December 30, Friday
My boondocking spot at the end of Robbins Road in Buckeye Hills Recreation Area calls to me to come out and explore, but there hasn’t been time for a hike yet. Yesterday was spent preparing for my best friend Julie’s arrival, today I drive into Phoenix to collect her from the airport.
The drive from Buckeye to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport isn’t too bad. Of the large cities I’ve driven through, Phoenix is one of the better ones in my opinion. There seems to be enough road for the number of people traveling it that traffic isn’t as big of a problem. The lane switches and exits make sense. The roads are in good shape.
The airport is large but easy to navigate. Terminal 2 pickup area… ah, there it is!
Julie and I drive to Tempe to have lunch at Rúla Búla, a popular Irish pub. We’re not here just because of the reviews though, we’re here because this place features in an urban fantasy book series we’re both fond of, The Iron Druid Chronicles.
I get the fish and chips, it’s delicious.
After that we wander around downtown Tempe for a while, window shopping and playing Pokemon Go.
It’s a neat area and there is a lot to see.
It’s warm today, in the 70’s, and there are flowers blooming. The weather is suppose to change tonight.
We walk to the AMC theater and I finally get to see Star Wars Rogue One. Julie and I have both been waiting to see it until we met up. I enjoyed it. The sun has set by the time the movie is over and it’s raining outside. The walk back to the truck is less pleasant.
But the day isn’t over yet. A late supper is had at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Peoria. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve had alcohol this year (I’m not much of a drinker) and as it’s two days before the new year, that’s saying something. By the time we get back to the RV it’s after midnight, but what a fun we had!
December 31, Saturday
It’s an overcast and gloomy day in the Sonoran Desert, but that doesn’t keep Julie and I from enjoying a walk. The Creosote bushes smell amazing after the rain last night, and despite the lack of sun there is some color to be found.
According to Google Maps, Robbins Road continues north all the way to Robbins Butte Game Management Unit and exits back to 85 on W Robbins Butte Game Road. In reality, the graded, maintained part of Robbins Road ends where I’m camped and you’d probably want a high clearance vehicle to traverse the dirt track farther. It’s just fine for walking on though, and that’s where we head.
Near the reserve is a solitary cone of a hill, dark in color – probably Robbins Butte. At the base of it people are out shooting so we don’t get too close, but it’s pretty neat looking even from a distance. The clouds have started breaking up while we’ve been walking, maybe we’ll get a good sunset tonight. I’d like Julie to witness one of those spectacular Arizona sunsets.
Cactus spotting is an activity I enjoy, and since I’ve been away from the desert for a while it at feels fresh and new again. There are quite a few Saguaro out here and Julie and I make a game of trying to find the one with the most arms. This stately old specimen doesn’t win that contest, but it does have an impressive nest in it’s arms. There are some pretty big sticks in there, whatever made it must be large.
Within view of Cas is another of these large stick nests wedged in a Saguaro’s arms, and this Saguaro has eleven arms, making it today’s winner. It’s not as photogenic as the first one though, so I opt to put the photo of the first nest in the post instead.
This evening’s sunset isn’t anything to write home about, but I enjoy it in my new hammock which Julie got me for Christmas. The hammock fits really well on the bars holding up the picnic table shelter.
January 1, Sunday
It storms overnight, the rain much heavier than the night before. When I peer out the Casita’s windows the clouds are already breaking up, but the temperature has dropped. Julie and I spend the morning inside, me working on the blog, and her reading.
In the afternoon our friends arrive. Julie and I first met Rayn and JJ of Holding Intentional Space in Reno during the fall of 2014 at Amazon, and we instantly hit it off. They’re in the area to get some work done on their RV tomorrow, and we’d arranged to camp together for a night.
We take a hike up the ridge nearest camp. It’s not all that steep or tall, but there’s a lot of loose rock which makes footing treacherous.
The view at the top is great though. Our RVs are just dots down below, the black cone standing apart to the left.
On the way down the other side of the ridge are several deposits of quartz among the darker rock, pretty neat! The sunlight also makes the Saguaro pop more in photos.
The sunset is almost a no-show this evening. Ah well. Rayn and JJ come over to the Casita after dark and we play card games until late.
January 2, Monday
Rayn and JJ pull out before we get up, and they capture a nice picture of Bertha and Cas in the sunrise, which is nicer than any of the sunsets have been so far. By the time we’re up it’s overcast. Today’s hike starts through the wash near camp. The scenery looks almost black and white in this lighting.
The problem with walking in washes is all you can see are the plants growing along the edges. A promising Saguaro (it didn’t end up having more than eleven limbs) lures us from the wash and before long we’re up on another ridge near camp.
This one is higher up and offers an impressive panoramic view.
Today’s photos may be almost colorless, but the contrast between the spines on this cactus still makes for a neat photo.
Tonight’s sunset? We’ll call it a 3/5. C’mon Arizona, you can do this!
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