Tough Times in Tucson- AZ

It’s been more than three months since my last post.  We’ve been on a self-imposed blogging hiatus, as I just haven’t been motivated to write.  We’ve been plenty active, it’s just that we were thrown a curve ball that forced us to re-focus on the more pressing issue – Steve’s radiation regimen.  At this point he has completed 33 treatments and is gradually recovering.  Click here for the story of his cancer journey thus far.

The mask Steve wore during his treatment, and his certificate of completion…

Awesome friends and family

Being sick in a town where there are no family or friends around can get a bit lonely.  We can’t thank enough all of you who have reached out to check on Steve’s progress.   The wonderful soup that Suzi (Belugas Excellent Adventure) sent us was perfect when Steve was on a full liquid diet.  Ingrid (LiveLaughRV) obliged him with cake and cookies at the beginning of his treatments, and John and Pam’s (oh the places) regular cheer-up messages always brought a smile to his face.  The virtual hugs that Laurel, Sharon H., Gloria C, Judy G, my sisters and so many others have left during the past few months have been very comforting during some tough times.  Thank you all so much!

We also had guests visit: my friend Wilma and her family from Alaska stopped by for a couple of days, and Vic, Steve’s BFF from California flew in to cheer Steve up during his radiation “blasts”.


The weather

Dealing with the medical circumstances was even more challenging while living in the summer heat of Tucson.  We endured the second-hottest June on record, and one of the wettest July monsoon months ever recorded.


During late July through August, the summer monsoon (considered to be the “fifth season”) set in.  We rode out dramatic thunderstorms, spectacular lightning displays, flash floods and dust storms on a daily basis, along with humidity often in the 90% range.  Not something we’d ever do if we didn’t have to!

Blowing clouds of dust usually preceded afternoon thunderstorms…
…and when they arrived Betsy was rockin!
Retrieving the windshield cover blown off by the wind, which rarely happens
We sometimes woke up to see beautiful shrubs blooming after all the rain
Empty campsites adorned in violet
One of many gorgeous sunsets!
Unusual formations like this one amazed us
Viewing a storm at a safe distance
Afternoon light shows
We have tons of dramatic cloud photos

Highlights of our heat reprieves

Working around Steve’s radiation sessions, we fought cabin fever and sought out cooler temperatures.  Our goal was to break the monotony of our daily 5:30AM walks around the RV park, where I completed my 10k steps and Steve knocked out his 3 miles.  This had to be done by 7AM because the heat was already stifling by then.

A change of scenery was required to avoid complete boredom, so we took some short trips when Steve was up to it.  Here’s a summary of some of our explorations:

Mount Lemmon

One place locals go to escape the heat is Mt. Lemmon.  It’s the highest mountain in the Catalina Range north of Tucson.  The drive up the mountain is via the Sky Island Scenic Byway.   To enhance our experience we downloaded the Mt. Lemmon Science Tour app, which we recommend to anyone who wants to take the trip.  The app is well done, paced to match the scenery along the way.  When we left the RV park it was 101º, but up on the mountain it was a “cool” 83º.


Hazy view of Tucson as we drove up the mountain

Tonto Natural Bridge

At an elevation of about 5000′, Payson, Arizona was our home base to explore Tonto Natural Bridge.  It’s believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, standing 183′ high over a 400′ long tunnel that’s 150′ at its widest point.  We followed three trails that led to the creek bed and the tunnel, where we saw the enormity of this natural bridge.


Tonto Natural Bridge
North view of Tonto Natural Bridge from the top with Pine Creek flowing through the tunnel
Tonto Natural Bridge
We also went to the north side of the bridge and tunnel along Pine Creek
Tonto Natural Bridge
End of the Gowan Trail at the south side of the natural bridge

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

On our way home from Payson, we took a scenic route on Hwy 188 heading south.  This allowed us to stop at the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and Dam.  They are at the eastern end of the Apache Trail which is 40 miles of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road that passes magnificent scenery of twisted igneous mountains.

Theodore Roosevelt Bridge
Theodore Roosevelt Bridge seen from Hwy 188
Theodore Roosevelt Lake
Theodore Roosevelt Lake viewed from the observation point
Roosevelt Dam
Theodore Roosevelt Dam, built of bricks in 1911, is the world’s largest masonry dam


A fun place that’s higher and cooler than Tucson is Sonoita, some 45 minutes south.  Surrounded by rolling, grass-covered hills, it’s Arizona’s premier wine country and shares land with area ranchers and farmers.

Rolling hills of Sonoita
Arizona Hops and Vines vineyard
Arizona Hops and Vines vineyard

Steve wondered what took me so long inside the restroom at Arizona Hops and Vines.  I told him to take a peek to see for himself:


Here’s a nice place to enjoy cooler temps!  I liked Dos Cabezas wine, too

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Another nearby refuge from the heat is 363 steps below ground, where one can enjoy the constant 70° cool of a cave.  For about an hour we listened to our tour guide and learned the history of the Colossal Cave and Mountain Park above it.  He claimed this is the largest “dry cave” in the U.S.  A dry cave is one where the water that deposits limestone has disappeared and the formations are no longer active or growing.  We’re not sure if his claim is correct or not.

Colossal Cave
This is called an upside down Saguaro formation
Main room

Mountain Park above the cave
The CCC boys built the headquarters building and the hand rails in the cave


As Steve’s pain and fatigue eased, he tackled some projects on Betsy:


Tucson is certainly not a nice place to be in the summer when your home is a fiberglass and metal box.  Four months stationary was by far the longest Betsy has been parked.  Looking back at those days we’re very grateful to have that unpleasant summer behind us.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but we have a lot to smile about!




  1. You two are never far from our thoughts and prayers!!! I’m about to write part 2 about “Living our dream” and it’s going to touch on medical issues in our lifestyle. I’m recovering from relatively minor (really???) surgery so time for lots of reflection! I’d like to link back to this as it shows how well we can do in our “tin cans!” Of course, they are fiberglass and metal boxes!
    So glad to get this beautiful update! Our prayers continue for full recovery and we do hope one day to meet in person! You two have been an inspiration from the beginning of our journeys!

  2. I just started following your blog and have some catching up to do. Sounds like you both know how to make lemonade out of lemons. Prayers for improved health and many blessings on your journey.

  3. We thought of you both this summer quite a lot. I had the weather for Tucson on my phone app and would check it everyday, thinking of how you were both in it. I couldn’t believe how hot it got! You’ve been through the wringer, endured way more heat than is humane, and hopefully are past the worst. I’m so happy to hear Steve is done with his radiation treatments. We’ll keep fingers and paws crossed that this is the end of it and he has nothing but smooth roads and good healing ahead. Good travels to you this fall and winter!


  4. So glad Steve is doing so much better and you two are out exploring places again. Looks like you made the best of a tough situation. Continued prayers for you both as you navigate what your new future holds for you. Looking forward to seeing you both this winter. Been way too long since we last saw you.

  5. So glad you survived this harrowing summer and that you can begin to move on (at least from Tucson!). It’s a horrible thing to have to go through but when you come out the other side, you really do appreciate life in a more powerful fashion. Good luck on your journey of recovery as you move on down the road.

  6. It’s wonderful to have you “back” blogging again, we’ve all missed you. I can understand your need to take a break from it, God knows you’ve had your hands full with such nasty health issues and awful weather. Through it all you’ve both been an inspiration on how to live your lives with love. To move through pain and disappointment and fear and still show us your smiles. Can’t wait to see you both this winter.

  7. What a blessing to see a blog post again! We haven’t met but I have truly enjoyed your wonderful photography and inspirational story and feel a full timer bond with you. Prayers for complete healing for Steve as you both continue your journey.

  8. I have been thinking of you both and very happy to hear that you are both on the other side of recovery. Having recovered from my own health issues in the past, everyday is a good one or at least I make a point of looking for it. We are heading South in November and hope to see you both sometime!

  9. I’m glad Steve is getting better and you survived the crazy weather in Tuscon and are finally out of there. Hopefully life will be easier for you both now. I hope Steve will feel better now. The journey of life can be hard sometimes. It makes us stronger and we appreciate the good times more. Big hugs for both of you. I hope we can see each other again some time.

  10. So happy to hear that things are looking up. We spent a couple nights in the RV near Phoenix one summer for a doctor appointment and the A/C could barely keep us cool during the day. It must have been a rough summer. Hope Steve continues to feel better. We think about you often.

  11. Welcome back to blog world:) It’s certainly been a long journey but you two did a great job breaking up the mundane routine. Can’t wait to see you in Dec:)

  12. We’ve been thinking of you guys all summer, hoping things were going well and we’d see a blog update on Steve’s situation soon. We’re very happy to read it now and hear that things are indeed looking up. I can only imagine how difficult this combination of illness and terrible weather and loneliness must have been. I’m glad to see you all found a way to make the best of an incredibly difficult situation and hope you can soon put all of it firmly behind you and get back to enjoying life on the road. Best wishes….

  13. So happy to hear from both of you. You’ve been in our thoughts and daily prayers .. May our “Notre Dame de la Salette”, continue to watch over both of you… Should you decide to visit her, or wish for a stay in an old stone farmhouse (much cooler than a tin can !) you are most welcomed !

  14. I so enjoyed your post and wonderful photos, Mona Liza. I hope that after the treatment, Steve is now feeling stronger. You’ve both had quite a summer, but still managed to see some wonderful sights. Hats off to you both. Thanks for sharing. xx

  15. This is a wonderful summary post MonaLiza. I’m so glad to hear from you and know Steve has made it through the grueling treatments. I’ve thought of you so often and wasn’t sure if I should write and bother you but it looks like lots of people have and have come to visit so I’m sorry I didn’t. Please know you were in our thoughts as ones who know the road you’ve traveled even down to being stuck over the summer in a place so hot we could hardly breathe. Ours was a humid heat but frankly I don’t believe that stuff about 90’s not being as hot in the west. It’s wonderful to see Steve back able to do projects. I know how happy that made David to feel that at least some of his real life could be lived again. That final shot of you two is just fabulous. We send our love and very best wishes for happy happy travels. Sherry & David

  16. Mona Liza and Steve…so glad to see that your blog is back. We really missed it! And, Steve’s summary of his illness was so enlightening. You both have been through so much the past months, but it appears that perhaps the worst may be over. Dee Dee and my thoughts have been with you a lot. We are really looking forward to seeing you again in Tucson near the end of November. Lots to catch up on.

  17. Good to hear from you on the blog again! We’ve had the misfortune of being in Yuma in July which was pretty awful, but we’ve never experienced monsoon season so thanks for sharing that experience. Glad you’ve been getting out to see a few sights, and staying cool at Mt. Lemmon.
    We were at the top in January when everyone was shoveling snow onto the roofs of their cars so they could drive around downtown with it! Hoping Steve’s treatments are successful and that we cross paths again soon… Mike & Kat

  18. Nice to see all your photos – smiles and explorations. Hope it’s smooth sailing from now on and you’ve spent your last summer in Tucson. That’s some crazy humidity with the high temps. Hope to see you guys sometime this winter. We just landed in Phoenix today and it’s still too hot 😕

  19. We are thrilled to see your wonderful smiles, your beautiful photos, and read about the great adventures you’ve been having, even in the midst of such difficult times.
    It was just about this time last year that you came to visit us in Ashland — none of us ever expected the health challenges that Eric and Steve would face in the following months. But we’ve all come through the worst of it, and we’re all back on the road!
    Thanks for the beautiful, inspiring post. We think of you every day, and are looking forward to reconnecting sometime soon in person. Big hugs to you both! Laurel & Eric

  20. .

    We are thrilled to understand your wonderful smiles, your beautiful photos, and study about the great adventures you’ve been having, even in the midst of such(a) unmanageable times.

  21. Great to hear that things are progressing, we thought of you several times over the summer and touched base with some of your friends to hear how you were doing. Great photos, it is good to see that you got out and about during some of your down time.

    Last summer when we stored our rig in Salt Lake while we toured Alaska, we came back to find all our candles melted and a pool of wax where they once stood. I can only imagine how hot it was in your area!

  22. No one would dream of living in a tin box in Tucson during the summer if they could avoid it but it sounds like you and Steve were where you needed to be deal with Steve’s medical challenges. We know what it feels like to get through radiation treatments. Terry and I pray for brighter days ahead for both of you, pain-free, fatigue-free, and cancer free. Big hugs and love to you both!

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