I was all set to spend another winter in southern California, but the Airstream gods had other plans. On my way through Vegas, the electrical system decided to stop working—as in: no solar, no batteries, no 12V, no 120V. A quick check on the “interwebs” found the closest authorized Airstream service center in a place called Apache Junction, Arizona. So I headed to Apache Junction, a town in the metropolitan Phoenix area. It turned out the electrical converter had stopped—well—converting. The guys at Dillon’s RV City replaced the converter, fixed a leak in the roof, and repacked the wheel bearings—in no time at all. After the repairs were done, they recommended I stay at Usery Mountain Regional Park, a Maricopa County campground just a few minutes away, so I did.
I spent the night, spent another night, spent another week, and before I knew it, I had been at Usery Mountain for over two months! Before Christmas, it was very easy to find an available campsite. But after Christmas, half of the Midwest seems to arrive in the Phoenix area. When Usery had no more availability, I had to move over to McDowell Mountain Regional Park and Cave Creek Regional Park, two more gems of the Maricopa park system. Of the three, Cave Creek is the closest to civilization, but it lacks somewhat in scenic beauty. The campsites at McDowell have 360-degree views of the surrounding desert and mountains, but it is really tucked away and somewhat isolated. Usery isn’t as isolated, and has some pretty good views of the Superstitions and the bright lights of the metro area. All three have miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. (I hiked and biked, but somehow forgot to pack a horse in the Airstream.) All three are solid campgrounds worth visiting again.
The incredibly consistent weather and spectacular views of the Sonoran Desert were the main reasons I stayed in the area for so long. If you don’t like sunny days in the 70s, then this probably isn’t the best place for you in the winter. My vocabulary quickly included jumping cholla, saguaro, ocotillo, coyote, roadrunner, flicker, rattlesnake, javelina, Four Peaks, Superstitions, Red Mountain, Apache Trail, Tortilla Flat, Tonto National Forest, Bulldog Canyon, Canyon Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Mesa, Fountain Hills, Cave Creek, Sedona, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, Quartzsite, McCormick Ranch Golf Club, Lookout Mountain Golf Club, Las Sendas Golf Club, Eagle Mountain Golf Club, Vista Verde Golf Club, Rancho Mañana Golf Club, etc.
Although I had already been to Arizona several times, never was it for an entire season. I now see why so many people call it home in the winter!