Yes, We Have Left Arizona!

Happy New Year greetings from Texas! Make this year a happy one, finding time for those memorable moments. We wish you the best and thank you for traveling along with us! Sometimes it’s hard to move on. We had come to Arizona for a one month visit and stayed for two! It was tough leaving Mt. Lemmon and the Molino Basin Campground due to their beauty, and we really like all that Tucson has to offer, so picking ourselves up to head east towards Texas wasn’t easy. But that’s one aspect of full-timing that we like…flexibility! Thimble Peak, Mt. Lemmon We left Arizona on New Year’s, and spent our first three nights at a rest stop in AZ, but close to the border of New Mexico. As an aside, we were breaking the rules that were posted: maximum stay was 24 hours. But we were able to spend these days in milder temps rather than diving right into the cold weather. So, as a caveat, “do as I say, not as I do”! Michael had been checking the weather regularly to figure out the coldest locations and then planned our route to do shorter daily miles so we could stay behind the coldest weather that was east of us. Last night, spent in the Las Cruces, NM Cracker Barrel, was darn cold!! For the first time we actually ran our furnace through the night. It cycled off and on during the night keeping us and the kitties comfortable. Now in Texas, we are at another rest area and temps will be in the upper twenties, so the furnace will be running again! At least it isn’t 10 degrees out with snow and wind!! (Thinking of family and friends on the east coast getting hammered by a bombastic cyclone, or whatever it’s called.) While driving through NM, we saw cloud formations that were so unusual we could only think “Roswell”! If we didn’t know better we would have suspected UFO!! Check these photos out: Doesn’t that round circle, dead center, look UFO-ish? Very weird! The clouds were “bumpy”! And this one large opening looked like snow had been plowed! This diagonal “cloud” came right to the ground and didn’t change formation for quite some time! Stairway to Heaven? Larger than life Roadrunner in NM. On I 10 east; Franklin Mountains, we believe. New Mexico. So, why back to Texas at this time? Our truck inspection is not scheduled until April (we want to change that if we can to February, so time for spring birding and travel won’t be impeded by an inspection). I digress! We’re back for some doctor appointments. Those of you who know me may recall I had a hip replacement back in January 2014. Four years ago! Wow, time flies. But I digress again! Anyway, the hip basically has bothered me ever since the surgery, getting worse as each year goes by. And, sadly, my left hip had reared it’s ugly head, and I have pain there. Tie this in with chronic back issues, and you can see I am not a happy hiker. So it is time for me to take charge and leave the pain behind. I will be seeing a couple of orthopedic doctors for an evaluation and hopefully some resolution. I hope no surgery is in the cards, but it has become difficult to do simple walking. I forced myself to do a few short hikes with Michael while in AZ, but I suffered! So, here’s hoping my new year is filled with more pain-free moments. We may have some exciting plans for the summer, but I’ll hold off revealing anything until we have gotten it all figured out. Sorry…not nice of me to leave you hanging! But you’ll know soon enough one way or the other! And how can I sign off without a cute cat photo? Rice sleeping in her favorite spot! See you soon!

Advertisements

Cold…

When we got to Tucson AZ, it was warm. But we weren’t on the mountain yet. Then we came up the mountain. It was still mild with pleasantly cool nights. Then last night came about, the Thursday before Christmas, and boy, it was cold! In the 20’s! We can’t say we were warm, that’s for sure. Multiple layers…that was the way to go. I slept in a t-shirt, flannel shirt, mid-weight fleece, and a primaloft jacket, with long underwear, jeans and socks. Plus add a knit hat and gloves, and I was pretty much ready to jump out of bed and start my day! Once I was under a comforter though, I was not too cold, and we did turn the furnace on in the middle of the night for a bit to take the edge off the chill.

There are trailers out there that are billed as four season. It has to do with construction and an undercoating under the trailer that is meant to keep the rv comfortable temperature-wise. The pods don’t have that so the floor gets kind of icy feeling! And speaking of icy, our windows did have ice on them this morning inside the trailer!

We’d like to put a rug down, but when we tried it, the three cats had a field day scratching it and creating pulls. So that idea is not practical. But in actuality, we are rarely in the cold, so a few nights here and there are manageable.

WARM…

Today will be 75 degrees, yesterday was close to this, and suddenly we aren’t sleeping in multi-layers anymore! On this Christmas Day we are reveling in the bright sunshine! To all who celebrate Christmas, we wish you a Merry Holiday!

BYE ARIZONA…

On this Wednesday, December 27, we are pulling out of Molino Basin campground and leaving AZ, heading to Texas. It’s been a wonderful time here, but it is time for a change! We’ll miss the mountains and desert.

See you soon!

Sometimes You Get Stuck

And I mean it in a good way!

We can’t tear ourselves away from Mt. Lemmon in Tucson! It is gorgeous and quiet for the most part, we’ve had sunny days, cloudy days, temps around 75 during the day and 40’s at night, only a bit of rain, starry skies on those clear nights, and the bluest of blue skies most days. Why leave when we have no comittments to be elsewhere?

Which brings me to the conversation Michael and I had this morning. Being full-time for over 2.5 years, we realize that our modus operandi has changed somewhat. In the beginning of our travels, we thought we had to make tracks, always seeking out new places and getting to the popular parks and attractions. But along the way we discovered that speed traveling isn’t our thing. Rather, it is the slower pace, the small obscure places where we often land, and spending time getting to know the destination that gives us the greatest happiness and satisfaction.

On a daily basis we are thankful we are loving this lifestyle!

Barrel cactus.

Saguaro cactus.

Tucson in the distance.

Here it is, several days later, and it is cold today {12/17/17}. Temps have been in the low 40’s at night and 60’s during the day. We had rain last night and this morning, and there’s snow on top of the mountain! As we take advantage of our hotspot to do some work, a pickup truck piled with snow drove by! We’re at a vista overlooking the city and the clouds are so dramatic, but every now and then the sun makes an effort to shine.

View from Ba’ad Do’ag scenic vista, General Hitchcock Highway, Mt. Lemmon:

I haven’t talked about the Rpod in a while so here’s an update. We own a 2016 179 and share the trailer with three cats. Overall, we have been pleased with the pod. Lately, though, a few relatively minor things need our attention. Weather stripping is coming off a window, some of the wood-like wall covering has peeled off at a corner near the bed, the cover to the electrical outlet outside blew off and and is being replaced, and our kitchen sink and faucet are loose and will ultimately be replaced. Since we live in the trailer full-time, these things are to be expected and are easy fixes. But the screw in our relatively new trailer tire doesn’t make us happy. We’ll be changing out the tire with the spare and then will research if the damaged tire can be fixed.

The two things we miss are a larger “dry bath”, since our “wet bath” is on the small side. A “wet bath” means the shower, toilet and tiny sink are all together, and when we shower, the entire bath gets wet. We do lust for a larger bathroom at times with its own separate shower! The other item is a walk-around bed. In our pod, the bed is surrounded by three walls, and making the bed is like an Olympic event! We’ve given up on having the neatest bed; we just toss on the bedspread and call it made!

My newest hobby is needle work and this project is a whimsical portrait of our three cats, custom made for me by Etsy shopkeeper, Dioramatist. It is now hanging on the wall. Presently I am needlepointing a gift for my mother-in-law, and next is a very cool embroidery project with a traveling/camping theme.

Nevelle checking things out!

Upcoming plans: we hope to camp here on Mt. Lemmon until after Christmas. Then, we head back to Texas, which wasn’t our plan, but there’s a medical issue that needes attention {thankfully nothing too serious}. We might head to Big Bend National Park in Texas after. We’ll keep you posted!

Hope the start of the holiday season is making you happy. Best to you for a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!

Will be back soon!

Some Mt. Lemmon (Arizona) Pics

We returned to Molino Basin campground on Mt. Lemmon yesterday and plan on a week or more here. This is a new favorite place of ours. Happy to be back here! The site we wanted wasn’t available, so we’re in one across the road with another fabulous view.

View from our Rpod trailer.

The drive up to this campground at 4000′ shows mostly desert environment, with loads of saguaro cactus along the way.

Entrance into the Coronado National Forest.

Since we are only at 4000′, we are not beyond the high desert. As you keep on climbing though, the environment changes. And the rock formations are awesome! Once we drive further up the mountail, I’ll post more photos.

Our rig at site #18.

Last night we watched the Super Moon at a 7100′ elevation, and super it was! I couldn’t get a good photo of it with this camera, but was able to get a decent shot of the sunset!

Sunset at 7100′.

See you soon!

Wildness Surrounds Tucson

Tucson, Arizona is a big city with loads of people and traffic and commerce and more. You might think “typical city”, but it isn’t because it is surrounded by four beautiful mountain ranges. No matter which way you turn, you’ll see either the Santa Catalinas, Rincons, Santa Ritas or Tucsons. And seeing those earthy brown mountains against the deep blue sky, well, it is a gorgeous scene!

We decided to take the Rpod up to Mt. Lemmon, in Coronado National Forest, in the Santa Catalina mountains for some camping. After some research, we decided to camp for a week at the Molino Basin campground at 4,400′. What a great decision! It is a small campground, with just a few sites for rv’s up to 22′, with the rest as tent sites. There’s a good amount of space between campsites, so it felt open and airy, yet we had decent privacy (site #19). Each site had a picnic table, grill and fire pit. The campsites offered spectacular views 360 degrees around. Mountains, still some desert vegetation, many hiking trails, and great birds (four red-tailed hawks kettling, a female harrier, western bluebird, Steller’s jay, pyrrhuloxia, gray-breasted jay, ruby-crowned kinglet, bridled titmouse, phainopepla, and cactus wren) were everywhere.

The ride up the mountain is via a two lane paved road starting out as the Catalina Highway, with a couple of name changes as you head up the mountain. At the base, lots of saguaro cactus along with other species of cactus dominated the scenery. Some incredible rock formations, sheer drops into canyons, changing vegetation and ecosystems as we rode still further up just captivated us. You know how it is when you see something gorgeous and all you can do is sigh and say “wow!”. We were doing this at the base of the mountain to the top of Mt. Lemmon! It just felt great being in this place, complete with bear warnings and notices of mountain lion sightings! (We saw neither!)

Another pretty cool phenomenon was the number of bicyclists, cycling up and up the mountain, only to turn around and fly down to the bottom! We were excited for their accomplishments, yet a little melancholy that we have moved on from our own cycling adventures of the 1990’s. (No complaints though as we love our mode of travel now!)

Along the road up the mountain, there were many pull-outs, scenic vistas, a small visitors center, picnic areas, and trailheads. Also, a number of campgrounds dotted the way. We pulled off to check out the Rose Canyon campground, where desert had turned to oak and pine woods. The temperature was noticeably cooler and it definitely felt like autumn. Temps in Tucson (daytime) were in the eighties, where temps up the mountains dipped into the low forties at night and seventies during the day.

At the top of Mt. Lemmon there is a small town, or village, called Summerhaven at about 8,200′. There we found a couple of restaurants with outdoor seating, a general store/gift shop and some twisty-turny streets perfect for exploration. But what really grabbed our attention was a realtors office complete with several bird feeders and they were jammin’ with lots of our avian friends. What did we see? Acorn woodpecker, mountain chickadee, bridled titmouse, yellow-eyed junco, pine siskin, yellow-rumped “Audubon” warblers, Abert’s towhee, and pygmy nuthatch. A Steller’s jay flew in briefly as did a pyrrholuxia. Plus a good number of Abert’s squirrels were making off with the seeds that dropped to the ground. Next time we’re here we will visit the ski area on the mountain; “always save something for next time”!)

We had mostly clear skies (jewel-toned blue) and brilliant sunshine, with only two days of cloudiness. Just about every night was clear and the starry, starry sky was truly a sight to behold! At 8,200′, ambient light wasn’t an issue, and constellations, stars and planets, along with a satellite or two and a falling star, were all ours to enjoy. The Milky Way and Pleiades were quite noticeable, too. More of those “oh, wow” sighs heard each night.

There are quite a few hiking trails to choose from, so we got up and walked well-maintained paths. The trail network went from campground to campground near us and we often watched hikers and mountain bikers on distant trails.

On our departure day, we struggled with having to leave, it was that special on the mountain. But, we did head back down to continue our visit with my sister, Harriet. When she had her own commitments, we tooled around Tucson, stopping here and there until we all got together later. We have been happy having this time to visit Harriet and we really like Tucson. Since we will pass through again in mid-January on our return to Texas from the west coast, we’ll check out the ski area and see Harriet once again! Meanwhile, we will begin heading west toward southern California on Monday, December 4th.

About photos…none here at this time, as I am now blogging on a Samsung tablet rather than the iPad I had been writing on. I have been told that the photos along with the prior blog posts cannot transfer from the iPad to the Samsung due to the different operating systems. So, I am going to wrestle with all of this to see what I might be able to do to get pics up for you!

We’ll be back soon!