After 4-1/2 months of volunteering in Yellowstone National Park, we left on October 2nd, a day later than scheduled. Each and every month throughout our stay, I would start the RV, retract and extend the slides & leveling jacks and run the generator just to make sure all systems were in good working order. Despite my best efforts, Murphy’s Law caused the hydraulic pump to fail on the very day we were planning to leave. Fortunately we have roadside assistance which reimbursed us the $1,700 required for a mobile RV tech to drive 3-1/2 hours one way and use his portable pump to retract our extended slide. Yellowstone is far away from everywhere!
Once the RV tech got the slide in, we were able to get back on the road despite a non-working hydraulic pump. But without the pump, we couldn’t extend our slides nor level the RV so we drove straight from Yellowstone to the Tiffin factory in Red Bay Alabama for repairs. Once repairs were made, we headed to Montgomery Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas to visit family and friends over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Off to Phoenix
We love the State and County parks just to the east of Phoenix AZ. They fill up fast in winter so we made our reservations about 6 months ago. It’s about 1,000 miles from our final holiday stop in Granbury TX and since we don’t like to drive more than 5-6 hours/day, we split the trip up into three ~300 mile legs…
Monahans Sandhills State Park, Monahans Texas
Our first stop was Monahans Sandhills State Park, just off I-20 in Monahans TX. This park is about 40 miles west of Midland-Odessa, not the most scenic place is the US, so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. We spent 2 nights and didn’t do much other than wander around the sand dunes and recover from 3 months of visiting with family.
Rockhound State Park, Deming New Mexico
Our next stop on our way to Phoenix was Rockhound State Park. This small park is about 10 miles off the interstate and is known for its geological and mineral features. Hikers are allowed to collect geodes and other unique rocks but according to some Rockhounds we encountered on the trail, one has to hike well away from the trails to find any. We did see some geodes and other rock samples in the park’s visitor center.
Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa Arizona
Usery Mountain Regional Park has the best of everything. It’s beautiful, sites are huge, lots of hiking trails, abundant nature and it’s close to shopping and restaurants. We stayed 8 nights and wished we could have stayed longer.
Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction Arizona
The drive from Usery Mountain to Lost Dutchman State Park is only 17 miles so we took our time in leaving and filled up the motorhome with diesel and propane on the way. Fortunately our campsite was ready for us when we arrived early afternoon. We’ve been to Lost Dutchman on numerous trips and it’s one of our favorite parks of all time. It’s similar to Usery Mountain but the surrounding terrain is more dramatic and rugged. As readers of this blog know by now, I have been hiking a lot over the past two years so I’m always looking for a new challenge. And the hike to the top of Flatiron Mountain from Lost Dutchman Park offers that challenge. The out-and-back hike is only around 6 miles but the elevation change is 2,800 feet with rocks and boulders blocking the way. Last fall, I barely made it to the top of Yellowstone’s Avalanche Peak, a 2,100 foot elevation change with no boulders blocking the way, so this is going to be way tougher.
After 3 hours and 2,500 feet of climbing I hit a literal wall of rocks with only 300 feet in elevation to go. My GPS said I was on the trail but for the life of me, I could not figure out how to climb the 20 foot wall that stood between me and the summit. The following day, I stopped in the Park’s visitor center and talked to a ranger who has made the climb on multiple occasions. He said I had made it to what he called “The Wall”. He showed me a photograph and said that he uses a route to the left using a tree to grab onto while climbing to the top. He also congratulated me on knowing my limits and not attempting a climb that I was unsure of. Thinking back, I should have waited for other hikers below me to catch up and show me the way.by