We completely understand why our dog loves to ride in the car with his head out the window. Ears a-flappin', tongue a-lollin', nose a-sniffin'.

While the helmet law keeps our ears from flapping, nothing lets us experience all the sounds, textures and smells of our Sonoran landscape better than a motorcycle ride along a desert road.

And nothing brings the earth closer to us than a ride that takes us north on Pima Road, where we head east on Cave Creek Road and then out to Bartlett Dam. Sometimes we see mule deer, bald eagles, javelinas and coyotes. We also see a splendid array of indigenous desert plants -- majestic saguaro, mesquite trees and blooming ocotillo. At the lake, we preside over more than 2,815 acres of sparkling blue water. And if we time it just right, we head back west just as the sun soaks into the mountains of Cave Creek, capping our adventure with shimmering watercolors.

A pool and your money are soon parted at this luxury resort, where non-paying guests will sigh contentedly as your stress and cash quietly drain away under the swaying palms. Spy tanning celebrities, cut in front of children waiting for the 92-foot water slide, or swim up to the bar for an $8 pia colada -- the choice is yours.

Oh, did we mention you must rent a $105 to $150-per-day pool cabana for admission? "Ay, Cabana!" is right. But you can also bring along four friends and play in your private lounge area, and surely those Billmore (or is it Bilkmore?) fogies don't keep track of every towel.

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