Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Leaving Tucson

I know some of you were thinking that we would never leave Tucson, but it is time to move on. The weather here has been great. However, it is time to see new things, so tomorrow we are moving down to the area around Sierra Vista. This area is a world renowned birding site.

Our Montana Owners forum friends, Jim and Jan Spencer, came to spend a couple of days with us this week.

It was great to see them
again and to play tour guide for them.

First we took them to the Sonora Desert Museum. Kathy and I went there 3 times in 6 days and always found something new.

Scott’s Oriole in the aviary

Next we took Jim and Jan to Saguaro National Park. We drove the Bajada Loop to get an overall idea of the park, though most of it is made for hiking trails.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tucson Update Part 3

We had only planned to stay in Tucson for two weeks, but we lost a lot of time while we were sick.

Also, we received an email from MOC friends Jim and Jan Spencer from Vermont. They are headed back to Vermont from Southern California by way of Texas and are coming through Tucson, so we are staying awhile longer to see them again.

For a couple of people who call themselves BirdingRVers, we have been doing very little formal birding. However, on Saturday we went on a Bird Walk at the Sonora Desert Museum. They have a docent lead walk every morning at 8:30. Our group only had six people, two of whom called themselves “newbies” to birding. We didn’t see a lot of birds but got very good looks at the ones we did see. New to our Arizona list were, Orange-crowned Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We also saw several Cardinals, Cactus Wrens, Curved-billed Thrasher, Pyrrhuloxia, and Phainopepla.

The weather has been very nice here in Tucson the past week. The overnight low have been in the 50s and day time temperatures have been in the 70s with alternating mostly cloudy to mostly sunny skies.

Bird note: We have seen 30 species of birds here in Tucson

Mammal note: We have been seeing Coyotes while driving or walking on the desert about one every two or three days and we have heard them every night since we arrived.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tucson Update Part Two

We have been really getting out and about the last few days.

Wednesday we went to the Sonora Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum . This is really more of an outdoor zoo than a museum and it has all of the wildlife of the Sonora Desert. We began and ended our day with a visit to the hummingbird aviary and spent hours wandering around looking at all of the exhibits.

Thursday we went to San Xavier del Bac Mission about 10 miles south of Tucson. The original mission was founded in 1692. The current church was built 1783 – 1797. As you can see from our pictures it has been undergoing restoration. We were surprised at how much smaller this mission is compared to the California Missions that we are more familiar with.

Friday we went to the Pima Air & Space Museum . The museum has over 275 air planes and helicopters. Although, most are military they also have commercial civilian planes as well. They even have a piece of actual Moon rock. We got to walk through President Kennedy’s Air Force One. The planes are from the 1930s through the 1990s.
They also have some very unique airplanes like the Super Guppy and the SR-71.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tucson Update Part One

We have started to get around again after being sick. Our first venture out was to the Saguaro National Park to drive one of their scenic dirt roads. We did is on the Sunday of the Presidents Day weekend. As we drove by the Sonora Desert Museum the parking area was so busy people were parking in the dirt off the road. We continued on to Saguaro National Park and found most turnouts and parking areas to be very busy. It is funny but, a month ago I had written about how strange it was to have the state park in Yuma all to ourselves and now I am surprised to see other people in the parks. The scenic loop was 5 miles of “high ground clearance” road. When I bought the truck to pull our 5th wheel I debated buying 4 wheel drive or not and finally did because it wasn’t any more expensive and there were a lot more available. I can’t believe how many times we have used the 4 wheel drive just in the past month.

The Diamond J RV Park is a new still under construction RV Park 10 miles outside of Tucson. The RV Park is adjacent to Tucson Mountain County Park which is 20,000 acres. The county park is in turn adjacent to Saguaro National Park which is another 90,000 acres. So Diamond J sits out here in the desert far from everywhere and is very quiet. The down side is it is 10 miles just to get back to town and a long drive pretty much anywhere. It is a 30 mile round trip just to get groceries! After being stuck in the trailer for most of a week due to illness we had to run errands and buy groceries. It is 15 miles in one direction to the grocery store, 20 miles in a different direction to Camping World, and 25 miles in yet another direction to our credit union! Also due to construction all of the on and off ramps to I – 10 in central Tucson are closed. It took us 4 and half hours and 55 miles of driving just to go to the credit union and to buy groceries.

For years I have heard Retirees say “I don’t know when I had time to work”. I always thought they said that because they were doing so many new things but, now I find it just takes so long to run errands! A typical day we get up at 6 AM but aren’t ready to leave until 9:30 or 10, then 4 plus hours to run an errand and we are back just in time for afternoon nap, with luck we wakeup just in time for happy hour and dinner. A whole day gone just running one errand!

Astronomy note:

The total lunar eclipse on the 20th was clouded out here in Tucson. It had been cloudy in the morning but, cleared up nicely in the afternoon, toward sunset the clouds came back. All we saw was a little of the beginning through the clouds. Next chance is December 2010.

Bird note:

We have added Brewers Sparrow and Phainopepla to this year’s bird list.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tucson Week One

Yes, we have been in Tucson a full week and have been sick most of it. I think we are both finally getting better. My ribs hurt from coughing and blowing my nose so much. Naturally, now that we are getting better the weather is getting worse. Every day we have been sick the weather has been beautiful with highs in the mis-70s. Today, it has been very windy, mostly cloudy and high of maybe mid-60s.

The pictures in today’s blog were taken when we first arrived here.

The desert here is very different from the desert at Quartzsite; it has many more plants and birds. My first morning walk I saw more species birds than I saw birds in Quartzsite. There are many different kinds cactus and plants.

New to this year’s bird list was the Black-throated Sparrow.

We got here the day before our friends Fred & Jo Whishnie left so we got to spend a little time with them and catch up. Also here when we arrived were Jim & Ellie Meacham , you might remember we met them in Paso Robles our very first night as fulltimers. New people we met the first day we were here are Doug & JoAnn Dubrouillet . Although we had never met them before I have been reading their blog since May of last year. This coming weekend all six of them are caravaning down to Mexico for a few weeks.

Before getting sick we were able to get a few errands taken care of. One of these was to go the Wild Birds Unlimited and get a new pole for our bird feeders. It is near impossible to pound a conventional feeder pole into the rocks of the desert. The new pole has a stand with a 24 inch diameter to support it. We were also able to make a stop at Bookman’s Used book store it is the largest, busiest, neatest used bookstore I have ever seen. Kathy wanted to pick up a few books in a series of mysteries, they had them real cheap!

Grant and Raider working on the blog

Views from our site at Diamond J RV Park

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tucson Update

We are both still recovering from the colds that we have, but are definitely on the mend. The worse of it is the difficulty sleeping with your lungs filling up. Unfortunately, I seemed to have gotten over the cold just in time to have a near terminal case of hay fever! My hay fever medicine isn't doing any good and I can’t sleep. This is so frustrating as the weather here continues to be in the mid-70 and we haven't left the trailer in days. We will be extending our stay here at least another week, because we haven’t gotten to see hardly any of the area.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We are sick

There was something going around at the MOC Rally in Quartzsite and apparently we have come down with it a little delayed. We are coughing, have sore throats and general feel very tired no matter how much sleep we get.

I will update the blog once I am feeling better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Quartzsite to Casa Grande

I know some of you thought we would never leave Quartzsite but, on Tuesday we finally left. After 15 days in Quartzsite, we had planned to move on down towards Casa Grande on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5th. However, the wind woke me at 6:00 this morning, blowing from the rear of the trailer and flapping the slide awnings! I laid there thinking, “I don’t recall hearing the wind blow so hard at this hour before!” Not a good sign! I thought, “well, as long as the gusts don’t get as harsh as yesterday we’ll be OK to pack up. It would be a tail wind down there and help our mileage! :-)

However, Grant slept in until 7:45 so there was no chance for an early start, especially after he fired up the generator, (to make coffee and run the router for the computers) and started surfing the net! By 9:30 we were ready to face the task of packing up!

By 11:30 we had everything stowed, including the new satellite dish, and said our “Good Byes” to the remaining MOC group. They couldn’t believe we had planned to come for only a couple of days and stayed 15 nights! That was, of course, before we had the generator, which made life a little easier out in the boon docks! And the best thing: the wind had died down to just a breeze.

Traveling down I-10 is quite unique in this part of Arizona. Yes, there are lots of trucks, but just as many big RV’s, too. The scenery is wonderful, with long mesas of desert punctuated with sharp rising mountains! You can literally see 60 miles away or more. After all of the rain they’ve had this past week, the desert was definitely turning green. A beautiful contrast of the dark red rocks and green landscaping. Unfortunately, there are no turnouts to pull over and take pictures!

You glide up one rise, crest over the top and look down another huge vista of desert. The higher areas have more saguaro cactus than the lower elevations, all with comical poses. The lower elevations had more bare landscaping, small creosote bushes, no cactus, with signs warning “Blowing Dust Area”.

As we came over the last ridge and looked down on Casa Grande, we could see a very spread out metropolis. so different from all of the previous valleys. Checking the GPS, it found us Buena Tierra RV Park right near where I-10 and I-8 merge, as well as a railroad running through. Oh joy! It’s a nice park, perfect for a couple of days, but I wouldn’t stay here more than that! Especially after our space in Quartzsite had an unobstructed view of the wonderful open desert, there wasn’t anybody near us for miles! The closest Montana was 40 feet in front of us, but there are no windows in the very front of our trailer! J I will miss the quiet and peaceful ambience. Here the trucks run 24-7, though fortunately, the train isn’t as active!

This park will do, at least we have full hook ups: electricity on demand, water without worrying how much to use and the spaces are nice and big. We opted for a pull through so Grant wouldn’t have to worry about backing in! After lifting the generators back into the truck this morning at Q, it had done a number on his back. Plus the drive of 4 ½ hours made it more tense, it was fine with me to pay the extra fee for a Pull Through.

Today we have to get the laundry done, after more than a week piling up in the hamper and get groceries to restock the fridge and pantry.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fierce Wind and Super Bowl Party

We awoke to a very strong wind on Super Bowl Sunday and it got stronger as the day went on; even with our new stabilizers the wind rocked the trailer all day and our slide toppers (little awnings over each slide) made noise all day long. The weather service said we had sustained winds at 35 mph and gust to 48 mph; here at Quartzsite there is nothing to block the wind. The few brief times we took Raider outside it was cold and windy!

We spent most of the day reading and Kathy prepared appetizers for the Super Bowl Party. We have 4 trailers still here from the Montana Rally and 8 people. Dave and Kelly Anderson hosted a Super Bowl party for all. It is amazing that you can get 8 people into one trailer. I didn’t really care who won the game but, as I am sure you know by now it was an exciting game. As at all RV functions we had way too much food and I am sure that no one had dinner after the game. Although all of the food was very good the best of the evening had to be Kelly Anderson’s seared scallops.

The wind dropped to speeds in the teens or twenties by the end of the game and then it started to rain.

By 9 AM today the wind and the rain showers started back up and the weather forecast is for gusts to 25 mph today so we are going to wait another day before moving on.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tourist Day and More Quartzsite

The actual London Bridge

We were going to leave Quartzsite on Friday but, we refilled our water tank and are now staying “a few more” days. Others have decided to stay as well but we are down to 6 Montanas and have picked up two Motorhomes, (friends of one of the Montana owners).

Plans are being made for a Super Bowl Party here in the desert.

Montana 5th wheels have mountain decals on their sides as part of the logo. Several of the Montana Owners have added decals to personalize their 5th wheels. Most have added a moose walking out of the existing logo mountains; some have added prospectors with a mule or Jeeps driving up the logo mountains. We didn’t want to be left out so, on Thursday we personalized our mountains by adding decals. We added a moose walking out of the mountains and of course we added birds.

We added geese flying out of the mountains and an eagle flying toward the mountains on the other side.

Because we are in Arizona we also added a Road Runner

However to really personalize our rig we added our name to the back of the trailer.

While driving up from Yuma we saw what was south of Quartzsite and saw what was west of Quartzsite when we went to Blythe. Today we went to see what was north of Quartzsite to Havasu City to see the London Bridge

and Parker to see the Parker Dam.

It was a beautiful drive, the desert had a green carpet of plants starting to appear after last weekend’s rain. This March should be a spectacular wildflower season!

Bird note:

We added Red-tail Hawk and Ferruginous Hawk to our Quartzsite Bird list today.

Astronomy note:

The Quartzsite night sky is amazing. There is a slight light dome from Parker and Havasu City and you can see some lights from downtown Quartzsite. However, now that we are past the full moon and the moon is rising later the sky is very dark. We have never seen the winter Milky Way look so bright and of course an amazing number of stars. Unfortunately the nights that are clear are very windy and COLD! The nights when there isn’t any wind are not clear and are just COLD. So, we haven’t taken out the telescopes at all but, just go out to look at the stars for a few minutes before going to bed.