Winter 2010 - Tucson, AZ
February 2010 - The January park potluck theme was a Mexican Fiesta and we were entertained by the Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, a mariachi group consisting of 14 musicians, 10 to 16 years old. Each member of the group was featured in one of the musical numbers and the program was fabulous! We also enjoyed an evening of entertainment by the Jovert Steel Drum Band from Tucson High School which was amazing. We’re really impressed by the array of local talent. The February potluck theme was Mardi Gras, where we were enjoyed various in-park entertainment. There are a lot of very talented people in the park as well. And of course, the food is always delicious!
We spent a day visiting three museums in Tucson: the Arizona Historical Society Museum with displays on early medical care, military artifacts/displays, Native Americans and trends in transportation and industry; the Arizona State Museum with information on area Native Americans and Arizona’s early mining industry; and the Ft. Lowell Museum, an 1880’s fort considered a prestigious place to be stationed. It eventually became the regimental headquarters of the 6th US Cavalry. All were interesting and the first two were on the University of Arizona campus.
We enjoyed a day at the Pima Air & Space Museum and a side bus tour to “the boneyard” (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center). The weather was nice and we spent the entire day viewing the outdoor exhibits. Bob was in seventh heaven! We need to make a return trip to see the various exhibits inside the hangars.
We spent a day in Tombstone, the town that refused to die. We enjoyed a stagecoach tour of historic sites, a historically accurate gunfight re-enactment, lunch at the Crystal Palace Saloon complete with a pool game between Doc Holliday & Morgan Earp, historically accurate Gunfight at OK Corral, a tour of the historic Tombstone Courthouse, and the Boothill Graveyard.
January 2010 - We enjoyed Christmas with our family in Tennessee and Indiana and were happy to return to our winter home in Tucson before the bitter cold and snow set in back east! Since returning, we’ve enjoyed beautiful sunshine and 70 degree days. We are back into the swing of the park, participating in various card games, crafts, biking, walking, meals and fellowship. Bob has played golf and we’ve begun to explore the area. We spent a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, about 12 miles northwest of Tucson in the Tucson Mountains. This is a lovely outdoor museum, garden and zoo, all in one place. It is all outside in the Arizona desert and includes interpretive displays of living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert region. We are still in awe of the large variety of cacti, and we enjoyed seeing the various animal species at the museum. We’ve also seen a roadrunner in our park, but it was much too quick for us to get a picture!
Fall 2009 -- Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona
November 25th: -- In Las Vegas we spent a couple of evenings downtown, an area we hadn’t visited before. Bob enjoyed playing poker at Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel and we enjoyed the Freemont Street Experience, more than 12 million lights in the Viva Vision canopy and 550,000 watts of concert quality sound pumped to speakers throughout the venue producing an incredible array of eye-popping imagery and heart pounding music. We were also able to catch Jan Rouven, an illusionist performing under the canopy. On Halloween, had dinner and saw Penn & Teller at the Rio. Their act of illusion and comedy was very entertaining. We would highly recommend them. Afterwards we spent time on the strip, watching lots of costumed visitors for the holiday.
While in Kingman, Arizona, we spent a day at Grand Canyon West, part of the Hualapai American Indian Tribal Lands. We walked on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe shaped glass bridge 70 feet from the rim of the Canyon and suspended 4,000 feet above the Canyon floor. It was truly breathtaking to walk out on the skywalk, looking down through the glass floor and out at the beautiful Grand Canyon and Colorado River view. The skywalk is located at Eagle Point, a sacred location to the Hualapai tribe, providing a spectacular view of a stunning rock formation that clearly resembles an immense, majestic eagle with wings stretched out in flight. From there we took the shuttle to Guano Point where we enjoyed a delicious Hualapai lunch buffet and a hike to High Point with even more beautiful views of the Canyon and the Colorado River. After our time at Grand Canyon West, we drove to Lake Meade, a short, pretty winding drive with lovely views of the hills and the lake.
We spent an afternoon in Oatman, Arizona, a 30-mile drive from Kingman on winding, hilly historic Route 66. Oatman is an old mining town where burros thought to be descended from the mining burros come into town daily for “handouts.” We arrived in time for a Wild West shootout which benefits Shriners Children’s Hospital. We ate lunch at the Old Oatman Hotel, which contains the honeymoon suite of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard although it was closed for renovation during our visit. The dining room at the Old Oatman Hotel is covered with $1 bills that people have signed and tacked to the walls. Of course we added one to the collection. We roamed the boardwalks, browsed the shops and enjoyed feeding the burros that freely wandered the streets and sometimes the boardwalks. On the return trip from Oatman we stopped by a mining claim where some folks were mining Fire Agate.
We spent a couple of days in Surprise, Arizona, where we were able to spend an enjoyable afternoon with Charlie & Dana, the couple we bought our truck from three years ago. We arrived at Desert Pueblo Mobile Home Park in Tucson on November 14, our home for the winter. It is a nice park with very friendly people and lots of amenities and activities. We look forward to exploring Tucson and the surrounding area.
Sept 3rd. -- We returned to the lower 48 on September 3 and spent the Labor Day weekend in Bellingham, Washington, a short drive from the Pacific Ocean. We put away our dog-eared, marked-up, much used Milepost guide to Alaska and planned our trip toward Tucson, Arizona, our winter home this year. While in Bellingham we took a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia via Victoria San Juan Cruises which took us through the San Juan Islands where we saw orca, beautiful mountain views and float planes taking off as we neared Victoria. In Victoria we enjoyed lunch on the veranda of the Empress Hotel where we had a beautiful view of the harbor, numerous boats, street vendors and the gorgeous flowers. We enjoyed a double-decker bus tour of the city that included several sights, then an evening cruise back to Bellingham. We took the train to Seattle on Labor Day where we enjoyed strolling through Pike Place Market and lunch at The Pike Brewing Company. We rode the monorail to the Space Needle where we had wonderful views of the city, Puget Sound and Lake Union where scenes were shot for Sleepless in Seattle.
Our next stop was Mt. Rainier National Park near Ashford, WA. It’s amazing we still haven’t tired of the mountains! We were able to have clear views of Mt. Rainier both days we were in the park, as well as hike the Grove of the Patriarchs, where there are western red cedars that are 1000 years old. The park is really lovely with lots of hiking trails and beautiful views including Box Canyon, Christine Falls and the Trail of Shadows.
We spent a week near Portland, Oregon where we were able to spend time with Kathy’s college roommate and longtime friend, Glenda and her husband Larry. We spent a couple of days driving up the coast from Tillamook to Astoria. We visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory, enjoyed the beach and watercraft, saw Haystack Rock, visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum and Columbia Lightship, climbed the Astoria Column with a beautiful view from the top, and enjoyed good company and good food. Bob and Larry were able to golf a couple of times, Glenda and Kathy enjoyed the Portland Rose Garden and we all enjoyed an evening in Portland. We also visited the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville.
We spent a week in Silverton, Oregon where we were able to visit with Bob’s sister and brother-in-law, Lyn & Terry. We spent a day driving the central Oregon coast, where we had lunch near Devil’s Punchbowl and watched surfers, wandered through Depoe Bay where the waves were crashing with frequent sprays high enough to wet the sidewalk well above the ocean. We wandered through some little shops and saw The World’s Smallest Harbor. We spent a day in downtown Silverton, wandering through the quaint little shops, visited the Mt. Angel Abbey, a pretty, peaceful area where we had a faint view of Mt. Hood, and enjoyed the beautiful flowers in downtown Mt. Angel. We toured the Harry & David factory, and had beautiful views of Mt. Shasta as we drove southeast.
Our next stop was Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California. All four types of volcanoes in the world as well as active hydrothermal areas are found in this National Park. We had beautiful views of Lassen Peak and hiked to the hydrothermal basin where we saw mudpots and hissing fumaroles.
We spent our thirty-fifth anniversary in Reno, Nevada before heading to Carson City, Nevada’s capital. From there we took a day trip to Lake Tahoe where we took the gondola up a snow-covered mountain, walked on the beach, drove the scenic route around the lake and enjoyed the beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We spent a day in Virginia City, a winding, uphill but very pretty drive. We enjoyed the rustic town with boardwalks and historic storefronts which now house various and unique shops as well as saloons and casinos. It was a pretty day although snow was expected soon after our visit. We also spent a day exploring historic Carson City, including the Nevada State Museum, the State Capitol and walking a portion of the historic Kit Carson Trail. Thanks to Glenda & Larry for suggesting a visit to this area.
Next we spent a few days in Lee Vining, California where we spent a day in Yosemite National Park. Tioga Pass, the main entrance into the park had been closed due to snow a few days before our visit, but was again open although we saw four to six inches of snow in some places along the road as we drove into the park. In Yosemite Valley is was quite warm and pretty as we hiked and enjoyed the scenery which included waterfalls, Half Dome, Ponderosa pines and beautiful lakes. We spent a day exploring the Mono Basin where we hiked to the plugged dome of the Panum crater and walked through the South Tufa along the lake.
We spent a week in Lone Pine, California with the goal of visiting Death Valley National Park. We soon learned there is much more in the area and were glad we had plenty of time. Having grown up in the days of Twenty Mule Team Borax detergent and Death Valley Days television westerns, we enjoyed our two days in Death Valley where it was 93 degrees in late October. This national park is quite different from any we’ve visited, barren and desolate, where you can easily drive an hour or better between stops. There are few designated trails in the park but you can hike almost anywhere you wish. There are also many places you can visit via 4-wheel drive vehicle. It is beautiful in its own way with so many different hues to the mountains and the sandy rocky soil easily eroded with flash floods. We’d grown so accustomed to the elevation signs increasing, it was interesting seeing them decrease through the park. The Furnace Creek Golf Course is 214 feet below sea level! We visited the Borax Museum, drove the beautiful and winding Artist Drive, walked the salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, visited Scotty’s Castle, and the Harmony Borax Works.
While in Lone Pine, we visited the Film History Museum where we learned a lot of early westerns and even some much more recent films were entirely or partially filmed in the area. Admission to the museum included a movie, Hopalong Cassidy in Colt Comrades, which was fun to watch. The following day we drove the Alabama Hills/Movie Flat route and could see why this is such a great area for westerns and “other world” movies. The Alabama Hills are picturesque rock formations of granite eroded by water into rounded shapes. They are really beautiful and different from anything we’d seen. We also visited Manzanar National Historic Site where Japanese Americans were interred during WWII.
We are now in Las Vegas before heading further south on our trip to this year’s winter home in Tucson, Arizona.