Saturday, February 3, 2018

2018-5 Tucson Arizona, Fort Huachuca and Garden Canyon


A favorite shot from our day trip
to Fort Huachuca

Tucson AZ

Campground: 2761 West Ajo hwy, Tucson AZ 85746. Allen Anderson compound. 520-975-5433. $500 month rate includes full hookups, electric included. Well maintained private property with a few Rv sites, one MH and the owners House.

my campsite views for the next month or two

the owners motor-home is to the right and his house

my patio view

Campground: Casino Del Sol. Free parking lot camping

Casino Del Sol

getting ready to pull out, I was able to use the
large parking lot to adjust my Trailer breaks as well

Distance traveled: 6 miles

I enjoyed my stay over at the casino, for free and even won $50 in free play and came out with $28 cash in hand. After my 4 day stay, I was able to move to the private gated compound over on Ajo Highway.

The next day I drove over to Desert Trails campground and started the weekly “Travel Club”. We had a great group of folks and filled the main activity building to capacity. I enjoy sharing my Rv tips and discussing all the great places to explore and visit in each state. We spent the whole afternoon on the state of Arizona and barely had time to finish.

The afternoon concluded with a happy hour over at Ruth-Ann’s place and we ended up having a large crowd for an impromptu get-together.

a spontaneous happy hour at Ruth-Ann's

Fort Huachuca

base housing, Fort Huachuca (Army)

At the end of the week Tom and Christine took me over to Fort Huachuca for a day trip to see the forts museum and hike up Garden Canyon to the Pictographs along the canyon walls. Purely by accident we took a more scenic route through Sierra Vista and past the Empire Ranch, a place I plan on camping at this coming spring. Speaking of spring, it is currently in the 79-80 degree range all this week, hardly feeling like the winter months at all.

a large semi-truck went off the road
and through a guard rail

front end messed up

love love love these views

ahhhh, what views to come

nice having Tom drive so I can take pictures along the way

too awesome

it's like the grasses have captured sunlight and
reflecting it back

we are close to the Mexican border, check points on all the roads

thanks Tom and Christine for stopping
so I can take pictures along the way

Getting back to the drive over to Fort Huachuca, along hwy 82 and 83, through Sonyta, we picked up elevation, bordering some great mountain vistas, cattle ranches and vineyards. The scenery is simply awesome, the dried yellow prairie grasses against the darker mountain ranges. The two lane roads following the natural contours of the land.

Once at Fort Huachuca we were able to learn about this once western outpost which guarded the territory from Apache Indians and incursions from across the Mexican border. Along with learning about it’s “Buffalo Soldiers” the Black American Army soldiers who were deployed out here. As well as learning about it’s newest mission as a training ground for Unmanned drones (planes).

a couple of the very first Unmanned Drones

Buffalo Soldiers

The highlight though would be driving up into Garden Canyon, that is after we finally found the right road leading into the canyon. Had a nice picnic before exploring the canyon. It wasn’t so much of a hike as it was a drive in Tom’s new Ram Truck, then touring the cliff overhangs that contained the Pictographs on both sides of the canyon. They are protected by a chain link fence, even though they are on military grounds. Thankfully little damage has been done and the colors of some of the pictographs are still quite vivid.

Garden Canyon

we'll find that canyon, it's that way

road leading to Garden Canyon

a water falls for
Garden Canyon

Garden Canyon

now here's a canyon wall
pictographs in reds, blues and black and white

I’ll be in the Tucson area for the next couple of months and will post another update if I come across anything interesting to report on. Until then, I hope you're journey is filled with new discoveries around every corner.

can you see why I enjoy traveling out west????

This journey, to be continued.....

more photos:

a shot of downtown Tucson

Sunday, January 28, 2018

2018-4 Tucson Arizona


in the desert southwest, the roads follow the
terrain sometimes with roller-coaster affect

Tucson AZ

Campground: Gilbert Ray county park. $20 30 amp electric. Water and dump station available. Stunning location but campsites are old and rather small/tight for many larger campers.7 night max stay.  constant moving of campers in and out of campsites.  Caution, narrow roads, congestion.

Gilbert Ray, a county park

Casino Del Sol
Campground: Casino Del Sol. Free dry camping, large parking lot in the rear and side of casino.

Campground: Private property. Gated with house/swimming pool and a couple of mobile home lots converted to Rv lot. $500 includes electric. 50 amp, full hookups

I was not able to get an rv spot at Desert Trails, a very popular RV community with the snowbird crowd, so I’ll be staying on a lot on private property off of Ajo Highway.

And I’ll be spending a few more days Boondocking before I arrive at the private RV lot site. Along with a lot of road construction around this side of town and I checked out a small parcel of BLM land that Rv-ers use for free camping. Unfortunately with the road construction and recent grading to make larger roadside ditches for water runoff, the BLM site is difficult to get into, with large ruts and that graded ditch preventing easy access. My fifth wheel camper would be bouncing off of the trucks bed rails for sure. I even drove the truck through the site accesses and I was bouncing up and down all over the place before getting to flat terrain.

The other option for the few extra days of dry camping is a casino parking lot and that will do just fine for my needs this time around.

I’ve already met up with a few great RV friends staying at Desert Trails and look forward to starting up my “Travel Club” at Desert Trails. Even though I won’t be staying there, it’s nice to have the opportunity to share with like minded travelers. Each meeting will cover a few Rv tips, online resources and smartphone apps before we get into the main event of the travel club which is to discuss various States to visit and what’s interesting to visit, unique places, which roads to use or not to use. Providing lots of tips for visiting those National parks, state parks, and the many lesser known and out of the way places off the main radar.

Gilbert Ray.

Gilbert Ray Campground, desert sunsets

Surrounded by the Saguaro National Park, which actually sits on the east and west side of Tucson, Gilbert Ray county park couldn’t be a more pristine location. The park is showing its age, as many of the campsites are small and not all that easy to get into. After backing into my campsite, the truck was completely blocking the roadway. Needless to say, I had a backup of about a half a dozen vehicles waiting for me to disconnect the camper from the truck and move the truck out of the roadway. Couldn’t be helped.

Gilbert Ray, a CCC restroom

There are of course many hiking trails in the surrounding Saguaro desert. Today I walked around the park and after seeing an old stone building, minus it’s roof I had the beginnings of a day of exploring. The stone structure was apparently one of the early restrooms. After taking a few great shots of it, I came across two cactus that looked like cactus brains. Hadn’t seen this type of barrel cactus before. 

the concrete picnic table spaced out indicate
this was probably a group campsite at one time
most unusual cactus

remnants of an old dirt road....

remains of picnic table as campsites
since abandoned on road with sign Exit do not enter

abandoned campsites

large Ramada's at end of road.  Looks like camp workers
now use these premium sites with stone fireplaces,
all at end of road with Exit sign do not enter....

 A short distance along an old dirt path I came across a circle of benches and concrete picnic tables and beyond it an old paved road with only an “exit” sign, discouraging anyone from going down it. Of course I had to see where it led. Apparently this roadway was once part of the campground with campsites, as I came across a number of dismantled concrete picnic tables designating once original campsites. It wouldn’t have been easy to dismantle those picnic tables as they are very well constructed. At the end of the road were 4 campers surrounding a turn-a-round loop with large Ramadas at each campsite. Looks like they made this into a private area for some of the work campers as the ramadas are very large and would have originally been used for group campsites. With such an unbelievably popular campground (they limit stays to 7 days), you’d think they would revamp all these abandoned campsites. Off to one side, it looked like an old dirt road going out into the desert which I’ll try and explore further in the next day or so. How interesting to see a part of the park closed off to the general public and little used. What fun to explore a part of the original design of the park, now disguised behind the only entrance to it with an exit do-not-enter sign.

such good friends at Tiny's Bar
Gail Hanley took the pic.
Well it’s off to “Tiny’s” bar and restaurant to join up with my Desert Trails friends.... Average food, good beer and great company.

The Saguaro Cactus

  • The Saguaro grow very slowly, only about an inch or two each year for the first 6 to 8 years.
  • It can take 70 years before they grow arms
  • They reach a mature height of 40 to 50 feet in about 150 years
  • The tallest may reach 75 feet in height

The world's largest Gem and Mineral show has started here in Tucson with multiple venues throughout the city and convention center. It goes on for a couple of weeks. It has become so popular that one of the block long enclosed tents on opening day (25 Jan) had a line two blocks long waiting to get inside.

A walk through Kings Canyon

the return trip took me through the center of the canyon floor

a CCC built restroom, no longer used

the old mining road along the east side of the canyon

the old mining road along the east side of the canyon wall

this cactus is well over 100 years old and
at least 40 to 50 feet high 

the return walk the the center of the canyon

Native Indian petroglyphs are everywhere out west 
before written language, there were symbols and pictures

during monsoon season, water will cascade down these walls

Distance traveled: 9.9 miles (twenty minutes)

Staying on the west side of town, I’ve moved over to the casino parking lot for 4 nights. It’s been nice meeting up with fellow Rv-ers in the Tucson area. From dinner parties, playing Mexican Train, happy hour and even taking in a movies with the guys. We saw the western movie “We are all
Hostiles”. Lots of killing but appropriate for the type of film, portraying the many mistakes man makes and of course the deaths that accompany it. Hopefully we will learn from it all one day.

Well it’s a usual sunny day here in Arizona, refreshing mid 70’s and evening temps down the 45-50 degree range. Enjoy the day....

more pictures:

a stillness comes around sunset