Cave Creek Regional Park AZ

Why does it seem so long ago that I posted? I don’t know other than these stays in the Maricopa regional parks are sort of blending together, most likely because moving between them makes for short travel days, and the weather and geography hasn’t changed all that much in a while. That’s not a bad thing given that the weather has been generally pretty good and the geography offers plenty to do. We also began this stay with a fun holiday celebration, so I guess my feelings are unreliable and we’ll have to go to the notes and photos to tell the real story.

When you become full-time RVers, you have to sign an agreement that you will spend every winter in either Arizona or Florida. OK, not really, but you may as well since that’s what we all do and because we all do, we are able to gather with our traveling friends. For us that meant some new-old friends, Steve and Mona Liza of Lowes Travels and some new-new friends, Al & Ingrid of LiveLaughRV.

Always room for friends!

We first “met” Al & Ingrid online where we coincidentally discovered that they spend their summers in Ashland, WI — the very city that is closest to the site of our upcoming summer NPS gig! Ingrid was beyond kind when she went over there and sent us pictures of the place and, specifically, where our RV would be parked. It helped us make our decision to pursue that job, and both she and Al have been an extensive and reassuring  resource for all things Wisconsin. They spend most of the rest of the year in the Phoenix area and have also been a wealth of information on what to see and do here. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, they don’t get along with the Lowes at all!

We had a wonderful gathering over delicious food and drink from each of us. Thank you, friends, for making our holiday special!

Another big storm was moving in that afternoon, so we couldn’t celebrate too long into the evening. Everyone made it home safely and just in time, and TBG and I pulled in our big slide to stave off potential wind damage and to keep things quiet(er) overnight. The morning was still stormy, but things cleared up enough later, and we took the two-mile walk to the Visitor Center.

Don’t open, snakes inside!

As with all the regional parks, the VC houses a variety of desert critters, and along with the snakes, this one showcased several spiders. I didn’t photograph any of those, but I will post some photos further down of the snakes being fed later that week. Consider yourselves WARNED

Our first “real” hike began with the walk to the VC (all the hikes here did if we wanted to walk from our campsite) then we set out on the Slate Trail, hoping to locate a famous cactus. TBG was feeling a bit floopy, though, and decided to turn back at the trailhead. I soldiered on alone.

Alone in the desert with non-famous cacti.

I walked along, with my head on a swivel, but didn’t see it anywhere.

What the heck?

I reached the park boundary without locating it. How could this be? I wondered. All indications were that it was along this trail, and there were tons of pictures of it online. I had thought it would be obvious, but apparently not. You’re not really supposed to continue on past this sign, and I didn’t want to go further anyhow, so I headed back feeling sad that I would have to tell TBG that I couldn’t find it.

There weren’t a lot of other people out, but each and every one I passed, I queried, “Do you know where the Michelin Man cactus is?” No one I encountered had ever even heard of it, much less seen it. I was nearing the last trail junction, and I saw another couple approaching. Before I was close enough to interrogate them, I serendipitously looked over my left shoulder.

And there it was!

It was not as big as I’d expected, and it was further off the trail than I thought it would be, but there it was!

It’s known as a “segmented” saguaro.

Pics or it didn’t happen!

Lest you think I just stole pictures off the web, I took a selfie to prove I was there and show how big it’s not and how far off the trail it is. I didn’t feel so dumb having missed it the first time, although I went almost three more miles than I needed to, not that I regret that, mind you. If you ever find yourself here, Michelin Man is located on the south side of the Slate Trail about midway between the Jasper and Quartz trails. Can’t miss it!

The next day didn’t bring more than a walk to the VC and back, but we did see something fun along the way.

Great Horned Owl in need of sunglasses.

Our longest hike of this stay was in the park along the Go John Trail for an 8.6-mile loop.

We share everything.

The trail is named for the 1800’s claim-stakin’ miner G(eorge) O. John. Get it?

Can you see me?

While TBG went for a solo bike ride the next day, I stayed in and did some route-planning. It would have been nice to have the windows open and enjoy the breeze, but the sound of a nearby construction vehicle’s back-up beeper ruined the chances of that. The proximity of these parks to the Phoenix metro area is simultaneously their biggest draw and drawback. The proximity of this park to its sister, Spur Cross Conservation Area, is one of its other draws, and we headed there next with a high recommendation from Ingrid.

Spur Cross is considered an extension of Cave Creek.  The camp hosts work at both places, and our camping fee covered the entrance there as well. The hosts sent us on the Spur Cross-Elephant Mountain-Tortuga Loop. There had been a little rain the night before which made the air soft and fresh.

Can you see me?

In the first few miles, there were four water crossings that required some skillful rock-hopping. Soon enough we were climbing and climbing. The trail was almost impossible to distinguish in a few places, and we were glad to have GPS working to keep us on track.

Beautiful place to get lost.

Thunder or sonic boom?

Better navigating through petroglyphs.

Rotini Saguaro.

Although it was a bit rough (the maps caution this) and confusing in a few spots, overall, it was a great 6-miler that we had all to ourselves.

The next day was a weird one that started with my bi-yearly dental visit. I had to have a filling redone and expanded, which is always a terrific time. While I was in the chair, TBG went to the laundromat where he had a good time. Copy that? It is nice to find another activity he enjoys, and I’m sure we can work that into the schedule again in the future for him. He lost a pillowcase, though, so we’ll see. Then we went grocery shopping, and when we got home, I found that I’d been charged for four chocolate bars when I’d only gotten three, and I’d put four packages of a particular sausage in my cart and on the belt — I distinctly remember doing both — but only arrived home with one. I was only charged for one, but where did the other three go? My friend, Laura, thinks one of the Sedona vortexes attached itself to us. This is because a few months ago, I lost my sundae spoon, and I cried to her about it. I’d had that spoon for years and years, I think pre-TBG even, and it was the perfect spoon for many things, though I don’t think I ever actually ate a sundae with it. I think I’ve mentioned before that I simply DO NOT LOSE THINGS, and when something hides, no one rests until it is located. But the spoon was good and truly gone, and we could only surmise it had somehow gotten thrown away. I finally found some new sundae spoons at Walmart in a nonsense set of three.  Then we lost a fork. This I discovered as I was setting the Thanksgiving table. Seriously, what the hell? On the same day of the gone pillowcase and missing sausages, the fork appeared in the back of the fridge, suspended by its tines from the wire shelf. The Vortex taketh away and the Vortex giveth. I’d like it to giveth back the pillowcase, but it can keepeth the sausages.

Speaking of food, it was time for the Critter Feed at the Visitor Center! If you don’t care for such things, here is a picture of a pretty orange morph house finch for you. Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in another week or so!

“Hello, I didn’t eat a lot of red stuff when I was molting, so I’m orange.”

For the rest of you, let’s go see what puts the snack in rattlesnacks!

Once a month, the ranger feeds all the critters, and he started with the spiders and scorpions, who all enjoyed baby crickets. Then it was time for the reptiles. Unlike at Lake Pleasant, these snakes are fed dead, previously-frozen food. The chunky three-legged Gila monster got five little mice and gulped them down one after the other.

The Speckled she-rattler got a fat rat.

The overweight Diamondback was on a diet, so he got baby quail.

Other than an early morning bird walk I took with a park group on our last morning during which I took that finch picture, that wraps up our time at Cave Creek. We’re off to one more regional park next, and according to our sources, it’s the best one yet. If that proves not to be true, I’ll be getting new sources, but if it does, we’re in for a a real treat!

 

16 thoughts on “Cave Creek Regional Park AZ

  1. Wow, that segmented saguaro is one crazy-looking cactus! I think it’s so cool that y’all have built up an RV community on here. It’s so fascinating to think that we can jump on here and make connections that can last for a lifetime. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  2. Pingback: McDowell Mountain Regional Park AZ | Chasing Dirt

  3. Pingback: Happy Holidays and Cyber Friends – Live Laugh RV

  4. Hey, Joodie. It was nice to meet and talk with you on the Friday Fittness Hike last week. Hope you’re enjoying the rest of your time at McDowell.
    One lost pillowcase isn’t so bad. Can’t remember where we were but I once left an entire load of clothes in a dryer and didn’t realize until I got back to the RV, and It was NOT a short drive to go back and retrieve it.
    Have fun in your travels!

    Gayle

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    • Hi, Gayle, thanks for finding me here! The hike was fun, and I really enjoy the parks offering organized activities like that. It was nice meeting you and exchanging road stories. I can certainly see why you settled in this area. It’s very, very pretty, and we have been having a great time.
      A whole load of laundry? That must have been such a sinking feeling when you realized it was missing. Ah, the hassles of living in motion!
      Thanks again for visiting here & making the hike a good time 🙂

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  6. We are thankful for your friendship and thankful for having us over to celebrate the day of thankfulness! We had a great time and Steve is still dreaming of that tender pork!
    I wanted to tell you how to search for Michelin Man but that won’t be fun if you miss it and blame me for my direction, ha ha ha.
    Watching those snakes would make me squirm, but excited how they would gobble up those huge mammals.
    Speaking of lost items, I have not lost one yet for I recovered them when not looking for it just like your fork scenario. But I have recently left a stack of clothes in a hanger at the laundromat for the very first time. I only remembered about it the day after when Steve was looking for his sweatshirt! Thankfully, the attendant kept it in her room and we got them back! Whew. Old age sucks!

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    • We were so happy that we were all close enough to gather for thankfulness 🙂 And I’m glad Steve liked the pork, it’s definitely a favorite of ours, plus so easy to make. Thank you, too, for letting me know to even try to find Michelin Man. There is reportedly one near to where we are now that I will also have to find.

      I thought the rat the Speckled Rattlesnack was given was a bit too big, but obviously not! Though I wonder if she’s going to become overweight soon like the Diamondback and have to be switched to baby quail. Those poor snakes don’t have a lot of room to work off their meals.

      Thank goodness for attentive laundromat attendants! I would hate to lose a whole rack of clothes, but it’s not as hard to do as one might think, especially when you’re constantly in new, unfamiliar environments. We’re not old, we’re just seasoned! 😀

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  7. I read your tale of the mysteriously disappearing/reappearing items twice because it is so danged funny!! I never lose things, either. And it drives me absolutely bonkers when I can’t find something. As you said, no one rests until I do. Actually, I also spend a fair amount of my life searching for and finding the things that Eric loses. 😂 So glad TBG is excited about taking up laundry as a hobby! You might want to stock up on some extra pillowcases. And socks. (That’s what Eric usually leaves behind.) I think it’s a small investment to buy extras in exchange for him doing the laundry, LOL.

    Your snake feeding photos are so interesting and so disturbing. Those little quail feet sticking out of the snake’s mouth…no!!!! But I went back and looked at the cute owl who needs sunglasses and that made me feel better.

    Getting together with friends to celebrate holidays on the road is so much fun…it looks like you guys had a blast! Makes me nostalgic for our Christmas Eve dinner with you guys in Tucson last year and our Christmas day hike. 🙂

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    • Writing is such a strange undertaking. I wasn’t jazzed at all when I began writing this particular post. Not because we didn’t have some good times at Cave Creek, I just wasn’t in a writing mood at all. Then I get all done, and it ends up being a favorite. How does that work?! I don’t want to sound stereotypically “wifey” but, I’m going to have to agree with the sentiment that I’m not the one who loses the most stuff. My philosophy is, “Don’t have too much stuff, and put what you do have back where you found it. Every. Time.”

      Sorry about the baby quail. The circle of life is brutal. That owl’s face in the sun was so funny. I spotted it flying up and over the road in front of us, then TBG ran back to the RV to get the camera while I kept my eye on it. It probably followed a mouse or something to where it landed, but was obviously too sleepy in the warm sun to try very hard to pursue it much further. Owl faces make me happy 🙂

      I was just re-reading your post about our holiday time and hike from last year. That makes me happy, too. ❤

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  8. I’m telling you, nothing else explains lost “stuff” when the person losing said stuff is a person who does not lose stuff. I am the same way and, therefore, it drives me nuts when things go missing. Especially considering we live in less than 300 square feet. And mysterious charges for things you didn’t buy? Missing laundry? And silverware??? That can ONLY be explained by forces greater than yourself deciding to mess with you. And what has greater force than a vortex??? Nothing!! And who was recently mocking vortexes? You! See? Mystery solved!

    Speaking of you, I love that the person who mocks the crazy saguaro people is ALSO the person who walks 3 miles out of her way to find a random saguaro. Though, now that you show it to me, I cannot un-see the Michelin Man. Neat!! And speaking of things I can’t un-see, your snake eating the rat picture looks like the snake has little hands and he’s eating a sandwich.

    The concentration of RVers in the southwest and Florida is definitely one of (the few) highlights of winter each year. It’s awesome that you were so close to fun people and could make the holiday special. I’m glad you guys had a good time!

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    • I know!!!! That is exactly what I think if something seems lost — we only have the rig and the car, how can something disappear???? Since a Vortex has attached itself to us due to my mocking of them, does this mean that I can expect a crested saguaro to topple on me at some point? Maybe whatever it was that caused me to look over my shoulder at precisely the right moment to espy the Michelin Man was really trying to draw me closer so it could drop one of those balls on my head. This is worrisome.

      Ha! That picture DOES look like the snake has little hands! Aren’t you glad I didn’t photograph the spiders eating their baby crickets? I thought of you when I was not doing that. ❤

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  9. As disorienting as I may find the idea of an RV that can seat 6 for dinner, it’s wonderful that you had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends. That winter concentration of RVers can sure be frustrating when it comes to competing for reservations, but it is definitely nice to be together with fellow travelers for the holidays.

    Congratulations on finding the famous cactus. It can seem like a fool’s errand to look for one particular cactus in what seems like a sea of saguaro, but so satisfying when it works out!

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    • Ha, we weren’t sure how well we could fit six people in here, but it was fun figuring it out. It was too bad the weather wasn’t cooperating because being outside would’ve been fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had an outdoor Thanksgiving — new goal!

      I don’t mind playing the fool in the great Saguaro Sea occasionally. 😀 It was a fun treasure hunt and great motivation. I love a good goal!

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    • Thank you for coming and for the delicious chocolates — we enjoyed a few each morning over coffee — the special beer and devilish eggs! Sorry you weren’t able to join us on the Spur Cross hike, but thanks again for pointing us in that direction, as well as all your wonderful notes on the Scottsdale area. We are looking forward to Wisconsin and catching up again there!

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