Las Cruces, New Mexico

13 03 2018

Las Cruces, KOA Site #19

We’re parked in Site #19 at one of our all-time favorite KOA’s – the KOA of Las Cruces, NM.  We spent time here last year and really enjoyed the “view-sites” with their gorgeous views across Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains in the background.  And, Las Cruces is a good resupply stop, the KOA has great laundry facilities, and friends here always make our stay a good time.  This is an nice, oversized site even more spacious than #13 where we were parked last year.

OTA TV includes 20 or so locals in the Las Cruces/El Paso market.  The park’s WiFi system works well and T-Mobile provides full 4G LTE service.  The Post Office is 5 minutes away, Walmart is 15 and there’s even a Camping World about 50 miles away in Anthony, TX – just outside the El Paso metro area.  All in all, very convenient.

While in town we enjoyed dinner out in several of the charming Old Mesilla Village restaurants. Sunday we’re at La Posta de Mesilla, a huge old sprawling complex just off the historic Plaza.  La Posta offers what is some of the best Mexican food and beverages we’ve ever had.  Next time, we need to try brunch!  On Tuesday we’re back to Mesilla to find a patio for after-work beers and snacks. Starting at The Dog House, this is a patio, take-out, brewery extension of the Andele! Restaurant, a long time establishment in Old Mesilla.  From the Dog House we explore the Double Eagle, “the crown jewel of Historic Old Mesilla”.

While nearly every building in Mesilla probably has some interesting history, the Double Eagle is perhaps the most unique.  First constructed in the late 1840’s, the building has witnessed many events including the Mexican-American War of 1846, the declaration of Mesilla as the Capital of the Arizona Territory in 1861 and the jailing and subsequent trial of Billy the Kid in 1881.  The Imperial Bar, where we belly-up, is 30 feet of exquisitely hand carved oak and walnut. Behind, the mirrored back bar is lighted by two 5 foot high Imperial French floral Corones, each with 23 lighted brass flowers, 10 of which have blue crystal rosette shades.  Overhead hang two classic French Baccarat chandeliers that are 7 feet tall and 3 feet around.  Above, the ceiling is highly decorated pressed tin, accented with 18 karat gold.  A bit over the top?  For sure – but amazing none the less!

And, what old building wouldn’t be complete without stories of love, murder and ghosts?  Here is the story of lovers Inez and Armando!


Roper Lake State Park, Arizona

8 03 2018

Roper Lake State Park, Site #5

Good Morning from Cactus Flat, AZ.

We’re parked in Site #5 at Roper Lake State Park, about 6 miles south of Safford, AZ.  The 45 electric and water sites are organized around two loops set on the banks of 30 acre Roper Lake which is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish and rainbow trout.  The Hacienda loop sites provide 20/30A electric, water, fire rings and picnic tables.  The Cottonwood loop provides 20/30/50A service, water, fire rings and covered picnic tables.  Each loop also has a shower house providing hot showers.  There is a dump station near the park entrance.

Roper Lake State Park and Mount Graham

The drive across from Gold Canyon into the Gila River Valley along Highway 60 was impressive, both the beautiful landscapes as well as the immense copper mines around Globe.  A note for high profile rigs:  The Arizona Department of Transportation lists the Queen Creek Tunnel at 22 feet.  Recent lighting improvements have reduced the headroom to 13’6”.  This low clearance is not currently noted by RV navigation software.

Set at the base of snow covered 10,720 foot Mount Graham, this area of the Gila River Valley has long been known for substantial artesian waters.  Within the park the state has constructed a large concrete and stone hot tub that is constantly refilled by 100 degree water.

Satellite reception is good, but only 2 PBS channels are on the OTA lineup.  The park offers free WiFi and actually works quite well.  And the T-Mobile network offers full 4G LTE cellular service.

We’ll be here at Roper Lake two nights, and then onto Las Cruces.  More from there…

Superstition Views at Canyon Vistas, Gold Canyon, AZ

5 03 2018

Superstition Views at Canyon Vistas

Located adjacent to Canyon Vistas RV Resort is Superstition Views, a 55+ luxury casita community that steps up the traditional park model into beautiful stucco homes with carports, RV ports and rooftop entertainment spaces.  Most of these casitas are small, around 700 square feet and typically feature a great room and a bedroom.  The RV port is optional, but with full hookups your RV can act as your master bedroom or a second bedroom when guests arrive.  These are prebuilt park models with added custom garage, carport, rooftop patio, RV carport and/or a combination of all built to your specifications. Then they stucco over the park model & the custom build so that they appear to be a single permanent structure on the lot. The lots are larger than the typical park model lots, allowing space for an RV in addition to the park model. The larger lots combined with the stucco finish give the neighborhood a much more upscale look than your typical park model community. It’s unclear if you own or lease the site, but “lifestyle fees” run around $500 per month which include many resort amenities, but no utilities.

Superstition Views at Canyon Vistas

Superstition Views at Canyon Vistas

Fun in Gilbert Heritage District

4 03 2018

Joyride Taco House, Gilbert, AZ

While visiting last year,  friends introduced us to the very hip Gilbert Heritage district, with dinner at Joyride Taco House.

This year we enjoyed two new restaurants in Gilbert, Barrio Queen and Whiskey Row.  “The Queen” touts authentic Mexico City dishes and one of the largest selections of Tequilas in Arizona.  At our table we enjoyed  carne asada, sonoran style and chili verde, especial de la casa.  Both were served in sizzling cast iron skillets with sides of rice and black beans. We can certainly vouch for excellent food – and they make a pretty fine margarita too.  We’ll be back.

Barrio Queen, Gilbert, AZ

Barrio Queen, Gilbert, AZ

After attending the Rockies/D-backs game, we decided to check out Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, just across the street from Barrio Queen.  As the afternoon turned into evening, the live band cranked up the volume, the large garage doors opened the play area to people strolling along Gilbert Rd and the place got a bit more rowdy.  The bar height tables that occupy the dance floor are wheeled out and the line dancing begins.  We enjoyed a few cocktails and appetizers including Grilled Whiskey Wings – not impressed, Southern Fries – to die for, and one order of each sliders: Meatball, American, Blue Cheese & Bacon and Tennessee Hot – most very good.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Gilbert, AZ

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Gilbert, AZ

Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, AZ

2 03 2018

Good morning from Gold Canyon!

We’re about 7 miles due south of Lost Dutchman State Park and only about 5 miles from the KOA that we left yesterday morning. We’re parked in Site #12, a site that is less desirable than we imagined due to a large roll-off dumpster that is occupying site #13.  Having booked this site with one of the resort operators, it’s unknown if they understood that we’d be sharing space with a roll-off or not. At any rate, the nearly constant trash drop-off and the 6AM dumpster swap twice during our 7 night stay left us thinking we’d like to quickly move out of the “dump”.  The site is very trashy and we’ve picked up a handful of nails and other construction materials.

The expected site – Canyon Vistas at Gold Canyon, AZ

The actual site – Canyon Vistas at Gold Canyon, AZ

There are 37 sites here in the “short term” area – those guests that will be spending less than a month in the resort.  Along with the dumpster, these are also the noisiest sites due to the proximity of Highway 60.  And, just at the Apache Junction KOA, the WiFi here is nearly nonexistent.    Apparently the nearest access point is at the bathhouse, about 600 feet away.  Even with the extender, the connection is a solid 24KB download!  Pitiful for a resort that charges over $500 a month for resort/lifestyle fees.  Fortunately our T-Mobile coverage is a full 4G LTE signal here.

As with many RV resorts in the sun belt, Canyon Vistas is in the process of migrating to park models. We estimate about 50% of the sites have been converted to park models.  Within the “longer-term” park, the facilities are spotless and provide unlimited activities for the very active-focused community.  Options include pickleball, shuffleboard, softball, water aerobics, Zumba, woodcarving, scrap booking, stained glass, a computer lab (maybe someone could work on the WiFi network?) and dance lessons.  Laundry facilities are first-class and work on the convenient card system at a bargain rate of $1.25/load.

Canyon Vistas at Gold Canyon, AZ, site #15. Possibly quieter and no dumpster!

On Friday, along with friends from home, we’re off to spring training baseball and a game between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamond Backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.  The weather turns out to be one of the best days we’ve had so far, and the cold beers, hot dogs and peanuts hit the spot.

Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamond Backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

25 02 2018

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

We’re parked at site #1 in the Apache Junction KOA, the first of our multi-days stay in the Phoenix area.  RV spots around Phoenix prove difficult to reserve this year – and unfortunately we won’t be back to our favorite, Lost Dutchman State Park.  Even here, the KOA can accommodate us only until the 1st when we have to vacate this spot.  Site #1 is located near the office/entrance and surrounded by KOA Kabin’s and a few tent locations.  This is a oversized spot, with full hookups (water, sewer port and 30A electric).  After calling to confirm they had only one spot open (#1), I reserved online noting we’d like site #1.  Upon arrival we were charged a $25 specific site reservation fee, in addition to the $47/night reservation fee (less our Value Kard discount)

The facilities at this KOA are well maintained.  The pool and recreation building seem to be constantly busy with social activities.  The sites are raked and manicured between each departure and arrival.  The laundry room is also busy – with 6 washers at $2/load and 3 over-sized commercial dryers that also run about $2 with a combined load.  With great cellular coverage (there is even some type of cellular “tree” right in the park) there’s not much need for the parks WiFi – which is good.  It’s as unreliable as any we’ve seen.  Even with an access point next to us in site #2 and within 300 of the transmitter on the office building, the network is weak and inadequate for nearly any use.

Here on the outskirts of Phoenix we have 50 or more OTA TV channels,  most of the nationals are duplicated from Phoenix and Tucson.  Located on the edge of Apache Junction, the park is sandwiched between Tomahawk Road and Old West Highway, about 1 mile north of Highway 60, the Superstition Highway.  There is some road noise from Old West Highway and it would be worse on northern edges in sites 39-50 and 120-124.  The southern sites are probably the quietest, but maybe not the most appealing since they look out over a junk yard.  However, #12-#15 might be the best since they have fairly large trees to the back of the sites.

On Thursday we’ll pack up and make the 5 mile trip from the KOA out to Canyon Vista’s RV resort in Gold Canyon.  More from there…

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

Apache Junction / Mesa KOA

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

24 02 2018

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona

The park’s unique 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 park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale.

We’re parked in site #66, an inside-the-loop site on the Red-Tail Hawk loop.  There are about 30 sites around this oval loop, another 25 sites on the next Coopers Hawk loop and 15 on the furthest tent-only Blackhawk loop.  Views from the Red-Tail and Coopers Hawk loops are best, but would provide less shade and probably more wind than the lower Quail loop of about 45 sites.  PARK MAP All RV sites provide water and electric with two dump stations available near the park entrance.  There are 20 or more OTA TV channels from Flagstaff or on repeaters out of Prescott.  T-Mobile is a full 4G LTE.  The dark, quiet evening is a welcome change from the in-city locations we’ve been at so far.  But, with temps continuing to fall into the 30’s we’re only here one night before continuing south to the Valley of the Sun.  More from Apache Junction…

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona

Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona, Site #66