Category Archives: Arizona

Arizona Part V: Page

I would have to look back at all of my blog posts to be sure, but I think Arizona wins for most stops in a state. We enjoyed our time here in the Grand Canyon State, but the length of stay and number of stops were primarily related to the time of year. We were heading north again, and it was still cold everywhere. Our next state after Arizona was intended to be Utah. They have a picture of a snow skier on their license plates. Their motto is “Life is elevated – greatest snow on earth”. I wasn’t in a huge hurry to get there at the beginning of March. The climate in southern Utah is pleasant during early spring, so our goal was to start the Beehive State in St. George, close to Arizona and Nevada.

That is how we got to Page. It was north of Cottonwood and about three hours from St. George. We could move toward our St. George goal by driving in one of two directions. We could take I-17 to Flagstaff and go west on I-40 through Las Vegas, and then up to St. George on I-15. Or we could keep heading north on Highway 89 when we left Flagstaff and go through Page before we turned west. There was a big lake on the map at Page, so we opted for the route that took us due north. Why not take the opportunity to hang out by water for one more week?

To be honest, Lake Powell had not been on our radar at all… but as with most beneficial discoveries on The Lower 48 in 48 Tour, we accidentally stumbled upon a real gem. Of course we had both heard of Lake Powell. It is, after all, the second largest man-made lake in the United States. But neither of us had been there. Now we plan to return when our Tour is over and we start taking normal vacations again. I’ve always wanted to rent a houseboat for a vacation, and I think we will do that some day on Lake Powell. (I researched options online, and I want one with a hot tub on the top deck).

We stayed at the Wahweap Campground which was part of Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.  This section of Wahweap Bay and Antelope Canyon is called “down-lake”.  Almost all of Lake Powell is located in Utah, except for the southernmost section at the Glen Canyon Dam. The entire lake (all 254 square miles of it), and much of the surrounding land on the north side, is located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We had to use our National Parks Pass to get into the resort and campground. The land to the south of the lake shore is within the Navajo Nation. Depending on whether we walked right or left our of our campsite, we were under the jurisdiction of the Native Americans or the Federal Government. The campground had full hook-up and tent spots. There were two marinas, one for private boats and one for rental boats. There was also a lodge with hundreds of rooms, a couple of swimming pools and several restaurants (all of which were closed for the season except for one). We were there during the off-season, which was nice. It wasn’t too crowded. I had a feeling the place could get pretty crazy during the summer months. Most of the other tourists I encountered during our stay were Asian or European. All the Americans were still snow skiing in mountain resorts.

The weather was pleasant – warm during the day and chilly at night. Since we were not in a densely populated area, the sky was sparkly after dark. It was a quiet and peaceful setting. We had a nice view of the lake and the campground staff assigned us a roomy spot. There were lots of sticker burs on the ground, but there was a paved trail that connected different parts of the resort, so the dogs still got good walks each day. Mike got to fish. All of us were very satisfied during our stay. We only went into Page a couple of times – for groceries at Walmart and Sunday church with about two dozen other Methodists. I splurged one afternoon and spent $70  to go on a boat tour out of the resort. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore. The cruise took us for a 2.5-hour trip through the Antelope and Navajo Canyons. Mike wasn’t interested, so I went by myself. I’m glad I did. It was interesting and educational. We ate at the resort on our last night. The menu was very limited because of the slow season, but the service was friendly and the view was beautiful so it was a fun outing. The only thing on my list we didn’t get to do was make a trip to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. The logistics just didn’t work out. Oh well, like I tell people all the time, “There is so much we HAVEN’T seen on this trip. We could do the whole thing in reverse and see a completely different set of highlights”! Now I have another reason to return for my house boat vacation!

The landscape remained similar to the area around Sedona all the way to Flagstaff. There were even patches of snow on the ground in shady spots, and we were grateful we hadn't seen any of that white stuff since we left Santa Fe.

The landscape remained similar to the area around Sedona all the way to Flagstaff. There were even patches of snow on the ground in shady spots, and we were grateful we hadn’t seen any of that white stuff since we left Santa Fe.

From Flagstaff we drove north on Hwy. 89. The terrain changed completely. We both felt like we were driving through another planet instead of another section of Arizona.

From Flagstaff we drove north on Highway 89. The terrain changed completely. We both felt like we were driving through another planet instead of another section of Arizona.

Roadside stands occupied by Native Americans selling handcrafted jewelry and other pieces of art dotted the highway all the way to Lake Powell.

Roadside stands occupied by Native Americans selling handcrafted jewelry and other pieces of art dotted the highway all the way to Lake Powell.

The landscape morphed again as we approached Lake Powell, even Cessna took note of the dramatic changes.

The landscape morphed again as we approached Lake Powell, even Cessna took note of the dramatic changes.

I was a nervous passenger again as the road dipped, climbed and disappeared around curves - sometimes all at the same time.

I was a nervous passenger again as the road dipped, climbed and disappeared around curves – sometimes all at the same time.

The Wahweap Campground was part of Lake Powell Resorts.

The Wahweap Campground was part of Lake Powell Resorts.

It was still a bit cool during our time here, so the beach by the lake was deserted.

It was still a bit cool during our time here, so the beach by the lake was deserted.

I asked for a roomy spot when we checked in. The place wasn't crowded yet, so girls at the desk were nice enough to put us in spot #8, which I later learned was a handicap spot. We loved all the extra space!

I asked for a roomy spot when we checked in. The place wasn’t crowded yet, so girls at the desk were nice enough to put us in spot #8, which I later learned was a handicap spot. We loved all the extra space!

A view of the short walk to Horseshoe Bend.

A view of the short walk to Horseshoe Bend.

I needed a wide-angle lense to get a full shot of Horseshoe Bend. Since I only had my iphone, you get to see one half of the view!

I needed a wide-angle lense to get a full shot of Horseshoe Bend. Since I only had my iphone, you get to see one half of the view!

Petrified sand.

Petrified sand.

I literally got down on my stomach to take this picture. All I could think to myself was "don't drop your phone".

I literally got down on my stomach to take this picture. All I could think to myself was “don’t drop your phone”. The speck of white in the water near the shore is a boat!

The heights made Piper as nervous as I was. Neither of us could look down when were we were close to the edge.

The heights made Piper as nervous as I was. Neither of us could look down when were we were close to the edge.

Glen Canyon Dam is the reason Page, Arizona was founded in 1957. The dam was built to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the lower. Its reservoir, Lake Powell, is the second largest man-made lake in the Country.

Glen Canyon Dam is the reason Page, Arizona was founded in 1957. The dam was built to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the lower. Its reservoir, Lake Powell, is the second largest man-made lake in the Country.

A view of Lake Powell's Wahweap Bay.

A view of Lake Powell’s Wahweap Bay.

The marina at Lake Powell Resorts and Campground was enormous. This picture only shows about half of the entire thing.

The marina at Lake Powell Resorts and Campground was enormous. This picture only shows about half of the entire thing.

I took a little boat tour out onto Lake Powell. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore.

I took a little boat tour out onto Lake Powell. I wanted to see the lake from the water instead of just from the shore. The white “line” in the rocks is called the bath tub ring. (no kidding). It took 17 years for the lake to fill after the dam was completed. The bath tub ring is the high water mark from 1980.

A wall in Antelope Canyon. I thought it looked so cool to see where the earth had dramatically shifted millions of years ago.

A wall in Antelope Canyon. I thought it looked so cool to see where the earth had dramatically shifted millions of years ago.

The walls of Antelope Canyon became pretty snug as we ventured farther into it.

The walls of Antelope Canyon became pretty snug as we ventured farther into it.

When minerals in the rocks create designs and color variations, it is called tapestry.

When minerals in the rocks create designs and color variations, it is called tapestry.

A dramatic example of Navajo tapestry.

A dramatic example of Navajo tapestry.

After a very short walk from our camp site, we were in Utah! The sandy area to the left in the photo is called Lone Rock Beach. The lone rock is across the water positioned at about "one o'clock" in the photo.

After a very short walk from our camp site, we were in Utah! The sandy area to the left in the photo is called Lone Rock Beach. The lone rock is across the water positioned at about “one o’clock” in the photo.

Mike gets really excited to see dove.

Mike gets really excited to see dove.

Catch of the day: Striper.

Catch of the day: Striper.

This plane was flying low over the water one day.

This plane was flying low over the water one day.

Antelope jackrabbit. Big rabbit.

Antelope jackrabbit. Big rabbit.

Our view during dinner at sunset in the Rainbow Room at the Lake Powell Resort Lodge.

Our view during dinner at sunset in the Rainbow Room at the Lake Powell Resort Lodge.

 

Arizona Part IV: Cottonwood

We lingered in Arizona because the weather was warmer than in most other parts of the country during this time of year. We were still moving north, but our next state was Utah and we weren’t in too much of a hurry to arrive there before mid-march… at least. Mike and I had taken a short trip to Sedona once, and I wanted to return to the area and spend more time in that majestic town. There weren’t really any nice RV Parks in Sedona proper, but we did find a great state park down the road about 20 miles. We secured reservations at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood for two weeks and made that our destination when we departed Tucson.

There were lots of things to do and see at this location, and we had a good amount of time for ample exploration. The weather was also wonderful for the duration of our stop, so I was able to take lots of photos. I will spare you excessive paragraphs and let the pictures do the talking for the rest of this blog post.

River otter in the Verde River.

River otter in the Verde River.

Sedona is famous for its vortexes. The area has long been known as a spiritual power center containing subtle energy. I visited the Boynton Canyon Vortex during our Cottonwood stay. This is the trail to the knoll where the energy is strongest.

Sedona is famous for its vortexes. The area has long been known as a spiritual power center containing subtle energy. I visited the Boynton Canyon Vortex during our Cottonwood stay. This is the trail to the knoll where the energy is strongest.

The swanky Enchantment Resort is nestled among a cluster of red rock mountains. If you look closely you can see some of the buildings of the hotel.

The swanky Enchantment Resort is nestled among a cluster of red rock mountains. If you look closely you can see some of the buildings of the hotel.

I sat beside the knoll of the Boyton Canyon Vortex for about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much yin/yang balance as possible. Not sure if it worked, but I should at least get points for the attempt.

I sat beside the knoll of the Boyton Canyon Vortex for about 30 minutes, trying to absorb as much yin/yang balance as possible. Not sure if it worked, but I should at least get points for the attempt.

They say Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of a twist the trees have in their branches. Seems plausible, since I didn't see any twisted Junipers in areas that did not tout vortexes.

They say Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of a twist the trees have in their branches. Seems plausible, since I didn’t see any twisted Junipers in areas that did not tout vortexes.

I guess this guy was getting lots of yin/yang balance, since he climbed to the TOP of the knoll. I doubt him screaming "The view is awesome as SHIT" from the top of his lungs helped any of us underlings feel like we were in any sort of peaceful and zen setting.

I guess this guy was getting lots of yin/yang balance, since he climbed to the TOP of the knoll. I doubt him screaming “The view is awesome as SHIT” from the top of his lungs helped any of us underlings feel like we were in any sort of peaceful and zen setting.

This crane stopped by Mike's fishing hole to join him in a little morning angling.

This crane stopped by Mike’s fishing hole to join him in a little morning angling.

I didn't realize our drive north along I-17 after Phoenix was going to be through the mountains. Cessna thought the terrain was very pretty as green emerged throughout the landscape. She was hoping she would be able to pee on grass again.

I didn’t realize our drive north along I-17 after Phoenix was going to be through the mountains. Cessna thought the terrain was very pretty as green emerged throughout the landscape. She was hoping she would be able to pee on grass again.

I tried to hold it together during the climbs and descents, until we passed a sign that instructed all trucks to pull over and check their breaks. As we approached the Runaway Truck Ramp, I was starting to lose it just a bit. Mike, as usual, was in complete control of the rig... even as I was screaming "break, use the breaks, break, what about a lower gear, break, oh dear put on the breaks".

I tried to hold it together during the climbs and descents, until we passed a sign that instructed all trucks to pull over and check their breaks. As we approached the Runaway Truck Ramp, I was starting to lose it just a bit. Mike, as usual, was in complete control of the rig… even as I was screaming “break, use the breaks, break, what about a lower gear, break, oh dear put on the breaks”.

Our spot was number 47 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Water and electric hook-ups only. We were there for two weeks. We made it one week before we had to move the Monaco to the dump station, and then we stopped by again on our way out at the end of the second week. I showered in the campground bath house every day, Mike took Navy showers, and we did a great job of conserving water for the rest of the stuff like teeth brushing, dish washing, etc.

Our spot was number 47 at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Water and electric hook-ups only. We were there for two weeks. We made it one week before we had to move the Monaco to the dump station, and then we stopped by again on our way out at the end of the second week. I showered in the campground bath house every day, Mike took Navy showers, and we did a great job of conserving water for the rest of the stuff like teeth brushing, dish washing, etc.

Park Ranger Dog.

Park Ranger Dog.

The view from my office window. Prescott, Arizona is on the other side of those mountains.

The view from my office window. Prescott, Arizona is on the other side of those mountains.

Dead Horse Ranch had a nice walking trail around three ponds in the park.

Dead Horse Ranch had a nice walking trail around three ponds in the park.

Piper needed sunglasses, so he improvised.

Piper needed sunglasses, so he improvised.

Campfire selfie.

Campfire selfie.

If you look closely, you will see a quail in the middle of the photo.

If you look closely, you will see a quail in the middle of the photo.

I went to Jerome on Sunday afternoon just to check things out. The historic mining town is literally built on the side of a mountain. I don't like heights, so it was a bit of an experience navigating the roads through town. The views were exceptional, though.

I went to Jerome on Sunday afternoon just to check things out. The historic mining town is literally built on the side of a mountain. I am a little acrophobic, so it was a bit of an experience navigating the roads through town. The views were exceptional, though.

Jerome was a super busy place on a clear and warm Sunday afternoon. I was surprised. I didn't realize I was heading up to a weekend hotspot!

Jerome was a super busy place on a clear and warm Sunday afternoon. I was surprised. I didn’t realize I was heading up to a weekend hotspot!

If the weather is pretty on the weekend, apparently there is an unwritten rule that says all motorcycle owners must take a drive to Jerome. Not sure how they get back down the mountain after drinking and listening to live bands all day... but I was gone by then so I didn't worry about it.

If the weather is pretty on the weekend, apparently there is an unwritten rule that says all motorcycle owners must take a drive to Jerome. Not sure how they get back down the mountain after drinking and listening to live bands all day… but I was gone by then so I didn’t worry about it.

A view of our campground from a little hill to our southwest.

A view of our campground from a little hill to our southwest.

We enjoyed gazing at a bright full moon during our stay at this campground.

We enjoyed gazing at a bright full moon during our stay at this campground.

Sedona was just about 20 miles down the road from our campground, and the views en route made the trip seem even much faster than that.

Sedona was just about 20 miles down the road from our campground, and the views en route made the trip seem even quicker than that.

Our first stop in Sedona was with the dogs to Cathedral Rock for a sensational afternoon hike.

Our first stop in Sedona was with the dogs to Cathedral Rock for a sensational afternoon hike.

Some of what we saw during our Cathedral Rock hike.

Some of what we saw during our Cathedral Rock hike.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona.

During the first week of our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park a firefighter from Ontario, Canada went to the top of the hill near our campground and played bagpipes at sunset each night. WOW! One of the coolest surprises we have witnessed on our entire trip.

During the first week of our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park a firefighter from Ontario, Canada went to the top of the hill near our campground and played bagpipes at sunset each night. WOW! One of the coolest surprises we have witnessed on our entire trip.

Sedona has dozens of wonderful restaurants. One of my favorites was a relatively new place called Mariposa. The items I ordered from the Latin inspired menu were delicious, the views were spectacular, and the décor was absolutely amazing. If you have a chance to visit - go at sunset and sit outside on the patio.

Sedona has dozens of wonderful restaurants. One of my favorites was a relatively new place called Mariposa. The items I ordered from the Latin inspired menu were delicious, the views were spectacular, and the décor was absolutely amazing. If you have a chance to visit – go at sunset and sit outside on the patio.

The entrance gate at Mariposa. Those metal globes are carved with butterflies and turn into flaming torches at dusk. The whole place is totally sexy.

The entrance gate at Mariposa. Those metal globes are carved with butterflies and turn into flaming torches at dusk. The whole place is totally sexy.

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona.

A red mountain behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

A red mountain behind the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I stopped in to say a quick prayer and light a few candles.

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I stopped in to say a quick prayer and light a few candles.

Before we embarked upon this adventure, if you had asked me to speculate which state would provide the most fresh fish during our trip, I guarantee my guesses would not have been Kansas or Arizona. That is for certain! The Verde River was very good to Mike.

Before we embarked upon this adventure, if you had asked me to speculate which state would provide the most fresh fish during our trip, I guarantee my guesses would not have been Kansas or Arizona. That is for certain! The Verde River was very good to Mike.

Tlaquepaque is a shopping village in the heart of Sedona. It is filled with wonderful art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and other shops. A friend told me the men call it "to-lock-your-pockets" and wives should be forbidden from visiting. I spent one afternoon there without Mike.

Tlaquepaque is a shopping village in the heart of Sedona. It is filled with wonderful art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and other shops. A friend told me the men call it “to-lock-your-pockets” and wives should be forbidden from visiting. I spent one afternoon there without Mike.

The pool at the Enchantment Resort. Pretty cool, huh?

The pool at the Enchantment Resort. Pretty cool, huh?

This helicopter flew over our camp spot several times each day. I think they were running aerial tours over to Sedona and back.

This helicopter flew over our camp spot several times each day. I think they were running aerial tours over to Sedona and back.

One of the trails at our campground. We never had to go on the same hike twice.

One of the trails at our campground. We never had to go on the same hike twice.

The captain of the Monaco rigged up our campground fire pit to smoke some of the trout he caught. He's a genius!

The captain of the Monaco rigged up our campground fire pit to smoke some of the trout he caught. He’s a genius!

Mike talked this road runner into posing for the camera.

Mike talked this road runner into posing for the camera.

Sunset.

Sunset.

Tuzigoot National Monument was within walking distance of our campground. It is a two to three story Pueblo Ruin built up on a ridge above the Verde River. They say it was a community for over 400 years, which is twice as long as the United States has been a country!

Tuzigoot National Monument was within walking distance of our campground. It is a two to three story Pueblo Ruin built up on a ridge above the Verde River. They say it was a community for over 400 years, which is twice as long as the United States has been a country!

My friend Betsy and I spent countless riding our bikes around our neighborhood during our childhood in Harlingen. Now she lives in Phoenix with her family. She and her boys (one husband and two children) drove up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and camped overnight so we could have a visit and get caught up with each other. It was so much fun to see familiar faces during our stop! We almost kidnapped her kiddos and brought them to finish the Lower 48 in 48 Tour with us!

My friend Betsy and I spent countless hours riding our bikes around our neighborhood during our childhood in Harlingen. Now she lives in Phoenix with her family. She and her boys (one husband and two children) drove up to Dead Horse Ranch State Park and camped overnight so we could have a visit and get caught up with each other. It was so much fun to see familiar faces during our stop! We almost kidnapped her kiddos and brought them to finish the Lower 48 in 48 Tour with us!

An eagle flying over the river at the state park.

An eagle flying over the river at the state park.

We got to see two sets of friends during our Cottonwood stop. What a treat! We drove back down toward Phoenix on a Monday to spend an afternoon with our friends Brian and Shanna. We met Brian through our next door neighbor in The Woodlands. When we got close enough to hook up with him and his wife, we seized the opportunity!

We got to see two sets of friends during our Cottonwood stop. What a treat! We drove back down toward Phoenix on a Monday to spend an afternoon with our friends Brian and Shanna. We met Brian through our next door neighbor in The Woodlands. When we got close enough to hook up with him and his wife, we seized the opportunity!

Saguaro Lake outside of Mesa, Arizona.

Saguaro Lake outside of Mesa, Arizona.

A view of Saguaro Lake during our hike with Brian and Shanna.

A view of Saguaro Lake during our hike with Brian and Shanna.

Another Arizona surprise. Would you guess this picture was taken in the middle of the desert?

Another Arizona surprise. Would you guess this picture was taken in the middle of the desert?

A nice afternoon hike with friends.

A nice afternoon hike with friends.

When we got back to our cars after hiking along the edge of Saguaro Lake, I was surprised to see a group of wild horses grazing in the grass beside the parking lot.

When we got back to our cars after hiking along the edge of Saguaro Lake, I was surprised to see a group of wild horses grazing in the grass beside the parking lot.

When the wild horses made their way to the beach by the lake, I was beside myself. What a lovely sight!

When the wild horses made their way to the beach by the lake, I was beside myself. What a lovely sight!

We drove back to Cottonwood through Payson and the Tonto National Forest on Hwy 87 to Hwy 260. It was a beautiful drive the entire way! After dark we were warned to watch out for elk. Didn't see any of those creatures, but we did come upon three javelina in the middle of the road.

We drove back to Cottonwood through Payson and the Tonto National Forest on Hwy 87 to Hwy 260. It was a beautiful drive the entire way! After dark we were warned to watch out for elk. Didn’t see any of those creatures, but we did come upon three javelina in the middle of the road.

 

Arizona Part III: Tubac

While we were stuck at the La Quinta in Tucson we spent a day visiting Tubac, Tumacocori and the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Tubac was an easy 30-minute drive south on I-19. I had never heard of the town, but a friend had recommended we visit so we went to check it out. The tiny little village is most famous as an artist colony featuring a small commercial district full of galleries, shops and restaurants.

When we arrived in town it seemed like we had stumbled upon something special based on the number of tourists who were already there milling around the streets and visiting the retailers. We found a free (Mike liked that) parking space along the street and set out with Piper and Cessna in tow to explore the area. We walked up and down each of the roads and through several plazas enclosed by mom-and-pop businesses. Since we had the dogs with us, I did not get to go inside any of the boutiques and I was secretly hoping for an opportunity to return for a serious shopping session. After about an hour of strolling and looking, we were hungry so we decided to stop for lunch at a place called Tubac Jack’s. They had an outdoor patio with umbrellas to provide shade. It was a perfect day to eat al fresco and enjoy the warm February weather.

A lovely lady named Nancy served our delicious meal and as we were paying our bill we started asking her some basic tourist questions. Another gentleman was outside on the patio and came over to address some of my inquiries about the Tumacacori National Park that was located just down the road. As it turns out, he was the owner and we ended up visiting with Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack for another 45 minutes or so. Really nice guy. He told us all about the story of how he discovered the restaurant/bar and why he had decided to buy it several years ago. We told him some stories from our travel adventures before we finally left and drove over to check out Tumacacori.

I had wanted to return and spend some time in the stores, but wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to fit a return trip down there during our time in Tucson. That was until the Lazy Days shop called us at the La Quinta and told us the rig would not be ready on Friday as we had originally hoped. There are vacation resorts and there are dreary hotels. Vacation resorts are fun to enjoy. They make you feel special in an environment full of high style and distinctive amenities. Dreary hotels cause you to start questioning your life choices. The La Quinta was nice enough, but nothing special. After four nights in the lumpy bed with the crappy pillows, it was becoming a dreary hotel.

Our displacement was depressing me more and more each day, so I was growing bitchier and bitchier by the hour.  We decided that if we were going to be extra homeless for another week or so, we should try to find somewhere to move where we would have a kitchen.  I was worried about the packages of frozen meat we had to bring from the freezer in the Monaco. It was proving impossible to keep our stash of steaks, chicken, ribs and tamales frozen. I was scared it would all be ruined if it defrosted and we were not able to cook it and eat it. We were already spending too much money on coach repairs and hotel bills, the last thing I wanted was to start throwing our grocery money down the drain too.

Mike wasn’t having too much fun enduring my “mood”, so he agreed we should try to find somewhere to stay that had a full sized fridge and freezer, plus a little more space for the four of us to spread out a bit. I went online and started searching for studio or 1-bedroom places that had kitchens and were pet friendly. Since the world’s largest gem show was in Tucson at the time, we could find no options in town. Nothing. I expanded my search and found an affordable two-bed, two-bath golf villa in Tubac. Pet friendly and everything! I couldn’t process the registration application on www.vrbo.com fast enough. This was all happening on a Friday evening and we wanted to transfer locations on Saturday. After I processed the registration, VRBO told me the owner had 24 hours to accept our reservation request. We couldn’t wait 24-hours because we needed to check out of the La Quinta by noon if we were moving on Saturday. I sent the owner a separate email and explained how we were on a four year trip in a motor coach with our two dogs and we were in a hotel while it was in the shop… yada yada. Guess what! I got an email from the owner after about 15-minutes. It was Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack. He was the owner of the villa!

He said he had guests in it at the moment and would need most of Saturday to get it turned over and ready for us. We offered to check in on Sunday morning instead, and the deal was finalized. I could stand one extra night at the La Quinta if I knew for sure I would escape on Sunday morning. Which is exactly what we did. We got up and loaded all of our crap into the Honda and sailed down I-19 to Tubac Jack’s. We met Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack at the restaurant and followed him over to the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa where the villa was located on the main entrance road. He showed us around, gave us the keys and left us to get situated. My mood was improving as each second ticked by on the clock. We unloaded our gear and I unpacked our bags. Mike transferred our food from the coolers to the fridge/freezer. I starting a load of clothes in the laundry facilities shared by the other villas in the development. This Sunday actually happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, so after we were situated and the dogs were walked/fed, we drove over to Tubac Jack’s to watch the game with a group of locals in the bar.

Most of our time in Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack’s villa was spent relaxing and enjoying our neighborhood. I tried to cook as much of the meat from the freezer as possible. We took the dogs on long walks through the beautiful neighborhood at the golf resort. Mike hit balls at the driving range. I booked a pampering package at the spa. He sat out on our back patio and soaked up the sun. We walked to town for a couple of meals. All in all, I was becoming more and more pleasant as each day passed.

We had booked the villa from Sunday until Friday… hoping, of course, that we would be able to pick up the Monaco from the shop on Friday afternoon. We were going on two full weeks now, and surely that would be enough time to complete the repairs. During the middle of the week, Lazy Days called and said the rig would not, in fact, be ready on Friday as hoped. It would be ready NEXT Wednesday. I immediately sent a text to Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack to see if we could extend our stay four more nights. He returned my message with a very apologetic text and told me that was not possible, as he had booked the place with new guests starting Saturday. He offered to let us stay one extra night – on Friday – and I told him we would have the place spotless when we departed as early as possible on Saturday morning. Then I proceeded to have a full blown melt down.

We were going to have to find somewhere ELSE to stay. It was going to cost more money. The issue of our frozen food was front and center again. The rig might not ever be ready to pick up. We were stuck! Mike took the news a little better than I did. He accepted the news in stride, I called my aunt and cried on her shoulder for about two hours until I felt a little better. The most convenient option for us would be to move across the parking lot to a room at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa. At least it wasn’t a dreary hotel. They did allow pets. And the pool was heated! We walked over to the registration desk and asked about availability. For a little over $1,000 we could stay there for four nights. I handed over my mastercard and the clerk printed me a confirmation number. I was still worried about our frozen groceries, so I sent another text to Jim-you-can-call-me-Jack and prefaced my request with assurance that this would probably be the most odd question he ever received from a villa tenant. Could we store our frozen food in the freezer of his restaurant until we left town on Wednesday? The dear man said yes! Problem solved, stress level reduced.

On Saturday morning I got up at 5AM to clean every inch of the villa and use the laundry room to wash the last of our clothes I was trying to keep clean. At 9AM I drove over to the restaurant to drop off our cooler of frozen goods while Mike waited with the dogs for me to come back and pick him up. Then we moved the Honda to a shady spot in the resort parking lot across the street. We checked with the resort to see if we could check into our room early, but it was still occupied so we would have to wait. We walked the dogs around the neighborhood and then camped out at the pool until noon when a room was ready for us.

The next four days went quickly with long daily walks, some more golf, lots of pool time, and several yummy meals at the restaurants in town. We took one daytrip over to Madera Canyon for a hike with the dogs. On Wednesday we loaded our car AGAIN, and called the shop to tell them we were coming to pick up the Monaco. The shop manager was not in his office, so Mike left a voice mail. After stopping for lunch at Tubac Jack’s (and to pick up our food from the freezer), we were driving back to Tucson around the noon hour. The shop guy called us back to say that all the paint work was done, but only half of the other repairs had been completed. They were able to fix our over-the-air TV antennae and service our Aqua Hot system… but the chassis had not been lubed and the tires had not been rotated. REALLY? We had dropped off the rig on February 1st. It was now the 17th. Good grief! The chassis and tires could be addressed in the span of one day by a competent shop, so we would tackle those tasks on another day in another town.

I dropped Mike at the repair shop and then drove over to the adjoining Lazy Days (KOA) Campground and reserved us a full hook-up spot for one night. Then I drove through the humongous park to make sure I could guide him to spot #1554 without any mishaps. Once I had my bearings, I went back to the shop and led him back to where we would be staying on our last night in southern Arizona. We had reservations at a state park in Cottonwood beginning on the 18th – where we would only have water and electric hook-ups. No sewer connection. We were settled by about 2PM and I used the next nine hours to do a deep cleaning of the coach while I could take advantage of unlimited water. I washed sheets, towels, and all of our dirty clothes. I wiped down the fridge and washed all of it’s shelves/drawers before I reloaded our groceries into it. I cleaned the shower, bathroom sinks, toilet and kitchen sink. I put fresh sheets on the bed. The floors were swept, vacuumed and mopped. Mike worked on the outside, cleaned and vacuumed our car, walked the dogs and picked up In N Out Burgers for dinner (it might be a Texas thing, but I like Whataburger WAY better). By the time we went to bed we were exhausted, but we were back home in our own bed with our own pillows, and every inch of it was clean. We would literally have a fresh start in the morning when we pulled out of the park and back onto the road again. Let The Martin’s American Adventure continue!

Not only was there a FREEZER in the kitchen of our villa, it was also slightly larger than the noisy and smelly La Quinta box from which we transferred.

Not only was there a FREEZER in the kitchen of our villa, it was also slightly larger than the noisy and smelly La Quinta box from which we transferred.

We didn't even know the dogs were going to have a small enclosed yard to enjoy. They were pumped!

We didn’t even know the dogs were going to have a small enclosed yard to enjoy. They were pumped!

When we saw this sunset during the Super Bowl, I was pretty sure the Broncos were going to win.

When we saw this sunset during the Super Bowl, I was pretty sure the Broncos were going to win.

Super Bowl Selfie at Tubac Jack's.

Super Bowl Selfie at Tubac Jack’s.

We spent one last night in Tucson after we picked up the rig from the shop. This dog was still celebrating the victory. I wonder how his paws reach the gas pedal?

We spent one last night in Tucson after we picked up the rig from the shop. This dog was still celebrating the victory. I wonder how his paws reach the gas pedal?

A typical view from our daily walks within the Tubac Golf Resort.

A typical view from our daily walks within the Tubac Golf Resort.

The Anza Trail follows the Santa Cruz River in Tubac. We could get on the path near the driving range at the golf course, and follow the markers for about a mile or so into town.

The Anza Trail follows the Santa Cruz River in Tubac. We could get on the path near the driving range at the golf course, and follow the markers for about a mile or so into town.

We just happened to be in town for Tubac's biggest week. The 57th Annual Tubac Arts Festival went from Wednesday to Sunday. I bought a beautiful copper vase from one of the vendors.

We just happened to be in town for Tubac’s biggest week. The 57th Annual Tubac Arts Festival went from Wednesday to Sunday. I bought a beautiful copper vase from one of the vendors.

The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa was lovely.

The Tubac Golf Resort and Spa was lovely.

Sunrise with coffee from our back patio.

Sunrise with coffee from our back patio.

After we checked out of the villa and into the resort, we spent many hours at the pool.

After we checked out of the villa and into the resort, we spent many hours at the pool.

Some portions of the funny movie Tin Cup were filmed at the Tubac Golf Resort. I guess I will have to watch the film again to see if anything looks familiar.

Some portions of the funny movie Tin Cup were filmed at the Tubac Golf Resort. I guess I will have to watch the film again to see if anything looks familiar.

A section of the trail during our hike at Madera Canyon.

A section of the trail during our hike at Madera Canyon.

The creek in Madera Canyon.

The creek in Madera Canyon.

A view from the top of Madera Canyon.

A view from the top of Madera Canyon.

Madera Canyon in the distance.

Madera Canyon in the distance.

Our view during breakfast on the patio on our last morning at Tubac Golf Resort.

Our view during breakfast on the patio on our last morning at Tubac Golf Resort.

Finding a heart shaped cactus is so fun. They are full of love, and slightly prickly... sort of like me!

Finding a heart shaped cactus is so fun. They are full of love, and slightly prickly… sort of like me!

This road runner was posing for Mike.

This road runner was posing for Mike.

We found this sign taped to a garage door on a beautiful home in the Tubac Resort.

We found this sign taped to a garage door on a beautiful home in the Tubac Resort.

Lots of ducks on the golf course.

Lots of ducks on the golf course.

Mike spent lots of time soaking up the sun from our back patio at the villa. I finally broke down and bought a couple of swimsuits at Walmart, so I could start enjoying the warm weather.

Mike spent lots of time soaking up the sun from our back patio at the villa. I finally broke down and bought a couple of swimsuits at Walmart, so I could start enjoying the warm weather.

We spotted this coyote near the walking trail at the Tubac Golf Resort one evening as we were strolling to town for dinner. He was having fun romping in the weeds and did not care at all that we had paused to take pictures of him.

We spotted this coyote near the walking trail at the Tubac Golf Resort one evening as we were strolling to town for dinner. He was having fun romping in the weeds and did not care at all that we had paused to take pictures of him.

Three mariachis in someone's front yard.

Three mariachis in someone’s front yard.

Arizona Part II: Tucson

You might remember we had a little mishap when we arrived in Santa Fe. It had been a long day of travel and we pulled into Santa Fe Skies RV Park right around dusk. We have a general routine when we arrive at a new campground and it goes something like this: We temporarily park the rig near the registration desk. Mike unhooks the Honda from the Monaco as I go in to get us registered. After we find out what site we are in, either someone from the park, or I lead us to our assigned location. Most of the time the campgrounds have a staff member that will lead us through the park from a golf cart. They show us exactly where to go and help us get situated – making sure we fit and everything is working properly for us. At times in the past I have considered this overkill, but now I have a new perspective and realize these businesses offer excellent customer service.

In Santa Fe, we were on our own. The tattooed girl at the desk wearing nothing but a spaghetti strap tank top in 30 degree weather told me our site number, handed me a map of the campground and highlighted a route that showed us how to get there. I was a little confused by her instructions and was having some difficulty interpreting the map because there was snow on the ground. Everything at ground level was white, so it was not abundantly clear where the actual roads were located. I asked Mike if we should make a trial run in the Honda just to make sure we knew where were going. He said no.

Note to self: “Dina, you are an intelligent and capable woman. If you are in charge of leading your husband in the Monaco through a campground to a particular spot, listen to your instincts. You don’t need permission to make a preliminary run and confirm the best route. If he says no… tell him to wait right there while you get in the Honda and do the recon yourself”. Next time I’ll know better.

Unfortunately, I pretended he was the boss of me and we headed out with me in the lead – looking at the map in total confusion. I came to a fork in the road and guessed right when I should have gone left. I immediately realized I was taking us into a pull-through spot on the far edge of the campground, instead of keeping us on the actual road. I stopped when I realized what I had done, but he was too close behind me and there was no reversing by this time. Remember, the sun was setting and the shadows were causing melting snow to turn into ice. The little Honda with the non-snow tires labored a bit to get through. My heart was pounding. I made my way back to the main road and stopped after I was a good distance ahead of him. Then I waited until my worst fear came true with the sound of a piercing CRACK and an earsplitting scraping sound. The Monaco had slid on the ice like I had, and in order to avoid careening off into an adjacent spot that was occupied by an airstream and a truck, Mike slid into a brick retaining wall on the sloped site. A utility door on the driver’s side had a long deep gash in it, and a plastic cap that covered an extra sewer hose compartment had snapped off – lying in shattered pieces on the ground. Mike got out and looked at the damage, said nothing, got back into the rig and proceeded to follow me. I tried not to throw up.

We got parked and hooked up in silence. As I have said in a previous post, we acted like mature adults and avoided the blame game. The damage was already done, there was no going back. After we both had some time to cool down, I took responsibility for misreading the map and he said it was his fault because he guided the rig toward the retaining wall when it started sliding – trying to avoid the airstream. A few days later he contacted our insurance company and located a repair shop in Tucson. We lined up a reservation to bring it in and get the scratch repaired.

Fast forward a few weeks and now we were in Tucson ready to move out of our house and into a hotel while the Monaco was in the shop. In addition to the Santa Fe scratch repairs he also wanted to have some other work done. The body shop was tasked with a few touch-up projects. This motor coach had never been parked in a storage facility so some sun damage had faded the paint on sections at the top toward the front, back, and along our side awning casings. Also, while driving from Indiana to Ohio last fall, we had to pass an 18-wheeler that was zig -zagging his way down the highway. Whether he was on the phone, eating lunch or falling asleep I do not know, but he could not manage to keep his truck in one lane. It turns out that when we passed him, the rear of his rig fishtailed into the back end of our passenger side and left a long shallow scratch. We didn’t feel anything at the time and didn’t notice it until we were setting up at our next location. Finally, we misjudged a U-turn when exiting a small campground in West Virginia and put a small scratch in another utility door on the driver’s side. Since the Lazy Day’s Body Shop was already planning to tackle scratches and paint repair, Mike had them fix everything at once. Our rig was also scheduled to spend some time with the mechanics at Lazy Days as Mike also ordered service to the Aqua Hot system. Lastly, he wanted to have the chassis lubed and the tires rotated.

We were due to meet the insurance representative and the body shop manager at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning, so we left Kartchner Caverns State Park on Sunday and drove to the parking lot of the Lazy Days sales office. Our plan was to camp there in the parking lot so we would be ready to exit the rig first thing on Monday. After a fitful night’s sleep, we got up at dawn and prepared to temporarily move out of our home. Lots of logistics were involved with that endeavor. We had been camping with no sewer connection for the past week, so I had several tote bags full of laundry, towels, and sheets that needed to see a washing machine. I decided to forego packing any suitcases and just load the dirty clothes in the car – we would wash and wear what was in them until we got back to our normal environment. I packed all of the toiletries we would need, and locked my good jewelry in the safe. Then I gathered our electronics: ipad, laptop, chargers, batteries, our hotspot, my kindle, etc. The dogs had their own bag of food, toys, meds, leashes, bowls, brushes, and anything else they might need. Mike was busy loading the contents of our fridge and freezer into two coolers. The rig would have no power, and the propane would be turned off. We had to clear out our cold and frozen groceries or they would be rotten by the time we got back and operating like normal. All this stuff had to fit inside the Honda with enough room for the dogs to fit in the back too! The Beverly Hillbillies had nothing on us!

We had the car loaded by the time the insurance guy arrived. Mike made the necessary arrangements with him and the shop guy. He moved the Monaco to the service area and I followed in the Honda to pick him up when the paperwork was finished. He squeezed into the section of the front seat that was not filled with other stuff, and we left Lazy Days to drive to a FedEx facility at the Tucson Airport to pick up our mail that I had had forwarded to us. Then we consulted google and found a laundry mat in town. I have neglected to say until now that this particular Monday was also our 13th wedding anniversary, so we were really celebrating in high style this year!

After spending a couple of hours at a washateria with a handful of homeless meth addicts, our laundry was done and we were hoping we could check into the Airport La Quinta where we had reservations. Not all hotels allow dogs as guests, and most that do usually put some sort of weight restriction on allowable canines – 25 pounds seems to be a popular cutoff. I don’t get that – a dog is a dog if you ask me. The town was also packed to the gills with the world’s largest Gem Show, so hotel rooms were hard to come by. The La Quinta had space available and management was not averse to the 150 pounds between Piper and Cessna. Not the most plush option, but we took what we could get.

We spent the rest of our week waiting on the shop to give us updates on the rig, trying to keep the frozen food in the cooler frozen (which, it turns out, was not possible), and taking daytrips to get ourselves out of our dreary hotel room. We visited the Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon, The Arizona -Sonora Desert Museum, Tubac/ Tumacacori/ Mission San Xavier del Bac, and downtown. We also had to eat out a lot because there was no kitchen in our hotel room. One bright spot at meal time was Whataburger! I went down the street one evening and brought us a little taste of home back to the hotel. We were real fancy and ate al fresco by the pool. It was the best burger I’ve ever had!

A shot of the interior of Parish restaurant in Tucson. We wanted some Cajun food on our anniversary.

A shot of the interior of Parish restaurant in Tucson. We wanted some Cajun food on our anniversary. After we checked into the hotel, took a nap on the lumpy bed, showered, and walked the dogs, it was still early enough to make an effort to celebrate thirteen years like regular folks would do.

More ruins from Tumacacori.

Ruins from Tumacacori National Park.

Tumacacori National Historical Park.

Tumacacori National Historical Park.

The original altar of the mission church San Jose de Tumacacori.

The original altar of the mission church San Jose de Tumacacori.

Mission San Xavier del Bac was constructed between 1783 and 1797. It is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States and hosts approximately 200,000 visitors each year.

Mission San Xavier del Bac was constructed between 1783 and 1797. It is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States and hosts approximately 200,000 visitors each year.

Many pilgrims come to pray to San Xavier at the mission.

Many pilgrims come to pray to San Xavier at the mission.

My three candles burning at the feet of St. Anthony at Mission San Xavier del Bac.

My three candles burning at the feet of St. Anthony at Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The Apse (curved wall) in the Chancel (front part of church from where the service is conducted) of Mission San Xavier del Bac.

The Apse (curved wall) in the Chancel (front part of the church from where the service is conducted) of Mission San Xavier del Bac. I visited as a tourist one afternoon, and then returned to celebrate mass with the congregation on Saturday afternoon.

The west side of the Interior at San Xavier Mission del Bac.

The west side of the Interior at San Xavier Mission del Bac.

Inside the Mortuary Chapel at Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Inside the Mortuary Chapel at Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

Fishhook Barrel Cactus.

When Piper needed a break from all of us in the hotel room, he retreated to the farthest corner of the room and tried to barricade himself behind the curtains.

When Piper needed a break from all of us in the hotel room, he retreated to the farthest corner of the room and tried to barricade himself behind the curtains.

The Saguaro National Park from the Visitor's Center. We were happy our National Park Pass got us in for free.

The Saguaro National Park from the Visitor’s Center. We were happy our National Park Pass got us in for free.

The Saguaro says "Welcome to our National Park"!

The Saguaro says “Welcome to our National Park”!

Tucson is a big military town with Davis-Monthan AFB and an Air National Guard facility at the airport. Mike had lots of fun watching the jets in the skies above us.

Tucson is a big military town with Davis-Monthan AFB and an Air National Guard facility at the airport. Mike had lots of fun watching the jets in the skies above us.

Mike took advantage of the heated pool at the La Quinta. I didn't pack a suitcase, or shorts, or flip flops... so I didn't enjoy the perk as much as he did.

Mike took advantage of the heated pool at the La Quinta. I didn’t pack a suitcase, or shorts, or flip flops… so I didn’t enjoy the perk as much as he did.

Sabino Canyon on a crisp clear day.

Sabino Canyon on a crisp clear day.

Water in Sabino Canyon.

Water in Sabino Canyon.

Sabino Canyon.

Sabino Canyon.

Saguaro selfie.

Saguaro selfie.

Sabino Canyon, looking up from where the tram dropped us off at the end of the road.

Sabino Canyon, looking up from where the tram dropped us off at the end of the road.

The think this Saguaro in Sabino Canyon was the largest one we saw while visiting the area.

We think this Saguaro in Sabino Canyon was the largest one we saw while visiting the area.

A volunteer with an owl at the Arizona Desert Museum.

A volunteer with an owl at the Arizona Desert Museum.

The coati is a member of the raccoon family.

The coati is a member of the raccoon family.

Mountain Lion at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Mountain Lion at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona Part I: Kartchner Caverns State Park

The task of securing reservations at a campground in Arizona, any campground in any part of the state, turned out to be a miserable chore instead of a routine procedure.  Mike’s job is to find our campgrounds and make our reservations. My job is to figure out what to do in the places where we land. He started looking at campground options during the first part of our stay in Santa Fe, which was during the Christmas holidays. We were hoping to start our “month” in Arizona around the end of January/beginning of February. After he spent his first entire day doing internet research he was discouraged. After the second full day on his iPad he was frustrated. At the end of the third full day devoted to the effort, I started avoiding him. He wasn’t in a good mood, and I didn’t blame him one bit. The problem was that there are only a few truly warm and pleasant places in the United States during the month of February: Texas (not an option), Florida (been there, done that), California (not convenient to our intended route at the moment), and Arizona. All of the snowbirds that do not travel to South Texas or Florida for the winter come to Arizona. The place was booked. 100% occupancy.

By some miracle he finally found a campground near Phoenix with available spots, so he picked up the phone to call and make a reservation for us. I was home at the time, so I heard one half of the conversation as it unfolded. On my end I heard Mike tell the person who answered the phone that he wanted to make a reservation for us for two weeks. Then I heard him say he was 54 and his wife was younger. Then I heard him politely thank the person on the line and hang up. The campgrounds that did have open spots were 55+ communities, and we weren’t old enough! Go figure.

You might be thinking “how could finding a place to camp possibly be so hard”? Valid question. Maybe I should provide a quick explanation of our personal theories related to campground selection. As we have ambled through The Lower 48 in 48 Tour, we have had a general direction in which we want to travel, but the plans have been void of any specific route or detailed itinerary. The basic approach has been North in the summers, South in the winters  – from East to West. Just that simple. We learned early in the adventure not to have too many expectations. We don’t typically choose our subsequent locations until a week or two prior to travel days. The size of our rig dictates that we stay in locations accessible to interstate highways, or large state highways that are convenient to big rig traffic. We also take things like campground amenities and price into consideration when selecting our next sites. The agenda for selecting locations goes something like this: We look at map and determine the general direction in which we want to move, usually somewhere in the area of about 3 -4 hours from our current location. Then Mike consults a website called www.allstays.com which shows a map with all campgrounds in our targeted area. He reviews those options and comes up with something that checks the most boxes on our list of requirements. After he finds some viable options, he consults another website called www.rvparkreviews.com and learns what other guests have to say about the options he has identified. Some parks stay on the list, and others are eliminated due to negative reviews. If a place looks clean, safe, convenient and affordable, then we make a reservation.   He doesn’t like to make reservations too far in advance because things like weather and other stuff could alter our travel plans at the last minute. We don’t want to be bound to a rigid schedule when staying flexible would be more prudent.

As a general rule, we like to park our rig about two weeks in one place and use our Honda to explore the area. This way we can relax and see our surroundings without feeling like we are on a whirlwind race. We can also go about our ‘real life’ stuff like computer time, bill paying, general correspondence, laundry, showering, routine errands and cooking/cleaning without paying too much attention to the logistics of those responsibilities. To make this scenario most convenient, we like to have full hook-ups. This translates to 50 AMPS of power, a water connection and a sewer connection. With a set up like that we don’t have any worries. We can go about our daily routines without analyzing exactly how and when the business of regular life gets accomplished.

If we only have 30 AMPS of power, I have to run our generator to do laundry – or go to a laundromat. We also can’t run all of our electrical appliances at the same time. So, for example, we have to turn off the baseboard heat to run the microwave. Or we can only run 1 of the 3 air conditioners we have. Or I have to wait to run the hair dryer until the coffee machine is turned off. Small considerations, but you still have to think about what is happening in your surroundings before you turn on any switches. Some campgrounds don’t allow generators, so the only choice is to wash our clothes in a coin operated machine. This chore then has to be scheduled, I have to load all of our dirty clothes into the car, and go hang out at a washateria for a couple of hours until I can replenish our closets with a clean wardrobe. This takes much more time and effort (and money) than does my standard approach of running one load of laundry in the morning as I make our bed, drink my coffee, and look at my computer. If we do run the generator and turn on the A/C or wash clothes at home, we are using some diesel from our tank, so that is a little bit of extra money out of the pocket.

If we don’t have a sewer connection, we have to be conservative with the water that we use. Any water from showers, teeth brushing, dish washing, etc. goes to our grey water storage tank. The faster it fills up, the more often we have to move the rig to a dump station to empty it out. It doesn’t matter if we are moving the Monaco an eighth of a mile or 800 miles, we still have to complete the same routine before we travel. I am notorious among my friends for taking super duper long showers, so if we don’t have a sewer connection I usually just shower in the campground bath house. Sometimes that is no big deal, sometimes that is really gross.

Without a sewer connection I also pay attention to our meal preparations. In these cases I try to cook meals that won’t require washing lots of pots, pans and dishes. I love to cook and it is more fun when my menu options aren’t limited to what the clean up will look like when we are finished with our breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another consideration would be that I’m reluctant to boil pasta or potatoes because I don’t want to pour the extra water down the drain as the food gets strained in the colander. Of course a multitude of meals can be prepared without including pasta or boiled potatoes in the list of ingredients, but my point is that cooking becomes a strategic process instead of a creative one.

If we don’t have a water connection, we use the water from our storage tank. More conservation and consideration of logistics. You see where I’m going with this? We are on a four – year trip. The reason it is enjoyable is because we are taking our home, and all the comforts of it, along with us as we go. I can live in a luxurious setting with all the bells and whistles for 48 months with no problem. I’m not too keen on camping for an indefinite period. Eating on paper plates and collecting quarters for the washing machine gets old after a short time, if you ask me.

So back to our dilemma of finding somewhere to stay in Arizona. The state parks there are nice, but they do not generally have sewer hook-ups. This is why they were off the list at the beginning of Mike’s research. We were mainly looking at private campgrounds in our exhaustive search. It was now obvious that if we were going to spend any time in the 48th state that entered the union, our travel scenario was about to become a little less convenient. We weren’t going to have full hook-ups and we were probably going to be moving at intervals more frequent than two weeks. I was willing to agree to anything because it was becoming very painful to see Mike spend so much time seeking out destinations for us. I wanted him to start enjoying Santa Fe like I was. He had spent enough time staring at his tablet screen and coming up empty handed.

After we had a new plan for our time in The Grand Canyon State, we found somewhere to stay fairly easily. Kartchner Canverns State Park was just outside of Benson, about 50 miles east of Tucson. Its location in the southern part of Arizona meant that at least we were going somewhere warm. We had been in the thick of snow and ice since the beginning of November and we were done with winter. One morning while in Santa Fe my house shoes were frozen to the floor – no kidding. I was willing to camp for all the time we needed, as long as I didn’t have to wear 13 layers of clothes when I got dressed in the morning. Mike made reservations to stay there from a Monday to a Sunday after we left Lake Caballo. He promised I would like it when we arrived, and I did.

The campground turned out to be very beautiful. The spots were spacious. The campground was quiet and peaceful. We were out from town so the sky was bright at night without light pollution. The roads were paved so we could walk the dogs conveniently when needed. There were also trails so we could go on nice daily hikes. The weather was warm during the day so we were able to spend lots of time outside in the fresh air. The Caverns were a real thing too… so we were able to take a guided tour of “The Big Room” in a live cave. I was a little reluctant to buy our tickets for the tour because I’ve got a huge case of claustrophobia, but I’m glad I did because the 1.5-hour experiential science lesson was very interesting. (No photos allowed inside the cave, so you will just have to trust me on this). Best of all, the bath house was gleaming, so walking to the showers every morning was no big thing.

During our short stay we spent most of our time enjoying the warm natural beauty of our environment. However, we did take one daytrip to Tucson and another daytrip to Tombstone and Bisbee. We were conservative with our water, but didn’t let it bother us because we understood we had no alternative. If we were going to be in Arizona at the same time as every other retired person from “up north” we might as well get used to a new routine for a while. It wasn’t so bad after all.

There were so many stickers on the trails at Kartchner Caverns State Park, we had to buy the dogs some hiking boots. Otherwise they would not have been able to come with us when we explored the area.

There were so many stickers on the trails at Kartchner Caverns State Park, we had to buy the dogs some hiking boots. Otherwise they would not have been able to come with us when we explored the area.

One of the hiking trails at the state park.

One of the hiking trails at the state park.

Tombstone was a fun stop. The atmosphere was just like I expected.

Tombstone was a fun stop. The atmosphere was just like I expected.

Visiting Tombstone really was like stepping back into the heart of the Wild West.

Visiting Tombstone really was like stepping back into the heart of the Wild West.

The historic courthouse in Tombstone.

The historic courthouse in Tombstone.

We spotted this rig pulling a camper in Tombstone. Then we saw it again at a campground in Tucson. We've never seen a set up like that. I guess it is kind of the nomad's version of a mother-in-law suite.

We spotted this rig pulling a camper in Tombstone. Then we saw it again at a campground in Tucson. We’ve never seen a set up like that. I guess it is kind of the nomad’s version of a mother-in-law suite.

Gearing up for a reenactment of the shoot out at the O.K. Corral.

Gearing up for a reenactment of the shoot- out at the O.K. Corral.

Bisbee is quite literally a vertical town. To get from one street to the next, you must climb steps. Many steps.

Bisbee is quite literally a vertical town. To get from one street to the next, you must climb steps. Many steps.

Downtown Bisbee had all kinds of cute shops and artist galleries, but it turns out they are mostly only open Thursday through Sunday. We saved some money since we were there on a day earlier in the week and could only window shop.

Downtown Bisbee had all kinds of cute shops and artist galleries, but it turns out they are mostly only open Thursday through Sunday. We saved some money since we were there on a day earlier in the week and could only window shop.

Bisbee is an historic copper mining town.

Bisbee is an historic copper mining town.

The road to Bisbee. One moment we were driving through a brown desolate desert, and the next minute we were climbing through mountains speckled with green foliage.

The road to Bisbee. One moment we were driving through a brown desolate desert, and the next minute we were climbing through mountains speckled with green foliage.

Sunrise from spot #42.

Sunrise from spot #42.

The natural setting of this park was really beautiful.

The natural setting of this park was really beautiful.

A view of the Dragoon Mountains from our campground. Sounds scary to me.

A view of the Dragoon Mountains from our campground. Sounds scary to me.

Most state parks have a very inefficient reservation system that allows guests to reserve a specific spot in a campground, as opposed to making a general reservation and getting an assigned spot upon arrival. We wanted to stay seven days at this campground. When Mike made the reservation there were plenty of spots available, but no one spot was available for the full stretch of time. We were able to stay five nights in #42, but had to move our rig to a new spot for the last two nights. It was a total pain, but we played the game to stay in nice locations.

Most state parks have a very inefficient reservation system that allows guests to reserve a specific spot in a campground, as opposed to making a general reservation and getting an assigned spot upon arrival. We wanted to stay seven days at this campground. When Mike made the reservation there were plenty of spots available, but no one spot was available for the full stretch of time. We were able to stay five nights in #42, but had to move our rig to a new spot for the last two nights. It was a total pain, but we played the game to stay in a nice location.

Our second spot at the park, Number 3.

Our second spot at the park, Number 3.

A few of southern Arizona from a hilltop at the state park.

A view of southern Arizona from a hilltop at the state park.

We found a cairn at the top of the mountain we climbed at the state park. I love it when we stumble upon these!

We found a cairn at the top of the mountain we climbed at the state park. I love it when we stumble upon these!

We only had water and electric connections at Kartchner Caverns State Park - no sewer connection. I used the campground bath house for my showers in order to limit the water that was funneled into our grey water tank. Lucky for me, the facilities were very clean.

We only had water and electric connections at Kartchner Caverns State Park – no sewer connection. I used the campground bath house for my showers in order to limit the water that was funneled into our grey water tank. Lucky for me, the facilities were very clean.

Selfie from the mountain top.

Selfie from the mountain top.