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

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