Waterfront Dining in Arizona – Scorpion Bay & River’s Edge Cantina

March 2018 – The places where the Arizona desert meets the many waterways that flow through the state are very beautiful. We’ve hiked the shorelines and taken boat rides out onto some of Arizona’s desert lakes to see them up close. We’ve also recently discovered two fun places to dine on the waterfront right in the middle of the desert.

Scorpion Bay Marina Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

Scorpion Bay Marina at Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Lake Pleasant – Scorpion Bay Grill

The first is the Scorpion Bay Grill at Scorpion Bay Marina on Lake Pleasant on the northwest edge of Phoenix. Lake Pleasant is large enough to have two marinas, one on the east side which is privately owned and another — Scorpion Bay — on the west side which is part of the Maricopa County Parks system.

Friends of ours told us about the Scorpion Bay Grill and suggested we have dinner with them there. Despite having the word “scorpion” in the name, we were totally charmed by this special spot.

The first thing that struck us as unusual and kinda neat about Scorpion Bay Marina was the funicular ride that takes you from the parking lot down to the water. A “funicular” is a kind of enclosed cross between an escalator and an elevator that gets people up and down a steep slope without having to climb a million stairs. We first rode one in the colorful town of Guanajuato, Mexico, which is built on a steep hillside.

Funcular at Scorpion Bay Marina Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

The steep climb down to the marina is easier if you take the funky funicular ride!

You can take the stairs at Scorpion Bay, but we went for the ride. Mark opened the door to the funicular and down we went!

Calling the funcular at Scorpion Bay Marina Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

Mark and Buddy head on into the funicular car.

The Scorpion Bay Grill is built on a huge floating dock so the water is all around you. The fabulous outdoor patio has a view of the lake and is a great place to watch the sunset. The fish and chips dinner was outstanding!

There’s special seating for people with dogs, and now that we count ourselves as “people with dogs” we sat there. Each dog is given his own mat next to the table! The dog area is on the shady side of the patio, which is great in the hotter months, but the view is not as dramatic as the people-only area out front, but Buddy loved it.

We had such a great time eating dinner with this up-close lake view that we forgot to take any pics (oops!). But here is a sunset shot on a different night at Lake Pleasant to give you an idea of what’s possible when you enjoy a sundowner at the Scorpion Bay Grill.

Sunset at Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

Sunset reflections on Lake Pleasant.

Colorado River – River’s Edge Cantina

The other place we discovered is up in the northwest corner of Arizona on the Colorado River in the town of Parker. The Colorado River is a popular spot for boaters and RVers, and there is a VW & Microbus rally and a balloon festival there every winter.

Welcome to Parker Arizona-min

Parker, Arizona, loves visitors and has plenty water sports and RV parks and lots of fun events.

RV park on Colorado River Parker Arizona-min

Lots of RV parks along the Colorado River have campsites right on the water.

There are many places to access the Colorado River around Parker, some with palm trees and others with beaches and picnic ramamdas.

View from River's Edge Cantina Bluewater Casino Parker Arizona-min

Mexican Palm trees along the Colorado River make the scenery reminiscent of their namesake country.

Party boat on the Colorado River Arizona-min

A party boat lands on the beach.

The Bluewater Casino and Marina Resort just east of downtown Parker has a big marina.

Docks at Bluewater Casino Parker Arizona-min

The docks at the Bluewater Casino and Marina Resort

And there’s a little outdoor bar next to the boat docks called the River’s Edge Cantina.

River's Edge Cantina Colorado River Parker Arizona-min

River’s Edge Cantina

Some folks arrive at the River’s Edge Cantina by boat!

Party boat at dock River's Lodge Cantina Parker Arizona RV trip-min

The River’s Edge Cantina is a popular stop for boats going up and down the Colorado River.

The setting gives you a waterfront view and is very casual. It’s a pretty spot for a beer as the sun goes down.

Enjoying a sundowner at River's Edge Cantina Parker Arizona-min

It’s simple but scenic…and dog friendly!

This outdoor patio is dog-friendly too, and we brought our little pooch along. Buddy even tried to order a beer (he wanted a Bud), but they don’t serve beer to people who walk on four legs.

Having a beer at River's Edge Cantina Parker Arizona RV trip-min

Buddy was hoping for a Bud.

Nearby there was a little grassy area to play. When Buddy heard that, he ran down to the docks and jumped for joy!

Puppy running on the docks River's Edge Cantina Parker Arizona-min

“Did someone say it’s time to play?”
All four feet off the ground — pure joy!

This is a great spot to romp with a favorite toy.

Puppy running with pink rope toy-min

Playtime!

Down by the water’s edge you can put a toe — or paw — in the water.

Testing the water on the Colorado River in Parker Arizona-min

How’s the water?

Buddy was quite parched, since his request for a beer had been turned down, so he reached down and put two paws in the water for a drink.

Water tasting Colorado River Parker Arizona-min

The water’s good enough to drink!

He leaned out a little too far and suddenly he fell in. Oops! Well, we all found out he knows how to dog paddle! He got a great bath and came out of the water sparkling clean.

Puppy swims at Bluewater Casino Parker Arizona-min

Oops!

But Cleanliness is not next to Dogliness, he told us. So, he made a beeline for a dirt patch under a bush, plopped himself down in the dirt and started digging holes as fast as his paws could go.

Puppy lies in dirt after swimming-min

What better to do when you’re soaked than start digging in the dirt?!

When he stood up he was shocked to discover he was a muddy mess!

Puppy covered in mud after swimming-min

Wild eyes!

He ran around in circles a few times and then settled down on the dock to lick himself clean.

Muddy dog River's Edge Cantina Colorado River Parker Arizona-min

How many licks will it take to clean up?

He was too cute for words, so our cameras were clicking away.

Taking photo of a muddy puppy-min

Mark gets a close-up.

Muddy puppy cleans up after swimming-min

Nice shot!

With two owners constantly following him around taking his photo, Buddy is now a much photographed dog. And he’s becoming quite aware of his status as a model.

When I crouched down to get a shot of him showing off his backside for Mark’s camera, he squinted his eyes and gave me a sly look and muttered under his breath, “Talk to my agent!”

Puppy photography model River's Edge Casino Parker Arizona

“Talk to my agent…”

Even without a puppy, the boat docks and area around River’s Edge Cantina are a lovely place for a stroll in the late afternoon.

Docks at Bluewater Casino Parker Arizona-min

The docks at River’s Edge Cantina.

Boating on the Colorado River near Parker Arizona-min

Life on the Colorado River in the late afternoon — beautiful!

And at either the Scorpion Bay Grill on Lake Pleasant or the River’s Edge Cantina on the Colorado River, there’s always the chance you’ll get a classic Arizona sunset as you enjoy your lakeside sundowners!!

Sunset at Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

Sunset at Lake Pleasant

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Wild Burros of the Colorado River – A Puppy’s View!

March 2018 – Continuing our theme this year of seeking out places where the southwestern deserts and waterways meet, we drove the scenic drive that follows the Colorado River from the town of Parker, Arizona, up to the Parker Dam. Starting in Parker, we went up the California side of the river to the dam and then we came back down the Arizona side to Parker.

Boating on the Colorado River California-min

The Colorado River is a favorite spot for boaters.

The Colorado River is a popular place for water sports and water play, and even though the river was cold and the air was springtime cool, there were still lots of boats out enjoying the water.

Boating on the Colorado River Arizona RV trip

The desert mountain backdrop is beautiful and RV parks line the shore for miles.

From power boats to party barges, there was plenty of boating action going on.

Party boat on Colorado River Parker Arizona RV trip-min

A party boat rides the current on the Colorado River

The Parker Dam Road on the California side of the river south of Parker Dam is a combination of wild and natural recreation areas and RV parks. One RV Resort ends and then the next one begins with a smattering of BLM managed Rec areas tucked in between.

As we rounded one bend on this road, we noticed some wild burros in the road ahead of us. How cool!

Wild Burros Parker Dam Road Colorado River California RV trip

We saw wild burros on the road in front of us.

We’d spent quite a bit of time with the wild burros in South Daktoa’s Custer State Park last summer, and we’d watched the wild horses of Arizona’s Salt River many times over the years, but it was still a great thrill to see these guys standing by the side of the road.

Wild Burros Parker Dam Road Colorado River California-min

Wild burros of the Colorado River.

We slowed down as we approached them, and another car coming the opposite way did too. The wild burros slowly crossed the road over to the other car and said hello to the folks inside.

Wild Burros Parker Dam Road Colorado River California RV trip

The burros crossed the road to say hi!

Then I noticed that there were more wild burros on our side of the road. They were standing around just hanging out.

Wild burros of the Colorado River Parker Dam Arizona-min

A wild burro’s life is pretty chill!

Wild burro Parker Dam Road California-min

.

Suddenly one of them walked up to our truck and poked his head in our truck window.

Wild burro looks into car at Colorado River Arizona RV trip

.

Buddy was fascinated and leaned way out of the truck window to have a closer look. The burro pulled his head back out. Buddy’s face was reflected in the mirror and it made a cool image.

Puppy leans out of car to see wild burro Parker Dam Arizona RV trip

Buddy leaned over for a closer look.

Then the burro poked his head in again. He seemed to be smiling. Buddy shied away a little.

Wild burro at car window with puppy Parker Arizona RV trip

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Then Buddy stared up at the enormous muzzle in amazement.

Wild Burro and Puppy Colorado River Arizona-min

.

“What kind of breed are you?” He seemed to be asking.

Buddy braced himself on the window sill to get a different perspective.

Wild Burro and Puppy Colorado River AZ-min

The two got a good look at each other.

Then the burro and the puppy touched noses for a brief second.

Puppy meets a wild burro at the car window Parker Dam Road California RV trip

.

I reached out and petted the burro’s mane. He didn’t seem to mind at all. Then the burro slowly moved away, and I noticed a young colt standing off in the distance. He looked like a little stuffed animal!

Wild burro colt at Parker Dam Colorado River California-min

.

What a cutie.

Wild burro colt portrait Parker Dam Colorado River California RV trip

.

By then, Mark had climbed out of the truck and was taking Buddy over to meet some of the other burros.

Wild burros meet a puppy Parker Dam Road California RV trip

The burros were very calm and inquisitive too.

Everyone was relaxed and a bit curious as well.

Introducing puppy to wild burro Colorado River Arizona RV trip

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What a neat animal encounter that was!

If you are traveling in the northwestern corner of Arizona near Parker and Lake Havasu, the drive on Parker Dam Road on the western side (California side) of the Colorado River makes for a nice excursion. There are thousands of RV campsites to suit any budget, and the lake is a great place for recreation of all kinds.

Hopefully, the wild burros will come say “hi” to you too!

Kayak on Colorado River Parker Arizona RV trip-min

A kayak on the Colorado River.

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VW Microbus Mania in Lake Havasu Arizona!

We had so many great pics from the VW Microbus festival, Buses by the Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona, that they didn’t all fit in one post. Here is some more Microbus Mania for you! Most of these folks were camping in their micobuses and had them opened up so you could see how they were set up inside. There isn’t a lot of room in these tiny RVs of yesteryear, but they’re just so cute. Enjoy!

The “submarine hatch” model was the first to have a top that opened. These clever folks put a tent on top for a little weather protection:

Groovy Lavender VW microbus

The “submarine hatch” model got you a little extra headroom inside!

Some guys had it made in the shade with wonderful big awnings.

VW Microbus Made in the Shade

A big awning and party lights — made in the shade!

VW Microbus Made in the Shade

There’s a microbus in there??

Now here’s a paint job that caught our eye!! Wouldn’t it be crazy to look in the rearview mirror and see this!

Eagle Face VW Microbus

Eagle eyes…

And how’d ya like to wake up to vivid orange all around you?! It’s a bit different than the color tones of today’s RVs…

Orange bus interior

All orange inside…

For the Deadheads, there was a Grateful Dead Mobile trimmed with the iconic dancing bears and the turtle from the cover of the Terrapin Station album.

Jerry Garcia VW Microbus with bears and turtle

Grateful Dead Bug – with the dancing bears and Terrapin Station turtle

The front was tie dye, of course!

Tie Dye VW Microbus

Groovy tie dye…can’t beat that color scheme!

A guy was selling super cute coolers shaped like VW Microbuses. The whole roof — surfboards and all — opened up, and there was plenty of room inside for a bunch of beer and ice. He had one in tow behind his real Microbus…

VW Microbus towing a VW Microbus

The green mini-Microbus being towed behind is actually a cooler!

One vintage bus had a great caption painted on the side:

Slowing Down Traffic since 1970

“Slowing down traffic since 1970”

Another guy managed to squeeze three big pooches into his bus somehow!

A VW Bus for Pooches

A Pooch Bus!

What a fun rally — far out, man!

Peace signs and moons VW Microbus

Peace, baby!

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Balloons and VW Buses in Lake Havasu AZ

January, 2015 – We started this year’s travels by heading to Quartzsite, Arizona, where the campfires are hot and the beer is cold and the RV madness is in full swing. The RV show doesn’t start until today, so yesterday we took a day trip to Lake Havasu to see the unusual RV rally of VW microbuses Buses by the Bridge. VW buses are gathering from far and wide this weekend in Lake Havasu State Park, and we just had to see the show!

Balloons at Arizona's Havasu Balloon Fest

What a surprise to see balloons flying overhead as we arrive in Lake Havasu!

We left for town early in the morning and were somewhat bleary eyed as we crested the hill just south of the city. What a shock it was to look up and see dozens of hot air balloons in front of us, drifting across the sky over the lake!

Balloons over Lake Havasu Arizona

A few balloons almost skimmed the water.

We quickly pulled over to take pics. Balloons were everywhere. They were flying high overhead and dipping their baskets down towards the water between the boats too. We watched them with delight and were soon joined by lots of other folks holding their cameras and phones up to get a shot.

Earth balloon at Lake Havasu Arizona

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Planet Earth!

“What the heck is this?” I asked the guy next to me. He said it was the opening day of the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival. What total luck!  We came looking for hippie vans and ran into a balloon festival by accident!

They began to land after a while, so we continued on to the VW bus festival at Lake Havasu State Park.

VW Microbus at Buses at the Bridge in Lake Havasu Arizona

Buses by the Beach in Lake Havasu

Microbuses of every year and in and every state of reconditioning (or disrepair) and in every imaginable style were lined up all around a field and along the beach. Everyone was camping out for the weekend, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

VW microbus on the beach in Lake Havasu Arizona

Awning out and doors thrown wide, this VW is ready for some beach camping!

VW microbus Make Love Not War

Some buses have been perfectly restored and others have aged gracefully.

Vintage coolers and picnic baskets and antique popup tent campers and camp chairs filled all the spaces between the mini rigs. Volkswagon van lovers were hanging out everywhere comparing notes on their buses and showing off their very cool mods and restorations.

Volkswagon Westfalia buses at Buses by the Beach each in Lake Havasu Arizona

Lots of folks were camping in Westfalia vans

Everyone was reveling in a bit of nostalgia for years gone by, whether they had lived through those years themselves decades ago or had just heard about them from parents and grandparents.

Inside a 1960's hippie Volkswagon microbus

The Genie Bottle – a true Shaggin’ Wagon from the 60’s

I was enchanted by the Genie Bottle, a microbus with a submarine hatch that was the predecessor to the Westfalia style pop top vans. This was a true “Shaggin’ Wagon.” The owner, Nancy, had decorated it entirely in soft vintage materials from the 1950’s, using rich red and purple hues, and her husband, Mark, had lowered the floor so he could install a waterbed!

A waterbed in a VW microbus. What next?!

Hippie girl by her VW microbus at the beach

A young girl gets totally into the hippie spirit.

Lots of grizzled, grey bearded VW bus experts were selling spare parts of all shapes and sizes. More surprising was seeing a beautiful 14 year old modern day hippie girl with a long tie-dyed skirt, long blonde hair and bare feet selling paintings she’d made in front of her family’s VW bus.

Jerry Garcia in tie dye

Grateful Alive!

Mark was startled to turn around and find himself face to face with Jerry Garcia. He is alive and well and living in Lake Havasu.

Shasta Root Beer Volswagon van

Remember Shasta root beer?

21 window VW microbus in Lake Havasu Arizona

These folks are totally into their little buses, and one fellow even had a very cool six pack of beer called “Big Blue Van” which is brewed in Lake Havasu!! How fun! We looked for it in the stores later but didn’t find any.

Big Blue Van beer from Lake Havasu Arizona

Now we’re talkin’ — local Big Blue Van beer!

We’ve been to Lake Havasu before but have never gotten down to the beach. White sand had just been brought in recently, and the beach was so inviting. What a spot for a picnic!

White sand beach at Lake Havasu State Park

Life’s a beach in Lake Havasu Arizona!

Little party boats were taking people out onto the lake, and I wondered for a moment, “Is this Arizona or is it Florida?!”

An ultralight takes flight at Lake Havasu State Park Arizona

Here’s a great way to take in both the balloons and the buses!

An ultralight buzzed the crowd and then flew off over the lake. What a perfect day this was — our favorite kind of day: carefree and full of unexpected encounters!

If you are in the Lake Havasu area in Arizona, both the Havasu Balloon Fest and Buses by the Bridge are going on all weekend January 17-18, 2015, and the weather is going to be ideal — sunny and warm!!

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Havasu Springs Resort, AZ – Lucky Break!

Lake Havasu.

View from the resort.

Lakeside vacation mobile homes.

Ready to launch.

Secluded cove.

Resting on the resort's beach.

Solitary fisherman.

Green grasses line the shore.

Deserted Island.

Clear green water at a private campsite.

Water pumping station.

Salt Cedar sapling takes root on a bouy.

Nesting site on stilts.

Lighthouse guides boaters in.

Houseboats at the marina.

Havasu Springs Resort, Arizona

Late October, 2009 - We left Laughlin, Nevada with a hankering to get the kayak out onto Lake Havasu, one of the manmade

lakes that have bubbled the Colorado River into a string of elongated beads as it runs south.  Problem was, where to stay?  We

pulled into a Love's gas station as we exited I-40 to take AZ-95 south, and a man in an old pickup engaged Mark in conversation.

"Where are you going?"  He asked.

"South."

"Where are you staying?"

"I'm not sure."

"Can I interest you in a free 5-day, 4-night stay at Havasu Springs Resort?"

Mark's ears perked up.  Sure!  It turned out that one of the oldest RV

park timeshare membership programs, Colorado River Adventures,

was promoting their parks to the snowbirds as they migrated south.

We could choose from four different RV parks for the promo package,

but he told us Havasu Springs was the nicest.  "You'll have to take a 90

minute tour, but it won't be any longer than that, I promise.  You'll also

get a $100 Walmart gift card."

Score!!  Going to timeshare presentations was something of a sport in

the Phoenix area in the late 1990's.  The resorts were lovely, the

giveaways were lavish, and the presentations were usually not that long

or grueling.  During coffee breaks on our group bike rides in those days

we'd sit around with our friends and compare notes on the different

timeshares we'd toured.  Of course, it's a sport fraught with danger, as

almost everyone we knew had given in and purchased a timeshare

somewhere along the line.  Nowadays our savvy friends buy them for pennies on the dollar on the internet.

We looked at the brochure the man in the pickup had handed us, saw the

pictures of the pretty beaches along the lake, and jumped at the chance.

Once there, while we were checking in, Mark noticed a poster on the wall

that offered two free dinners at the resort's restaurant if you took a tour of

the condos that were for sale.  Within minutes we'd scheduled our condo

tour for later that day and our timeshare membership tour for the next

day.  Ironically, we then accidentally took a self-guided half-hour tour of

the whole resort on our own, with our monster rig, as we got lost several

times looking for our campsite.

We were assigned

an appealing end site.  Our rig filled the entire site, and we had to juggle our

position to get the slides out without hitting the electrical box or the tree, but

we gleefully plugged into electrical, water and sewer hookups for the first time

in 8 months.  We planned to bask in four days of very very long showers and

we set the air conditioning so it would cycle on and off at will (this is not

possible when we run the a/c from the generator: when the a/c cycles on it

overloads the generator, shutting it off, so we simply run the a/c til we are cool

and then turn it off, effectively cycling it manually).

Our condo salesman was at our door

just as we removed the last bungee

cord from the cabinets.  What fun to cruise through a fabulously decorated $800k condo

with views of the lake and mountains, envisioning ourselves hosting elegant parties that

spilled from the beautiful great-room out onto the sprawling deck.  We found out we could

pick up this piece of paradise for less than $500k because of the stalled economy.  What a

deal!

We politely declined, but the free

dinner at Springs that night was

wonderful.  We had a pretty table

overlooking the marina, and we

toasted each other and our fine

meal while we were serenaded by a

wonderful female vocalist.  The sun

set slowly behind the distant

mountains and we kept laughing

about what crazy good luck it was to

run into the guy in the pickup at the

gas station.

The biggest perk for us at this

resort was the chance to get out on

the lake with the kayak.  Early the

next morning we snuck down to the

boat ramp and launched the boat.

It was promising to be a very

blustery day, and the water soon

kicked up as we pedaled and

paddled along.

The funny thing about this tandem

kayak is that the front person gets

drenched by waves slapping the bow.  Mark thought it was all quite hilarious as wave after

wave splashed over the boat and all over me while he remained perfectly dry.  I got the

last laugh, however, as the water that dripped off of me followed gravity

and made its way along the bottom edges of the boat to soak Mark's seat.

After a while he was sitting in quite a puddle.  We cracked up when we

finally returned to the boat ramp and crawled out of the kayak, two wet

rats.

The timeshare presentation was later that afternoon, and we were

radiating grins when we arrived in our salesman's office after our morning

adventure.  He took one look at us, heard Mark explain that we live off the

grid, and he said, "I know you're not going to buy, so I'll keep this short."

He gave us a brief synopsis of what the membership program was all

about (summarized under the "High End Membership Programs" on the

Fulltiming page, about 40% down the page).  And before 45 minutes was

up, he was shaking our hands and wishing us safe travels.  There had

been a mixup about the Walmart gift card, so

he handed Mark a check for $100.  "I bet this

was the easiest $100 you ever made."

Absolutely!!

Soon afterwards we saw him in his golf cart

greeting some friends who had just moved into

a site behind us.  Not only did he know we

weren't going to buy, but he had better things

to do with his time late on a Friday afternoon.

We hit the resort's bar for $1.50 steak tacos

and rode our bikes all over the place.  It is an

expansive property with several hotels and

marinas, and we enjoyed roaming the grounds

so much we forgot to check out the swimming pool and hot tub.  However, we met a couple who

had just completed 20 years of sailing in the Caribbean, and we enjoyed a lengthy conversation with

them about that lifestyle.  They were now building a home base in Vancouver and had come south

in their RV to escape the cold for the winter.

They were happier cold weather creatures than

we were, however, as their long term plans

were to buy an old fishing trawler and explore

Alaska by boat.

The winds died down and we were gifted with

one glorious day on the water with the kayak.

This time we both remained dry and we

explored much further north along the lake.  It is

a huge lake, some 50 miles long, so there was no chance to get to the other

end where the famed London Bridge stands.  However, we probably got about

4 or so miles out, and we passed countless boat-in BLM campsites along the

shore.  These are charming little spots with private beaches, picnic tables and plenty

of room to spread out.  Only one of these pretty campsites was occupied.

We stopped at one that was set in a private cove and wandered along the clear

green water.  What a perfect place to take a young family for a weekend.  The kids

could run free, and the adults could

unwind.

The Parker Dam, which creates Lake

Havasu, is a huge concrete structure.

This business of controlling the

Colorado River took a lot of

engineering to create, and evidence of

the will humankind has exerted upon

this river appears in the vast

unpopulated hillsides in the form of water pumping stations with huge pipes and

industrial buildings

Heading in the

opposite direction,

towards the Bill

Williams Marsh, we found a wildlife nesting preserve.  Large tower

structures make inviting nest sites for birds.  We didn't see any of

the occupants, but there was plenty of evidence they had been

there, with nests on every tower.

We followed the lighthouse's beacon to one of the resort's marinas

and meandered between the houseboats.  There are all kinds of

ways to enjoy this corner of the world, staying at a resort hotel, in

an RV or a houseboat, or living in a condo or old mobile home

vacation house.  It's a small community tucked into a corner of the

lake on a long stretch of deserted shoreline.  It's one of those special little secrets that isn't necessarily advertised in bright lights

but we were fortunate enough to be lured in by a man in a pickup clutching a fist full of brochures.  We were still shaking our heads

in disbelief at this quirky detour in our travels as we made our way towards friends and family in Phoenix.