My Birthday in the Desert

I am not so naive as to think the desert started out Saturday morning with such beauty just for me, but it was my birthday. The sunrise and moon set began a day which was to be filled with amazing sights and delights! Come along with me as I recount the events of the day which began my 48th year of life.

Sunset Moonrise-4

Sunset Moonrise-12


Sunset Moonrise-12


My dad and Molly watching the sunrise as the moon set behind them

My dad and Molly watching the sunrise as the moon set behind them

We didn’t start out the day with any particular plan in mind. We thought about driving up to Lake Havasu but Winterfest was in progress and neither of us are huge fans of crowded places. I did an internet search of state parks near us and came up with a winner. Lake Alamo State Park. I had no idea when I plugged the coordinates into the GPS and instructed it to avoid highways what a wonderful adventure awaited us!  As Quartzsite faded in the rear view mirror, we found ourselves on one of Arizona’s scenic byways…

Alamo Lake State Park-21

We watched in amazement as the desert changed from saguaro filled expanses to scrubby brush filled rocky hills…

Alamo Lake State Park-4


Alamo Lake State Park-8


Alamo Lake State Park-15

The hills soon gave way to cactus filled beauty once again…

Notice the holes the birds have made in the sagauro

Notice the holes the birds have made in the saguaro

We found an area to stop and stretch. By this time the dogs were ready to get out and explore a bit before we moved on. Unfortunately for Diesel, he came upon a prickly pear cactus. Given the massive thorns on the saguaro and cholla cacti, the prickly pear looks relatively harmless…

Alamo Lake State Park-28


Alamo Lake State Park-40

But, he was to learn a valuable lesson. NEVER lick a cactus…

Alamo Lake State Park-41

The poor guy tried (unsuccessfully) to get the thorns out of his tongue. He wouldn’t take a drink of water and no amount of prodding from my dad or me was going to get him to let me pick the thorns out. After a while, he settled in the back of Toad. As I drove on, I could hear him working his tongue across his teeth in an effort to dislodge the bothersome life lesson.

We drove through the tine town of Hope, AZ. We saw the sign welcoming us and two minutes later, we saw the sign letting us know we had passed through…

Hope Sign

The misuse of “Your” was not lost on us.

It was getting on towards noon and the pangs of hunger were setting in. There are no “drive-thru” restaurants for miles and miles and we had two dogs with us, so going in somewhere was out of the question. We lucked into finding the Iron Horse Bar and Grill at the Desert Gem RV Park in Salome. Daddy stayed in Toad with the dogs while I went in to order us some lunch to go. The owner saw me taking pictures and said there was more to see if I went with him. Never one to pass up an opportunity for images, I gladly followed him out back. The first thing I saw was an outdoor eating area, complete with picnic tables and a tent for shade. I asked if we could sit there with the dogs and enjoy our lunch, to which he replied “SURE!!”  Then I followed him into their function hall. He told me about seating and live music, I barely heard him as I marveled at the decor…

Alamo Lake State Park-55

Outside were many more sculptures…

Alamo Lake State Park-53


Alamo Lake State Park-50


Alamo Lake State Park-51


Alamo Lake State Park-49


Alamo Lake State Park-48

I have to say that their bacon cheeseburger was one of the BEST I have ever had. I ordered 2 plain patties (for $2 each) for the dogs and they certainly enjoyed their lunch as well. With our hunger sated, we continued our journey. The road wound past field green with new plantings…

Alamo Lake State Park-121

The back into foothills filled with saguaro…

Alamo Lake State Park-120

Saguaro are amazing cacti, reaching high into the desert sky…

Alamo Lake State Park-65

And I doubt you will ever find two alike…

Alamo Lake State Park-69


Alamo Lake State Park-70

We finally made it to Alamo Lake and my first sight of it took my breath away…

Alamo Lake State Park-73

Because there has been so little rain this year, two of the three boat launches are closed. We found the third and let the dogs out to swim and play…

Molly forgot she knows how to swim

Molly forgot she knows how to swim


Alamo Lake State Park-95


Her idea of fetch is you go get it, then I'll try to take it away from you

Her idea of fetch is you go get it, then I’ll try to take it away from you

Mountains ring the lake and the sights are amazing…

Alamo Lake State Park-107

We headed up to the dam to get a broader view of the lake. The dam itself is simply amazing, built by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding potential…

Alamo Lake State Park-135

The views of the lake and rivers was (as I said before) simply amazing…

Alamo Lake State Park-134


Alamo Lake State Park-115


Alamo Lake State Park-112

It was getting late, so we decided to head back to Waldo. This time, I took the highway which cut the drive down by over an hour. It could just have been that I didn’t stop every 1/2 mile for a picture. My dad took me for a birthday dinner in town and then the desert rewarded me with one final breath taking sight for the day…Sunset…

Sunset Moonrise-3

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19 Comments on “My Birthday in the Desert”

  1. marthaschaefer February 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Beautiful! So glad you have this time to enjoy with your Dad and the dogs. Can’t wait to see more of your adventures!!

  2. Ed Williams February 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    Unplanned adventure are almost always the best! Great shots!

    • Touring NH February 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      Thank you. I agree unplanned adventures are usually the best. I think when it is planned you already have an idea in your mind of how it should be and that is rarely the case.

  3. Lori Woodward February 10, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I love in New Hampshire, but grew up in Tucson. This is the first February in 16 years that I am not visiting Tucson and staying home in NH. I truly love the beauty of the Sonoran desert, as well as, New England. That said, I’m not fond of snow… So glad you had a wonderful birthday. These photos are just what I need to perk me up and imagine I’m there.

    • Touring NH February 10, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

      Thank you Lori. I’m glad I was able to give you a taste of home. I’ve been following the news, you are certainly getting more than your share of snow this year. Stay warm!

  4. New Hampshire Garden Solutions February 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    I don’t think I could stand living there but Arizona sure is beautiful and I’d love to visit. I like the sculptures too.
    I hope your do finally got those prickles out of his tongue. I’ve had them in my fingers several times and they don’t come out easily.
    Happy Birthday!

    • Touring NH February 11, 2015 at 2:10 am #

      I wouldn’t want to live here full time. It was 90 degrees today and I haven’t seen more than a couple clouds since I’ve been here. I can’t imagine what it will be like in July. You would love to visit! The diversity of plant life is astounding and it can change in the blink of an eye. Diesel finally got all of the thorns out of his mouth and I think he has learned his lesson. He walks a wide birth around the prickly pears! Thanks for the birthday wish!

  5. Jeff | Planet Bell February 12, 2015 at 1:19 am #

    Thanks for showing us a little slice of America. Those metal sculptures are really cool. It is a bit scary to see the water level in the lakes in the west.

    • Touring NH February 12, 2015 at 10:41 am #

      I agree about the water levels. 2 of the 3 boat launches were closed at Alamo Lake due to low water. There were a lot more sculptures there, that was just a small sample of what they had.

      Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2015 01:19:53 +0000 To:

  6. Marie Keates February 13, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    What a great birthday. The sculptures at the diner were fabulous and the scenery, then there was that sunset! Perfect.

    • Touring NH February 13, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      Thank you. I couldn’t have planned a better day.

  7. February 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Now this is the way to celebrate a birthday Laura! Your photos are beautiful. Growing up in the south, I had no real appreciation for the desert until we moved to Sudan. The desert takes some adjustments, but for me it provides a chance to clear the mental cobwebs. It’s a harsh, unforgiving place. The quiet can be deafening, and your surroundings are stripped to their essence. I also love the sense of humor in the American SW. It takes a certain type of personality to live there full time. Happy Birthday Laura. ~James

    • Touring NH February 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      I wouldn’t want to live here full time, but I do love visiting! There are just so many wonderful things to see and find.

  8. seekraz February 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    I’m glad you’re having such a nice time in the desert, Laura…looks like you’re truly enjoying yourself…and you’re here at a near perfect time of the year, too. July will be rough…incredibly hot and increasingly humid as the monsoon season makes its entry. Your photos are a gentle treatment of the area, sharing the beauty and piquing your visitors’ interest with what’s nice about the desert. Well done. 🙂

    • Touring NH February 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      Thank you. I am definitely having a great time. Every day is a new adventure. I couldn’t imagine being here in July or August. I’m eagerly awaiting the blooms of the cactus!

  9. Sue Slaght April 29, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    Isn’t the desert an incredible place? Love the photos of the dogs playing in the water. Poor pup with the thorns in his tongue!

    • Touring NH April 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

      I absolutely love it there. Diesel and Molly had such a great time together. Yes, and Diesel never licked another prickly pear while we were there!

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