Tuesday 7th April
The day is bright but blowing a cold wind, definitely coat weather. Went to Williams rail station to see the Wild West Shootout. Every day before the Grand Canyon train departs there is a show put on by some local cowboys. It was really good fun and of course lots of photo opportunities afterwards.
Well, it was time to leave and we all agreed that Williams was the best Route 66 town we had visited. We got on to the US-140 to Flagstaff and then the I-17 towards Phoenix. On the way we went through Tonto and Yavapai Apache areas and national forests on either side of the road. When we reached the Sun Set View rest area we stopped to take a look at the vistas and stretch our legs. Telescopes were provided so that you could take a close up look at the vast acres of unspoilt countryside spreading out before you. As soon as we got out of the car we noticed the warmer temperatures now that we were at a lower level and further south - Williams was at 6,766 ft. The route was very pretty and unspoilt all the way down and as we neared Phoenix we noticed cactus appearing in the landscape. South of Phoenix we picked up the I-10 and stopped at a small place called Picacho. We pulled in at the KOA campsite which was located just off the Interstate but in a very rural area. Frankie and Jerry greeted us in the office and booked us in. Again a very friendly couple and we were given a dozen eggs from their chicken coup before Jerry showed us to our pitch. Before leaving the office we saw a hummingbird at the bird feeder on the porch outside.
The park has tall shade trees and nice cactus landscaping, it does feel like a touch of the desert here. It also has a small heated swimming pool, a restaurant and a dog agility exercise area which Sandy enjoys. The RV park is quiet now as the busy time is during the winter when the 'snowbirds' come down from the north to get away from the cold weather. We have an uninterrupted view of the next door ranch where there are horses and a couple of foals. We watched them breaking the young horses in, getting them used to a saddle. Apparently the owner is a champion at horse roping. Next to the ranch is a large field where we let Sandy off the leash for a good run.
Wednesday 8th April
We are now in the Sonora Desert region and the weather is hot and sunny, quite a change from the mountain climate of Williams. This morning we went to the Sonora Desert Museum which is a cross between a nature park with wild animals and a botanical garden. The animals and plants are native to the Sonoran Desert area.
There are a couple of miles of paths running through 21 acres of beautiful desert garden. The giant Saguaro cactus is a feature of the garden and only grows in this region. They have some very clever screening that is virtually invisible but keeps the animals that are roaming in a specific area. It does give you the feeling that you are sharing the same place. We walked around the desert loop trail where we saw half a dozen Javelina ( look similar to a wild boar) huddled together sleeping in the shade. At last we saw a coyote in the flesh sleeping under a tree. After waiting a while to see if he would rouse, we walked away and then suddenly heard the distinct sound of one coyote communicating with another. Rushing back down the path we saw the coyote wide awake now sitting up under the tree. There was so much in this place to see and do, too much to recount. It is quite a unique idea and a fascinating facility.
In the evening we went into the local town of Eloy to the Tumbleweed Inn. We walked into a country music evening with every one sitting at long bench tables and having meals in a basket. We stayed for a while to listen to the music and watch the couples dance then headed back to the RV park for a BBQ.
Thursday 9th April
Today we have been to the Picacho Peak State Park which is just down the road from the camp site. The peak is 1,500 foot high and has quite a unique shape which has been used as a landmark for travellers for thousands of years. There are lots of hiking trails with various levels of difficulty, we took the Hunter Trail that climbed up to the peak but we didn't go that far. As we drove into the park we spotted a Turkey Vulture and we hoped to see a few more birds of prey. Shortly after starting our climb we came across a large saguaro cactus which must have been 30 foot high, we all looked tiny beside it. The desert countryside was a sea of yellow spring flowers and the view was splendid without an electric cable in sight. As we continued to climb the steep and winding trail we spotted what looked like vultures on the thermals above us. Shortly after this we heard bird cry which sounded like chicks and meant there must be a nest nearby. We climbed further and marvelled at how silent it was, no other sounds except the buzz of insects or the scuttle of a lizard. It was hot and we were glad we had water with us. On the way back down John spotted a falcon, followed it with his binoculars and saw it enter a nest. He was thrilled to have seen a falcon in the wilds of Arizona and was very keen to see a harris hawk who are native to this area but no luck with this so far - just the one at Bearizona. John thought the bird we had seen was probably a prairie falcon. Went back to the campsite and had a dip in the pool.