New Vistas and Old Friends in Wickenburg

I’ve had little opportunity to spend time in Arizona. Drove straight through during our move from California to Texas 15 years ago. With a trailer, a very “spirited” four year old, two dogs and a cat in tow there was little desire to take our time and see the sights on that trip. Beyond that my only exposure to Arizona was a brief trip to Phoenix and I never really got out of the city. All this to say I didn’t know what to expect other than what I’d read and seen in pictures. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a northwest girl through and through. I LOVE the mountains, ocean, rivers and big tall green trees! As I headed east out of California I was kind of eased into the desert landscape before actually crossing the state line. It was a long haul from the San Diego area to Wickenburg, and I rolled into The Desert Cypress RV park fairly worn out and just in time to “make camp” before dark. (For you non RVers, there’s a night and day difference between setting up camp by night or by day. Much to do, and much easier to do when you can actually see.)

I chose this park because I have friends here. Del and Marilyn Talley are the parents of one of my very closest friends in jr. high and high school, Darren Talley. (Chelan post early October) I haven’t had an opportunity to see them more than a handful of times since we graduated, but have fond memories of my time with them way back when. I was tickled to see Marilyn roll up on her bicycle with a big smile on her face as I was checking in. I was completely taken with how young and healthy she looked. Are summers in Washington and winters in the Arizona desert her secret I wonder?

Much of my time was spent getting caught up on tasks that I’ve been neglecting for far too long. Paperwork mostly, and bill paying, and the ongoing effort to make organizational sense of my makeshift office in my RV. This, I have to admit, has been a struggle for me. It was my habit to lay things out in an orderly way, lined up in order of priority. My bills to be paid in a file in my desk drawer. My folders of projects hanging next to me on the wall. My file cabinet (BIG) in the closet behind me. My stapler and tape and adding machine in front of me, and pens and highlighters and markers in the drawer. My printer on a shelf above my computer. Paper and notepads close at hand. Lack of that space is still taking some getting used to (not so much with the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen) but what makes officing most difficult is that I can’t leave things laying out while driving down the road. If I do, they are guaranteed to end up in a heap on the floor. I know this from experience. The biggest task of all was condensing notes made while traveling… (I’m a serious list maker and the queen of sticky notes) stacks and stacks of notepads and scraps of paper condensed  into two lists… “priority” and “as soon as I can get to it.” So, despite the drudgery it felt good to get much accomplished while in Wickenburg.

The fun stuff though… Marilyn hopped in my car the first day and navigated me around to see the sights in the town itself. We had a scrumptious lunch at Nana’s Sandwich Saloon. We strolled through her favorite antique shop, Wickenburg Antiques and Artisans. That afternoon we set out for Vulture Peak, the most prominent rock formation in the area. I mentioned above that I’m a northwest girl at heart, but I think I may leave a little chunk of it here in Arizona. The landscape here is very different from what I’m used to, but beautiful in it’s own way. Intriguing really if you consider how this land was formed. And what a miracle that the plant life here has evolved in a way to sustain itself in this parched desert land. Amazing, and stunningly beautiful.

Vulture Peak in the background

Vulture Gold Mine has some amazing history… http://www.jpc-training.com/vulture.htm

Vulture Gold Mine

While there we also took some time one afternoon to hike up Calamity Wash. The hike begins through narrow canyon walls which brought to mind old western movies. I half expected to look up and see bandits standing on the bluffs above… guns loaded and aimed in our direction. The “trail” is a dry bed of rocks and sand. Lots of rocks in every size and type and color. I don’t know all that much about rocks but Marilyn did, and she filled me in as we went. Moving slowly up this trail gave me time to really take in the plant life as well. Amazing variety, and again Marilyn shared some interesting information about them. The coolest discovery on this hike were the Petroglyphs carved in the rocks by Indians of these lands many moons ago. We found ourselves wishing we could read them. Surely, considering the time it must have taken to “write” them, the messages must have been something significant.

Knowing there are all sorts of prickly things on the ground in the desert I did not take the dogs on our Vulture Peak expedition, but I did take them with me on this hike. The biggest fear would have been rattle snakes, but they are inactive this time of year. I let the girls walk off leash, which is how we all prefer it. They love nosing around and blazing the trail. It wasn’t until we were headed back down the trail that Sadie took one wrong step and got a horrible little sticker in her foot. She cried like a baby as I rolled her over and literally had to sit on her to pull it out.  So… note to you dog owners heading into the desert of Arizona; best to either leave them behind somewhere cool or keep them on leash. During the warmer season I would not suggest bringing them along. In addition to rattlesnakes, there are coral snakes, Gila Monsters, and of course the Javelina which I understand can be quite ferocious when they feel threatened (and are out year round). More on these little critters… http://www.gatewaytosedona.com/article/id/379/page/1

In addition to showing me the interesting and beautiful sites around Wickenburg, the Talley’s graciously invited me over for dinner every night I was there. This was a very special time for me. We spent hours reminiscing about our home town and old friends. Del not only taught, but was head football coach at Mark Morris High School, where Darren and I went to school. He was highly respected for his talent, his care for his students and players, and his integrity. I have no doubt he made a difference to a tremendous number of teens during a very crucial time in their lives. Both Del and Marilyn genuinely cared (and still do) about the many friends of their four sons, and that care came out in our conversations. Salt of the earth these two. Refreshing to say the least. It is truly a blessing to know them, and to have spent some very special time with them while here in Wickenburg. Thank you Del and Marilyn, for your wonderful hospitality and just for being you.

Marilyn, bless her heart, decided a cowboy theme was in order. My thinking... When in Wickenburg... 🙂

 

 

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  • Careful Fran… The desert will steal your heart.

    I haven’t spent any time in the Sonoran desert, not counting a motorcycle ride through there, but it’s on the list. Almost all of my “desert time” has been in the Chihuahuan Desert.

    Wonderful blog as usual. Travel safe!

    FYI- They make little booties for the dogs. Quail hunters use them to protect their bird dogs feet.

    • fran

      I hear ya. Looking forward all the more to Big Bend! Thanks Michael. I think I’ll skip the booties and keep the dogs on better trails. We’re not coming upon any little stickers on the hikes around Sedona. And oh… the hikes we’ve been on! Stay tuned! 🙂

  • Kathleen Kelly

    Wonderful writing. Another place I would have never seen, if not through your eyes and from your lens. Beautiful. They say a persons character is measured by the friends they have and the company they keep……just sayin’. Girl, you are gold. xxxooo

  • fran

    Gosh Kathleen, you got me kinda choked up with that one. You know, that sentiment goes both ways. Wish you could be here with me!

  • patty

    can’t wait to see your pictures of Sedona …i’m going there in December for a week for the very first time!

    • fran

      Stay tuned Patty. Next day or two.

  • Staci

    I enjoyed your blog about Wickenburg–that’s my hometown! I live in the Phoenix area now, but still visit relatives and friends there fairly often. I discovered your blog today though the article in Second Act. You’re living my dream–way to go–and please keep blogging!

    • fran

      Thanks Staci! Glad you enjoyed a little bit of home on my Wickenburg post. Seems like a lot of folks dream about hitting the road. I’m blessed to be able to do it.