Celebrations in Tucson, AZ

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Tucson, AZ  has become our unofficial annual wintering ground.  Having unexpectedly spent six months here last year taught us a lot about the city, and we confirmed it’s not a place we want to be during the summer months.  But this time through we were happy to meet up with a lot of friends, and we had a lot to celebrate!

Celebrating healing and continued good health

Shrimp Ceviche – one of Steve’s favorites

The first week after our arrival was spent seeing doctors and dentists.  The good news is that after being poked and scoped multiple times, Steve’s three doctors (oncologist, surgeon and primary care doctor) gave him a good bill of health.  He remains under their surveillance and will continue to check in every three months.  I passed with flying colors as well, and that’s great news worth celebrating!

Celebrating friendships

 “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

How true those words ring in our nomadic lifestyle.

Tucson has become our hub for friendships, as many of our RV’ing buddies and old friends from California love to congregate here.

Rod and Lisa flew in aboard Rod’s awesome Cessna 400 from the Bay Area, and we were very happy to see them again.  We packed in a lot during their short stay, as we tried to show them some interesting things in the area.  And they got no argument out of us when they asked if we could take them somewhere for a hike!

Posing in front of that beautiful Cessna with Rod and Lisa

An introduction to the stars of the Sonoran Desert, the saguaros at Saguaro National Park

Pausing along one of our favorite trails in the area, Brown Mountain

Nothing like enjoying unique drinks and sushi plates at Obon Sushi after a fun day with friends!

We were also happy to see Matt and Gloria, our friends from Edmonton, Alberta whom we have caravanned with twice to Puerto Peñasco.

Gloria and I embracing a saguaro

At Gate’s Pass lookout

I got several kisses from their cute little doggie, Romeo!

Steve lends a hand with a coolant loss problem on Matt’s coach

We continue to make new friends, finally meeting up with Kevin and Laura.  Laura is a gifted writer, and her blog Chapter3 Travels is hilarious and fun to read.  In our RV world, blogging and following bloggers has become a conduit and builder of friendships.  Because of it, first meetings are never awkward for we feel like we already know the other folks long before the first date.

Our first meet up with Kevin and Laura over sushi

We continued our conversation with a beer at Dillinger Brewery

We attended several happy hours at our RV Park, and invited Kevin and Laura to join one of them.  As usual, everyone wanted to know how they got into RV’ing and made suggestions about things to see and do along their westward route this year.

Happy hour at Betsy

Handsome Lewis welcomed me to the happy hour at Dave and Sue’s site

John, Gay, Joe, Sue, Dave, Steve and Pam at Beluga

Our circle of silvers and golds keeps on growing!

We are usually social butterflies during our winter pauses, as this is our time to reconnect with RV friends after a year of traveling in different directions around the country.  These are the moments that make us appreciate this lifestyle so much!

Celebrating Birthdays

February is our special month.  We were both born in February, I on the 4th and Steve on the 22nd.  And of course in between those two is the day of hearts.

What made my birthday notable is that the NFL threw a huge Superbowl party on that day, although I couldn’t attend 🙂  However, we did have a “day after Superbowl” gathering at a Mexican restaurant with John and Pam and Dave and Sue, among our great friends who comforted us via long distance during our tough times last summer.

Birthday dinner with great friends; L to R – John, Dave, Steve, I, Sue and Pam

We celebrated Steve’s birthday with Dave and Sue, tasting some wines in Elgin.  Can there be good wineries in Arizona, you may ask?  The answer is a resounding yes!  We were surprised how good some of the wines were, and several bottles were purchased along the way.

At our final stop, Callaghan Winery, we all agreed they had the best wines of the four wineries we visited

Lunch al fresco at Kief and Joshua Vineyards

 

The sign says it all!

And on the day of hearts, my honeybunch brought me my favorite flowers, Tulips!

What nice colors for Valentines Day!

And this was my response to Steve 🙂

We recently managed to sneak in another hike on one of the trails at Saguaro National Park-East.  The Bridal Wreath Waterfall trail was moderately strenuous with great views and scenery as we climbed around the Rincon Mountains.  The reward would have been a cascading waterfall if it had been raining, but on this day we had to be satisfied with just a few droplets of water.

Only drops of water, but recent rains must have created a real waterfall!

A dry waterfall with scour marks on the rocks

A good day on the trail

February babies

We have so many things to celebrate and be thankful for – especially our good health and great friends!  Cheers!

 

Next Up:  It’s all about the birds!



 

 

 

Literally Chillin’ in Prescott, AZ

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While planning our winter sojourn into Arizona last summer, a month’s stay in Prescott was on our list of stops.  Pronounced “PressKit” by locals, the city is nestled at an elevation of 5,200′ and boasts weather that normally averages 70º.  We heard good things about the city and planned to take a break here after several months of more intense travel.  It was time to just slow down and do some looking around in one of our fav states.

Prescott, Arizona

The city of Prescott surrounded by mountains, lakes and Ponderosa Pines

A few days after our arrival, some unseasonably cold Fall weather rolled in, bringing rain, hail and light snow.  And it looked like the cold was going to prevail for some time.  Since we’re weather wimps we altered our plans and cut our stay in half.  As many of you travelers know, weather can make or break a stop – and it was unfortunate that we couldn’t enjoy more of the opportunities offered in this nice city.

Prescott Arizona

Hey, this isn’t what we signed up for! We left a day before yet another cold storm hit the higher Arizona elevations

Of course, the beauty of living on the road is that we can change our plans nearly as quickly as the weather can.  Don’t get me wrong – Prescott, with its four distinct seasons, granite mountains, lakes, streams, and great town is still a very desirable place – but not for us at this time.

Prescott, AZ

Looks like there won’t be any outdoor activities today!

The silver lining amidst nightly dips in temperature and cold, crisp autumn days was hanging out with friends and making new ones.  We knew Paul and Nina of Wheeling It would be at Point of Rocks Campground (Steve’s review here) when we arrived, and we pulled in just a few sites away.  We soon met Paul’s dad and stepmom, and learned about their winter RV plans.

Although we already owned Betsy in 2011 and were planning our trip to Alaska, we were still working when we began following Nina’s blog.  It is pretty much required reading for folks contemplating full-timing, or already doing it for that matter.  We’ve learned about many topics that interest us – boondocking, workcamping, photography, beer tasting, health care – the list goes on and on.  And Paul’s blog, Investing For a Living, contains excellent information for us rookie personal investors as well.

Mead Tasting

Paul shows Steve the way to the Superstition Meadery

Fun Times in Prescott

We had never heard of Mead, but fortunately Paul and Nina were happy to introduce us to it at the local Superstition Meadery.  Mead is not beer nor wine, but rather an alcoholic drink created from fermenting honey with water and various fruits, spices and/or grains.

Considered to be the oldest alcoholic beverage and referred to as “Nectar of the Gods” by ancient Greeks, we were impressed as we tasted a dozen-sample flight.  With crafty names like Lagrimas de Oro, Amnesia and Dancing Goat, we were intrigued as each of us picked our favorites.  Mine was Honey Highway (12% abv), flavored with Prickly Pear and aged in new oak.  I could probably get addicted to this particular Nectar of the Gods!  Don’t miss this place if you want to try something fun and unusual while in Prescott.

A flight of mead

Sharing a flight of Mead – alcohol content ranged from 8% to 16%

Unlike our first meeting with Paul and Nina two years ago somewhere in the desert near Yuma, our social activities here were not so limited.  Paul’s dad Armando and stepmom Ana joined us for a fun dining experience of Tapas, Sangrias, Mojitos and beers at El Gato Azul.  We all shared a dozen different Tapas and again enjoyed picking our favorites. Maybe not our healthiest meal while in Prescott, but the fun of sharing the various foods and spices, along with the great company, allowed us to overlook the health factor this time.

Tapas at El Gato Azul

Healthy?  Maybe not so much.  Tasty?  Oh yeah!

Social

Paul, Steve, myself, Nina, Ana and Armando.  Steve was amazed that the server memorized our 12-tapa order and drinks, never writing anything down!

“Happy hour” is a social time in any campground.  It’s an hour (OK, usually several hours) to catch up, exchange travel stories and just “shoot the breeze” over drinks with old and new friends.  At Paul and Nina’s happy hour we met Bill, a photographer, and Dianne who revealed that she follows our blog (thank you, Dianne!).

Wheeling It

Nina, Paul, myself, Bill and Dianne enjoying happy hour at “The Beast”

When it was our turn to host, we invited new friends Bill and Pamela to join us.  Steve had struck up a conversation with Bill when he walked by one day, and was stunned to discover that Bill had lived right up the road from him in Brentwood, CA for several years.  Not only that, they had also worked at the same national laboratory, although at different sites, for many years.  These two had a lot to talk about – what a small world!

Bundled up for the happy hour

Everyone’s bundled up for this happy hour, but still happy!

Lowes Travels

Pamela, Steve and Bill with their doggie Abbey  They are in the process of buying a home in Prescott.  Hope we can meet again!

Polly

Paul and Nina’s wonderful dog Polly and I got along very well – my new BDFF (best doggie friend forever)

Great company always overrules any weather-related complaints we may have.  All of the friends here, old and new, made our stay bearable and enjoyable.  We wish you all safe travels and hope to meet up again somewhere down the road.  Maybe I’ll have some lumpia ready to go when we get back together 🙂

Point of Rocks Campground

Betsy’s front yard, granite rocks!

The Point of Rocks RV Park is nestled within the Granite Dells, and we were happy to pull Betsy into a small site that faced a rock formation.  It became our personal climbing wall that I scrambled up several times during our stay.

 

Next up:  Scrambling the rocks, lots of granite rocks!