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  • Writer's pictureAlyce Bender

Monthly Review: November 2018

Painter's Sunrise, McDowell Mountains, Arizona

Well I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and supported the #optoutside movement on Black Friday.

November was a month on the road for me. I spent my time exploring Arizona, making a big loop from Davis Dam down to the Superstitions east of Phoenix before heading south towards Ajo. From there I headed back to Vegas via a western route that had me flip flopping from Arizona into California and back into Arizona. Overall it was a successful, fun-filled, road adventure.

Striated Sunrise, McDowell Mountains, Arizona

To give you a bit of insight on how I make the most of my stops here are some of the requirements for places I stay. I choose my locations with several things in mind, now that I have a feel for the RV. One is the sites, with rare exception, must have hot showers. I have winterized the RV so I don't have running water in the coach which means I must rely on my camp spots. As I typically stay in one spot for several days, the area must have easy access to trails and scenic locations. I do a lot of walking/hiking each day while on the road. Between tending to the dogs and scouting locations, I usually average about seven to eight miles a day on foot. And obviously locations must be dog friendly. There is no way for me to hide the fact that I have two pups with me since they love to sun themselves in the front seats when lounging about the vehicle and we go for three to four walks through out the day. My last requirement is that a site be no more than four hours drive from the previous location. At this point, that is all I am willing to drive in a single day with the RV. Its just not a fun vehicle to drive and I'm not in a hurry anyways. These four requirements are pretty easily met and give me lots of locations to work with, especially here in the southwest.

Following this checklist, these are some of the places I stayed this past month. Starting out at Davis Dam, I found Davis Camp, a municipal park, quaint and comfortable. Unfortunately, as nice as the area would be for landscape, there are large power lines in every which direction because of the close proximity to the dam.

The next location was in Prescott, Arizona. The campground is called Point of Rocks RV Campground and is continuously ranked as one of the top spots to stay in Arizona. They have trails leading directly from the campground into the Watson Lake Park, making it very easy to explore the miles of trails surrounding the lake. With its unique geology, the rocky cliff shoreline presents challenging but beautiful composition opportunities.

Fading Glow, Watson Lake, Arizona

From Prescott, I headed southeast to the outskirts of the greater Phoenix area. I would then circle Phoenix for over a week, jumping from park to park, as the Maricopa County Park system is extensive, well maintained, and encompasses some of the most beautiful areas in central Arizona.

Superstition Silhouette, Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

I was able to photograph a wide variety of wildlife from birds to wild horses and take my time finding unique landscape compositions.

Horse Play II, Salt River Herd, Arizona

Superstitious Cholla, Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

On Alert, Heber Herd, Arizona

Rain Dance, Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

Spines in the Sun, Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Home of the Wild Burro, Arizona

Eventually, it was time for me to head further south, almost to the US-Mexican boarder, on the hunt for organ pipe cactus and wild burros. Just outside of Ajo, Arizona, there is a small RV park, family run, on the Tohono O'Odham Nation Reservation called Hickiwan Trails. This is a diamond in the rough find! I loved it there. While I meant to explore Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument a bit further down the road, I ended up just staying at the campground and exploring the miles of trail out into the desert there. I found both the organ pipe cactus and the wild burros without having to leave my camp spot. Win-win!

Herd Stallion, Why, Arizona

Burro in the Brush, Why, Arizona

Family Burros, Why, Arizona

Coyote at Sunset, Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

One common theme throughout all the spots I stayed was the continuous presence of coyotes singing at night. A common thing in the west I know, but, having grown up in Florida, it was rare where I'm from. The yips and chorus of their wild voices among the cactus and brush ended up being something I looked forward to hearing each night and what I look forward to hearing on future trips.

Upon returning to Las Vegas, I spent the holiday with family, and have been scouting areas in which to introduce other photographers to the art of bird photography. The Vegas area is a wonderful location to bird watch during the winter and early spring as we have many migratory birds that overwinter here due to the mild climate.

American Coot, Las Vegas, Nevada

So for those who are interested and are attending the Create Photography Retreat in March, I will be hosting a bird photography workshop the day before the Retreat starts. Contact me for further details as spaces will be very limited.

Juvenile Costa, Las Vegas, Nevada

Well that wraps up another month and my plans for December are coming together nicely. They include another trip through the Phoenix area later in the month. So for any of you down there, if you want to meet up and shoot, just let me know! Its always amazing to meet up with other photogs on the road.

Until next time, cheers! A. Bender

Palling Around, Salt River Herd, Arizona

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