Arizona Waterfalls, Desert Super Bloom and 3,400 Watts of Solar

March 15-21, 2019 — This week marked the official end of winter and the beginning of spring. It also signifies the time when snowbirders and nomads like ourselves start the migration north as the desert temperatures start to heat up.

After finishing a few tasks and last-minute visits with friends we began our trek from Phoenix to Minneapolis. Airplanes fly this route in three hours, by car it can be done in 21 hours. We’re planning six weeks and even that feels rushed.

From Phoenix we headed south and slightly west to visit Organ Pipe National Monument near Why, Arizona. Now we are well aware that south and west are the opposite directions in route to Minneapolis but taking a direct path just isn’t our style! From the city of Why we travelled east to Tucson where we took in the sights including a national park, a 9,000 foot tall mountain, and saw a reptile synonymous with Arizona. Follow along below to see a pictorial of our weeks adventures.

All stays this week were free ones with six nights at casinos in Glendale and Tucson and one night on BLM land near Why, Arizona.

Mile Driven - RV
Miles Driven - Car

Rocks sure do love the big windshield on our RV. Thanks to Safelite for their prompt service and willingness to find us in a casino parking lot to repair the latest chip.

Before leaving the Phoenix area we stopped for a visit with friends Juan, Michelle and family @beginningfromthismorning to check out progress on the build out of their 1964 GM PD4106 bus. Since we last saw them in December they successfully installed 3,400 watts of solar on the bus roof utilizing a linear actuator system mounted on drawer slides with a 22 kW Nissan Leaf lithium battery bank. Check out their YouTube channel to see details of how they put this incredible array together. It is totally cool!

One stop shopping at Love’s Travel Stop for gasoline, propane, water and dump station. It’s so convenient to take care of it all in one location.

Gunsight Wash BLM is located just outside of Organ Pipe National Monument near Why in southern Arizona. This was definitely one of the more interesting boondocking sites we’ve been to as it has a travel caution sign at the entrance alerting visitors that smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in the area, but luckily there were no issues during our short stay. The site offers ample room for many RVers and can accommodate any size rig. There are a few bumps and dips to avoid on the roads but they are mostly in good shape. Cell signal for Verizon was poor and AT&T was nonexistent even with a booster in the area where we parked. 

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona is named for the organ pipe cacti. This is the only location in the US where you can find large stands of this variety of cactus. The monument offers several scenic drives, hiking, camping and ranger programs. It is a great place to spend a few days taking in the natural beauty of the desert. 

While in Tucson, Arizona we took a ride on one of our all-time favorite scenic routes. Sky Island Scenic Byway is 27.2 miles of pure beauty that takes visitors to the top of Mt. Lemmon, the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains at just over 9,000 feet. The Byway starts in the Lower Sonoran region which is densely populated with saguaro cactus and ends in the forested Canadian zone where the temperature is 25 degrees cooler and sports alpine skiing during the winter months. This is a definite must-do activity when in the Tucson area. 

Although you probably wouldn’t associate Arizona with waterfalls, snow is common at the top of Mt. Lemmon during the winter months and waterfalls are plentiful during the spring melt. 

Tucson, Arizona is home to Saguaro National Park, named after the large saguaro cactus that are native to this desert environment. 

Springtime in Saguaro National Park brings out an abundance of beautiful desert flowers. The record amount of rainfall during the winter months this year aided in causing a super bloom (explosion) of wildflowers that exceeds typical spring blooms. So pretty!

Springtime in the desert also signifies the emergence of critters not to be tangled with such as the rattlesnake pictured below. Watch your step when hiking!

What a great week of travel and exploration! Although we have really enjoyed our winter stay in Arizona, we are pumped to be back on the road exploring and taking in the many sights along the way. Follow along next week as we continue our slow migration east and after four months, enter a new state. See you then!

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