Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tucson

We got to Tucson October 29.  This is the earliest in the “winter” that we’ve ever arrived at the Davis Monthan Air Force Base Fam Camp.  We've snowbirded here for at least a month for the last eight years. This year we'll be here longer.

The campground has 200 sites. Lots of them were empty when we arrived, but it’s close to full now and will probably stay that way into March.  We got a good spot with a big Arizona garden (gravel and two big mesquite trees) on the driver's side of the rig.  When the neighbors on the other side of the garden moved, so did we.  Now we step out of the rig onto our 100-foot-wide personal desert.

We’re into our usual Tucson routine of going to the gym, walking the dogs, enjoying the weather and exploring.  And we "explored" a lot of brew pubs.  So far we’ve been to Crooked Tooth, Public House, Borderlands, Yard House, Harbottle, Arizona Beer House, Barrio, Gentle Ben's, and Ten55.  (It's kind of embarrassing to type the names of all those brew pubs, but Jim says it's research so he can properly entertain friends who plan to visit in February. Oh sure.) They were all good but Jim gives an extra rave review to Borderlands.

We've also gone to see the movie "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" with Melissa McCarthy, taken a couple of trips to to nearby Saguaro National Park east, met people at the campground, and done some Christmas shopping.  And we've taken care to two sick doggies -- especially our smaller one Maddie, but both are better now. We can highly recommend the Pantano Animal Clinic on East 22nd Street, plus my veterinarian brother Bob who has helped us a gazlilion times.

In a few days we'll drive back to Salt Lake for the holidays.  It won’t take too long for us to get our fill of snow --- then we’ll be back in Tucson.  
A RV decorated for the holidays at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.
Saguaro National Park East has a short trail where you can take dogs, so we hiked it. With all the nearby cactus I have to keep Maddie on an especially short leash so she doesn't try to dive for a rabbit under a cholla.

How the RV park looked when we first got to Tucson. That's our rig and tow car to the right.  
We hiked a four-mile trail at Saguaro National Park on a cloudy and cool Thanksgiving Day.  After the hike we had a Boston Market turkey dinner with extra Bob Evans potatoes and store-bought pie.  Easiest Thanksgiving ever. 
As seen on Saguaro National Park's Cactus Forest Drive -- a mostly one-way  eight-mile loop.
One night on a trip to the commissary, Bev took this photo of a low full moon. 
A downtown Tucson mural.
The not especially scenic front door to Public House brew pub.  It's off an alley near Tucson's Fourth Avenue area, which is full of small shops and restaurants.
This is what can happen when someone (not us) pulls their RV into a campground late at night with a big rig and can't see well enough to navigate a turn.  Jim and another camper used a hand truck to move the displaced rock back to where it belonged.  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

An Adventure in Pig Chasing

I have to post about the “it takes a village” moment we had in Ehrenburg, Arizona, while on our way to Tucson.  Ehrenburg is a little (population about 1,500 people) town on the Colorado River and just across the water from California. It's also right on Interstate 10.

Because it's on the river, it has several big RV parks. And because it's on the interstate it also has a Flying J Truck Stop, where we stopped to get gas before checking in for the night as one of the campgrounds.

As Jim was pumping gas, I noticed a man carrying a small but empty pet carrying case. A tiny pig was trotting in front of him. So cute. But the pig owner (I’ll call him PO) was not walking his well-behaved, off-leash pig. Apparently Bacon Bit escaped from the truck stop dog run. I told PO I’d help catch him. After all, I was a two-time greased pig catching champion at the Lorain County Fair in Ohio. How hard can it be to grab a miniature pig? Turns out plenty.

We followed little Bacon Bit, who scampered toward the back of the truck stop. PO circled behind him. I stayed in front. We closed in. Bacon Bit squeaked past and went toward the pumps. Several others, including Jim, saw what was going on and joined in. 

Bacon Bit hid under a Prius; a big group surrounded the car. I almost touched piggy and the owner actually did. But Bacon Bit squealed and escaped. 

Several times Bacon Bit came close to getting hit by a car or truck, but many folks (including a Colin Kaepernick doppleganger -- that guy could run) blocked him from danger.

Now about 20 people, including a Flying J employee, were helping. Bacon Bit got under a second car; humans lay on the oily asphalt to create a human fence. (When humans use their bodies to corral a pig, are we creating a human fence or a pig fence?) 

Then: Success! Bacon Bit was in the hands of a very nice man and went back in the carrier. Jim said at that point he thought about yelling “BLTs for everyone!” But we’re glad little Bacon Bit is on his way home. And they should change his name to Houdini.
The finally captured little piggy.  The owner told us they'd has a previous pet pig that was "laid back."  Not so this one. He's gonna be a challenge.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Turned a Ten-Hour Drive into a Seven-Day Trip

October 23-28

After a week in San Luis Obispo we made our way to Tucson by staying away from LA freeways and driving no more than 150 mikes a day. We are slow but sure. Plus we like to see new places -- even if all we see is a campground.

First stop: A night in Bakersfield, CA, at the Kern River Run RV Park -- a well-maintained campground we visited after our 2017 trip to see Paul and Kat.  Last time we explored the town and went to brew pubs.This time we walked the dogs around the RV park.  Also last time the Kern River was full and flowing. Now the Kern is a completely dry wash.

Boron, CA: Odd little campground (Arabian RV Oasis) with super nice staff. Boron is a town of about 2,500 people named after an ore discovered here in 1913. According to Wikipedia, Boron is home to the largest borax mine in the world. Main Street is called “Twenty Mule Team Road”

Twentynine Palms, CA: We’ve long talked about visiting Joshua Tree National Park and got the chance when we stayed in Twentynine Palms, a city of about 25,000 people. It's home to the main entrance to Joshua Tree and also to the world's largest marine corps training base.

The campground we stayed at --Twentynine Palms RV Resort and Cottages -- left a bad first impression. The site we were assigned looked like a trash can. Seriously, it was a mess so we asked for and got a new one. Two very nice guys quickly came out to clean the old site plus trim the bushes on our new one so we could back in properly. 

Jim didn't recover from that first impression but I kind of grew to like the campground. There was a work out room, a really nice indoor pool, and lots of room to walk the dogs.  We stayed there two nights and that was the only two-night stop on our way to Tucson.

Day two at Twentynine Palms was spent at the national park. Dogs can’t be on most national park trails, but Joshua Tree has one short dog-friendly trail near the visitors center, plus dogs are allowed on dirt roads. So we got in several miles of dog/park walking.

Next stop: Ehrenburg, AZ,  where we stayed one night at a place called Desert Oasis, right on the Colorado River. Again we just walked and walked and walked around the campground.  

Then it was another one nighter in Gila Bend at a KOA where we didn't even unhook the car. The campground sites were huge and the place was spotless.

October 29 we got to the Davis Monthan Fam Camp, an Air Force Base RV park we’ve stayed at least part of the winter for the last eight years.  We signed up for a five month stay which will be our longest Tucson stay ever. 
A typical town scene in Boron, California. It was a little dry and dusty.
Bev and Maddie at Joshua Tree National Park, which became a national monument in 1936 and a national park in 1994.  The park includes parts of the Mohave Desert and the Colorado Desert. They'd had a huge rainstorm  that caused damage a few weeks before we arrived, but we didn't see any evidence of it.
Bare boulders and Joshua trees make up most of the park scenery that we saw, giving the park a kind of "moonscape desert" look.  Joshua trees are actually a type of yucca plant.  I read that the plant got its name from Mormon settlers who said the plant reminded them of a biblical story in which Joshua raised his arms to the sky in prayer.
The Colorado River at sunset as seen from the Desert Oasis RV Park in Ehrenberg, Arizona. This photo is much prettier than most of the RV park. But it was good for an overnighter and had great access to the river.
The KOA in Gila Bend has what they call a "pet house suite"-- an RV site with a patio, grill, and a fenced area for dogs.  We did not take the "pet house" -- instead that's our rig next door.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

San Luis Obispo, CA

October 16-23

Next it was a week in San Luis Obispo -- a favorite place of ours for very good reasons.  It's a fun town with lots to do in a beautiful setting. And it’s where our son Paul and his girlfriend Kat live.

We went out to eat -- probably too many times -- at a small fraction of SLO's great restaurants. We were treated to a lovely dinner at the home of Kat’s delightful and gracious parents. We took the dogs (many times) to an off leash dog park at El Charro Regional Park, which was close to where we camped. We went to downtown San Luis Obispo's huge Farmers Market. Paul and I took a shopping trip to an outlet mall in nearby Pismo Beach.  We all drove north to see elephant seals near San Simeon. We were entertained by Paul and Kat's four (yes four) of the best-behaved house cats I have ever seen.

We love you, Paul and Kat! 
 A few of the elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery in San Simeon, CA. The northern elephant seal is the largest seal in the northern hemisphere.  Adult males weight up to 5000 pounds and are 14-16 feet long. The seals spend 8-10 months in the open ocean, then come to the land-based rookery to give birth, breed, molt and rest. 

Our tow car and rig at the Camp San Luis Obispo RV Park, which has just 12 sites.  The base was established in 1928 as the original home of the California Army National Guard.  It's now a national guard training center and home to two paramilitary youth programs.
Kat and Paul.  Jim said, "Gee, Paul looks like he's 35," sounding surprised.  Well, he almost is. He's our baby; our kiddos are all grown up.