above: the fountain in Fountain Hills can reach 560′ in height.
After Tucson we made a relatively short three-hour drive north to Phoenix. Phoenix wasn’t really on our list of places to visit, but we had two good reasons to go. First, some friends from home were planning to attend the Super Bowl in Phoenix, so we decided to use our “location flexibility” to intercept them and spend a day together. Second, I was past due for some doctor appointments and lab work, so my previous doctor from Virginia set me up with a referral at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, just outside Phoenix.
It turns out most RV parks and campgrounds around Phoenix are pretty solidly booked all winter, especially on weekends, and even more so during Super Bowl weekend. The only place we could find availability was at Lake Pleasant Regional Park well north of the city. We settled into our site for the weekend, and had a great time visiting with our friends, having a nice campfire, and enduring a sudden rain downpour—the only rain we’ve had in Arizona in a month.
Lake Pleasant was nice, but is pretty far from any “civilization” (e.g. supermarkets) so after the weekend we relocated to McDowell Mountain Regional Park on the east side of Phoenix. We really enjoyed this campground and will probably visit again next time we pass through the area. The campsites are far apart from each other, there are many miles of dog-friendly hiking trails, and it’s only 10 minutes to the nearby town of Fountain Hills which has all the shopping and restaurants we could want.
We had so much fun at the park, we rarely got out except to do some grocery shopping. One exception was the annual Food Truck Festival in nearby Scottsdale during the weekend. Over 50 local food trucks in one place, serving sample sized tastes. We got to try a wide variety of foods and everything we had was excellent. Thousands of people showed up, so the lines got pretty long. The hit of the show each year is the “Lobster Lady”. The line at her truck was an hour and a half long, and the cheapest item was $20 (most trucks were $2–$6. We don’t like long lines, so we moved on to other trucks. We also stopped by the Scottsdale farmer’s market and stocked up on veggies and fruit for the week.
Finally, I had my doctor’s appointment at the Mayo Clinic (also in Scottsdale). If you’re anything like me, normally when you arrive at your appointment on time you end up in the waiting room for 40 minutes, then you’re taken into an exam room where you wait another 20 minutes, before finally seeing a doctor for 10 minutes. Amazingly, for every appointment I had at Mayo Clinic I was seen within a few minutes of my appointment time. When the doctor ordered labs or tests, they were scheduled for the same day or a couple days later, as opposed to weeks later like I’m used to from Virginia.
Mayo’s iPhone app told me where to go and when, and showed me all my test results, radiology scans, doctor’s notes, etc. shortly after they were available. My doctor was even outfitted with a Google Glass headset that live streamed our session (but didn’t record it) to a nurse at a “remote location” who took notes for the doctor so he wouldn’t be distracted during the session. Everyone we interacted with was exceedingly friendly and helpful.
Unfortunately, McDowell Mountain park is extremely popular and we were unable to extend our stay as long as we liked, so we made yet another move to a commercial RV park in Mesa AZ. Since we had been staying at county or state parks with no sewer hookups for 27 straight days, a commercial park with “full hookups” gave us a chance to catch up on laundry—our little washing machine got quite a workout when we arrived! Now we’re looking forward to wrapping up our extended Phoenix stay and moving west again, first to Yuma, Arizona and then San Diego, California.