Well, Stop 4 did not go exactly as planned with the three-day Federal government shutdown, but we did get to drive into a visit with a wonderful friend and took advantage of local conservationists to still get in our hikes and nature.
We happily stayed in Paradise Valley, outside of Phoenix, and visited with an old high-school friend, Rachel. (She may have a best-selling book one day on the unbelievable events of the past year or so; we will keep you posted.)
We finally had a chance to get the bikes off the trailer and go for a wonderful bike ride.
We also got a chance to hike several trails in the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve, located in Scottsdale, which protects 30,000 acres, and includes more than 180 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback-riding. We parked at the Gateway Trailhead (one of five trailheads for the preserve), and hiked parts of the Gateway Loop Trail (about 4.5 miles), as well as the Saguaro Loop Trail (about 1 mile), and the must-see and award-winning Bajada Nature Trail (a .5-mile, smooth surface, accessible trail), which provides great exhibits with educational information.