You never know who you’ll meet at the Laundromat! -Powdersville, SC

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Lt Col K.C. Thompson

A few days before my departure to the Philippines, I had to do several loads of laundry which had been piling up for a while.  Since Ivy Acres RV Park does not have laundry facilities, we ran over to nearby Powdersville, SC to do it.  While I was folding, an elderly man who was waiting for his wash cycle started a conversation with me.  The usual question I get asked is if I am from the Philippines and that sort of thing.  I was initially busy folding so I just replied briefly to his queries, not paying much attention.  When I completed my folding  I sat down next to him and we continued with our conversation while waiting for Steve to pick me up.

And then he said, “I was stationed in Arizona in the Air Force”.

After telling him about all of the things we did while in Arizona, including a visit to the Titan Missile Museum in Tucson, his eyes perked up and I discovered that I was talking with none other than retired USAF Lt. Colonel Kermit C. Thompson, commander of the missile silo all those many years ago.  Steve arrived soon after, and we were enthralled by Mr. Thompson’s stories about life in the missile silo.  He was excited to meet folks who had actually toured the silo, which he fondly called “his baby.”

He and Steve also talked about their time at the Pentagon, which is where Steve was stationed while in the Air Force.  Mr. Thompson went on to become a school principal for seventeen years in Hawaii, and he has written several books which are available at Amazon under K. Cardell Thompson.  We had a very interesting conversation, and before you know it his wash cycle was completed!  Who knew that doing laundry could be so interesting?

Lt Col K.C. Thompson

Talking with Lt. Col. Kermit C Thompson


Snowy Arizona? – Tucson

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Santa Catalina Mountains

Driving south from the Cave Creek area, we tucked ourselves in north of Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona.  We thought it might get warmer as we headed south – wrong!  A cold front brought clouds and rain – even snow at the Santa Catalina mountains where we were parked.  For the first time during our travels we were faced with frozen water hoses as nighttime temperatures plummeted into the twenties.  When you think of Arizona, cold and snow rarely come to mind, but being winter it does get chilly here – especially at night.  However, we loved the view of the beautiful white mountains right outside our windows!

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park

Daytime temperatures were in the 50’s – plenty warm for us to go out and have some fun. Armed with recommendations from Dan H. (thanks, Dan!), we checked out some of the things to do in the Tucson area.  Here are a few we enjoyed:

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, nestled in the scenic Tucson Mountains, is the perfect place to get a good glimpse of what this beautiful desert is all about.  We walked through the open areas and were offered amazing views of the mountains dotted with Sagauro cacti, Palo Verde and many other desert plants.  Wandering through a living walled area, we found lots of information and close-up views detailing bobcats, prairie dogs, coyotes, rattlesnakes and more.

Being from the west coast, this place gave us a good overall exposure to the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, and the ecosystem that thrives here.  A nice touch from the museum (although I would not call this a museum, per se) is the free SPF30 sunscreen and refrigerated water fountains along the trails.  This place is very well done and a must-see.

We hiked in Sabino Canyon, a spectacular desert canyon cut into the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  There were two tram tours, one appropriately called Sabino Canyon, a narrated, educational 45-minute, 3.8 mile tour into the foothills.  Then there was Bear Canyon, a non-narrated ride that took hikers to the trailhead of the Seven Falls. We purchased tickets and planned to take the Bear Canyon hike, but due to confusion by the tram driver we ended up getting on the Sabino Canyon tram instead.

On this tour our driver enthusiastically narrated some interesting facts about the vegetation and history of the canyon.  We got off at stop #9 and hiked up one of the trails to enjoy our lunch with a view overlooking the canyon.  Then, instead of re-boarding the tram we decided to walk back down the 3.8 miles to the visitors center.  We learned that we had actually gotten the better tour but paid for the cheaper one to Bear Canyon – not bad!

Sabino Canyon

Hiking on Phone Line Trail

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon lunch stop – wow!

Sabino Canyon

At the top of Eagle Mountain

The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2dubbed “one of the 50 must-see wonders of the world”, was just up the road from our site at Catalina State Park.  We remembered the much publicized “Human Missions” experiments in the early 90’s, so we decided to check it out.  We toured what they call “wilderness Biomes” – building blocks of the biosphere; a tropical rain forest, savanna, coastal fog, desert, and a million-gallon ocean – all under one roof!

Our knowledgeable tour guide explained the history, research, and unprecedented science taking place inside this engineering marvel.  Despite all of that we still ended the tour as non-scientists.

If you are young enough to remember the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, you might remember the “Duck and Cover” exercises.  At the Titan Missile Museum, an underground tour relives a time when the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union was a reality.  The Titan II missile was capable of launching from its underground silo in 58 seconds and could deliver a nine megaton thermonuclear warhead to its target more than 5,500 miles away – in less than thirty minutes.

This is the only remaining Titan missile silo of the 54 that were constructed in the US.  It is very interesting to see and hear about life in the silos during the 22 years they were operational.  Steve had already been here once before with his pilot buddies but thought I would enjoy it as well.  And I did!

Titan Missile Museum

Underground control room

Titan Missile Museum

Titan II missile

Lastly, when you’re hungry and looking for authentic delicious southwestern food in the Tucson area, make the trip to El Charro Café.  Opened in 1922, this is reportedly the oldest continuously-operated, family-owned Mexican restaurant in the United States.  Don’t forget to try one of their yummy Margaritas.  Thanks Dan, this restaurant is at the top of our list!