Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

11 03 2020

The Quarry Bisbee

Bisbee is THE small city to see in Arizona, so says Trip Advisor and Frommers.  So, instead of heading directly east as normal, we’ve detoured south from Tucson, through Tombstone and are parked in site #5 at the Queen Mine RV Park in Bisbee, just a little over 7 miles north of the Mexican border.

The 25 sites of Queen Mine RV are laid out in a circle, 1 through about 8 are up against a hillside, the next 8 or so overlook the huge Lavender Pit and the remaining sites overlook Old Bisbee.  The driveway to the campground is steep, but didn’t require any special maneuvering for jacks or truck clearance.  An approach from the west on highway 80 is best for taller rigs.  Coming in from the east will require a transit of a the 13’5” Main Street underpass, or a U-turn past the Main Street exit allowing an approach from the west.  Departures to either direction avoid the underpass.

Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

Our $35/night rate included 30Amp electric, water, sewer, WiFi and cable TV.  All sites are capable of satellite reception so we didn’t try the cable TV.  We did use the park WiFi – sometime with good success, sometimes with poor.  The T-Mobile signal was weak, but provided enough hotspot service to satisfy light browsing and email.

Queen Mine RV Park, Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee itself is very reminiscent of one of the old Colorado mining cities such as Cripple Creek.  Built along the hills & gulches above the open pit copper mines, early stories tell of frequent flooding, inadequate sewage facilities, garbage in the streets and over 50 saloons, gambling halls and of course houses of prostitution.  In addition, the huge smelting operations completely de-forested the nearby hillsides which were soon covered in iron-colored tailings from the many mines in the areas.  It must have been a horrific sight!

Lavender Pit next to Old Bisbee, AZ – Google Earth

Today, Old Bisbee boasts hundreds of carefully renovated buildings, a thriving art/music/hospitality scene, wonderful summertime festivals and a cool, mountain location. With an amazing number of dining options, we opted for The Quarry Bisbee on Brewery Ave.  Within a 5 or 10 minute walk of the RV park, the Quarry provides great comfort plates such as meatloaf, chicken pot pie, patty melts and of course big juicy burgers.  We enjoyed our night out and will probably return for another visit to explore more of Bisbee.  From here we’re headed into New Mexico – more from along I-10.


Tucson, Cactus Country RV Park

9 03 2020

While last in Tucson in 2017 we enjoyed an afternoon at the Pima Air and Space Museum, but missed the boneyard tour conducted at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. This year we reserved early and are looking forward to “completing” the tour we started 3 years ago.  The AMARG as it’s properly called is the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.  Unlike it’s informal name, the facility is more storage than scrapping.  While there are some planes in various states of tear-down, most of the planes and helicopters are sealed and preserved for later use.

309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, Tucson

The AMARG at Davis-Monthan is the largest storage facility in the world, currently with about 4400 aircraft.  Of unique interest are the many B-52 Stratofortress that have been cut into pieces.  Under the 2010 START treaty, AMARG was tasked with the destruction of some of the 365 B-52’s to be eliminated.  Initially wings and tails were separated from fuselage.  Later, to provide a quicker and safer method, a huge saw blade was used to sever the tail section from the fuselage.  The remains of these planes still lay at Davis-Monthan in strategic positioning making it easy for Russian spy satellites to unmistakably determine that the planes have been destroyed.

B-52’s ready for Russian spy satellite viewing

We’re parked at the Cactus Country RV park in site #198. As is normal for Arizona parks, this one is a mixture of park models, single wide mobile homes and RV’s.  Located about 15 miles east of downtown Tucson, this park is a close enough to be convenient to most shopping and far enough out to be quiet and dark.  Site #198 is a nice end site, and provides a bit more space than some of the other sites.  The shower rooms are showing their age, but spotless, and the laundry gets good reviews.  We’d stay here again.  From here we’re headed to Bisbee, AZ – noted by Travel Advisor as a “Great American Small City to Visit”.  More from there…

Cactus Country RV site #198

Cactus Country RV

Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point)

7 03 2020

Our trip to Organ Pipe is twofold, to get out of the Phoenix noise and lights and to check out RV parks in Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point.  Puerto Penasco, MX is located about 65 miles south of Organ Pipe, and a favorite destination of RV’ers and Spring Breakers.  With our Mexican Car Insurance policy (purchased online) in hand, on Friday we cross the border and make the trek down to the Sea of Cortez.  Puerto Penasco appears to be a fun destination, with great seafood restaurants and Cobo-like party environment.

Grilled Red Snapper at Pedro’s – Rocky Point

After a delicious seafood lunch at Pedro’s on the Malecon, we begin our park tours at Playa de Oro RV Resort, rated 8.9 on CampgroundReviews.com.  Playa is located just east of the central area of Puerto Penasco, but is probably too far to walk to town.  And, it might not be in the best neighborhood either.  RV’s are arranged in fairly tight quarters in this graveled lot.  There appears to be full hookups and towers for WiFi access points.  The “premium” beach side sites have a bit more room, but still lack any outside amenities such as a cement slab or tables or grills.  There are also spaces across the street in the “North Forty” that appear even tighter and of course don’t have the advantage of ocean views.

Playa de Oro Rv Resort

Leaving the eastern beach area, we checked out 3 resorts along the western area, starting with Concha del Mar rated 9.0!  This is a dry campground, providing a beautiful location along the ocean, fenced & gated, with onsite laundry facilities and showers.  Fresh water fill and waste tank disposal is available by truck at unknown costs.  Nightly space rates are $12/night.  Stays beyond 1 week accrue free nights, 1 for every 7 you stay.

Concha del Mar Campground & RV Park

Right next door to Concha del Mar is Playa Bonita Resort & RV Park providing full hookups right on the edge of the beach. Spaces were well laid out, a bit tight and again, the best were those along the beach.  WiFi towers were visible, but we didn’t try to connect.  Pretty much the same as all others, gravel and hard packed sand sites, no outside amenities and fairly tight quarters.

Playa Bonita RV Resort

Much further to the west and directly next door to Wrecked at the Reef is the relatively new Reef RV Resort.  Providing full hookups, this beach side RV park is probably our favorite at Puerto Penasco.  The downside is the long trip into town, the upside is that the park is the largest and newest in the area.  Sites are laid out on gravel and hard packed sand, most fairly tight, but those along the beach providing great ocean views.  And, it might be expensive to be living next to Wrecked on the Reef Restaurant and Night Club!

The Reef RV Resort

The Reef RV Resort

Billboard just across the Mexico border at Sonoyta, MX

So, the question is – will we come back with the RV next year?  At this point it’s doubtful.  The beach resorts and RV parks are no nicer than those that are available along the Texas Gulf Coast – and there’s a certain comfort of remaining “in-country” along with no insurance hassles.  Will we visit Rocky Point again – probably.  It appears to be a fun town, provides great value and it very close to where we travel in the spring.

Organ Pipe Cactus

5 03 2020

Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus

After a relatively short drive to just north of the Mexican boarder, we’re parked in site #68 at Twin Peaks campground in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  This is our second visit to Organ Pipe – we love it here, with no electricity in the campground, there are no A/C’s running, and quiet, dark nights for optimum star viewing.  The campground is available by reservation or walk-up.  With nearly 80 of the 400 sites showing available, we forgot that many of the sites are short and about half don’t allow the use of generators.  Next time, we’ll reserve this site or #77, another favorite site complete with a towering sequoia and a large organ pipe cactus.

Organ Pipe Cactus, Site #68

There is no campground WiFi, although they say it’s available at the Visitor Center.  We didn’t try that and instead used our cellular data via a Hot Spot.  By default our T-Mobile phones seemed to roam to very slow AT&T service.  However, by manually selecting the network as the Mexican operator Telcel – we were able to achieve very good 4G speeds.  We’re not sure why we were allowed to roam internationally at 4G, but it worked great.

The campground also provides a dump station along with a threaded fresh water fill.  Scattered through out the campsites are water spigots, not threaded, but could probably be used with a water bandit type adapter. There are also flush toilets and solar heated showers (warning “cold in the mornings”) available at a couple of shower houses scattered throughout the campground.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Moument, Site #68

This was our first experience with the solar configuration on the new Montana.  Overall, the experience was good.  We have a better feel for what the panel and controller can do with dual AGM batteries, and even managed to watch a couple of hours of DISH TV using the inverter.  We did end up running the generator 2 hours one morning, just to make sure we were topped-up after a cloudy afternoon.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Site #77

Back to Gold Canyon

2 03 2020

Gambel’s Quail

Having found no other suitable options around the Apache Junction area, we’re once again parked at Canyon Vistas RV Resort in Gold Canyon, AZ.   We’re very near the infamous “dumpster site”, but this time around the corner in site #15.  Instead of the view blocking wall of our last stay, this site looks across the desert toward beautiful sunsets and the lights of Apache Junction and Mesa.  And, there’s even a tree!  However, as is far too common, tons of activities and amenities, and virtually no internet access at all. There are access point towers, but no connectivity that we can find.  Weekly rates for 2021 will be $425 for this site. And, even with a long stay, only the weekly rate is available.  We’re hopeful we can find a new park next year.

Canyon Vista’s at Gold Canyon

With that in mind,  we spent a couple of hours touring other parks in the Apache Junction area.  We looked at Superstition Lookout, Weavers Needle, La Siesta RV Park, Sundance Resort, Santa Fe RV, Ship Rock RV, Sunrise RV Resort (a Roberts Resort) and Golden Sun.  Overall we liked Sunrise RV and Ship Rock the best.  We ran out of time to look at Roadhaven Resort, but this is a park with sold sites, so each site is rented by individual owners.  Some of these sites look nice – of course depending on availability.

During our stay on the east side, we attended two more spring training ball games. On Saturday the 29th we saw the Giants and the Angels at Scottsdale Stadium after starting our day at the wonderful Breakfast Club in Scottsdale.  After the game we hopped around through a few of the famous (or maybe infamous) watering holes in Old Scottsdale including the Rusty Spur Saloon and the Old Town Tavern.  Dinner was at Los Dos Molinos,  a terrific New Mexican restaurant in Mesa.  Perhaps some of the finest New Mexican food, even including many restaurants we’ve enjoyed in New Mexico!

Scottsdale Stadium

Then on Sunday the 1st we were at Salt River Fields, home of the Colorado Rockies playing the LA Angels.  We started our day at Toca Medera, a unique Mexican eatery that just began serving brunch.  The food, service and ambiance were all a hit!  As was Salt River Fields – again this year we had an excellent time.  For now, the home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks is our favorite stadium of the Cactus League.

Salt River Fields

After spending great times with friends in the Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler & Apache Junction areas, we’re packing up and headed south.  It’s time for some quiet, dark nights down near the Mexican border.  We’re headed to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – more from there…

Cave Creek & El Mirage

20 02 2020

Hiking near Cave Creek

For two nights between Lake Pleasant and El Mirage, we’re parked in the driveway of good friends and former Coloradans now living in Cave Creek, AZ.  In the north eastern foothills, Cave Creek is nothing like it’s snooty, sprawling neighbor of Scottsdale to the south.  The streets of Cave Creek are filled with galleries, eateries and unique bars, many made to look like the old Western town that Cave Creek came from.  Settled in the 1800’s as a military installation, once gold was discovered the town continued to grow.  Today, with just over 5600 residents, Cave Creek is a unique residential community within the broader Phoenix metro area.

Our driveway “site” was perfect – the rate was right and the accompanying beautifully landscaped grounds, the pool and guest room was awesome!  Thanks Dana & Suz – we’d like to reserve for next year!

From Cave Creek we’ve made the relatively short trip to El Mirage in the far western Phoenix metro area.  El Mirage is sandwiched between Sun City, AZ to the east and Surprise, AZ to the west.  To the south is Luke Air Force base, one of the largest jet training bases in the world.  Unknown to us, Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort is exactly parallel to the Luke runways.  Overhead training started promptly at 7AM, and went on until nearly sunset.  Every 15 minutes or so the F-35 jets screamed overhead stopping conversations and even the spring baseball game at Surprise Stadium.

Speaking of spring baseball, the main reason we’ve left the east side where we’ve stayed on previous trips is to check out a few more stadiums/teams.  The nearest here is Surprise Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers.  And, just a bit further away is Camelback Ranch in Glendale, home of the Chicago White Sox and the LA Dodgers.  Saturday February 22nd is the opening day to many teams around the Cactus League.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature must not be a baseball fan as a recording setting ½ inch of rain soaked playing fields all across the metro area.  Most games were cancelled, but stadiums were happy to exchange tickets for later in the week and we ended up seeing the two “home” teams matched up with KC taking the 5 to 4 win on Tuesday.

Surprise Stadium, Rangers & Royals

Back at Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, a Roberts Resort, we’re parked in site #1170.  As is common, this is a transient site, generally designated for those staying less than 30 days.  This portion of the park has never been finished and they are just converting these very long pull-through sites into what will be come 2 rows of back-in sites.  On the map, this second line of unfinished sites is already shown as 1195-1227.  Also, the row of sites 1250-1282 is in development and appears to be designated for park models.

As with many of the large parks, facilities abound – pools, hot tubs, workout rooms, pickle ball courts, as well as numerous craft shops, woodworking, embroidery, ceramics, etc.  These amenities come at a price –  for weekly bookings the current rate is almost $65/day with all taxes and fees.  And, as is way too common in these large parks, the internet is basically non-existent.  On the first day of arrival, the WiFi extender will connect, but there’s no internet access available.  On subsequent days, the extender connects, and provides very fast connectivity – up until about noon when Internet access disappears.  We might decide to stay on the west side again next year, but it likely won’t be at Pueblo El Mirage.  From here, we’re headed to the far east side of the valley.  More from Gold Canyon…

Lake Pleasant Region Park

15 02 2020

Lake Pleasant, Roadrunner Campground

From Camp Verde, we’ve continued south along I-17 to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a Maricopa County Park.

Incorporated into this recreation area is 10,000 acre Lake Pleasant, the last major water reservoir of the Central Arizona Project before the water is distributed to the Phoenix and Tucson areas.  The Central Arizona Project (CAP) Aqueduct delivers Colorado River water across 330 miles of Arizona from Lake Havasu to Lake Pleasant.  Initially controversial, the first construction of California infrastructure saw Arizona calling out the National Guard and even commissioning a 2-boat “navy”.  With long-term decreases of precipitation within the Colorado River Basin, the Compact remains controversial and is back in the news nearly every year.

The camping facilities are Lake Pleasant include nearly 150 campsites spread across two areas: Desert Tortoise with 76 total sites, 25 developed (water, electric, covered picnic table & fire ring), 41 semi-developed sites (covered picnic table & fire ring) and 10 tent sites.  Roadrunner Campground provides 72 developed sites. There are two large marinas on the lake, Scorpion Bay Marina is within the park boundaries with an on-water bar & grill that serves up good all-day breakfast tacos plus salads and sandwiches and a few hot entrees.  They also provide an ever-changing dinner menu.

We’re parked in site #47 at the Roadrunner Campground.  Most of the sites at both campgrounds offer some type lake view.  The best views are in the lower numbered sites at Roadrunner, and the 134-140 loop at Desert Tortoise.  Use caution when selecting Roadrunner sites from about 6 to 13.  These have very steep driveways that might drag bumpers or jacks.

Lake Pleasant Park Map, Roadrunner Campground Map & Desert Tortoise Map

From here we’re headed into the Phoenix metro- area, first stop at Cave Creek, then El Mirage.  More from there…


Roadrunner Campground, Site #20

Lake Pleasant Sunset from Site #47

Roadrunner Campground, Site #18

Desert Tortoise Campground, Site #135

Desert Tortoise Campground #140