With the Texas State Parks closed we decided it was time to continue west. We had multiple goals: stay in nice weather, avoid humans, see interesting sights, and stall a bit to see if we could wait out some of the national park closures. (as of mid-May, that’s still a ‘maybe’. Some national parks have partially reopened, so we are hopeful!)
We stopped briefly in Carlsbad, New Mexico (the National Park and caverns were closed unfortunately), then on to Las Cruces – where Mark’s mom had told us she’d had her first authentic Mexican food, back in the early 60’s. Amazingly, she remembered the name of the restaurant and it was still there! Out of vicarious nostalgia (is that a thing?) we decided to get dinner there. No dine-in of course, but we got take-out fajitas. Yum!
We’d hoped to spend more time in New Mexico, but with all the state and national parks closed there, we decided to move on. Luckily, Arizona State Parks were open, so we booked stays at several: Roper Lake, Lost Dutchman, and Dead Horse.
Roper Lake State Park, Arizona
Roper Lake was a bird bonanza, both in variety and sheer numbers. We hiked around the lake and up into the surrounding hills. A very pleasant 3-day stopover on the way to Apache Junction and Lost Dutchman State Park.
Lost Dutchman State Park, Dead Horse State Park, Sedona, & Flagstaff
Lost Dutchman State Park is classic Arizona. Huge iconic saguaro are everywhere, along with a dozen other varieties – fleshy, spiny, flowering, you name it. We hiked and biked every day, enjoying the beautiful rock formation near the campground. In the evenings we saw amazing sunsets.
While at Lost Dutchman we were also able to visit a few times with Mark’s aunt and uncle who winter in nearby Mesa, AZ. They also arranged a get-together with a cousin of Mark’s whom he hadn’t seen in ages. Good conversation and several delicious meals were both very much appreciated. So nice to have a touch of home after all this time on the road!
With temperatures at Lost Dutchman heading toward 100 degrees, we started north to escape the heat. Dead Horse State Park was slightly cooler with temps in the low to mid 90’s. We handled the heat pretty well by staying in the shade and avoiding midday sun. We’d often walk before noon, then bike in late afternoon. We only resorted to A/C twice! After Dead Horse it was on towards Flagstaff which is much cooler, due to its elevation.
On the way to Flagstaff we stopped in beautiful Sedona for lunch, took a stroll through the Tlaquepaque arts enclave (mostly closed for Covid, but very pleasant fountains, flowers and sculptures) and then drove up a steep and windy path to an overlook with views of the area.
At the Flagstaff KOA, we were lucky to find that extensive hiking trails were reachable from our site. We selected a trail known as “fat man’s loop”, assuming that the name implied “not to strenuous”. The fat man must have been in pretty good shape! We were tired when we finally finished the loop after 3 hours of hiking a sometimes steep and rocky trail along the mountainside.
Flagstaff was our last overnight in Arizona, but we weren’t done with the state just yet. Our last stop was a famous picture spot known as Horseshoe Bend, and then it was on to Utah. Sorry, those pictures and videos will have to wait ’til next time!
Mark & Lori
P.S. Yay, no more ads! We upgraded the blog to a paid plan. We didn’t realize for quite a while that other people were seeing ads in this blog. Yuck! We use the AdBlockPlus browser extension, so don’t see many ads. It’s quite startling to see how much garbage shows up when that’s turned off!