Monday, January 25, 2016

Surprise(d In) Arizona

I found White Tank Mountain Regional Park when trying to get reservations at Ursury or McDowell near Phoenix. I'd never heard of it, but it's near some of our friends, so I took a chance.

It is a wonderful surprise, and the park is now tied for favorite with Emerald Forest in Trinidad, CA! With 50 amp and water at each site, a double dump station, dozens of trails, spacious sites, beautiful views, and $30/night, we will definitely be back for a longer stay in the future.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park, near Surprise, AZ
Large spaces (that's our picnic table on the left), and amazing views
Friends Cyndee and Rocky drive out to see us when we arrive on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately it is a little more snug as our dining slide is once again not working. The reset on the controller doesn't make it work, and this time we can't get the front of it to come in all the way. This is not a pleasant surprise!

We visit a bit, make plans for Friday, and I follow them out of the park to find the RV service place and groceries. 

I am not expecting the town to be so big, so clean, so nice. There's everything here. Surprise, AZ, is just that!

No luck at finding service that can take us in less than a week - no surprise :-)

Happy to find a Sprouts Market for groceries, and gas at $1.79/gal, and I'm back home before dark.

Friday we get "passed on" to three mobile rv techs before we find someone who can get to us on Monday. It means extending our stay two nights, but we have enough wiggle in our schedule, and there's open space to stay here. Bill changes the controller in the non-working slide which does straighten it enough to pull the front side level - but the fault code continues to say it's a connection issue. The tech orders the necessary wiring for our Monday appointment. 

Lunch with the sharks is first on our schedule. We meet Cyndee and Rocky at Dillons for an excellent meal. Attached to the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, we watch the sharks and rays all around us while we enjoy our meal.

After completing the paperwork, and reviewing the restricted areas, we take Tessa to her first zoo visit.

We spend four hours just in the aquarium, reptiles, birds and monkeys. We'll have to see the big animals next time!

Love the bright color of this eel

I could have watched the variety of fish all day

Rays soared through several tanks, gliding like birds
The albino alligator looked more like a plucked chicken
Teeny, tiny little guys
The Spiny Lobster in the back was at least twice as large as the other one - and the biggest I've every seen
 The Lion Fish are beautiful
Once we enter the outdoor areas we are very conscious of how the animals reacte to Tessa, not wanting to cause them any stress. The howler monkeys are the first to show any interest - jumping from the back of the cage to the front. Not stressed but definitely aggressive. We move on.

The peacocks "honk" at us, but don't even move off their perches above the cages. The other large birds are not so calm and we don't stick around. 

Not sure if he is getting her attention, or scaring her off, but this guy makes sure Tessa sees him

The monkeys are all very interested, swinging to the front of their cages to stare at her. She's equally interested in them, putting her paws up on the wooden barrier to say hi (several feet from the cage).
The reptiles ignore her - and us
The highlight of the visit is the sea lions playing in their indoor pool. Playing tag, jumping in and out of the water, full body flips, slapping each other - we laugh at their silliness for several minutes, the only ones there. Photos through the window don't come out.

Back home we relax and enjoy the spectacular sunset.

Once again forgetting it's Saturday, we head for the Waterfall Trailhead, only to find it packed with vehicles unloading lots of large families. Instead we drive the loop and take in some of the Waddell Trail. All of the trails we've seen in the park are well maintained, flat, and wide. Just our speed :-)

Too many people

Much better
Large rocks
with a tiny surprise
So many saguaros in the valley
and on the ridge tops
I forgot coffee so we need to go back to town. We look closely for what Bill thought was a crested saguaro when we were on the entrance road earlier.


This crested is right by the road, at the Area 2 parking, and once you know it's there you can't miss it. 

Before we get to the store we change plans again and decide to visit our second NFL stadium. We don't need to tour them all, just want to see them. 

The University of Phoenix Stadium, has not only a retractable roof, but a retractable field as well. The multi-purpose facility is in Glendale, Arizona, less than 25 miles from us. The 63,400-seat stadium opened on August 1, 2006, and is home to the Arizona Cardinals and the annual Fiesta Bowl.

The pro shop is disappointing, not having any collector pins, so I opt for a pic through the back window into the stadium

We were here!

Bill remembers they "take the field outside" and we find it soaking up the unobstructed sunshine

They roll it back inside between the goal posts for each game
Some people wonder why we don't go to the stadiums on game day. For the same reason we didn't hike the Waterfall Trail on a Saturday :-)

We're meeting friends for dinner so we return home to get cleaned up. Once again the sky is full of amazing color.

Cyndee, Rocky, Patty and Sonya join us at Macayos for drinks and dinner. It's surprising that we still have so much to talk about after more than 40 years!

Good times with good friends (missing Coy and Tom)
Sonya and Patty
Rocky and Cyndee
We make plans to get together for football and a camp fire on Sunday and return home for the night.

We are really enjoying this surprising place :-))


  1. Great photos you took at the zoo! Our next door neighbor had a second home in Surprise. Now I wish we had visited their place before they sold it... It's pretty cool how the field is transportable. That's a bit of trivia that I didn't know. How cool would it be to actually see the field being moved! You guys have had some stunning sunsets too!

    1. We were saying the same thing about seeing them roll in the field - it looks like there's plenty of area around it for people to watch it. I am so impressed with the west side of Phoenix, Surprise in particular is a beautiful town.

  2. What a lovely regional park! We'll definitely put that one on our list. We saw a moray eel just like the one you photographed at the aquarium when we were snorkeling in the Keys. Not something I want to get too close to! Just want to say that I appreciate how conscious you are about the reactions of the birds and other animals when you have Tessa with you. :-)

    1. Thanks Laurel. We don't take it for granted that she can go with us, and always try to make her impact as minimal as possible :-) Those eels are beautiful, but they are also very intimidating - still seeing them in the wild would be amazing!

  3. We love Usury and Cave Creek but have never stopped at White Tank. I think we'll have to check it out too.

    1. It's a beautiful place with a lot to see and do. You'll love it.

  4. Beautiful sunsets. For a long time I kept forgetting it was a week-end and I didn't HAVE to go hiking on Saturday or Sunday with the masses. Glad you are enjoying your surprise and hope the tech can get that slide fixed once and for all.

    1. I just keep forgetting what day it is :-) Unfortunately the part didn't come in, so we continue to be cozy.

  5. We tried to get into White Tank for the beginning of luck( Love that you found a young crested saguaro:)

    I could watch the fish for hours, as well. They are so soothing. Aren't the sea horses a hoot:)

    Such a smart idea to have a real grass football field inside!! It looks strange outside.

    So sorry to read about your slide...again. I sure hope you get this problem solved soon.

    See you in a few days:)

    1. Bummer! You guys will love it, so hopefully next time :-) If you stay in the area, it's worth the $6 day fee to access the trails - some of them must be more challenging as they reach the mountains! No bueno on the slide yet :-(

  6. Love the aquarium. I'll bet some of the zoo animals were as surprised as Tessa. Looks like a great park with plenty of nature being so close to Phoenix. Hope your slide is fixed by now. I'm trying to catch up.

    1. The aquarium was definitely my favorite. She definitely got some weird "looks". Unfortunately no slide fix 'til New Mexico.

  7. We were out at White Tanks this week hiking the Waterfall trail. Took a ride through the campground but since I'm behind in blog reading didn't know you were there. Surprise is a great town, our son lives there so we're out there once in awhile. Hope you get your slide issue resolved soon.

    1. Oh darn!! That's happened to us a couple times, just missing others by a day or two :-( I'm still amazed at what a pretty town Surprise is.