Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2019-21 End of the Year Wrap-up Tucson Arizona


Arizona Sunsets

End of the Year Wrap up.
Time frame OCTOBER, NOVEMBER 2019

The following report is a bit of a wrap up of the travel season. I had planned on touring for at least a month or more in New Mexico, but still having concerns over my eye pressures (glaucoma) I ended up cutting my travels short by almost two months.

Heading to my winter location, Tucson, I was able to have a few pre-eye exams. I say it that way, as the main doctor wasn’t available, most likely he was on an extended vacation. So after a few preliminary tests, I was sent up to Mesa AZ a half hour journey, where I would have the more extensive test done. Along with finally having the good Dr actually do an eye pressure test. This was all done by Mid October, having to wait a couple weeks just to get into the office up in Mesa.

Good news is that my eye pressures are back to a stable lower eye pressure, but with my left eye continuing to deteriorate, I am requesting a more aggressive stance to insure little or at least less damage be the byword.

So with that out of the way for now, (additional surgeries and exams scheduled in Dec/Jan), I was able to concentrate on getting additional repairs done on the camper. Thought I might be able to do it myself or with help from my Rv buddies but since they are not around this early in the season, I ended up calling and getting the RV Doctor to come out and repair the damage done to the slide out. Long story short, he was able to fix the “pan slide” with a solid piece of aluminum sheeting as well as improve the jerking that was occurring when the slide was pulled in. Come to find out lubricating the slide Teflon rollers did the job.

Wrapping up the repairs on the last day before once again heading out, was to say the least cutting it short. Since my scheduled stay at Desert Trails is for the 1st of December, I have most of a month to explore Arizona.

Ajo AZ

Mural in Ajo, AZ

Which direction to head out first. Having a few options, I really didn’t know which direction I’d take until the morning I exited Desert Trails. Deciding to take the slower, back roads heading to Yuma, took Old Ajo (hwy 86 to hwy 85) going through Tohono O’Odham nation reservation land. Passing through Sells, Why and staying a few days in Ajo.

Sells Az, Indian Reservation land

RV tip: hwy 85 and 86, though being a two lane road is good for Rv travelers especially on weekends. I drove the route on Sunday and there was little to no traffic. Making for a very pleasant trip.

The town of Ajo is surrounded by huge mounds of mining tailings. The mines are not active today after depleting the ore. The town has reinvented itself mostly as a retirement community and somewhat of a small arts community. There are some nice murals around town and the large school is now an arts incubator.

Center of Train Station plaza

restored shops along the Train Station plaza

I’m here, just to experience a small remote community and to visit the Organ Pipe National Monument. A unique desert community and it sits right on the Mexican boarder. The Organ Pipe cactus being the highlight of this desert landscape. All the roads in the park are dirt roads, many requiring high clearance vehicles, all except hwy 86 which is paved through the park leading into Mexico. Of course I had to drive a section of the dirt road along the boarder to see the new boarder wall going up. It was a bit of a tight squeeze occasionally what with huge flat bed trailers and construction vehicles traveling the same park visitor tour route along the boarder. The see thru wall is going up of course, providing a narrow view of Mexico on the other side.

Organ Pipe cactus on the right.

newly completed boarder wall

sections of the new boarder wall ready to go up

they have already discovered that the sections can
easily be cut with common electric metal cutters

view of Mexico, will of course stop people and natural
migration of animals as well

My stay in Ajo, at the golf course was uneventful, opting to pay the $5 a night fee (no hookups) even though could have stayed almost across the street on free BLM land, but the golf course had some eucalyptus shade trees making for a nice temporary campsite. This small community golf course appears to be run by all volunteers and is used mainly in the winter months.

Yuma AZ.

Yuma Date farms and irrigated vegetable farms surround the area 
BLM land next to a VFW 

art exhibit by grade school to high school
at their main Art Museum
did not appear that they had any permanent exhibits or
art collections

downtown art shop next to Art Museum

historic downtown, was mostly deserted
except for a couple of restaurants

school age art

impressive art museum space
currently dedicated to school age art exhibits

some exceptional line art drawings

downtown, historic district
lots of big box stores on edge of town

The next day and two hours later and I arrive in Yuma Az. A huge snowbird/rver mecca. I’m staying on BLM land, 14 day limit/free camping. Close to town and next door to a VFW. The camping area sits next to hwy 95 and railroad tracks. Trains come and go all day long and into the night, but it’s not overly noisy or at least it’s easy to get used to. Later in the evening after dark crop duster planes fly and buzz overhead. Wash those vegetables as they are covered with pesticides.

Stayed only a couple of day as I just wasn’t feeling Yuma all that much. Now it is a mecca for Winter Rv-ers and there are tons of places to land and enjoy the sun all winter long. But for some reason, it just felt odd to me. Like the sun was too bright, the sky was washed out blue and the town seemed to be the end things, like the great Colorado river as it’s many irrigation canals stretched out in all directions feeding thirsty farms on the Arizona and California sides. Now the Colorado actually travels further on down the Mexican and U.S. boarder, but as I understand it, barely a drop of water ends up in Mexico these days and no longer empties out into the Gulf of California (Mexico).

So on up the road I go following the Colorado River.

Quartzsite AZ.

Spending a few days at a Passport America park ($15.00 a night +.50 cents a day for water). This of course is another winter Rv-mecca, mainly for boonedockers though in-town there are plenty of cheap Rv sites to be had with full-hookups for cheap monthly rates. Average around $350 a month.

I met a number of locals, mostly retirees that have migrated here because it’s cheap living on a Social Security budget. Oh and the naked bookseller passed away this year. I’m sure he’s shaking his very tan touche up in heaven somewhere.

Pass Port America Campground, $14.50 a night
lots of BLM sites but nice to have electric

perfect timing and got to go on a history tour of town

Mayor,, plays the part of Buck Conner for the festival

I arrived in time to enjoy the George “Buck” Conner’s days. A festival honoring the local legend who had quite the storied career in both silent films and talkies as well as a military carrier, pilot, and working for and friend of legendary Wild Bill Cody. I joined a historical tour of town, learning about how it got it’s start on the site of Tyson’s Wells. It was like being on an extended local gossip “grape vine” learning about the small one room jail that was rarely used because it was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Judge Lacy would often take the prisoner to his house after sentencing him. Judge Hagely was the marrying Judge as he married lots of folks in town, having arrived from over the California boarder. You had to wait three days to get married in California and only one day to get married in Arizona. And anyone having traveled through Quartzsite will know the story of Hi Jolly aka Hadji Ali who was a camel master employed by the Arm during the late 1850’s as a trial use of camels in the desert SW.

It was fun going around to many of the historic sites, many in major disrepair or only containing a concrete foundation. Still the stories were terrific and really appreciate the sincere enthusiasm of the historic society for putting it on.

The next site after getting excellent directions ended up headed a short distance out into the desert on the south side of Quartzsite to see another Intaglio, this one of a large arrow and a humanoid figure. They say the arrow points to the fisherman, another intaglio on the north side of town which I had seen the last time I was in the area. Intaglio’s are images that have been draw in the hard baked desert surface, scraping away the rocks/peddles creating very large images that are best seen from the air. These and others just over the California boarder were first discovered years ago when a pilot flying over the area first saw them.

created by Native Indians over 1,000 years ago

heading to Intaglio site just on the edge of Quartszite AZ 

Parker AZ

casino, Indian reservation land above casino
they charged a couple folks to stay here

casino parking lot which is paved and below this site
is free parking but parking lot in not level
I stayed a few days and did not have to pay

Planned on staying at a great BLM site along the Colorado River, but after reading that they charged for the sites, some having Electric and water, which I would have gladly paid for, I called for reservations but never got a call back. So I’ve ended up on Casino Indian reservation property for a couple of days. Similar to a BLM boonedockers site, ie free.

Enjoyed a couple of days driving along the Colorado River both on the California and Arizona side. With many small communities of homes, cottages and Rv parks lining the river. I even drove up to Lake Havasu checking out Rv dealers as I am starting to search for a small Class B+ or Class C Rv to travel in during the summers. It must be small enough as it will be my only means of transportation as well as living accommodations. I’ll keep my current 5th wheel camper and truck and most likely leave them in AZ while traveling during the summer months and most likely will bring the 5th wheel and truck back to Florida/ Shelter Cove in a year or two.

BLM campground, no hookups
cheap and on the Colorado River

located on the California side of river
north of Parker AZ

many small communities of Mobile Homes and Rv sites
along the Colorado River (high season is summer for boating)

heading to Lake Havasu 

I enjoy traveling with my truck and 5th wheel, but figure with age, it would be nice to continue my travels using a smaller Rv. We’ll see what I can find and give it a go.


I’ve arrived back in Tucson, having bypassed my last destination which was to be the Empire Ranch. A BLM site (dry camping) as the weather for my last week of travels before returning to Tucson is expected to be rainy, cold and well just not very conducive to camping. Imagine, dirt roads and dispersed campsites again of dirt, after a bit of rain. Though surrounded by magnificent landscapes of tall prairie grass and an old restored ranch, it will have to wait until another time.

So I’ve arrived at Desert Trails, surrounded by some of the best Rv community I could imagine and some of my dearest friends for the winter. I’ll be leading a RV Travel Club, discussing each state, places to see, things to do,, roads to take or avoid and of course helpful tips.

The Desert Trail community has a ton of activities and lots of new one being added. Today, I’m joining a Socrates Club. I’ll be checking out the Photography Club, a Book Club and many others throughout the season, along with the numerous entertainment options scheduled in the eveing.

Wishing you all an active and productive Winter Season where ever you settle in.

Till next years Travels,
Your Roving Reporter, Doug P

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