Today we have a treat with a post from my wife Dianne. I thought it might be interesting for people to see life in the household from my better half’s perspective. I hope you enjoy it, and please do leave feedback and ask questions.
Earlier this month, Bryan and I took a camping trip to Lake Pleasant in Arizona. We figured it would be nice to go somewhere warmer now that we are experiencing the colder fall season in Sedona. We enjoyed sunshine with temperatures in the 70s and wore shorts and t-shirts during the day.
About Lake Pleasant
We discovered Lake Pleasant soon after moving from California to Arizona. We were missing the water and, after some research, discovered there was a good-sized lake just two hours south of Sedona. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is located north of the metro Phoenix area. The park includes over 23,000 acres of mountainous desert landscape, several campgrounds, and a large artificial reservoir—Lake Pleasant—that feeds into the Central Arizona Aqueduct. Actually, there are quite a few lakes in Arizona—Roosevelt, Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, and Bartlett to name a few.
Being former sailors, we were surprised to see the size of the lake and to find that it has two marinas filled with boats—even sailboats! We would never have imagined sailing opportunities in the desert.
During our first year in Arizona, we talked quite a bit about buying a sailboat to keep at Lake Pleasant. We weighed the pros and cons: the cost of buying a sailboat, marina slip fee, and how often we would drive down to the lake to sail. Mind you, we had just sold our 38-foot sailboat that we used to sail in the San Francisco Bay and so we wondered how lake sailing could compare. Having lived through a number of hazardous sailing experiences, we had become wiser about the risks involved due to the very physical nature of sailing.
We Decided to Start Camping
Eventually we ruled out sailing in Arizona and considered getting a truck and trailer instead. We figured we could have similar experiences communing with nature but with less risk and at a fraction of the cost. Getting from point A to B would be simpler and the setup and break down is definitely easier. You don’t have to worry about your lines coming undone during the night as you drift into the shipping lane, or docking or even falling in the water; there’s no need to keep track of the tide, current, wind, other boaters or oil tankers. There are also less physical requirements and risks. Many trailer systems are similar to boats but generally have much more room.
Our camping experience at Lake Pleasant gave us the pleasure of being close to the water. We camped at one of several campgrounds close to the lake. We were there mid-week so we had the campground mostly to ourselves and it was very peaceful and quiet. We could see staying at the campground for several weeks and, on the weekends when the crowds arrived, we would drive into nearby Scottsdale to mix it up with city life entertainment, great restaurants, and live music.
Earlier this spring, we camped for our first time at Lake Pleasant while the desert wildflowers were in full bloom and that was quite spectacular. The campground has nice amenities with hookups for water and electricity, plus barbeques, shade structure, picnic areas along the water’s edge, hot showers, a nature center, flushing toilets, and a free dump station for registered campers. I had the chance to ride an “e-bike” around the lake over to the boat ramp where I watched people fishing, boating, and water skiing. There is also a good network of hiking trails. Next time we go, we want to check out an Indian mesa with ruins of a village built by the Hohokam Puebloans about 1,000 years ago.
One afternoon, we ate lunch at one of the marinas with a great restaurant right on the water. We were surprised by how many people were there. We enjoyed a nice lunch on the restaurant’s outdoor deck and watched power boats come and go from the marina. We also saw several people dock up alongside the restaurant to have lunch. This brought back fond memories of restaurants along the Oakland estuary in California.
There were boat brokers at this marina selling VERY expensive powerboats. We realized that we had definitely moved on from the idea of owning a boat in Arizona because it was not appealing to pay that much money for a boat. We felt like we had enough of the water experience just by hanging out at the marina and camping along the water.
Close to sunset each night, people went up in hot air balloon rides. There is also a glider school at the nearby airport.
We saw some beautiful sunrises with unobstructed views of the mountain range right from our campsite.
Which way do we go?
Our camping experience was therapeutic because it helped us get away from all the life decisions we are trying to make right now, the biggest one being deciding where to live and whether to downsize to a smaller house. Lately we have felt inundated with too many decisions. Just getting away from it all gave us a better perspective. One day, we were out hiking and we came upon a cactus with its arms pointing in a variety of directions. This made us laugh as we thought even the cactus is confused!
We had good cell coverage at Lake Pleasant
While camping, I received an email asking if I could do a last-minute gig playing cello for a wedding in Sedona. I accepted the job and, since we had our laptop and good connectivity, I was able to prepare by reviewing the music and listening to the songs on YouTube. We ended up coming home a day early for the wedding. This was fine because it helped us transition back to starting the next workweek. Soon, we will be free to camp for longer lengths of time.
Our camping experience gave us time to contemplate, sleep, read, drink wine, eat good food, walk, and bike. I really look forward to future trips to Lake Pleasant and to exploring other lakes in Arizona.