A Desert Journey To See Long Time Friends

image of desert flowers

A Desert Journey Today To See Long Time Friends

What a lovely day we had! A journey through the desert today to meet some long time friends for lunch. They winter in Yuma, AZ and we winter in Mesa, AZ. Siri says, “Yuma is about 196 miles from Mesa by car, or about 169 miles as the crow flies.” Thank you Siri!!

Our destination was a lunch date with one of my best friends. She and I have been friends since my Junior year in high school (many moons ago). Our friendship is one that picks up right where we left off even if we haven’t seen each other for a year or more.

Gila Bend AZ – Our Halfway Point

Gila Bend was determined to be a half way point. A restaurant was chosen and a time set. The desert scenery was beautiful as we drove. This year has seen much more rain than is typical for this area and the result is a lush carpet of green in place of the dirt brown colors we saw this time last year. The vibrant colors of the blooming cactus just begged to be photographed.

image of blooming cactus

Leaving Mesa at 9:30 in the morning the temperature was already 79 degrees. By the time we reached Gila Bend it had climbed to 96!! Thank you Ford for the wonderful a/c in our truck! Lunch and catching up with our friends was 2 hours that filled my heart with a joy that can only come from time spent with family and very special friends.

image of The Husband, friend and me
The Husband, me and one of my BFF!!

As we got back on the road and were headed out of town we saw the sign for “Space Age Lodge.” The Husband had to grab a photo.

image of space age lodge
Space Age Lodge Gila Bend AZ

The Return Trip – The Long Way Home

Returning to Mesa, The Husband and I opted to take a little side trip through Maricopa, AZ. Maricopa is truly one of those “sprung up overnight in the desert” towns. It went from 1,040 people in the year 2000 to 43,482 in 2010, an increase of 4,080%. Current population as of 2015 (last census) is 48,602 so it’s obviously still growing and growing.

Maricopa is home to Ak-Chin Harrah’s Casino where a flurry of construction activity is taking place. The casino and related resort are in the midst of expanding from the current 300 rooms, 40,000 sq. ft. of gaming space, 5 major restaurants and a large entertainment venue. The expansion is set to total more than $100 million and will include 200 new hotel rooms, a new spa, conference center and ballroom space as well as new restaurants.

image of construction at Ak-Chin Casino
Construction at Ak-Chin Casino Maricopa, AZ

Community parks are something Arizona seems to have done well and Maricopa is no exception. We came across a large city complex complete with aquatic center,  multi-age cultural center, skate park, tennis and basketball courts, two large play areas for children AND a lake. Beautiful facility. Congratulations City of Maricopa for building such a lovely facility for your residents.

image of community park maricopa AZ
Community park Maricopa AZ

Maricopa is also home to California Zephyr’s Silver Horizon dome car (also called The Silver Lady.) Originally put into service in 1949, it was taken out of service in 1970.  It was moved to Maricopa in 2000 and used as a ticket office for the Amtrak station until the ticket office later moved to a larger space.

image of the silver lady
The Silver Lady – Maricopa AZ

I Found WATER!!

Passing through Gilbert, AZ on our way home I found an ideal place to buy property (when I get rich, you know??) The Islands is a housing development designed around a series of man made lakes and canals. Water isn’t something I see often when we’re in Arizona so you can imagine my surprise and delight to find this beautiful area. Yup, someday I’m going to own property by the water. I don’t know yet when or where but that’s on the bucket list.

image of lakes Gilbert AZ
Lovely lovely water!!

As we pulled into our park and were less than 2 blocks from home here is what was playing on the radio. How appropriate! “Happy” ~ a perfect description for the day!

image of radio on truck
“Happy” playing on Sirius! And it’s still 93 degrees at 5:03 p.m.

Our desert journey day to see long time friends was perfect in every respect. Thanks for coming along with us as I shared this fun day with all of you.

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