January 13, 2016 left Allen, TX in an attempt to travel to warmer weather, and get a little rest/relaxation after the holidays. We decided on a road trip to Arizona for a couple of reasons besides the warmer weather, to visit Uncle Gerry & Aunt Pat since their moving to assisted living this past year, and Bill’s burning desire to check out the annual Quartzsite RV rally that he has been reading about in RV blogs. We spent two over-night stays before arriving in Tucson.
Big Springs, TX – Whip in RV Park (1st Night Stay)
Drove 315 miles from Allen, TX to Big Springs, TX, taking I20, staying over-night at Whip In RV Park (Good Sam Park) with a 4.3 Star Rating. It was still quite cold out-doors and we wore winter clothing during our quick over-night stay.
Las Cruces, New Mexico – Hacienda RV Resort (2nd Night Stay)
Drove 390 miles from Big Springs, TX to Las Cruces, NM staying over-night at the Hacienda RV Resort (Good Sam Park) with a 4.3 Star Rating. The next morning, we drove to Old Mesilla Village, parking the truck and 5th wheel at the city building public parking area. A must see visit, if only for a few hours. We arrived at approximately 9 am, wanting to see a few things then hit the road again; unfortunately, many of the tourist sites were not opened. We were able to take the historic walking tour of historic Mesilla, and enjoyed breakfast at Café de Mesilla which is a very quaint restaurant with an excellent breakfast menu. We bought delicious toffee at the Chocolate Lady, after eating the small portion purchased for the road trip, we were wishing we had purchased a larger amount of toffee (yummy, yummy). The Basilica of San Albino was originally built in adobe in 1855, and rebuilt in 1906 to its present building. It is only open 1-3 pm, except Sundays, so we were not able to tour this church. The Gadsden Museum was not opened when we visited either, but Bill was able to take a photo with a Billy the Kid poster! This area is definitely worth taking time to visit, even if for just a short amount of time.
Tucson, Arizona – Far Horizons Village RV Resort (4-Night’s Stay)
Drove 274 miles from Las Cruces, NM to Far Horizons RV Resort in Tucson, AZ, arriving late afternoon. It was a good thing that there was a parking assistant to help Bill get our 5th wheel backed into the narrow, tight-fitting RV site because even with his assistance, it was quite a task. Our site backed up to the dog run with a nice view of the mountains peaking up above the trees. Far Horizons is a very nice park with all types of scheduled activities, a nice pool with a nice community center, although we did not have time to participate in any of the activities/use the amenities on this visit.
This was going to be a “surprise” for Uncle Gerry & Aunt Pat as we did not let them know we were coming for a visit. This RV park is very close to the assisted living apartments where they have moved in the past year. Since we arrived so late and were tired, we waited to show up at their door on Saturday morning, the next day. We went to dinner at Olive Garden that evening with Linda, Ryan (her son), his wife and Clayton (1 1/2 year old son), in celebration of Uncle Gerry’s 88th birthday (01/18/2016). Aunt Pat and Uncle Gerry fell in love with Gabby, enjoyed watching her watch television and wanted us to bring her over every time we came for a visit during the 4-day stay. We at Sunday brunch with Susan, Don and Joseph at the Assisted Living restaurant, again celebrating Uncle Gerry’s 88th birthday. Again on Monday, 01/18, Uncle Gerry’s actual birthday, we celebrated with Susan, Don and Joseph at a Mexican food restaurant.
Quartzsite, Arizona – Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Annual RV Rally Event (4-Night’s Stay)
Drove 250 miles from Tucson, Arizona to Quartzsite, AZ where we already planned to try dry camping in the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) areas of the RV rally. The first thing we needed to do when arriving was to fill the water tank, then locate a spot to park in the desert. We pulled into the La Posa BLM area to fill the water tank and Bill began talking to John & Bonny Sturgeon from Great Falls, Montana. The Sturgeon’s were filling their tanks as well, but they had been camping in the BLM since October (4-months). They invited us to follow them and park next to their camper to help get us acclimated since this was a regular annual event for them. Bonny volunteers during the RV Rally, mainly giving her something to do. The Sturgeon’s were very nice and invited us to join them a few times, however, we were spending our full-days walking the RV tents (vendors) and were tired when we got back to the campsite in the early evening. We exchanged contact information, they inviting us to visit them if we travel to the Great Falls, Montana area in the spring or summer. This small town was primarily a place to walk flea markets, many rock/gemstone vendors, and of course the RV rally which is all we did the 4-days we camped at the BLM. Many, many people have ATV’s who camp in this area, you see people everywhere using them for transportation between flea markets, but also using them in the desert around the mountains, sand dunes, etc., for recreation. There are many RV dealers here too, if you’re in the market to buy a new RV/Motorcoach. Dry camping may be okay in other locations, but I did not like all the dirt and sand dry camping in the desert. This is a one-time see experience for us, but not to return at least not any time soon. For 14-days the costs to dry camp at the BLM is $40.00 (cash), $180 for 4-months.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona – Lake Havasu City State Park (6-Night’s Stay)
Drove 75 miles from Quartzsite, AZ to Lake Havasu City, AZ. We talked about several different areas we could visit after our Quartzsite visit with options of Needles, CA and Las Vegas, Nevada. We had gathered pamphlets/brochures from vendors at the RV Rally of several RV campgrounds in Arizona. We started heading towards Lake Havasu City when we drove by a scenic look-out site which was the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, just before arriving into Lake Havasu City. I insisted Bill pull over to the side for a visit, although we didn’t spend a lot of time, we stayed long enough to take some photos and take in the beauty. The photos taken can not reflect the beauty surrounding this area. Absolutely breath-taking.
We continue our drive onto Lake Havasu City where we checked on a few possible RV campsites, one too expensive, the other no sites available, ending up at Lake Havasu City’s State Park where all that was available was the overflow parking which they allow. The overflow parking was on an asphalt parking lot, but several sites backed right up to the ocean and white, white sandy beaches. We absolutely love this area.
The London Bridge was purchased by Robert McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu, in April 1968 for $2,460,000 and has become Arizona’s biggest visitor attractions. Each block was meticulously numbered before the bridge was disassembled and then shipped from London, England to California and then trucked to Lake Havasu City. Visitor Center offers historic facts along with photos of relocation of the Bridge.
We absolutely will consider returning to this awesome quaint town, however, in their peak season (Nov.-April) advanced reservations are required.
There are beautiful sunsets with the ocean/mountains, it is just a beautiful place to stay. It was unseasonably cooler than we expected, with temps in low 50’s in am/pm, reaching mid-70’s in the middle of the day. One of the days we were there, 01/25, we woke up to 30-35 mile per hour winds, the water was very choppy and it was very cold outside. When we visit again, we will plan our trip mid-to-late February instead of January, to enjoy warmer temps.
Needles, CA – Pirates Cove Resort & Marina (Tourist Event)
Drove 43 miles from Lake Havasu City to Pirates Cove Resort & Marina for a day-visit. We had received information about Pirates Cove at one of the Quartzsite RV Rally vendor booths. Spent a little time driving around the various campsites, deciding it is a place the kids would love to camp with sandy beaches and walk out shallow water to play at campsite. On
our way back to Lake Havasu, we stopped to have lunch at Topock 66 on the Colorado River in Mohave County, AZ which was a cool restaurant/bar with an outdoor pool. It was a fun lunch, imagining this place really popping in the summer months.
Yuma, Arizona – Fortuna De Oro RV Resort (10 Night’s Stay)
Drove 155 miles from Lake Havasu City to Yuma, Az. We had received 3-free night’s stay from a vendor at the Quartzsite Annual RV show and we enjoyed it so much, we decided to add 7-additional days at 38.65 per night. There was a 9-hole golf course along with so many other nice amentities/activities and we met several seasonal people who visit this resort every year. On Saturday nights there is a dance with a live band for $10.00 per person and BYOB, we attended it twice while there and had so much fun. We met two couples from Canada, a few couples from California and couples that have park-models at the park. There were poker games a few times a week, Bingo, Bunco, Pickelball courts with free-lessons and tournaments which we learned was a popular sport among our age-group. There were live bands at pool-side once a week. Discounted food banquets. We were there during the Super Bowl Sunday and they had a limited number of tickets for $10.00 each to watch the game in their bar/restaurant that included a Mexican food buffet, unfortunately, we were too late in trying to buy tickets and they were sold out. The resort has 2-swimming pools, a very nice community center with several types of sport courts, restaurant, gym, onsite barber/beauty shop, laundry facilities, with classes for different interest groups and a church service on Sundays. I attended on of their Sunday morning services which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Arizona Market Place (Tourist Event)
Visited the Arizona Market Place located in Yuma, a flea market with vendors, opened on the weekends. They had a live band when we were there which was fun sitting outside listening to while we ate lunch and ice cream. Bill bought a new Hawaiian type button down shirt for $8.00. There were lots of various styles of men’s shirts for less than $10.00 and we purchased poppers for the kids which they thoroughly enjoyed throwing on the ground and popping when we returned home with them.
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park (Tourist Event)
Visited the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park which we would highly recommend going on this tour. It housed 3,069 prisoners, including 29 women during the prison’s 33-years of operation. In the museum there were photos of the female inmates with write-ups on their crime that put them in prison which was interesting reading. There was a chair like the one they used in the 1800’s to photograph the prisoner and mock prisoner ID cards they would hold in front of them for the photo along with an inmate striped shirt. Bill and I had fun taking a few photos of ourselves as if prisoners. In 1907 the prison was over-crowded and there was no room for expansion, so a new facility was constructed by the convicts in Florence, Arizona with the last prisoners leaving Yuma Territorial Prison on September 15, 1909.
Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens (Tourist Event)
We drove through historic downtown Yuma and I visited the Sanguinetti House Museum while Bill sat in the car as he was not interested in touring. It was the 19th-century adobe home of E.F. Sanguinetti (1867-1945). The featured exhibit for 2016 was “Ghost Town,” celebrating ghost towns across Yuma County. The tour really was not that interesting for me, but took a very short amount of time, so if you’re in the area you may want to check it out for yourself. Bill and I did enjoy lunch at the Garden Café located next door to the Sanguinetti house which was highly recommended by campers we met at the RV park. The outdoor patio was very pleasant and quaint with beautiful gardens.
Yuma ATV Rentals (Tourist Event)
We had seen several people both in Quartzsite and in Yuma on ATV’s riding them off-road in the desert along mountains, etc. and many riding in groups. We felt we could not leave Yuma, Arizona without renting an ATV and trying it out for ourselves. Thankfully, we decided to rent it for only a 1/2 day and not a full-day because we both were pretty tired of all the sand and rough riding in the desert after just a few hours. It is an experience that you might want to try out at least once to say you did it and it was fun, but we won’t be running out to purchase one for ourselves. On our way to return the ATV which we towed with our truck on the rental’s trailer, we stopped at on of the many road-side fresh produce tents. Yummy, yummy . . . purchased fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
The Peanut Patch (Tourist Event)
There were signs and brochures advertising The Peanut Patch in Yuma, and we love anything nutty. It was a retail store with lots of peanut candy variations, packaged peanuts and souvenirs, also had an ice cream bar that Bill could not pass up.
Desert Hills Golf Course (Tourist Event)
We played an 18-hole round of golf on Super Bowl Sunday. It was a nice city golf course. We started out just wanting to play 9-holes because it was a little windy that day, but enjoyed the first 9-holes so much decided to play the remaining back 9-holes. The people had cleared off the course in preparation for the football game, so we had it almost to ourselves.
Winterhaven, California – Quechan Casino Resort (Tourist Event)
Drove approximately 4 miles from Yuma to visit the Quechan Casino Resort where we spent a few hours at the casino playing slot machines with no winnings. This casino is very close to the Mexican border of Los Algodones, Mexico. We drove up to the border patrol and witnessed many American visitors parking in a large parking lot and walking across the border into the city of Los Algodones. It appeared to be well security-controlled. We were told by guests at Fortura De Oro RV Resort that this is considered a safe Mexican town to shop, however, you must have your passport which we did not have with us. We will bring our passports and visit Los Algodones, Mexico on our next visit to the Yuma area.
Paradise Casino & Cocopah Casino (Tourist Event)
On one Saturday, we visited three casino’s Quechan, Paradise and Cocopah. We walked through Paradise Casino and played our “free play,” however, did not like the casino. Similar to Paradise we visited Cocopah to check out new players promotions, but did not stay long.
Tucson, Arizona (return trip) – Far Horizons Village RV Resort (3-Night’s Stay)
Drove 240 miles from Yuma, AZ to Tucson on our return trip heading home. Uncle Gerry was scheduled for a pace-maker surgery and we decided to plan our trip back through Tucson to be with him. We were there a few days prior to the surgery and the day before his surgery date, it was rescheduled for a later date.
Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum (Tourist Event)
Drove approximately 22 miles up the mountains to the Sonora Desert Museum. Highly recommend your visiting this beautiful park and museum while in the Tucson area. It was recommended to us to arrive when they first open because this is the time the animals are being fed and most alert, it also may be the coolest time of the day (depending on the time of year). We ended up not arriving until after 11 am with plans that evening, we felt rushed through the park and it was very worth taking your time. There were several close-up, hand-held demonstrations by the park rangers who talked about
the particular bird, animal, or insect’s characteristics, habits, etc., allowing visitors photo opportunities. The park was clean, informative, and very enjoyable. It is mostly an outdoor walking tour, so be prepared with sunscreen, hat, water bottle and comfortable walking shoes. There are indoor exhibits, as well. I was quite impressed that in the ladies restroom in a dispenser similar to a liquid soap dispenser was sunscreen for guests. What an awesome idea and benefit for those visitors who may have forgotten to put their sunscreen on to have the opportunity to apply “free” in the restroom.
Saguaro National Park (Tourist Event)
After our visit to the Sonora Desert Museum and Park, we followed signs to drive through the Saguaro National Park, in the Tucson Mountain district. We pulled over a few of the high-lighted observation points. There was one particular historic site that was recommended to see hieroglyphics on mountain-sides. There were fields of cacti and naturally growing Saguaros, along with warnings to watch for rattlesnakes. There are lots of hiking/backpacking trails throughout the park. We drove through the camping sites available at the park to check out for a possible future visit.
Agonizing Return Trip from Arizona to Magnolia, Texas
February 10, 2016, the day before we were scheduled to leave Tucson and head back to Allen with a few over-night stays on the way home, I received an urgent email from my sister. Mother, who has been under hospice care for several months and now living at my sister’s home, was not doing well and only had probably a short time left. With this news, we decided that the next day, February 11, we would drive from Tucson directly to Magnolia, not going back through Dallas with as few over-night stays as possible. On Thursday we drove approximately 696 miles to Sonora, TX, just before Kerrville and spent the night. We arrived in Magnolia, on Friday afternoon after a day of driving approximately 361 miles. Thankfully, I was able to be there with my Mother and my siblings over the next few difficult days with Mother passing on Monday, February 15 at approximately 5 pm.
Love you and miss you Mom!
God keeps us and protects us through good times and difficult times. He gives us peace in the midst of a storm through our trust and faith. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. Thank You Jesus.