Returning to Pickleball Paradise

October 24, 2018 – April 1, 2019

Yep this one covers a lot of time 🙂 but you’ll soon understand why.

We were worn out after our busy summer (two trips to the Northwest from the Southwest, nine national parks, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and a jaunt to Kansas). So during October we called to bump up our arrival at Palm Creek to December. Not long after that we called again and bumped it to the beginning of November. So in true Palm Creek fashion (ask anyone who’s stayed there and they’ll confirm this is the norm), this year we planned to stay three months and ended up there for five. Last year we planned to stay one month and stayed three so I guess we’re right on track. 

Lost Dutchman

Before arriving in Casa Grande, we spent a week at Lost Dutchman State Park soaking in the cactus views. Unlike our stay here in October 2017 (https://wordpress.com/post/kenneysseeamerica.com/4678), the weather was warm but not hot, so our spacious spot in the no hook-up loop was perfect.

We mostly enjoyed lazy days taking in the views from our lounge chairs, but one afternoon our daughter, who moved to the area last May, came out to visit with her boyfriend and puppy. We grilled up fajitas for a yummy feast.

The changing light on the the Superstition Mountains in the evenings was especially beautiful.  Continue reading “Returning to Pickleball Paradise”

Palm Creek aka Pickleball Camp

Chuck read a blog by a couple who are are full-timing while looking for a RV casita to use as a winter base. One of the places they checked out was Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort in Casa Grande, just south of Phoenix. After reading their blog Chuck was itching to try it out and since we were feeling road weary we decided to book a whole month at Palm Creek. While it’s a more expensive option than we normally pick, we figured we wouldn’t be driving so our fuel savings would offset the more expensive camping fee, not that you can call this place camping. One night as a golf cart parade passed by our site we waved and the lady laughed and yelled out, “Our kids think we’re camping!” Yeah, there is no camping here.

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The best way to describe Palm Creek is a big summer camp for active retirees (albeit in the winter). Here you find folks happily engaging in every kind of activity you can imagine. There is golf, swimming, tennis, water volleyball, shuffleboard, lawn bowling and pickleball. Then there are the indoor activities like quilting, pottery, lapidary, silversmithing, stained glass, woodworking and more. Plus yoga, water aerobics, line dancing, cards, and a bunch of social clubs. They have dances and concerts and community parties in the park, like a car show and a hot air balloon glow.

 

 

Unlike other retiree parks we’ve stayed at, this one felt vibrant, even for us folks a bit under the average age. 🙂 Plus we got hooked on pickleball.

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Pickleball, what is that you say? Well, it in no way involves pickles. It’s kinda a mash-up of ping pong and tennis using a solid paddle, a plastic ball with holes (like a whiffle ball) and a smaller version of a tennis court. We arrived on Tuesday, took a beginner’s lesson on Thursday, started playing in organized round robins nearly every day and after two weeks we were down in the office extending our stay for an additional month. Seems that happens a lot around here.

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Our days pretty much looked like: get up, eat breakfast, lather up with sunscreen, go play pickleball, come back, eat lunch, shower, drink lots of water, and try to recoup before making dinner or joining friends for cocktails. People would ask “Have you been to see any of the sights?” and I’d respond “We’ve been to the grocery store.” Pretty much all we did was play, eat, sleep, and do laundry. But it was a nice change from our usual sightseeing and hiking and moving all the time. Who knew when we set out on this journey we would take up a new sport, the only one we’ve ever played together in our nearly 20 years, and have so much fun with it.

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After playing pickleball for only a month we played in the club’s members only tournament. My women’s partner was Mona, a 70 year young Canadian who is an inspiration to stay active. She and her husband, Bob, had more energy than either of us! We enjoyed getting to know them and hanging out together. They’re both a hoot and she races dragon boats!

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One other great thing about Palm Creek is that they have forged a connection with the local elementary school. This meant that I could, after waiting several weeks for my background check to clear, volunteer. Soon I was enjoying 2 days a week helping 6 year olds learn their ABCs (right up my alley since I taught K and 1st). It was exciting to be in a classroom again using my skills, but also eye opening. I realized how lucky I had been to teach in a highly regarded and supportive district and what a great job I’d done in my classroom even though I always felt like I should be doing more. Teaching is my calling but all the time and effort required definitely takes it’s toll and I don’t miss that. I was glad that I could enjoy the fun parts, like working with the kids, without all the other responsibilities of managing a classroom.

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In the end we stayed at Palm Creek for a full 3 months, January – March. This is by far the longest we’ve been in one spot since we left and it’s allowed us to make some deep social connections. Being introverts we aren’t great at socializing, but here it’s been easy. Part of that is because we’ve met people through a common activity, pickleball. It’s built in that you will see them several times a week if not daily and soon they invite you over for cocktails and then you’re inviting them over, and then they’re teaching you a new card game (try out Wizard if you haven’t). My daughter joked that my social life was busier than hers! All too soon we found it was the end of March and our friends were starting to head home and we were going to miss them. So guess what? We signed up to come back next year for more pickleball camp and fun times with friends!

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Hopping Around Arizona

I can’t believe it’s been almost 3 months since I’ve posted. I knew I was behind, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. A little while back a fellow RV blogger (watsonswander.com) posted about her struggles to keep updated on her blog and I could totally relate. I just haven’t felt like writing. Maybe it’s because we haven’t been to a lot of new places, or I’ve been kinda road weary from our busy fall, or maybe because a lot of times I feel like I send these blogs out into the online universe and don’t really know if anyone is reading them. Well, that’s not totally true. I know my mom is reading 🙂 and I like having a record of our travels, so here comes some catching up.

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Nice large site at Gilbert Ray

After our mid-October stay at Lost Dutchman State Park just north of Phoenix, we returned to the SKP Coop in Benson AZ. We were headed to an Airstream Rally in New Mexico, but realized we were both worn out and just needed to find a spot to lay low for a bit. With one of our favorite parks only an hour away we headed back to Tucson and spent a few days among the saguaros at Gilbert Ray Campground. Its so peaceful among the saguaros and it was just what we needed.

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The sunsets are always amazing!

We lucked into a few nights at Dead Horse Ranch State Park just outside Sedona. While the park itself was nothing spectacular, the surrounding area is amazing.

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Our site at Dead Horse Ranch

We took a long drive down dirt roads scoping out some of the boondocking in the area and enjoying the views.

We walked through downtown reading about the history of the area…

enjoyed tamales at a cute little spot…

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Our lunch at Tamaliza was delicious!

and played the giant xylophone.

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Everywhere you turned there were great views of the red rocks. This is an area that definitely requires a return visit. There is so much to explore and we didn’t even get to experience any of the great hiking.

Next up was a stay at a park many folks have recommended, Catalina State Park, just north of Tucson. While we enjoyed the views and the proximity to amenities, our campsite was not so appealing with it’s setting among the sandy scrub.

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If you stood out on the road you could see the beautiful view and not see the major ant highway crossing our site. 🙂

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Hiking in Catalina State Park

I guess we can’t complain too much when we’re enjoying so much sunny weather.

After Catalina we were headed east (more on that next time) so ended up at the Benson SKP park again to catch up on laundry. After all, it had been two weeks. With four different stops in that time I don’t think we did anything to help our road weariness, but we’re planning for some down time soon.

More New Mexico Adventures

Traveling further south we stopped for a few nights at City of Rocks State Park. It’s kinda strange because you are driving through grasslands and fields and then these rocks just pop up out of nowhere.

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There are lots of cool rock formations to climb on and around.

 

You can camp right up among the rocks, but we chose the hook-up sites and had this great view of the rocks from our site.

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There were both cottontails and jackrabbits all over the campground.

One afternoon I took my bike on the trail that loops the campground.

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The trail was longer and hillier than it looked and I had forgotten we were still at a high elevation and it was nearly 90 degrees so I very nearly didn’t make it back. Boy that dry desert air really takes it out of you! Took me a couple of days to recoup.

We made a visit to Silver City which was supposed to have lots of cool artist shops, but most were closed on Tuesday. The few we did find had interesting stuff.

We had more great evening views.

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Sadly we had to leave New Mexico and head toward Phoenix so I could fly to Boise for my nephew’s wedding. On the way we stopped in Benson AZ at an Escapees Park. We love the Escapees parks for their friendly folks, reasonable rates, and especially their clean, cheap laundry facilities! This one had great desert views and we enjoyed the sunny weather.

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There were a couple of folks who had train displays. 

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On our way to Phoenix we needed a place to stop for lunch. Luckily we happened upon the Casa Grande National Monument. It was a great stop for lunch and a little exploration.

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Outside Phoenix we stayed at Lost Dutchmen State Park. We had heard so many good things about this park that we were disappointed when our spot turned out to be in a crowded loop. Riding through the campground we found other nicer spots but none were open for the 9 days we were staying. Luckily during the week it was quieter and less crowded.

Still the views of the Superstition Mountains as they changed in the evening light were great. While Chuck enjoyed those and some 90 degree days, I flew to Boise for highs in the 50s and a great visit with family.

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The happy couple cutting the cake that my niece baked for them. 
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I got to hang out with our beautiful daughters.
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A family photo at the wedding.

So after Chuck’s week of projects around the trailer and my busy week with family, it’s time to make some decisions about where we head next. There are so many possibilities that sometimes it can be daunting. We’ve had such a busy month that I think we need a few days to relax before we decide.