Sunday, September 3, 2023

Life Goes on in the Desert

 August 22 - September 2, 2023
Tombstone, Arizona

Looking at our "original" route for this year's travels I see we dodged a mess of smoke and fire in Oregon! This year we went north through Utah in April and then south down the coast hoping that would mean we missed the smoke (which has become its own season now) in the late summer. While we had perfect weather on the shortened route, we would not have missed the smoke had we still been on the road this month. I'd always rather be traveling, but it seems cutting it short this year was a blessing. 

From a friend's FB post near Brookings, Oregon - about where we'd be at this time.

Several of our RV buddies have posted visits to the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas, but I've forgotten about it when we've visited the little border town in the past. The monsoons are creating an incredible carpet of green throughout the area, so the 40 mile drive is especially beautiful. 

Cafe 333 is a lovely coffeehouse/dining room at the hotel where we enjoy a tasty Tuesday morning breakfast. Like most border towns, Douglas is struggling, but stepping inside the hotel is like taking a step back to the early 1900's when mining and ranching were in their heyday. 

A perfect little coffee house.

The lobby is gorgeous. Standing on the steep marble stairs to take the photo, I'm impressed that brides navigate them in high heels!

In addition to the dining room, there's a fun tavern and two retail boutiques. 

I love finding these old details.

The stained glass accents make the space glow with drenched color.

It's wonderful to see the solid wood and curved glass of the entry next door have survived for decades.

What was once the "company store" for the large mine, the space now stores vintage items (maybe planning to be a museum?)

A wall near the border I can support.

One of the things I love best about our property is all the visits we enjoy from the deer, quail, dove, finches, etc. This year the mesquite is so thick and green we often hear them more than see them.

A days-old fawn stops by with Mom.

I love all the cute spots!

This quieter, slow-down time is a mixed blessing. It's always a treat to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us, to have zero schedule to keep, to appreciate our lovely little house, to visit with local friends, and to watch the seasons move through. It's also challenging for me to keep busy when I want to be busy. The outdoor heat limits those options, and there's not much I haven't already "done" with the interior. I have a couple hobbies I could get back to - yeah, I should probably do that :-)

Morning's cooler temps give me a few hours to clear out the brush that has gotten out of hand over the last several months.

Monsoons move through and around us almost every day.

Donnie and Anna surprise Bill with a belated birthday dinner and fancy desert!

Sierra Vista enjoys a good drenching.

Tombstone Courthouse State Park looks haunted in the clouds and drizzle.

Some of the storms make their way to our place - this one has high winds and dumps an inch in an hour!

Even when they don't bring any wet, we have wonderful clouds moving through every day.

I do make it to Tucson for some personal pampering and minimal shopping. Of course the day I'm there is one of the hottest of the summer! Being at 4500' in Tombstone we are always about 20 degrees cooler - thankfully.

August in a desert city.

Getting closer to Tombstone, Mother Nature makes a swipe of color across the sky.

Eventually it reaches to the mountains.

The storm quickly drops the temps for about 15 miles. It's 90 degrees when I pull into the house.

San Pedro River Valley

Taking a break from her family, this doe rests in the shade inside the fence. 

Football season is once again upon us, a big deal in our house! Saturday is our fantasy league draft, always fun with Bill and his four sons and me. Looks like I have a mediocre team this year, but only time will tell :-) 

We've been back nearly a month, September has arrived, my favorite time of year is just around the corner. 

Precious Cassidy 

Elliott out playing with his daddy.

M and M enjoying school days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Making the Transition

 August 2 - 22, 2023
Tombstone, Arizona

Beyond the physical transition of coming off the road for a few months is the mental/mindset of returning to the house lifestyle. For me it starts with a sigh of relief that we're "back" safely, works it's way through the exhaustion of unloading (in the high heat this time), and sort of settles into a combination of projects, visiting, errands and relaxing in the larger space. 

At about 3 weeks I'm once again a comfortable stationary-house-dweller, appreciating our little home in the desert of southeastern Arizona. We still say "I can't believe we own a home in Tombstone!"

Getting back here from SoCal this year I planned two repeat stops to break up the tedious 600 miles. Banning Stagecoach KOA is a nice small park with easy access and tall trees at the foot of the San Joaquin Mountains. For this overnight stop it's 102 degrees when we arrive at 2:00. Other than a quick lunch in town, we hunker down in the AC with some TV for an early night. 

Hoping to beat the heat, we get back on the road before 8:00 Thursday morning. Happy there's no wind, and little traffic on the climb out of Indio, we make one stop for fuel before arriving in Buckeye, Arizona (or is it the surface of the sun?). Leaf Verde RV Park is an overpriced, but efficient, stop just off the Interstate with very little shade. Even though we turn on the generator to run the house AC when we stop for fuel at the Arizona border, it's now 99 degrees inside the coach. When Bill unhooks the Jeep it reads 129 degrees! The reality is the outside temp is about 113, and it's brutal. 

About 15 miles from our stop an accident/vehicle fire has the westbound lanes stopped for nine miles. When we come back to the park after dinner the signage says it's still closed (6 hours later!) Grateful we weren't held up in this heat.

Plugged in with both ACs running we're able to get comfortable for naps and some packing before meeting our friends for dinner. Like many of our RV friends, several high school pals landed in Arizona, and we try to meet up with the handful in the west side of Phoenix when coming through the area. 

Rocky (my class), his wife Cyndee, Jodee, Patty and Kristy from an earlier class, and Bill. Tessa keeping us in line.

Again we're on the road early, and thankfully the temps are much cooler the closer we get to Tombstone. Still, 93 is plenty warm. Glad we can park the motorhome in the driveway with 30 amp for loading and unloading. 

The day after our return we get the exciting news that grand number nine arrived on time! We welcome Cassidy Jane Bannerman to our growing tribe, and can't wait to meet her. Mommy is doing fine, and she and Daddy are as delighted as brother Henry that she's here at last!

Welcome Cassidy Jane!

Four days later we welcome our good friends Maggie and Jimmy who are wrapping up their own summer travels heading back to Kingman.

Donnie and Anna, and Turk (Donnie's brother) come up for games and meals, and we go to their place for same over the three day visit.

Bill, Jimmy and Donnie play cribbage.

Turk contributes the play-by-play for a Cribbage game.

Donnie, Anna, Jimmy, Maggie and Bill play 3-13 after dinner. 

Maggie and I take day-trip adventures whenever we get the chance so Wednesday we're off to Tucson for a museum and lunch. At 108 degrees we're happy for an indoor option at the Arizona History Museum. We take our time (she's the best museum buddy) to read and absorb all the exhibits. The combination of variety, detail, and relevance make this smaller museum a real gem. 

This stunning music player from the mid-1800s is in beautiful condition.

I wish the lighting was better to see the delicate porcelain dancers.

Lots of gems and minerals in Arizona. Their collection is a beauty.

With both the abundance of information and the two-story exhibits, the museum details what a big impact mining has had on the state.

Another big influence on the history of Arizona are those who were here first. The exhibit on those known as Apaches and their leader Geronimo includes information and photos on the changing relationship he and his people had with the settlers and military.

Although he traveled with President Cleveland in eastern cities, Geronimo was still a prisoner when he died at Fort Sill, OK.

The exhibit on the history and growth of wineries and breweries in the state includes this original bar from the Birdcage Theater in Tombstone.

Maggie grew up in this area so on their last day she and I take a quick trip east to Willcox where she and her family farmed for several years. The little town is nearly gone now, but we're able to find a few spots from her past.

Now twice the size as it was, her local church is still here.

One of the best things we did when we first bought the property was to add two 50 amp/water gravel sites for our RV buddies to visit. It's also where our motorhome hangs out when we're here.

Saturday morning we say our good-byes-for-now, and settle into house-mode once again. 

The last few years we've missed the monsoon season here with Jeff telling us how amazing it is. This year we arrive just in time to enjoy the beginning of the incredible power and beauty of these daily storms. Every day the desert is more green, and most evenings include hours of lightning shows all around us.

I can never catch lightning shots like these that were taken in Tombstone.

We get some wonderful colors from our backyard.

Being at the house means getting caught up on appointments and errands. Bill is successful in scheduling a new local doctor so no more drives to Tucson for those appointments - yay! The motorhome slide is diagnosed with parts ordered for our scheduled appointment the first week of September. With another trip planned in October we're anxious to finally have that fixed!

Back in SoCal we get updates from our kiddos as they ride out the tropical storm and then an earthquake (just enough to add to the fun, but not a big one). Some backyard flooding for those in the valley, but the mountain dwellers just had regular rain and wind. All are well, and the next morning the sun is out :-)

Elliott thinks tropical storms are fun!

I'm hoping to explore some of the places we've missed so far in our four(!) winters here in between lazy days and taking care of those pesky things that always need "doing". 

More backyard color courtesy of a healthy monsoon season.

Teatime for Reese and Penelope

Oliver cools off at the park.

Henry snuggles with his little sister a week before she arrives to meet him face-to-face. So cute!!