Winter in Tucson

As we wrap up our 2nd winter in Tucson, we can’t believe how fast the time has flown.  When we arrived, back in early November, about three weeks earlier than when we arrived last year, five months stretched ahead before we planned to move again.  It seemed like an eternity, plenty of time to do all the things we wanted.  We were lulled into a false sense of the ability to put off ’til tomorrow what we didn’t want to do today.  Now, with four months down, our winter in Tucson is quickly coming to a close.  By the end of March, it will be getting pretty hot.  We don’t do hot.  It is time to plan our trip back to Steamboat for a short three-ish week visit before we head to Montana for the summer.

Planning our trip north

Truth be told, we should have jolted ourselves out of our “cooked in the squat” (frogs get lazy in warming water) comfortableness about a month ago.  Everything seems pretty urgent right now.  We are trying to make reservations at campgrounds as we head north through Arizona and Utah, but we are already having to make adjustments to our plans.  Little did we know that March and April are considered peak season at parks north of Phoenix, Tucson, and all the other snowbird sites in southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and southern California.  These are the months when the snowbirds head north.  Its the same in September and October when Canadians and the northern states head south.  Reservations are hard to come by at the best spots.  We should have been on it at least a month ago.

We want to spend a week in the Cottonwood area in Arizona.  It will be a great base for a week’s worth of exploring Jerome, Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon, Prescott, and Camp Verde.  Ed and Jayne Hill are living in  Cottonwood, and Davin Vanatta is in Prescott, so we might get to visit with friends from Steamboat.  Jerome, an old copper mining town, has turned into a wonderful art community, as did Sedona a long time ago.  We have been to both before, but always fun to go back.  Yesterday we tried to make reservations at Dead Horse Campground near Cottonwood.  The dates we wanted were not available, at least not for a whole week in one campsite.  With a little finagling, we were able to get 3 days in one site, 1 day in another site, and 3 more days in a third site.  It will be a bit of a pain moving all the time, but we will get our week.  BUT, lesson learned.  Start sooner planning for the trip north (or anywhere for that matter).  While it takes the spontaneity out of our trips, at least we can be assured of a campsite where we want it.  We lucked out last summer when we dropped in at places we wanted to stay or planned one or two days out, but by the end of August, we had to change our plans because everything was booked in advance.

winter in Tucson

The entrance to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Arizona. We will be spending a week there March 29 through April 4. Look at all those pine trees! I hope the needles are suitable for pine needle basket weaving. Having needles from the places we visit will help create baskets and memories of each place.

We still have three more places we need to book for the trip home.  I hope we aren’t too late in these places.  We might have to find boondocking sites if we can’t find hookups, but we aren’t really boondocking people.  We like having power and water.  Sewer can be optional, at least for about 5-6 days, if we are careful, but we like taking a decent shower, and having power without using a generator.  Camping without these amenities used to be fun, but now we are kind of picky.

Wrapping winter up

With winter coming to an end, activities here in the rv park have taken on a fevered pitch.  Last week the people who have been doing gourds all winter had their year end show/reception so people could see what they have been doing.  Next Friday the photography club is having its reception and the clay, basket and painting people are doing their show on March 14. For those who have not finished their projects, there is a bit of frenetic activity.  Photos have to be emailed to Walgreens (or wherever) to be printed.  Clay needs to be glazed and fired.  Baskets have to be finished. Paintings need to dry. And we don’t even know when the quilters are having their event.  There is a final craft sale next week for those wishing to sell items.  All of the excursions to see Tucson attractions that have been put off, or chances to try those recommended restaurants are becoming more urgent.  People are exchanging contact information like crazy and friending each other on Facebook.

winter in Tucson

This is my friend, Gwen O’Leary creating yet another wonderful creation out of clay. Clay class has become a passion for many in the park, including me. On March 14 we will be hosting a clay/basket/painting reception to show off all the projects we have been working on this winter.

Chores need to get done

winter in Tucson

Cooper taking down the blind that has been broken for several months. We are taking care of some of the projects we need to get done (while we have a Lowe’s close by for parts or a new blind) before we hit the road again.

When getting ready to move north, there are certain rv/truck things that need to get done before we move.  We have been putting off several things, because we had so much time, but now things need to get done.  We have one broken window shade that needs to have a cord replaced.  There is a friend here who has fixed his own, so we are hoping he will help us.  Looks like a pain to me, even after watching a You Tube video on how to do it.  It would be easier to buy a new one.

After six months of intense living in a very small space, the carpets need a good cleaning.  Despite having runners and scatter rugs over the RV carpeting,  everyday use is showing the dirt.  Tucson is very windy a lot of the time (at least this winter), and we are parked on gravel, so dirt is a given.  We plan to schedule a cleaning at the same time our neighbors are getting theirs done.  Twice a year is a must.

Tires need to be rotated and oil needs to be changed on the truck before we make the 900 mile trek back to Colorado.  Deep cleaning of the rig is taking place and we are sorting through those things we haven’t used in a year to take to Lift Up when we get home.  Space is always at a premium.  We need to make more room for the things we use (or want to use) every day.

Plans for the summer

The most common question currently being asked during happy hours (every day at 4 pm at many locations throughout the park) is: “What are you doing for the summer?” (The second most asked question is: “When are you leaving?”)  Many people are headed back to their hometowns, usually more north of here, to see family (grandchildren being a huge draw), and putting the RV aside for now, except for maybe a few short trips here and there.  Others are full-time RVers who wander wherever the winds may lead them, spending as much or as little time in a place as they wish.  And others, like us, are heading to do a workamping stint somewhere.

Last summer we realized that traveling in the summer can be very crowded.  The weather is mostly great, but, because it is great, and children are out of school, families are heading to all the places we want to see too.  When we traveled in late July and early August last summer, it was difficult to get last minute reservations along the California and Oregon coasts. People told us they had made reservations as much as six months ahead.  Even once we turned away from the coast for lack of available space, the campgrounds were very full.  Not that we mind a full campground.  It is usually a good sign of a good campground, but it also means there may be lots of rambunctious, noisy children.  I love kids, but after 7 pm, please….  keep it down.  (Curmudgeon statement. Sorry.) We have decided that we will keep our travels to off-season months and find a place to park it, with us in it, in both the winter and the summer.

Summer 2017 will find us just outside of Glacier National Park in the northwest corner of Montana in Whitefish.  We will be workamping for four months at the Whitefish KOA with three other couples.  Two years ago we were able to just barely get into Glacier (to McDonald Lake), but with the forest fire there that summer, we had to turn back, missing most of the park, and especially the Going to the Sun Road, a drive I had done about 45 years ago.  After posting our resume on , we were recruited back in September, for this coming summer.  We will be doing a little bit of everything, including office work, light maintenance (like cleaning bathrooms, some landscaping, trash, etc), and assisting campers.  By working for the summer, we will not only save money by not paying for campsites or gas to move from place to place, but making some traveling money for next fall, we will be able to explore Glacier much more thoroughly than we could have if we had only been in the area for a few days.  We have seen so many wonderful pictures, taken by the photo club this past summer for our National Parks category.

winter in Tucson

Glacier National Park is one of the most spectacular and remote places in the country. We are looking forward to spending a lot of time exploring the trails, lakes and mountains on our days off.

There are always chances that this workamping experience might not work out the way we plan.  It is a full-time position and may be more than we really want to do.  We have heard horror stories about workamping experiences, but also have heard about people who have returned to the same position for years, looking forward to seeing people they have met and familiar surroundings.  We hope for the latter.  I am sure we will report our experience as it unfolds.  It is only a four-month commitment, and we can do anything for four months.  After all, we have been here this winter for four months already, and that time just flew.