Grown up high school friends met up in Mesa and hiked on Silly Mountain. Actually we didn’t really know each other while attending high school and decades later became friends on Facebook. I stayed with Sandee for our 40th high school reunion back in Illinois. There was going to be a 45th, in Arizona because so many graduates had moved here. Some of us may have been smarter than others. But the group was small. Sandee is here for three months for her health and recreation. Dan drove from Indiana to visit family then got sick and didn’t join in. Bob has been in Arizona a long time. He might be the smartest of the bunch, but that’s a rather scary thought considering I always thought of him as the class clown, and still is.
Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Apache Junction, it’s all Phoenix to me. And that means city traffic which I don’t care for. Plus had to find a place to park the camper, preferably free. According to the Casino Arizona website I could boondock free for three nights. This is located on the Salt River Indian Reservation at the edge of the urban sprawl. After a couple hour drive from the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge I pulled into their lot about 1:30pm. Security guys on bicycles told me where to park, far east lot, and then checked in. Another security guy, from New Zealand, first sent me to get a free players card that comes with 2000 points, that equals $4, then noted my ID and gave me a piece of paper to put on the dash. If I want to stay another night I have to earn 350 points more. Haven’t used anything yet. I’m not a gambler.
Sandee came by about 2:30 and we went to lunch, Pita Jungle in nearby Tempe which is near ASU with limited parking. But we found a parking lot behind the restaurant and next to a Jack in the Box. Remember that. Great lunch and we spent a couple hours just chatting away. And when we came out, no minivan. Gone. But lots of signs all over the place we somehow hadn’t seen about parking for Jack in the Box only or vehicle will be towed. Well, that was us. Vehicle was towed. And according to the signs could only be retrieved between 8a-5p. It was 5:15. We stood there rather in shock. Even warned others while waiting to hear from Sandee’s landlady who might be able to rescue us. In fact one guy we told was very rude to us.
A car pulled in and we warned him but he told us he was only there to pick someone up, a young woman got in the car and we asked about getting a ride to the Casino and he said he’d be back in 5 minuets. And he did. At the same time we saw the tow truck and Sandee talked to the driver who told us we could get her rig back right then, at the tune of $155. All this time we kept laughing and being silly. Because what else could we do. No alcohol at lunch. Turned out the guy offering a ride is an Uber driver, my first Uber ride, and he took us to the impound lot. Met the tow truck driver there who had the car we’d warned the rude guy about. It was kind of an expensive lunch lesson. And the irony is, Sandee had been hiking the day before and the trailhead lot was full so she parked along the road with about 20 other cars that when she returned had been towed off. She got kind of lucky that time in that the Sheriff didn’t give her a ticket and she paid the tow truck driver $100 not to tow her car. This area is brutal.
The next morning I took Sandee to breakfast in the Casino and applied my 2000 points to the bill. But in order to stay another night dry camping for free I’d have to gamble and earn 350 points. Sounds pretty easy right? Ten minutes and $25 later no points and a 25 cent voucher. Time to find another place to park.
So Sandee leads me to a Walmart in Mesa then we take off to hike on Silly Mountain in an Apache Junction city park. We started with the botanical walk with labels to help learn the desert plants. Then up the Palo Verde trail to Superstition Viewpoint and back down the Brittlebush trail for a total of one mile. Only a little steep and rocky for lowlanders from Illinois.
Then we met Bob for dinner at the Thai House in Scottsdale and laughed for almost two hours straight while reminiscing and catching up. Oh the stories we could tell.
If it hadn’t been late when we returned to my camper I might have moved. The “neighborhood” WalMart at McKellips and Lindsay Roads has no signage for “no camping or overnight parking” in its small lot. Yet I felt sure someone would come knocking at the door, or I’d be towed while still in the camper. Thus a lousy night’s sleep with just noise and no bothers. In the morning I did a little shopping and waited for rush hour to pass.
Had a really great time visiting, and didn’t take many photos, but was glad to pull out of the city/urban noise and traffic and hit the road at 9:30am. Had to maneuver through 202, 101, and 60 before getting off interstates onto state routes 347 and 283 to Gila Bend and south. Such a relief to see cactus and mountains while anticipating a quiet desert.
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