Is Prescott the Perfect Place?

Ask any full timer who might be thinking of becoming a “some timer” what places are on their short list for settling down and establishing a home base?   Prescott, Arizona is likely to be in their Top Five.   The high elevation combined with the arid climate
makes for mild winters, survivable summers, and near-perfect weather in longer-than-
average spring and fall.   Such a change of seasons can be a rarity in the southern US. With the crazy weather patterns in the west this year, I experienced three out of four seasons in just one week!

Prescott is the outdoor enthusiasts dream, with over 80 miles of hiking and biking trails in their Mile High Trail system.  Nearby are several smaller lakes ideal for kayaking.  If you need a big city fix, Phoenix is only 90 minutes away, with Sedona’s red rock vistas an hour in the other direction.

No visit to Prescott is complete without a hike around Watson Lake.

No visit to Prescott is complete without a hike around Watson Lake.

Beautiful Claret Cup cactus in bloom along the trail.

Beautiful Claret Cup cactus in bloom along the trail.

In case you ever wondered what the back side of the Watson Lake dam looks like...the front side of the dam is near surface level.

In case you ever wondered what the back side of the Watson Lake dam looks like…the front side of the dam is near surface level.

The trail around the lake leads to the Peavine Trail, a "rails to trails" route where you get more views of the Dells. Estimated to be 1.4 billion years old, they were formed by weathering of natural cracks in the granite.

The trail around the lake leads to the Peavine Trail, a “rails to trails” route where you get more views of the Dells. Estimated to be 1.4 billion years old, they were formed by weathering of natural cracks in the granite.

But it’s not just RV full timers that have pegged Prescott as a contender for the perfect place.  EscapeHere listed Prescott in  its “Top Ten Places to Retire.”  These type “listicles,” list-based articles, are often the kiss of death in my opinion.  I have seen firsthand how quickly they can strip a town of its quaintness factor.  I have watched year over year the dramatic changes that San Miguel de Allende has undergone after both Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure cursed it with the title of “Best City in the World.”  Once the listicle hits the press, there’s no turning back as the hoards descend like locusts, eating up the housing market and local culture while spitting out overcrowded sidewalks and inflated prices.

I made my way through Prescott this spring not once, but twice. My first week was a
return visit to the Point of Rocks campground to meet up with long time “pen pals” Maureen and Eric, formerly known as bloggers “Two Scamps.” Maureen and I have been exchanging emails about our mutual love of international travel for over three years now, meanwhile I learn husband Eric and I went to the University of Texas in Austin during the same time period. So they feel like “my tribe,” and it was high time we met face to face. Every day during my week-long visit was spent on a beautiful hike, a delicious backyard BBQ, and sampling the best brews Prescott has to offer, all while comparing tales of wanderlust, past and future.

Maureen and Eric were full time RVers for eight years, but bought a “crash pad” within
walking distance of Willow Lake. Ask them, “Is Prescott the perfect place?” “It
depends”…just don’t ask on Senior Citizen discount day at the grocery store.

Friends Maureen and Eric, formerly of "Two Scamps" blog.

Friends Maureen and Eric, formerly of “Two Scamps” blog.

Maureen is my personal shopper. She has a knack of making me want the same gear she has...in this case, the cute little 8oz. insulated mug. I initiated it in celebration of the Kentucky Derby with the RVing version of a Mint Julep...stainless steel mug, Circle K crushed ice, fresh mint, simple syrup, and Woodford Reserve bourbon.

Maureen is my personal shopper. She has a knack of making me want the same gear she has…in this case, the cute little 8oz. insulated mug. I initiated it in celebration of the Kentucky Derby with the RVing version of a Mint Julep…stainless steel “mint julep mug,” Circle K crushed ice, fresh mint, simple syrup, and Woodford Reserve bourbon.

Lordy, it's cold out there! Who knew I'd be wearing fleece in Arizona in May??

Lordy, it’s cold out there! Who knew I’d be wearing fleece in Arizona in May??

After a week in Sedona, I backtracked to Prescott to see good friends Jim and Gayle.
Although we keep in touch via email, I had not seen them since we went our separate ways in Joshua Tree NP back in March of 2016.   I had been carrying around a bottle of our favorite beer, Pugachev’s Barrel Roll No.3, for two years now, saving it to pop the cork next time we met up.  I am happy to report the Pugachev’s aged well…much better than I have.

More hikes.  More beers.  More Bill’s Pizza and Happy Hours at The Raven.  It was great catching up with them again.  Ask them, “Is Prescott the perfect place?”   “No, too many trees…”

Little Adventurers Jim and Gayle. (I need to work on my photography skills and get them in FRONT of the tree next time!)

Little Adventurers Jim and Gayle. (I need to work on my photography skills and get them in FRONT of the bush next time!)

Hey, what's everybody looking at?

Hey, what’s everybody looking at?

A very busy woodpecker! He's way up there on the left. Wonder how long it took him to make this many holes?

A very busy woodpecker! He’s way up there on the left. Wonder how long it took him and his tribemates to make this many holes?

Friends and fellow full timers and members of my other tribe, the Winnebago View/Navion cult happened to be passing through Prescott while I was there.  I met Ed and Marti this summer after shadowing them around Newfoundland and Labrador.  Although our iceberg cocktail ice is now long gone, we still met up to renew our mutual love of bourbon.   Ask Ed and Marti, “Is Prescott the perfect place?”  “It was once, but we are modifying our position.  Too crowded.”

I have no plans to come off the road any time soon.  But if I did, Prescott certainly ticks
a lot of the boxes.  It’s a town of manageable size.   Plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy all my favorite activities.  All the conveniences nearby such as Trader Joes, Sprouts, etc.  An abundance of good restaurants, cheap happy hours, and craft breweries.   But ask me, “Is Prescott the perfect place?”  “Nope. Too land-locked.”

My little 1994 Tracker towed was way overdue for a new rag top.

My little 1994 Tracker towed was way overdue for a new rag top. The zipper was completely trashed, and it was starting to leak.

 I've been carrying around a new one since I left Texas, but didn't have the nerve to take the old one off unless reinforcements" were nearby in case I could not get the new one back on.

I’ve been carrying around a new one still in the box since I left Texas, but didn’t have the nerve to take the old one off unless “reinforcements” were nearby in case I could not get the new one back on.

Jim and Gayle graciously offered to help me install the new "lid."

Jim and Gayle graciously offered to help me install the new “lid.”

Doesn't the new rag top look nice? "Black Denim." The ride is much quieter also.

Doesn’t the new rag top look nice? “Black Denim.” The ride is much quieter also.

It’s a good thing there is no “Perfect Place,” just as there is no perfect RV…otherwise we full timers would all stop sampling, flock there to settle in, and it would be more crowded than a June campground in Yosemite.   As I always say, “Some like Vanilla, some like Rocky Road,” and thank goodness there is variety.  For now, I’ll continue to sample all 31 flavors…

13 thoughts on “Is Prescott the Perfect Place?

  1. Howdy Suzanne!
    I’m envious that you are (or were) still in AZ. I’m back in Oregon and it’s gorgeous here but it doesn’t take me long to start missing the desert. I love that little insulated cup. Also being a bourbon lover I’m going to have to try your RV version of a Mint Julep. Looks like it would also be great for a Moscow Mule. Where did you find it? I had to laugh when I saw the photo of you all checking out the woodpecker…does that fit into the black or brown or red bird category?? Despite all the time I’ve spent in AZ I’ve never really checked out Prescott…will have to do that on my way to or from Tucson next time. And don’t forget you’re always welcome here if you make it up to Oregon! Kat

  2. Presott may not be perfect, but it was the perfect place to meet up with you! Glad Maureen showed you her gear so you had to come back and pick up your Amazon order :-) Hope it won’t be another two years before we see you again!

  3. Suzanne, we were so happy to finally meet you! As your personal shopper I do have one small request: a mint julep next time you are in town :^) Come back soon! The tribe has spoken!

  4. I’m going to be a part timer in the Denver area for awhile and this area is growing too fast for me.

    Then I think that volunteering is the way to get a nice, uncrowded campsite. In 2013, I volunteered with a great group near South Padre Island at the Laguna Atascosa NWR.

    Plenty of opportunity to socialize and to get out biking, walking, etc while volunteering.

  5. You forgot to mention the fishing in the area! I am sure that it was on your mind and just an oversight! That is a great area to visit but for us, not a long term destination. Like you, we enjoy the more remote, less populated areas of the world…..

  6. There no longer seems to be a perfect place to settle in the west, and unfortunately we RVers and bloggers seem to have contributed to the overcrowding. I honestly don’t know where Terry and I will go when we decide to leave Jojoba. Someone seems to once again be turned onto the joy of bourbon…my kind of gal!

  7. You were in my backyard. But no, I don’t think Prescott is the perfect place. Too crowded and expensive. Yet it’s not far from my perfect place.

  8. As we left Prescott this time we agreed we probably would not be coming back anytime soon. As we sit here now reading your post, Ed says…but there IS BIll’s Pizza :) We are happy to see the new ragtop went on and looks great!

  9. What a great article and comments! I’m glad to see RV blog culture move past the ‘perfect place’ meme. Confession: I considered Prescott in 1996. Somebody in the bicycle club there told me that I was already too late. He was right.

    Prescott has the worst traffic I know of, with the possible exception of Durango, another place on the list of “Top Ten Places to Retire Today!”

    Gawd, then I considered St. George and look what happened to it!

    By the time any place makes a “listicle” as you called it, you are already a decade or two late. Reputation is a lagging indicator.

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