewa Peak. 
Greg at the top of Piestewa Peak.



The top of Piestewa Peak.

Sunset on the way down Piestewa Peak.
After the hike, being hungry, I found a store nearby to re-supply and then I found a Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. After dinner, I took a cruise through Scottsdale and ended up at a hospital employee parking lot in Phoenix. There was tons of empty space at night. It was a little dicey, as security was running around, but no one bothered me and I slept well and left early in the morning for my next stop.  (My van is setup for stealth.)

Stealth overnight at the Maricopa Medical Center/Hospital employee parking lot.

In the morning, I headed to Papago Park in order to eat my breakfast and then to take the short stroll up to Hole in the Rock.

When I was a young lad, my parents bought me a Batman Cape and mask for my birthday. I still remember clearly the moment when I was climbing up to Hole in the Rock and some older boys made fun of my batman outfit.

Ah, the little traumas of life!

Greg at Hole in the Rock at Papago Park, Phoenix, AZ, sans Batman Outfit. (I do have my "utility belt" or sling.)

Looking through the Hole in the Rock with van below.
 After programming my Google Maps, it was off to Sedona Arizona. My research said that "Devil's Bridge" was a great hike in the Sedona area. I headed for the trail head.

Map of trails northwest of Sedona, AZ
A couple of nice young women from Georga were going at my pace and they offered to take my photo and I took theirs on Devil's bridge.

On the trail to Devil's Bridge northwest of Sedona, AZ.

View from the trail to Devil's Bridge.

A couple getting a photo on Devil's Bridge.

Georga ladies on Devil's Bridge.
 After the Devil's bridge hike, I was ready to head for home.  I would stop at Twin Arrows Casino Resort just east of Flagstaff on Highway 40. Twin Arrows has a good buffet for a nice dinner. I slept well in the casino's RV parking area.

Driving through Sedona, AZ.

Buffet meal at Twin Arrows Casino Resort

Twin Arrows Breafast Cafe.
In the morning, it was time to truck on home. I took a rest-stop for a hike at the Sandia Resort and Casino in Albuquerque. The Casino was all dolled up for the Christmas season.

Christmas Tree at Sandia Resort & Casino.

A nice walk around Sandia Resort & Casino looking up to the Sandia Peaks.
Sandia Resort & Casino use to allow RV overnight parking in the northwest lot. I asked the doorman guy why there were no RVs now. He said a new manager had banded RVs after the Balloon Fiesta RV parking got out of control.  He also said that a new manager was coming in and it sounds like this new manager will allow some RV parking in the future. I hope they do. It's a nice place to stop for the night and they have a good buffet. The casino is nice. Seems like a waste to have all these empty parking lots when instead you could have customers dropping dollars in your tills.

The trip was a nice break from the frigid December weather of Los Alamos.

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