Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona

March 24th, 2013


Next to I 10 between Phoenix and Tucson

March  24, 2013

The weather has improved and we are enjoying being outside more.  Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon finishing a cupboard door for the kitchen while Bob, Patty and I watched the Nascar race on our outside tv.

I finished a cupboard door for the microwave cupboard.

I finished a cupboard door for the microwave cupboard.

Bob and Patty are enjoying the nicer weather.

Bob and Patty are enjoying the nicer weather.

Here's our outside tv and a map of all of the states that we have visited.  The rule is that we have to drive in the state with our motorhome or Casita.

Here’s our outside tv and a map of all of the states that we have visited. The rule is that we have to drive in the state with our motorhome or Casita.

Today we took a drive out of Casa Grande heading south on I 10 to Picacho Peak State Park.  Picacho Peak has a nice, little visitor center, many picnic areas, a campground and lots of hiking trails. 


Picacho Peak State Park's Visitor Center

Picacho Peak State Park’s Visitor Center

Picacho Peak is not only a nice state park, but it is also of historical interest. 

During the War with Mexico, the Mormon Battalion of the U.S. Army camped at Picacho Peak enroute to California on December 17, 1846. Their march is considered to be the longest infantry march on record.  Further down their route,  they were the first to unfurl the flag of the United States at Tucson. 

Plaque for the Mormon Battalion

Plaque for the Mormon Battalion

Mormon Battalion Monument

Mormon Battalion Monument


Two decades later, Confederates occupied Tucson in the summer of 1861 in an effort to expand into the southwest.  The Confederates wanted to hold territory from ocean to ocean.  Lookouts were stationed at Picacho Pass to watch for Union soldiers moving to retake Tucson.

In response to the Confederate occupancy, Union Captain William Calloway marched out of Yuma with a force of over 200 men.  At Picacho Peak, he ordered Lt. James Barrett and thirteen men to move around the north side of the Picacho Mountains while Lt. Ephraim Baldwin took twelve men south around Picacho Peak. Their orders were to conceal themselves, hold their positions and to not engage the Confederate lookouts unless it appeared they were planning to escape to take word of Union activity to the Confederates in Tucson. 

Picacho Pass

Picacho Pass



The plan was for Captain Calloway’s main force of 200 men to enter Picacho Pass from the northwest, attack the Confederate encampment and then proceed to Tucson. Against orders, Barrett charged into the midst of ten Confederate soldiers camped at a stage station.  As the Confederate soldiers prepared to surrender, Barrett discharged his weapon.  It is not clear whether the discharge of his weapon was accidental or intentional, but the rebels returned fire and fled.  In the ensuing skirmish, Lt. Barrett and another Union soldier were killed.  Four other Union soldiers were wounded with one dying the next day.  The Confederates suffered no casualties, but three men were captured.

This is looking towards the site where the skirmish actually occurred.

This is looking towards the site where the skirmish actually occurred.

After the skirmish, the remaining Confederates retreated to Tucson to warn of the Union activity.  Captain Sherrod Hunter ordered his outnumbered troops to leave Tucson on May 14, retreating to New Mexico.  The Union troops arrived in Tucson on May 20, 1862 putting an end to the Confederate incursions into the Southwest.

More views at Picacho Peak State Park.

More views at Picacho Peak State Park.





Every March, a Civil War renactment of the Battle at Picacho Peaks takes place.  Next year we are hoping to go down, camp, and watch.

Replica of a Civil War cannon

Replica of a Civil War cannon

Adding to our enjoyment were all of the colors blooming in the desert.

Our Sport Trac parked among the cactus.

Our Sport Trac parked among the cactus.



More color

A blooming Barrel Cactus

A blooming Barrel Cactus

This plant looks a little like a stunted lupin.

This plant looks a little like a stunted lupin.

Today was a fun drive through the desert to an interesting, historical park.

North Mountain Park near Casa Grande, Arizona

December 4th, 2012


Casa Grande

December 4, 2012

Yesterday and today, while we were out geocaching, Bob and I found North Mountain Park near Casa Grande, Arizona.  As it happens, the park is less than seven miles from where we are living at Foothills West RV Resort.  There is a geocache located under this sign.

The entrance sign to North Mountain Park.

This park has very beautiful desert scenery. There are mesquite trees, creosote bushes, rabbit bushes, catclaw acacia bushes, turpentine bushes and the ubiquitos saguaro and barrel cactus. The road loops around in a circle passing numerous picnic sites with restrooms.  There are also three group-size shelters and some nature trails.

Although the gates are locked at dusk, they do allow overnight camping here.  This will be a great location for camping with our Casita Travel Trailer.

This is one of the group-sized shelters

Another of the large shelters

Picnic area

I love this desert scenery!

Love those saguaros!

Saguaros grow slowly and may live for as long as 200 years. When fully grown, they are generally about thirty feet high. The saguaro has a perfect mechanism for storing water in its accordion-fold structure. During dry periods the folds pucker up into ridges giving it a ribbed look. When it rains, a mature plant may soak up as much as 200 gallons of water during a storm. The cactus absorbs water until its ribs almost disappear and it becomes plumb and round. A wide-spreading network of shallow roots harvests the desert rains.  Since the saguaro is composed mainly of water, it is very sensitive to freezing temperatures. The saguaro thrives here in the Sonoran Desert because temperatures seldom fall below freezing for long.

Young saguaros are tall with only an arm or two.  Mature ones have several arms.  The granddaddys of the saguaro have a lot of arms; then they begin to droop with age.  Finally, after centuries in the sun, the arms fall off exposing the central ribs and supporting structure.


Grown up…



Getting tired…



Gone…..with internal skeleton exposed

In the park, Bob and I went geocaching.  We passed a tree that my Uncle Dale would have named the “Crazy Mixed Up Tree.” 

A crazy mixed up tree

This tree was at the location of a geocache called the “Double Ugly Tree.”  The geocache hint said that the pill bottle geocache was located in the “heart of the tree,” but I never did find it.  Of course, I am not willing to reach into the guts of an old tree and dig for a pill bottle!  I’m not sure I agree with the name.  I find this tree to be beautiful.

Double Ugly Tree


The Double Ugly Tree – closer view

At a few points, you can see Casa Grande in the distance.

Casa Grande in the distance

We plan to go back to North Mountain Park often.  If you come to visit us, we’ll be sure to take you up there!



Back in Casa Grande

October 21st, 2012


Casa Grande

October 21, 2012

After a summer of some traveling and lots of visits to doctors and hospitals, we are back in Casa Grande for the winter.  The trip down was uneventful and we are happy to be back at the motorhome.

Here are a few pictures around our park.

This is looking across the putting green towards the recreational area where they have shuffleboards and horseshoe pits and such.

Looking across the putting green into the recreational area

This is the motorhome from the dog trail which goes right past our site.  Patty likes being this close to the dog walk.

Patty heading for home up the dog walk

The motorhome from the front.

Here is some of the scenery just a few miles from where we live.

Saguaros in the nearby hills

Nearby mountains

We took a drive to Sacaton, Arizona to see the historical Pima Mission.

Pima Mission in Sacaton, Arizona

This mission, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was established by the Reverand Charles H. Cook.  Reverand Cook came from Chicago to open the first Indian school in Arizona at the Sacaton Agency in 1870.

Near the front of the mission building is a sign that states that the Pima Mission was a great spiritual and patriotic center for the Pima Indians.  A small cemetary out front holds the graves of five American heroes of the Civil War, World War I and World War II. 

Pima Mission’s front door

Pima Mission

Back of Pima Mission

Pima Mission

Pima Mission and cemetary of five war heroes

It is a shame to see this grand old building in such poor shape.  There is evidence in some of the broken windows along the side that they once held stained glass.  It is a beautiful old building.




LaConner Thousand Trails near LaConner, Washington

July 3rd, 2012



July 3, 2012

We left Grandy Beach Thousand Trails Park on June 27 and moved over to LaConner Thousand trails near LaConner, Washington.  The campground is actually on Snee-Oosh Road on the Swinomish Indian Reservation.

While there, we enjoyed a couple of visits to the marine town of LaConner, Washington.

Out for lunch in LaConner, Washington.  They have great shrimp here!

We went to Anacortes, Washington several times where K.C. wandered through the antique shops and thrift shops.

The view from Anacortes, Washington

A marina in Anacortes

Anacortes is an interesting and beautiful little city.

Historical downtown Anacortes, Washington

One day we took a drive down Whidbey Island past Oak Harbor where Chuck and Betty lived while Chuck was in the Navy.  We took a detour off of Highway 20 to see historical downtown Oak Harbor.  It’s quite quaint with crowded streets.

One of the bridges at Deception Pass crossing onto Whidbey Island

We drove on down to the Port Townsend ferry landing. Our plans were that when we left LaConner we would cross over to Port Townsend on the ferry to see Betty and Tom. Things didn’t work out that way as our plans had to change, but it was fun going down to see the ferry.

The ferry to Port Townsend arrives

Looking across to Port Townsend

From there we made a quick detour into historical Fort Casey.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse

The battery at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island

For all of you youngers out there, the islands in Puget Sound would be a great place to visit and camp.  Ferries will carry you and your bicycles from island to island.  Go and have fun – I wish I had known about the beauty of this part of the Northwest when I was a young adult.

Crossing the North Cascades Highway

June 27th, 2012

June 27, 2012


Newport to Concrete

While at Little Diamond, we visited the museum at Newport.  At a local restaurant, we asked several young people whether or not the museum was worth a visit.  They had all grown up there; none had ever toured the museum.  That’s a shame as it turned out to be a unique and interesting museum with lots of artifacts from days gone by.

An old schoolhouse at the Museum in Newport.

Little Diamond abounds in wildlife.

Little Diamond where the deer are always around.

Little Diamond turtle

On June 18, we left Little Diamond Thousand Trails RV Resort near Newport, Washington and headed north on Highway 20 following the Pend Orielle River (pronounced Pond eh ray) to Tiger.  Near Tiger, Highway 20 heads west through the Colville National Forest. We stopped at a Walmart in Kettle Falls, Washington where we saw a Straddle Carrier moving logs around the log yard.

A straddle carrier moves logs across the log yard.

Just west of Kettle Falls, we crossed the Columbia River. Upstream 40 miles from here, the Columbia River enters Washington from Canada.

Looking north up the Columbia River

We continued west on Highway 20 to Curlew Lake State Park near Republic, Washington where we spent the night.  Family members take note – AnnaMarie says she is going to retire in northern Washington somewhere around Republic.  I can see why.  It’s beautiful up there.

Curlew Lake State Campground

Bob and Patty enjoying the view at Curlew Lake State Park

K.C. and Patty walking along the banks of Curlew Lake

From Curlew Lake, we continued west into the Okanogan National Forest.   At Tonasket, we dropped south on Highway 97 along the Okanogan River to Okanogan where Highway 20 once again turns west.  We continued west through Twisp and on to Winthrop where we spent the night at Pearrygin Lake State Campground.

Pearrygin State Park and Campground

Bob at peace in the park

We enjoyed wandering through the town of Winthrop which is a historical town that has been restored back to its pioneer roots.

The story of Winthrop

Winthrop, Washington

As we headed west out of Winthrop, we finally began traveling along the most beautiful part of Highway 20 – the North Cascades Highway.  The North Cascades Highway is closed between Winthrop and Diablo Dam in the winter when the snow stacks up as high as thirty feet deep.  There are numerous avalanches that slide across the highway.  This year they began clearing the highway in March and were finally able to open it in May.  Some people told us about trips they tried to make in May or June only to be turned back by snow in the high Cascades.

Avalanche country

The wonderful viewed changed around every corner!


Heading upwards into the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State


More beautiful scenery


We found snow in July!


Sunny snow


The desert dog explores the snow


Diablo Lake


Rainy Pass


Diablo Dam


The Picket Range. People actually hike up there!


At this scenic overlook, we visited with a couple of young men who were planning their hiking trip to the top of this mountain.


Intrusive rock in a rock wall


A bird enjoys the view too.


Falls on the Skagit River


Bob and K.C. at the falls

We ended our journey at Grandy Creek Campground near historical Concrete, Washington.  What an awesome drive.  We highly recommend this scenic route, but don’t try to drive it any earlier than July.

Camped at Grandy Creek near Concrete, Washington