Adopting the Snowbird lifestyle has been one of the best decisions Lynda and I have made since retiring. Leaving the winter behind makes retirement just that much better. The Arizona winter weather is great, sunshine almost every day, cool nights and desert dry warm days.
Even in the dead of winter the temperature seldom drops to freezing and if it does once the sun crests the distant hills the air warms quickly to t-shirt weather.
Spending the entire winter or even a month or two in the southwest is an experience no retired person should miss. Thousands of snowbirds travel to the south every winter seeking warm weather and new friends.
The southwest desert is a great place for many winter activities including, ATV rides, hiking, bird watching, exploring old mines and ghost towns or just relaxing and enjoying the perfect weather.
Boondocking in the desert has many advantages over RV parks. Your own space, no crowds to contend with or people in your face. Much cheaper or even free and thousands of square miles of public lands to camp on and explore. The only major stipulation is you must move to a different location every 14 days.
Alamo Lake is becoming one of our group’s favorite stops on our annual southwest winter tour. The lake sits in the middle of no man’s land lending a feeling of remoteness even though it is only 5 miles away from the Wayside Inn to the west and the State Park to the south. The closest one horse town is Wenden, Arizona 35 miles away on highway 60.
Camping near a lake makes any camping experience better especially in the dry desert where water is scarce. Something is alway happening on the water, whether it’s birds diving for fish, critters on the shore having a drink, boats plying the water or the water lapping at the shoreline.
Our first week at Alamo was spent fishing, hiking, kayaking, exploring the desert on our ATVs or just relaxing. Fishing was a bust, this normally very productive lake didn’t yield a nibble. Probably the dirty water was the explanation offered by other fishermen from the high spring run off.
ATVing was limited to the east side of the lake, the swollen waters of the Big Sandy River flowing into Alamo were too deep to cross. The above-average snowpack and heavy spring rains to the north brought much-needed moisture to the parched south.
The Sonora Desert also enjoyed above-average spring rainfall producing greenery and blossoms rarely seen. The normally stark desert of creosote bush and cactus is alive with color from many blossoming plants including the brilliant yellow of the Mexican Poppy, and many other varieties of wild flowers.
The green landscape seemed to produce more bird, animal and insect sightings than I remember from previous visits to Alamo Lake. One afternoon, while the group enjoyed reading and relaxing a horrendous noise resembling a jet engine, roared through our camp.
We sat stunned as a cloud of bees darkened the sky swarming through our camp, gone in seconds. No one in the group had ever witnessed such a strange sight before.
The first week at Alamo we woke to cool mornings, in fact, it was necessary to deploy our clay pot, placed upside down on the stove burner. Just enough heat to take the chill off and saving the RV batteries by not running the furnace.
The afternoons were perfect bringing mid 80’s temperatures perfect outdoor fun, fishing, kayaking, ATV tours, hiking or whatever the group was into.
One of our plans during our stay at Alamo was a trip to the Wayside Inn for burgers and beer, a night on the town you might say. The Friday of the first week the group put on our cleanest dirty clothes and piled into the truck for the dusty 5-mile drive.
The burgers and beer highlight has become a tradition for Lynda and me while at Alamo. This time little did we know but a special treat awaited us. In the past, the burgers were always accompanied with a bag of potato chips to our surpise and delight this year french fries were the side dish……..yum.
As it seems to be the case every year my birthday arrives while we are on our annual southwest tour. This year a special birthday for me, 65 years and the gang came through with a memorable experience.
My favorite dinner of Chinese dishes and presents, thanks to everyone.
The second week brought the departure of Ralph and Lois. They needed to return home early this trip, pressing business. We will miss them.
The second week brought even warmer temperatures, mid- 90’s, chasing us into the shade to enjoy reading and relaxing during the very warm afternoons.
Actually it's Mike looking for deeper water for a bath in the Big Sandy River.
With the warmer weather also bring the threat of poisonous snakes. Lynda and I have traveled south to the desert for the past ten years and have yet to see a live rattlesnake.
During our first stay at Alamo Lake, I stopped to chat with an older gentleman camped near the path to the lake. I asked him about snakes in the area.
He proceeded to fill me in on how dangerous snakes in the area can be. He explained in great detail how snakes lay in wait for a human to happen by, they even hide under your RV waiting to strike as you emerge.
I couldn’t help but notice the pistol on his hip which he said was to protect himself from snakes.
Needless to say, this old guy scared the crap out of me. As soon as he was finished jabbering I hastily made my way back to our trailer and quickly googled poisonous snakes of the Senora Desert.
I’m thinking the old guy is still laughing. The information he so easily shared was completely the opposite of the facts. Snakes in this area are not aggressive and will take the first opportunity to move away.
What a relief, I guess I don’t need to purchase my own weapon to kill these slithering creatures as they attack.
Evenings in the desert are spectacular, producing amazing colorful sunsets every night. The evenings also come alive with a chorus of insect serenades almost deafening at times.
Even though the daytime temperatures are warming up once the sun drops behind the western hill the air cools quickly demanding the warmth of a campfire.
Every evening is spent around the campfire reliving the day’s adventures and planning the next day. Ralph and Lois waited until after my birthday celebration to hit the road, once they left it was time to plan the next leg of our tour. The afternoon temperatures were becoming uncomfortable so it was time for an RV resort and air conditioning or move to higher ground.
Mike, Kris, Lynda and I opted for the higher elevation and hopefully cooler temperatures of a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area near Cottonwood, Arizona a 4 hr. drive north east and a two thousand foot climb.
We decided on Cottonwood because it was close to the spectacular scenery of Sedona and some great ATV trails. Thursday, March 16 was departure day 3 days after my birthday.
Thanks for visiting.