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Bartlett Lake Marina

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Bartlett Lake

Don’t believe the rumors. The road to Bartlett Lake Marina is definitely paved.

Bartlett Lake Road

I couldn’t help laughing when I learned that some guidebooks still list it as being rough and “unimproved,” like you’re blazing a trail through the wilderness. We had just made the drive – it’s an actual road, just like the highway we turned off to get there. You don’t need to machete your way through the undergrowth. You don’t even need 4-wheel drive.

Bartlett Lake


This perfectly good road takes you all the way to the marina parking lot, winding through beautiful desert hills until you finally spot blue water in the distance.

Bartlett Lake marina

Like many Arizona lakes, Bartlett is technically a reservoir, formed by damming part of the Verde River. Besides watersports, there’s hiking, camping, and wildflower viewing in the area, which is about an hour outside of Phoenix (half an hour from Cave Creek).

Bartlett Lake Marina Restaurant

The reservoir is part of Tonto National Forest, but the marina, general store, and restaurant are owned and operated by one entrepreneurial extended family.

Sarah Church at Bartlett Lake Marina

“We built every single thing you see,” Sarah Church, the self-proclaimed Matriarch of the Marina, told me, motioning from the restaurant patio to covered boat storage.
Bartlett Lake Marina
Phillip and I were part of a group invited to check out the new restaurant, The Last Stop, and take a ride on a rental boat. (Mr. Cheeseface stowed away too.)

Bartlett Lake Marina Restaurant


At lunch, we sampled cheeseburger sliders, grilled chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, regular and sweet potato fries, onion rings, and mac-and-cheese bites.

Bartlett Lake Marina Food

The clear favorites at our table were the pulled pork and the onion rings, followed by the sliders and fries.

Bartlett lake Beer

They offer a list of Arizona beers. Phillip liked the Scorpion Amber Ale by Lake Havasu-based Mudshark Brewery.

Bartlett Lake Marina Mousse

The winner, however, was dessert. Daily specials vary, but we got to try the mocha mousse, which was light and caramely and delicious. We’ve considered making the drive just for dessert (and a lake view, of course).

Bartlett lake Boat


Afterwards, we all headed down a long pier and boarded a couple boats.

Bartlett lake Boat

Phillip and I joined the group on the 45-foot Party Yacht. It can carry up to 20 people, has seating on 2 decks, a bar, barbecue, speakers, and a water slide.

Bartlett lake Boat slide

Wouldn’t be fun to have a cookout in the middle of a lake?!

Bartlett Lake Marina Boat waterslide

The boat felt very sturdy and just rocked gently when the occasional waves rolled under it. We were there on a weekday, so everything was pretty quiet. It was neat to take in the view of the rocky hills that line the lake from the marina to the dam.

Party Yacht speakers

Besides the Party Yacht, you can rent pontoon boats, speed boats, or jet skis. There aren’t boat tours at Barlett Lake, unless you make your own.

Bartlett Lake Marina Boat

We enjoyed our time at Bartlett Lake and headed back down the (definitely paved) road contented.

Bartlett Lake

– More Bartlett Lake info –

  • The Last Stop Restaurant is open Friday through Sunday, 11am to 5pm or later.
  • Boat rentals: Party Yacht (full day) $1295. Pontoon Boat (half or full day) $295-425. Jet Ski (by the hour or day) $95-280.
  • Directions: Make sure you’re headed to Bartlett Lake Marina or Bartlett Lake Boat Club. Owner Bryan Church said GPS has lead some people to the wrong location and recommends calling if you need directions (602.316.3378).

Thank you to Bartlett Lake Marina for hosting us and RSVP & Associates for the invitation.

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November Photo: Tree

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Life, Travel | 12 comments

We saw this fabulous weather-beaten tree at Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area in Nevada.

I changed my Twitter cover image to this when the yellow brittlebush flowers I had previously chosen seemed too sunny. It looked wild and windswept, and it somehow fit my mood better.

Tree at Red Rocks, Nevada

Another day, I didn’t start out thinking about the tree. I was thinking about how I tend to feel my life needs to conform to a certain pattern, like I’m not valid if I’m not checking off a set of boxes, when – in reality – we are all writing our own stories as we go.

Life is not lined up and orderly. It is organic, unpredictable, wild.

The thoughts found their way into a short poem, and one of the images in my mind as I wrote it was that tree in Nevada.



Not a fence post

but a tree,

rough and irregular,

both warped by

the elements and

strengthened by them.

Each meandering ring,

a storyteller.


Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Mounds State Park

Posted by on Mar 17, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


Sharing some green with you today from Indiana last summer, specifically from Mounds State Park in Anderson.


The Mounds

Mounds State Park is named for mounds of earth built around 160 BCE by a culture known as the Adena-Hopewell, famous for pottery and mad mound-building skills.


Actually, they could’ve been two separate cultures, the Adena building the Mounds and the Hopewell leaving their more advanced stuff around later. Or the Adena could’ve just gotten Hopewell-levels of advanced over time.

If there’s a new car outside your friend’s house, is someone visiting or did your friend just get a new car? Way harder to clear that up when your friend is 2000 years in the past. So I guess hyphenating the two names is a way to hedge archaeological bets.


Why were they built? Maybe the Adena built them for ceremonies and then they were used for burials by the Hopewell (who may or may not just be the Adena 200 years later). The truth is we’re not sure what all people back then were into.

What we do know is that someone (ok, a lot of someones) purposefully dug out and built up earth a couple millennia ago into mounds you can still see today.


There are 10 of these earthworks in Mounds State Park, and they tend to be crater-like, with the mounded outsides surrounding a depression with a platform in the center.

The largest one has dents in it that align with the equinox, solstices, and rising of certain stars. Known as “the Great Mound,” it is 9 feet tall and has a quarter-mile circumference. So, yeah, whatever the Adena-Hopewell were up to, they were not messing around.


The Park

The visitors’ center has displays about the park’s ecosystem and a floor map of how the Mounds align with various astronomical phenomena.

Mounds state park visitors center

Its observation room has chairs facing oversized windows, giving you a front row view of a pond, birdhouse, and a thick stand of trees, so you can watch for birds or frogs or maybe even deer.

Mounds park observation room


Outside is a cute little children’s garden.


Also at the park is the historic brick Bronnenberg House, which dates from 1840. Compared to the Mounds, though, that seems like new construction.


The White River cuts through the park, and you can fish, as well as camp, hike or picnic. There are trails of varying difficulty levels winding around the Mounds.

Mounds State Park

Our Visit

Since we were in town for a family reunion, Phillip and I got to visit the park with my uncle, who’s been going there since he was a kid, and my cousin Allison, who made sure to photobomb the butterfly video I was shooting in the pollinator garden.


We started down trail #1 towards the Great Mound and met a harrowed-looking hiker coming from that direction, who asked if we had insect repellent – not to borrow it for himself but to make sure we were protected.


As we approached the boardwalk, we found out why. The mosquitoes were out in force that day. Despite our deet, they didn’t seem to be deterred. I could barely stop long enough to snap a photo without those tiny vampires swarming towards my neck and head.


I wrapped my scarf over my head and tucked my arms inside. Allison laughed at me, but I’m pretty sure it was just that she was jealous of my scarf/mosquito net and not that I looked ridiculous.

Mounds State Park

We cut our hike short after seeing the Great Mound.

Mounds State Park

We drove to a spot near the river, where the guys wanted to explore some more. Allison and I decided to take in the scenery from the safety of the car.


I wonder how the Adena kept the mosquitoes away.


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Where to Celebrate Australia Day in Arizona

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

Mr. Big is a 90-year-old eucalyptus tree outside of the town of Superior, AZ. Not every tree has a title. But, at 8 feet thick and 140 feet tall, Mr. Big gets your attention.


It (He?) is the largest tree in one of the largest collections of Australian plants in North America – at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.


To celebrate this forest of outback transplants as well as the cultural roots from their native soil, the Arboretum celebrates Australia Day with walk-a-bout tours and didgeridoo jam sessions.


Phillip and I went last year with friends Anne and Jameela. We watched a demonstration on playing the didgeridoo, and then Phillip tried it out. Meanwhile, outside there was a guy swinging a bull-roarer over his head. Because, I guess, that’s the kind of thing that can happen on Australia Day. So Anne and I gave that a try.


Then we caught up with the tour through the Arboretum’s eucalyptus forest with Australian native and horticulturalist Paul Chambers pointing out different types of Australian plants, telling stories of his work importing them to the U.S., and sharing aboriginal traditions.


We left for a bit to get lunch at Jade Grill in Superior (my fave!).


Afterwards, we came back to the Arboretum, and there was a didgeridoo concert under the eucalyptus trees. We could still hear it from across the Queen Creek as we hiked the High Trail.


Australia Day 2016 is coming up this Saturday. You can check out the schedule of events on the listed on the Arboretum’s website.


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