Adventures in an RV Rental

5/8/2018 Jen F.
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I have been working hard lately and I am so ready for the break that my vacation is going to give me. There are so many places that I can visit, anywhere in the world, but I really want to connect with nature during this trip. Plus, I want to go somewhere warm and sunny, so I do not need to worry about bringing heavy clothes along.

It took me awhile to decide, but I eventually chose a few state parks near Phoenix Arizona for my destination. Every time I visit a park, whether it is a state park or national park, I prefer to stay in an RV that I rent specifically for my trip. It is much easier to reserve different campsites than it is to reserve multiple hotel rooms. My logic might seem a little strange, but while each one has me traveling from one location to another, I never need to carry my belongings in and out of hotels. With campgrounds, it all stays inside my RV and once I reach my campsite, I am ready to start having fun.

The only downside to the state parks in Arizona is that I could not stay at each one, because all the ones that I wanted to visit did not have campsites. Therefore, I had to find nearby campgrounds for different nights of my visit. It really wasn’t that bad though, as they were all within a short distance of where I wanted to be.

Once I gathered up everything that I would need for my trip and got it all packed inside my rented RV, I was on my way to the first state park on my list. Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park might be new, as it was just dedicated as a state park in 2016, but the history that lies within all those acres is rich and heartbreaking. This area is where nineteen firefighters lost their lives battling a fire on June 30, 2013. I arrived at my campground later in the afternoon, so I basically got everything hooked up, opened my RV windows to let in the fresh air, and sat outside reading until it was time to prepare my dinner. I had packed a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables for this trip, as I figured that they would help me stay hydrated in the heat. I grilled up some vegetables and chicken for dinner and mixed it all with some cooked pasta. I poured a glass of wine and ate a late dinner as the stars twinkled in the nighttime sky.

The next morning, I headed to the park to hike along the Hotshots Trail, which is approximately seven miles round trip. It was almost surreal as I stopped at the remembrance wall, and some tears fell as I reached the site where the firefighters’ bodies were eventually found. I spent one more night at that campground and then headed over to the Rockin’ River Ranch State Park the following morning. I wasn’t going to spend much time at the Rockin’ River Ranch, as this park has not been completely finished as of yet. This brand-new park can be found near the Verde River, and it is going to be fabulous for those who want to spend hours of their day fishing, kayaking, and hiking along the beautiful landscape.

During my short time at Rockin’ River Ranch, I was blown away by the beauty, and I know that I will be one of the first ones to pull my RV up to the gates when it opens to the public in a few months.

I continued on my way to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and my goal was to reach my campsite before it got dark outside. I did make my deadline, but I was tired once I arrived. Thankfully, I didn’t need to do much once my RV was hooked up, and I was able to relax. I made a quick dinner and sat outside for a little bit, before I went to bed and fell into a deep sleep.

I felt completely refreshed in the morning, and I decided to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before I headed over to the state park. After all, I had been busy exploring and driving the day before, and I needed a little more of a break.

I decided to make some bacon, eggs, and toast to eat with some strawberries and cantaloupe. I’m not sure why I felt so hungry, but I am thinking it had something to do with all the fresh air coming in through my open windows as well as my good night’s sleep!

I began at the Visitor’s Center at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, which happens to be inside the historic Goodfellow Lodge. I looked at many of the exhibits, which had quite a bit of information about the area as well as many different artifacts.

After leaving the Visitor’s Center, I decided to tackle the hiking trails. I began with the Pine Creek Trail. This half mile long trail goes directly to the Pine Creek area and it took me about an hour to go there and back. I decided that the Waterfall Trail would be next, as I wanted to eat my lunch at the waterfall cave. It only took me about fifteen minutes to reach the waterfall and I must have sat there for a good hour listening to the sound of the falling water.

I left the next two trails for the following day, because each one was going to take me at least an hour to do. I headed out early the next morning and completed both the Gowan Trail and Anna Mae Trail before lunch. I really loved the Anna Mae Trail, because it took me to the Natural Bridge. This bridge is stunning, and I managed to take quite a few photos before I left.

I was able to reserve a campsite at the Lost Dutchman State Park, and I was so happy that I was not going to have to make my way to this park from a different campground. I was ready to alternate between hiking, bike riding, and spending time in my RV. In fact, that is why I chose to stay in this spot for four nights.

Since it was later in the day when I arrived, I simply set everything up and talked to some of my nearby neighbors. I planned on heading out on the mountain bike loop early in the morning, so I went to bed early.

When I woke up in the morning, I put some snacks and water into my backpack, grabbed my bike, and ventured out to bike the four miles of the trail. Of course, I did more than four miles, because I had to ride to the bike trail and back.

After my bike ride, I decided to stay at my RV for the rest of the day. I cut up some vegetables and put them on my outdoor table along with some chips and dips. I ate while reading my book with the sounds of the chirping birds in the background.

My next two days were filled with hikes and I spotted quite a bit of wildlife when I was out on the trails. While I saw many rabbits and mule deer, thankfully the coyotes were not within my view. I was sad on my last night in Lost Dutchman, but I knew that I had to continue on my journey to my last state park.

I wasn’t planning on being at McFarland State Historic Park for too long, as I had to get home and go back to work. However, I had a couple of things on my must-do list. One of the first things was the main building, which was built in 1878 out of adobe bricks that were made from the soil in the area. This building holds the 1878 courtroom and numerous exhibits featuring the 49ers, Florence hospital, Florence personalities, Florence’s World War II Prisoners of War, and the Yuma prison. The MacFarland Museum was my last stop before I ventured back to my RV for my last night in Arizona.

I love traveling by motorhome and it is always sad when I need to go home and return my home away from home. One of the things that I miss the most once I get home, besides the fresh air, is the food that I always prepare when I am on the road. For some reason, my food always tastes better when I make it with the supplies that I have in my camper rental. I guess that I need to spend more time traveling and less time at home!

 


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