Saturday, March 26, 2016

Visit Tucson

This was our year to explore the desert life that surrounds Tucson.  Traveling from Winterhaven, California we had planned to go in the back way via Highway 86 – also known as the Old Ajo Highway.  Unfortunately, one of the highway signs outside of Yuma stated that there was an accident on the highway and that alternate routes should be considered.

We inquired at the Border Patrol stop outside of Yuma that we had to go through and they were unaware of the accident, but did see wave a couple of ambulances through.  When we reached Hwy 85 heading to Ajo (Hwy 86) there still remained two semi-trucks/trailers that were still on their sides.  Quite a mess and not anywhere close to allowing travel on the road.

So, what’s out alternative?

A boondocking site in Eloy, Arizona at the TA Travel Center off I-10 was perfect for an overnight stay, and getting there early enough to park in one of the only four spots available really did pay off.  The next morning one of our post-desert wish list items was fulfilled as we were able to drive the coach and jeep into a truck wash at the TA Center.  Boy, do we look pretty now!

Our site for the night

Tanker emptying 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel.  Something you don't see everyday.

Where's the yellow rubber duckie??
Back on the road, our next destination was Gilbert Ray Campground which is located about 20 miles west of Tucson.  This county campground has 130 sites amongst unique desert settings nestled in a mountainous area called Tucson Mountain Park.     Activities organized by the park included a Star Party and nature hike. 
Happy Hour - Blue Moon with an OJ slice anyone!

Our first sunset in the Tucson Mountains

Nestled into our home site at the campground

Looking from the backside of where we were parked.

A Cactus Wren signing it's heart out!

The mountain range was absolutely breathtaking

A saguaro welcoming us to the Park.

So perfect, it looks like a postcard.

Meaning = Someone was here!

A Jeep trip to the nearby Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum gave us the opportunity to view things that are near and dear to our hearts.


Just call me "George"


Copper ozidation in this rock because of water & sun

Who is that tourist?
The mighty crested Saguaro (botanical name: cristate).   It’s a bit of a mystery why these rare Saguaros – about 1 in 10,000 – grow with a fan-shaped crest.   It is believed it is a genetic mutation, while others speculate it is physical damage from severe weather or microorganisms.  Nonetheless they are quite cherished as the crowned cactus – residing only in the Sonoran Desert.   
Another favorite at the museum was the Hummingbird Aviary where we were able to take a picture of a nest - with Mom and her egg.  Try to image the nest measuring about 2” in diameter.  These little rascals will always be our favorites.

The adult female is sitting on one of the two eggs that she has in the nest.

We picked a sunny day for another Jeep trip along the Catalina Highway heading to Mt. Lemmon.   Starting out early in the morning with a packed lunch and plenty of water we were anxious to begin what they say is one of the most scenic drives in Southeast Arizona - the 27 miles known as the Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway.  A gorgeous drive with ample pullouts for photo ops with an elevation gain of more than 6,000 feet.  It is also an excellent year-round destination for cyclists, runners and rock climbers.  Cyclists were definitely a plenty!

Starting our assent up the mountain.
Still climbing with the landscaping constantly changing.
Very impressive rock formations along the way.
Yep. . .only 3,000 feet to go to the summit.

Voo Doos of Mt. Lemmon

Our first sight of snow this winter at 8,000 feet.
Also, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley sits at the 9,157 ft. summit where at this time of year there was very little snow but beautifully surrounded by pines, spruce, firs and aspen groves.   The air at this elevation definitely proved to be “fresh” and invigorating!
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley
Village of Summerhaven

Mt. Lemmon is considered a sky island - a mountain surrounded by lowlands of a dramatically different environment.  The base is typical Sonoran Desert with saguaros, cholla and prickly pear cacti.  As you pass through six vegetation zones, the same ones that would be encounted on a drive from Mexico to Canada.  From the base, the drive to the top takes about an hour, but we took time to enjoy our packed lunch marveling at the spectacular scenery in front of our eyes. 

Definitely takes your breath away at this elevation.

Can't forget some of the delicacies from the kitchen that were made:  Cranberry-Pecan Scones (for the road) and an Onion Tart that we paired with some delicious fish that we had for dinner one night.  Yum!

It is time once again to be on the open road . . . heading to Benson for some new adventures to share.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Last Days in the Desert

All good things must come to an end.  Very shortly it will be time for us to secure all things – inside and out – and make sure everything is ready for us to travel.  We leave this spot here in the desert on Ogilby Road with another year of good memories as we begin our last days in the desert of SE California.

We’re sure that many of you have heard the term “Old Glory”.  It is the nickname for the flag of the United States.  We definitely fly it proudly whenever we can so it helps when we have two flags that we can use.  They do, however, get a little beat-up from the elements and therefore need some TLC .  When Kay can lay her hands on either a sewing machine or find someone who can do the sewing we definitely take advantage of it and continue to fly the flag with pride. 

Note:  The original "Old Glory" was a flag owned by the 19th-century American sea captain, William Driver (March 17, 1803–March 3, 1886), who flew the flag during his career at sea and later brought it to Nashville, Tennessee.  Driver was deeply attached to the flag, writing: "It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?"

Having breakfast at Duners Diner (definitely not a Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of sampling) was quite the experience.  Our California friends Bob and Rosemary, have done the whole Sand Dunes experience for many years, joined us to give us a little background on this place.  Good food, good friends and some very different ambiance – for sure!

Rosemary & Bob with us for breakfast.

What a line up of sand toys.

Quite the parking lot, don't you think?
The Mexican border fence in the picture below was taken from the Imperial Sand Dunes in California.  It is not one continuous structure but is actually a grouping of short physical walls that stop and start, secured in between with "virtual fence" which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by Border Patrol Agents.
Kay’s first beading experience was courtesy of Susie from Ohio, as we replicated a beaded Ocotillo that Kay picked from Boquillas, Mexico (near Big Bend) a few years ago.  Susie was the perfect person to give Kay her first lesson on beading, giving her practical tips and making her work!  She brought the materials over to our house (while the men folk went out looking for gold) and we enjoyed time just talking about anything we wanted.  A girl session!

Susie, Kay's bead teacher. . .and friend.
We talked about embellishing the Ocotillos for better stability.  Hot glue gun to the rescue along with rocks from the desert – wall-la!  Not too shabby for a novice.  And it was even more fun gifting it to Rosemary, where it currently sits on the dash of their RV.   As Susie says, we could easily sell them for $10 apiece.   Maybe a roadside stand in the desert next season . . . highly unlikely!


The definition of desert states that it is a region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all.

It was great to start to see some color.


Zero rainfall here.  The only complaint you’ll hear from us is when we get the winds that blow sand from the Imperial Sand Dunes nearby.  We had just too many of those during this stay which makes for some dusty conditions both inside and out of the coach.  You can be forever in a state of cleaning on the interior which you have some control over.  We look forward to finding an RV wash or maybe a good rain to at least take off some of the dust.  It’s on our wish list once we start traveling.

The sand storm engulfed the view of the mountains.

14 hours later (the next morning) - back to normal again!
This parting picture of the sunset reflected on the coach is quite unusual.  It was changing ever so quickly that we didn’t have time to disconnect the LP tank or take the wheel coverings off for fear of losing the color reflection.

Use your imagination to see this sunset.

This is what the sky looked like. . .WOW!!!

 This was definitely a "thumbs-up" winter for us!

Hugs to all!