Cave Creek Regional Park AZ II

For over a year now, I have been hit-or-miss in my daily note-taking, relying increasingly on our photos and my little calendar to remind me of what we did when. That’s perfectly fine because, in the long run, who gives a rip if every moment or detail is remembered? Such hubris! When all is said and done, I don’t need to remember all that was said and done. History buffs may fight me on this, but the old saw of those not remembering the past being condemned to repeat it is pure tripe. Condemned? Sheesh! What about the good stuff? Can’t we, shouldn’t we, want to not only remember but repeat that? I could drone on and on with my opinions on the topic, and someday when I’m out of adventures to record perhaps I will, but for now our personal history continues to repeat itself in our second stay at Cave Creek. It’s good history, though, and worth a repeat.

During our first stay, we had set out one morning to find the famed Michelin Man cactus, but TBG wasn’t feeling good or some such when we got to the trailhead, so he left me to explore on my own. I wrote all about my near-miss then, but I wanted TBG to finally see this great specimen of a segmented saguaro, too. There was no missing it this time, and I swear the spur trail leading directly up to it did not exist two years ago. At any rate, it was far more obvious than previously, and TBG declared it his favorite saguaro of all time.

Around camp, we had a handful of Anna’s Sugar Pigs partaking of my feeder, Gambel’s Quail making their rounds through our picnic area, especially since I tossed out a handful of sunflower seeds daily, and a couple of sky events that occurred during our stay. One was the Leonid meteor shower, that although we got up early to try to see it during the peak, the full moon and a neighbor’s outdoor beacon of a porch light (grrrrr) made viewing a bust. I forgave that full moon, though, as it was the centerpiece for the second sky event in the form of the longest partial lunar eclipse in over 500 years. I went out briefly to espy it with my own eyes, but TBG spent just a tad more time with it.

I don’t know what came over him, but TBG decided it would be a good idea to get up super early (again) and make the two-hour drive up to Sedona for a hike. I don’t know what came over me, either, because I agreed to it.

We’ve been to Sedona before, and it was during that visit we learned to be extra-early to any trailhead since there is no such thing as a non-busy one no matter what time of year or day of the week it is. Proving our memory accurate, we were the second vehicle in the lot not long after sunrise, and there were almost no spaces left by the time we returned to the car. Our memories failed us, though, by forgetting that Sedona is higher elevation, thus much colder than the Phoenix valley. Much. As in, it wasn’t far above freezing. We didn’t have a lot of extra warm stuff with us, but TBG was able to dig out our long-fingered biking gloves, which helped until we got moving enough to warm up.

There were numerous water-crossings, easily hopped, and the air was palpably more humid than down in the valley. While the cold was a bit of a shock at first, the humidity was a relief for a day.

Our hike, as do most others’, terminated when the canyon walls narrowed, and it became impossible to continue without hiking in the water, which is what the signs say to do for those who wish to camp up-canyon. I chatted with some other hikers while TBG puddle-jumped to get some photos.

Back in the lot, the sun had come out, and there were pretty Steller’s Jays and Acorn Woodpeckers everywhere, flashing blue and red. They entertained us while we had a snack and got tucked in for the long drive back.

The following day, I was able to re-connect with my friend Ingrid (who, coincidentally, I met for the very first time during our original stay at Cave Creek, and who you, Faithful Readers, will also remember from our visits in Wisconsin) one early afternoon for lunch. She and Al have recently come off the full-time RV road and settled in the Phoenix area, so even though we’d seen each other only a couple months ago, we had scads of catching up to do, and we literally closed the place down. They regularly close after lunch, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. We ended up chatting even more in the parking lot, where we belly-laughed over our silly selfie attempts, trying to find an angle that didn’t have the phone’s shadow by ducking behind her truck only to completely be in the truck’s shadow. Doh! Anyhow, it was great as always to visit, and hopefully we’ll see both of them on our way back north.

Though the days were still quite warm, the nights began to cool considerably, so our nightly scorpion walks only yielded one the whole time. They will seek out warmer places to be and/or hibernate during the colder months, and I hibernated in bed while TBG went out for another moon shot.

One of the things we like about the Cave Creek park is that the trails to the VC are the perfect distance for a morning walk. I went in only once to see how the critters were doing. Two years ago, the fat Diamondback Rattlesnack was on a diet of baby quail, which apparently worked because now he gets mice again. The park VCs aren’t advertising their critter feeds right now, so it is unlikely I will get to see one again, but I’ll keep pestering the workers nonetheless.

The exterior of Cave Creek’s VC is one of my favorites, with a pretty man-made brook and a winding pathway with clever benches made to look like they’re constructed of tree branches. The bird feeder is kept full, attracting lots of customers, and this time we saw the little Sonoran Desert Tortoise crunching on his snack of pea pods and greens.

Another nice perk of staying at Cave Creek is that your camping fee also covers the entrance fee at the nearby Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, and we headed out there to try a different hike. The first time we hiked the day after a good rain, and the vegetation was plump and the streams were full. This time, the landscape was much dustier and the stream beds were dry. TBG chose a trail to parallel what is normally a stream, and it eventually led off of ranch property onto NFS land, but it also finally connected with some water at last.

I’ve been hoping to eventually spot Arizona’s state mammal, the ring-tailed cat. They are primarily nocturnal and shy, but if you’re going to see one during the day, near water is a good bet. We did not see one, but there were lots of butterflies, small fishies, birds, and tranquility.

On our last morning, while I took advantage of what Internet signal I could get to upload these photos, I espied a cluster of hot air balloons reflecting the early sun, and looked over my shoulder to see a fat javelina crossing the road behind me. Because the distances between these parks are short, we have been driving separately, and as TBG let Essie warm up, I held the hummie feeder in my hand while my resident beauty practically landed on me to get his last sips.

Time to hop along for one more previously chronicled setting where we’ll be more than happy to repeat some of our history, but, hopefully, not all of it. See you there!

14 thoughts on “Cave Creek Regional Park AZ II

  1. Cave Creek was our first Maricopa RP way back in 2012 and that was where we first met Al and Ingrid! Since then we camped there two more times.
    If not for those dedicated photographers, we would not see an Eclipse or moon shots with a Saguaro backdrop, thanks Mark for that great capture.
    That Acorn woodpecker is a beauty but I have seen trees and wooden structure filled with their holes and stash!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We happily repeat your history! So many good times and memories in Arizona, and, hopefully, many more to come. We ain’t done yet!

      Those industrious Acorns are beautiful and destructive all in one package. But they’re a lesson in preparedness!

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  2. We enjoyed our stays at Cave Creek and those hot balloons every day brightening the sky. But I can’t get into a fight for a spot so the Maricopa Parks were never high on our list. But it looks like you had a wonderful visit. I’m glad TBG doesn’t mind getting up at all hours to share the wonders he photographs. Thanks, Mark!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are coveted spots for sure, but I’m glad we booked way back in June when choices were still plentiful enough that there was no trouble securing sites. TBG will sacrifice just about anything for a good photo!😂

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  3. I love your bird and butterfly photos! One benefit of revisiting places is having more time to notice the small things, like little critters. Also, I’m impressed that TBG braved the chilly desert night to capture that great photo of the lunar eclipse. It’s a keeper!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, the winged critters certainly have taken center stage once again! I recently spent time cataloging all my birds, both in list and photo form, and adding to it has now crossed over into the “slightly obsessed” realm 🥺 I think TBG’s night sky photography puts him into a similar category!

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  4. I love your cute Acorn Woodpecker! They are such busy, destructive little things, LOL. (If you have a house with anything wood on it.)

    I’m with you on the reporting of every moment or detail—no one gives a rip and it’s excruciating to read blogs where someone begins with “I got up and made coffee.”It’s the essence of an experience that matters most. And you capture the experience beautifully in your photos and your (often hilarious) recounting filtered through your perspective.

    Was that hike in Sedona as cold as our Christmas Day hike in Tucson? Remember that? Our first date? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • How could I ever forget our first date?! It was one of my all-time favorite hikes because it was with a pair of my all-time favorite people! I did forget that it was so cold, probably because our enthusiasm kept us all warm. 🥰 Thank you for the always kind support. Why do some creatures, like those striking Acorns, have to be so pretty yet problematic? Nature is endlessly fascinating, and I eagerly await the next time we can experience it together.

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  5. So glad we were able to get together and already look forward to another visit when you head north. The selfie stuff in the parking lot was funny. I’m sure we provided entertainment for someone.

    Al and I found ourselves embracing repeats before we hung up the keys (temporarily) on RVing. Safe travels as you continue bouncing around AZ.

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    • It was a great Gals Only lunch. Thank you for suggesting it and all the good conversation and laughs! We look forward to all of us visiting in a couple months when we turn northward again 🙂

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  6. I agree, repeating history is often wonderful. I love to travel to new places, see new things, meet new people, but I also very much enjoy going back to familiar and much loved spots to recreate “history” and there is always something just a little different to experience. I love those Maricopa County Parks, you’re so lucky to be able to get reservations and enjoy them. Nice to see Ingrid’s face again and your lunch looked soooo yummy. Will you share the restaurant’s name?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I checked my notes, and I made all these Regional Park reservations back in June, and even then I had to change spots a few times in more than one. I was sort of unenthused about returning to them, but so far, it’s been nice.

      I neglected to name or link the restaurant — bad blogger!! It was First Watch, and it was good!

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  7. What the hell happened to that cactus?? It looks like a victim of nuclear fallout or something. Anyway, I agree with TBG: it’s cool. Just weird.

    Glad you had those biking gloves since that hike would have been miserable otherwise. That elevation will get you every time, but Sedona is well worth a little misery. Such a beautiful place.

    It’s good to see Ingrid, too! And taking selfies is an art form, you know. That’s why true Instagram professionals spend hours making kissy-faces at their phones trying to perfect the angles, lighting, and such. It’s serious business!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Those segmented saguaros are even more RARE than the cresties, but like them, no one really seems to know why they do that. I did take a video of it, though 😉.

      It was a serious comedy of errors trying to get that selfie. I’d blame my age and/or tech skillz, but I could totally see myself doing that in my teens. Lifelong silliness!😂

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