Sunnylands Wildflower Garden, Palm Springs, CA

Sunnylands Wildflower Garden, Palm Springs, CA

Thursday 30 November 2023

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ and St. Anthony's Monastery - November 21-30

Tuesday morning we were on the road by 9 am. First stop fueling at Costco on the way out of town. Great price at $4.05/gal for diesel. Back on the road heading on the I-17 towards Phoenix. Lots of road construction going on as they seem to be widening both sides of the freeway. Fortunately it didn't affect the drive.

We arrived in Apache Junction too early to check in to Lost Dutchman so decided eat lunch at Goldfield's Mammoth Saloon. Great live music while we ate. Someone even had their horse "hitched" so they could have lunch. A beautiful warm day at 72F. Short time!!!

Of course Ray requested Willy's, On The Road Again. lol

After lunch we went to walk the stores, but realized quickly there were way too many people about. The busiest we've ever seen it. Apparently there are 2 school field trips here today and a bunch of families with Thanksgiving Week off for a holiday. 

Back in the coach and to the park. It's now 1pm and we were able to go straight in to our site. All set up by 2 and outside enjoying the sunshine for a couple of hours. I always feel like I've "come home" when we come here, especially when we were full-timers in the RV.

Wednesday morning a beautiful day. Sure is a lot warmer here in the mornings at 55F (13C).  Other than a short trip to Fry's to pick up our Thanksgiving Feast ... 2 cornish game hens, we hung around camp. At this Fry's there's a bar for the spouse while the other shops. lol

I made bread and pecan shortbread bars for tomorrows dinner. Another warm day, about 70F. We were able to sit outside for several hours enjoying looking at the Superstition Mountains.

Happy  American Thanksgiving!

We woke to a beautiful sunrise. Good Morning!  A lot more clouds today with a storm coming in north of us. We both went outside in our housecoats and slippers to watch the sky lighten. Gorgeous.

After our usual coffee and computers, I started on getting stuff together for our Thanksgiving Feast. We decided to have our dinner early so we could relax for the rest of the afternoon. Definitely a cloudy day but not cold. 

The birds and stuffing came out of the oven at 1 pm. With salad, cranberry sauce and homemade gravy ... delicious.

After Ray cleaned up, we went for a walk around the campsite to wear off some of the food before taking up our positions sitting in our chairs outside. We could smell turkey cooking (someone brought their smoker) in the wind up and down the campsite. :) At 4 pm we came inside as the wind is too cool and we were getting smoke from peoples campfires.

We were treated to a gorgeous sunset. Ray climbed up on the roof to take some pictures.

Friday we woke to a clear and windy morning. Warm though at 54F. Today's adventure is to Mesa Market. This huge swap meet is only open Friday through Sunday every weekend.

We wandered around for a couple of hours before making our way back to the coach for lunch. Ray got a small fire going and I prepped the condiments for our hot dogs. I 'd made bread 2 days ago, with some hot dog buns in advance. With added bacon and fried onions, they were delicious.

Buns are so big that it took two weiners per bun. lol

Saturday, Ray headed off to go talk to the people at Tempe Camera. He needs a wingnut for his tripod that broke apart and unable to find a replacement. He also wants to talk to them about some functions on his Sony Camera. I have housekeeping items to take care of so will stay home.

Ray came back before lunch with some groceries. Apparently, I'm cooking baby back ribs on the BBQ lol. We spent the afternoon outside watching all the kids, dogs and people go by. Unfortunately we have people beside us whose 2 goldies do not shut up the minute they see another dog. They leave the 2 of them tied up to the picnic table. Fortunately they are not home very much. Across the road there are 4 tenters with 3 dogs, again who do not shut up when other dogs go by. This weekend I think we're the only ones who don't have a dog or two so the noise is pretty constant as everyone is out walking theirs  several times a day. 

Today being Sunday, hopefully they'll all leave and we'll be back to peace and quiet. We pack up today and go to Cummins in Avondale overnight for our service appointment for 7am tomorrow morning. We return Monday night to the Lost Dutchman for 4 more nights. Ray noticed that we have a small air leak in the braking system. Not a problem driving, the compressor keeps up, but at an idle he must rev up the engine for full air pressure. Best to have this looked at here.

Once parked, we headed out to Red Robin for lunch and then back to the MH for the rest of the day. Monday morning they took our MH in at 7am. We headed to IHOP for breakfast ... not great but at least it filled us up. Back to Cummins to set up in their customer lounge for a few hours. Ray got a text at 9am saying the diagnostics were done.... we never found out until just before noon that indeed there's a puncture in our "hot air hose" out of the compressor. I'd suspected a small leak. Gerry at Cummins is going to find out where to get a replacement hose and waiting time. Do we stay another day or go back to Lost Dutchman?

We headed out to BJ's Brewhouse for lunch. They sure have a huge beer list.

We got back at 2 and still didn't have any answers. Ray took off to Freightliner to see if they had a hose and had to "take a number" and wait 30 minutes to speak to someone ... they didn't have it either.

So ... Ray told Gerry we would be back in January for the replacement and for them to get the part. We will stop by January 15th, leaving Mesa a few days early and get this done before heading up to Lake Havasu.

Back on the road just before 3 pm with rush hour traffic back to Lost Dutchman. Not fun. We decided to turn off the I-10 and go onto the I-17 then onto the 60. This way we missed a lot of the traffic jams going through downtown Phoenix.  After a minimal setup, we sat outside for half an hour with a beer before the sun went down too far and the wind picked up. 

Tuesday we woke to wind gusts and cloudy skies. It stayed a little breezy all day but we're able to sit outside in the sunshine in front of the coach to catch some rays. I made bread and mushroom and ham popovers for dinner.

Wednesday we have a lunch date for 1 pm in Gold Canyon with Jerry and Deb who we met last year in Quartzsite. Since we're heading that direction anyways, I suggested to Ray we go to Florence and see St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery on his list of sites. At 9:15 we're off as it's an hours drive there from here. What a gorgeous property. 

Women must cover their hair and wear a long skirt, showing no ankles or bare arms. Men must wear long sleeve shirts and socks with their sandles or shoes. They have loner clothes for visitors to wear to cover up appropriately. I tried to comply with my own clothes (pants), but alas they gave me a longer skirt to wear. Inside the gate there are women who run the gift shop, give you the clothes and also a map of the monastery.

Just outside the entrance gate.

My borrowed skirt. Fortunately not to hot out yet, dressed in 3 layers of clothes.

St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery standing in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, United States. It was established in the summer of 1995 in the name of Saint Anthony the Great. The closest town is Florence, Arizona. It is home for approximately 42 monks.[citation needed] It is open to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox visitors. Pilgrims can arrange to stay at the monastery in guest facilities, and other visitors are invited in daily from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm.[1 Guests are asked to wear “modest and loose-fitting” clothing along with shoes or sandals.[2

In the summer of 1995, Elder Ephraim (a former abbot of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos with a history of restoring and repopulating previous monasteries) sent six monks of Athonite heritage to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona with aims to establish a new monastery in the name of Saint Anthony the Great, the father of monasticism. The fathers began by building the main church, monastic living quarters, the dining hall, and some guest facilities. They also began a vegetable garden, a small vineyard, citrus orchards, and an olive grove amidst the desert landscape. These areas are now interconnected by an elaborate system of gardens, pathways, and gazebos with Spanish fountains.

While the entire monastery is dedicated to Saint Anthony the Great, within its grounds are chapels dedicated to Seraphim of Sarov, Demetrius of Thessaloniki, John the Baptist, George the Martyr, Nicholas the Wonderworker, and Panteleimon the Healer. The main church is dedicated to Saint Anthony and Nectarios of Aegina.

In the summer of 2008, the building of a new chapel in the name of the Prophet Elias was completed on the hill east of the monastery. The chapel's first liturgy was celebrated on the feast day of the chapel's eponymous prophet. The chapel can be seen from up to five miles away.


The monks of St. Anthony's Monastery practice Hesychasm (a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer)[7] and adhere to the cenobitic monasticism. This includes a daily schedule of prayer and work under obedience to their abbot, whom assumes the role of their spiritual father. Their routine begins at midnight with time for personal prayer and spiritual reading, followed by the cycle of morning prayers and the Divine Liturgy. Next is a light breakfast and a period of rest before they begin their work day, attend to their prayers, and complete various tasks until evening. Of these tasks include, but are not limited to: gardening, groundskeeping, construction, vine dressing, woodworking, publishing, icon writing, food preparation, and tending to the hospitality of any guests of the monastery. Their day finishes with evening vespers and dinner.

Prophet Elias Chapel

Tomb of the Saint

The tile work is amazing inside and out.

Russian symbol of the double eagle.

Next is St. Anthony's Church

All the chapels have only candles for a light source other than in their vestibules. All the chandeliers hold wax candles.

All the gold!

Phaili Main Courtyard

St. Nicolas' Chapel

Gardens leading to St. George's Chapel. There are Spanish style fountains everywhere. The sound of water and birds chirpping is very peaceful.

St. George's Chapel

Gardens leading to the Fountain of the Cross

Gardens leading to St. Demetrios' Chapel

St. Demetrios' Chapel

Gardens leading to St. Seraphim's Chapel

St. Seraphim's Chapel

There are several other buildings off limits which are the monks housing and dining room. Of course the orchards are closed off as well. All of their fruit trees are covered with netting. They make their own olive oil with their 9000 trees, but this year's harvest is delayed a bit waiting for a new press from Spain.

We enjoyed a great hour and a half wandering around the property. Now time to drive back to Gold Canyon and meet Deb and Jerry for lunch at the Gold Canyon Golf Course. We spent 2 hours catching up.

Made it back home for 3:30 pm.and settled in for the rest of the day. Too cool in the wind to sit outside.

Thursday, our last day here. We move onto Mesa tomorrow. Today's chore will be taking our nearly 2 weeks worth of laundry to the laundromat, so I won't have to worry about dirty clothes leaving for Vancouver on Tuesday. Way too much laundry to do in a couple of days in my little units. Ray came and helped me and in less than 2 hours it was all done. Ray did manage to get the car finally washed at a car wash, it was looking pretty dirty and dusty from being towed behind our coach.

Back at camp to relax for the rest of the day. Definitely cooler today at 60F instead of 70F. A lot more clouds in the the sky. These 10 days went by oh so fast!


  1. I really enjoyed the monastery in Florence also. Such beautiful workmanship.

  2. Man, that is one busy week! I am torn, do I love the monastery pictures more of the sunrises? Both are awesome, but I tend to lean towards the nature shots over manmade structures.

    1. Surprisingly we were fairly busy after being several times at the Lost Dutchman. We do love the AZ sunrise/sunsets though as well.

  3. Wow, that monastery is very impressive! Hello to Jerry and Debbie...nice you were able to connect with them.

    1. Yep! It was great to see them! We had a nice chat sitting outside on the patio. Miss you, too!