Greetings from Cactus Kate and Bajada Bill. You’re joining us for our seventh week on the road. This leg of the journey took us from Cottonwood and Sedona, AZ, to Mesa AZ, where we visited with family. If you plan to camp in Arizona from October through April, we suggest making reservations as the campgrounds fill up early.

All photos by Kate Poss, unless otherwise noted. 

Memorable moments include a four-inch walking stick, which rested on our trailer for three days in a row while we camped at Deadhorse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, sunset at Posse Grounds Park in Sedona, and a visit to the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in Sedona.

Four inch walking stick visited our trailer three days in a row at Deadhorse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood AZ
Sunset on Coffee Pot Rock near Posse Grounds Park, Sedona
Stupa at Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in Sedona AZ
Mosiac inscription at Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in Sedona
Restored Tuzigoot Ruin National Monument near Cottonwood. The ruins are a thousand year old, former 110 room hilltop pueblo
Volunteer ranger at Palatki Heritage Site cave dwelling and pictographs near Sedona. Reservations are required for the tour

From Cottonwood, we drove to Cave Creek, a creative artsy town, where we stopped for breakfast at The Grotto Cafe, and recharged our batteries with the creative juju that abounds here.

Bill enjoys a breakfast burrito at The Grotto Cafe in Cave Creek AZ

Our destination for the next five nights was Usery Regional Park, which overlooks Mesa. We enjoyed our first Latter Day Saints Halloween celebration with my niece Renaya Van Dusen’s family and her welcoming fun neighbors who made chili, grilled hot dogs and provided dessert. We were impressed by the non-gory and un-gruesome outfits people dressed in. Renaya’s son Quinn created an Invisible Man persona for himself, which won him best costume in the teen category. We felt welcomed by the hundred or so festive neighbors and their homes decorated for trick or treating. The haunted house with animated animals, jumping witches and spooky spooks on the balcony was a favorite. The kids collected pounds of candy from the neighbors.

Reid, Quinn and Renaya Van Dusen on Halloween
Reid and his dad Dan Van Dusen celebrate Halloween
Quinn Van Dusen, left, wins best costume for the teen category while his brother Reid, right, looks on
Family takes first for its ‘Nacho Libre’ costume from the 2006 film
Dan and his son Quinn-the Invisible Man-Van Dusen, who peeked out of his costume and was enjoying a hotdog and cornbread at a neighborhood Halloween celebration hosted by Latter Day Saints families
Jazzy duo of skeletons perk up when trick or treaters come near. This pair performed next door to my niece Renaya’s family home
Saguarro at our campsite #46 at Usery Regional Park near Mesa
Campsite #46 at Usery Regional Park, with lights of Mesa below

Bill’s brother Mike Poss and his wife Stephanie bought a second home at Sun Lakes of Arizona, so that they can be closer to their son and daughter-in-law, who live nearby. The young couple are expecting their first baby in March. We visited at Mike and Stephanie’s new home and learned of its previous owner, Dixie Anne Lee Dubois, who passed away last summer. What’s interesting about Dixie is that she was an über crafter. An entire room was filled with shelves of her organized card-making supplies that were included with the sale of the home. A mystery is the grandfather clock that was left behind. Its hands, clock gears, weights and chains were removed, leaving only an empty clock face in an empty grandfather clock cabinet. Does anyone out there know what happened to the clock’s working parts and whether Dixie’s children will pick up the clock as they originally said they would? Bill’s brother John and his wife Gail joined the reunion. John and Gail have lived in Scottsdale the past 30 years, raised their daughters who have their own families now,  and have seen their city grow! We ate lunch at one of the resort’s restaurants, The Stone & Barrel, an IronOaks Taphouse.

From left- Kate, Mike and Stephanie Poss, John Poss at head of table, Gail Poss, John’s wife, and Bill Poss at Stone & Barrel Taproom at Sun Lakes Arizona. Photo taken by our server

Friday night my niece made us a delicious pulled pork dinner before we drove to her sons Quinn and Reid’s high school for a play in which they each played a technical role. Reid ran the sound, and Quinn the lighting for a sobering story with meaning in our times, “And Then They Came for Me,” which featured high school actors portraying two Holocaust survivors who were friends with Anne Franke as teenagers in Amsterdam. Clips of interviews of the actual survivors, Helmuth Silberberg, and Eva Geiringer Schloss, are shown on a separate screen alternating with live acting by the students.

Kate, niece Renaya, Bill at ‘And Then They Came for Me’ play at her sons’ high school. Photo by Dan Van Dusen

Today, Nov. 4, we joined my cousin Rose and met her ‘recovery family’ at a Fairytale Chili contest in Mesa. Bill and I were so impressed by the depth of love and caring in this community of once broken people who found hope in overcoming their addictions. One of the men who helped organize the event named Terry walked over. After Rose introduced us, he said, “Rose is a legend in the valley. She speaks from the heart. There would be a line of people around the street of all the people she’s helped in the recovery community.”

Cousin Karen, Kate, Cousin Rose, and Bill at a full of soul gathering with fairytale costumes and chili cook off celebration.

Rose recently earned a Master’s Degree in counseling, and has worked as a professional in addiction treatment a long while, and celebrated her 31st year last month of being clean and sober. Rose’s sister Karen and her daughter Jadie joined us. Jadie has four pet birds, one named Chili, a personable Cockatiel on a leash, who attracted considerable attention. After Bill and I left, we were saying how we felt the soul of Mesa with this amazing group of folks who truly care for one another.

Jadie Murray and her Cockatiel Chili
Rose’s friend Rachel with Chili
Jadie Murray’s art of her Cockatiel Chili

That’s all for now, folks. Our next story will take you to Tucson. Adios from Bajada Bill and Cactus Kate.

Facebook Comments


  1. Cactus kate–I’m lisa, a subscriber. I live in Tucson in the winter, close to the U of A. I also live on Whidbey and drive between the two places in my camper van (along with 6 cats and 1 dog). If you have time this week, let’s have coffee. My email is

    • Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton on

      Hi Lisa. Thanks for writing. Let me check in with Bajada Bill. While in Tucson we spend quite a lot of time with my uncle, who turned 80 last month. I will get back with you. I’m checking this is Whidbey emails on 11/11.

    • Kate Poss | With Photos by David Welton on

      Thanks, Diana. We like to write about what we are experiencing as honestly as possible. Family and friends, old and new, really make our trips have heart.

Leave a Reply