Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tucson, AZ

Hello again--we made it to Tucson just after noon today, and we are so glad we decided to leave Mesa. This place is much smaller and much more user friendly. We have a patio slab right at our front door and a fruit-bearing lemon tree! They have also provided a patio table and chairs for sitting outside. Very nice. Internet is free here, but for whatever reason, we haven't been able to get it to work. It's okay though because we can still use Mike's cell phone. We thought we were using it illegally, and so Mike called to sign up to be legal. As it turns out, they said he was already legal. We still have our doubts about that, but there is now a notation in our file that we were told it was okay. Whatever. But because of that, we need to pay a visit to the local AT&T store to get a different SIM card--3gig?--because it will allow him to receive updates and stuff from AT&T. Aside from that, we seem technologically sound.

There are two pools and two hot tubs here. One pool is striped for lap swimming, which is nice. It's hard to tell where you are in the pool without lane lines, and I do hate bumping into the wall. I can swim end-to-end with one push-off and eight strokes--not too bad in terms of length--I do feel as if I've actually swum somewhere. I don't need to take a breath though and so my neck likes it too. The hot tub is nice. It has three steps down, and then deep. I'm in up to my chest while standing on the bottom, and if I sit on the lowest step, I'm up to my neck. Very nice. The temperature was in the 60's today, which was a little chilly for swimming, but the sky is blue and it is not raining. It's nice to sit by the pool even if I am wrapped up in a towel and sweatshirt. Okay. I'll stop talking about the pool now.

There is a restaurant here and RV sales (in case you tire of the one you rode in on). And there is a Camping World next door, which is our next favorite store after Fred Meyer. (I hope you know I'm kidding about both of those. Actually, my favorite store is Goodwill--no kidding!) In addition to going to AT&T we need to visit a camera shop so I can get a filter and a camera strap for my new camera. Mike wanted some something-or-other from Circuit City--I gave up long ago knowing what any of those things are.

In addition to taking care of business we are going to visit Saguaro National Park, which is on both the east and west ends of the city. I don't think I knew that before today. There is also a museum here about the Sonoran Desert. We went there when we visited Tucson some five years ago or so. That was really wonderful--part zoo, part botanical garden. We were here on a weekend last time and it was very busy. We're hoping a visit during the week will be more peaceful. And there are quite a few other things to see. A mission, which is part Moorish, part Byzantine, and part Spanish influence. Reading about it made it sound like one of the big churches in Europe. There are a few other things we might check out.

Tucson is the home of the University of Arizona and it has the vibrancy of a university town. While we aren't ordinarily too much into museums, there are some interesting ones here. There is an aviation museum that includes a presidential plane and also a Titan missile silo--decommissioned, of course. I can't remember what other ones I was reading about, but I made notes. Of course, I will blog about any sight-seeing we do. For now, we're happy to be in a place we like, and happy to put down roots, even if it is just for the week. Who knows? We may stay longer if we like it enough.

We hope all is going well with everyone back home. Stay warm and dry. Special hugs to Matt, Erik, and Mae. (Don't forget to wear your helmets.)

Mesa, Arizona

We finally crossed into Arizona yesterday afternoon, and also into Mountain Standard Time. We are now one hour later than those of you back home. I'm afraid Mike has been assimilated into the RV crowd (Resistance is Futile). He now talks to almost everyone he sees about all kinds of RV related stuff--tow vehicles, vehicles being towed, electrical hook-ups, bike racks, and poo-poo hoses.

We drove through some beautiful country yesterday. We were on I-10 most of the day. We started out on the north side of Joshua Tree and drove the park road due south. We hadn't visited that part of Joshua Tree on the day before, and so it was good to get to see the rest. We saw quite a few wildflowers, and we can only think that the big storm that blew through is responsible for this unseasonal bloom. Very nice--but too cold or we would have stayed another day to do some hiking.

As it is, we drove through the Phoenix metropolitan area yesterday. We lived here during the first three years of our marriage in the late 70's. What a change 30 years can make! At that time there was one useless freeway at the far west end of town. We lived at the east end and so there was no way to get around except on downtown surface streets, steaming asphalt, and stifling heat. When we drove through last night, we were greeted by a huge and well-built freeway system that got us through town in rush hour traffic much faster than I could have driven home from work way back then.

According to the tour book, the Hohokam Indians mastered the Salt River Valley desert by building irrigation ditches, and then mysteriously disappeared around 1450. On this ancient site, the settler John Smith established a hay camp in 1864 and contracted to supply forage to Camp McDowell, an Army outpost 30 miles away. During this time, the name Phoenix was suggested, as a new city would be expected to rise from the remnants of the vanished civilization, just at the mythical phoenix rose from its own ashes. Interesting, huh? Phoenix is now the 6th largest city in America.

We pulled into a town on the east side of the city, a suburb called Mesa. Mesa is in the center of the Salt River Valley on a plateau. The Hohokam Indians were a very resourceful tribe and realized the need for water for irrigation and dug some 125 miles of canals around 700 BC. Some of those irrigation ditches are still in use. In 1883, the founding Mormon community discovered the ancient canal system and used it to irrigate the thousands of fertile acres of farmland above the Salt River.

The park where we stayed last night is huge--nearly 2,000 sites! They are extremely snooty, however. The only question they didn't ask is our net worth. We pulled in after dark and they parked us in a pull-through that offers nothing but asphalt and painted lines. The guy who showed us where to park also had to stay while Mike plugged into the electrical connection--no more difficult than plugging in a lamp. When Mike observed that this place had "too many rules," the guy told us that it was for our own safety that he stay. Hm.

They also gave us name badges and we are expected to wear them at all times while in the park. Neither of us has worn a name badge since we quit working, and we don't need no stinking badges! So . . . we are exercising one of the best things about RVing. If we don't like a place, we move on and give them a view of our backs. We had thought we might stay a week here until they started treating us like teenagers. As it is, we are out of here--and soon. It is only a couple of hours to Tucson. When we made our reservation, we quizzed them about the "too many rules" situation. The person on the phone thought our question about name badges was the strangest question she'd ever heard. By the way, these parks are designated age 55 and older. Mike is old enough, but I'm sneaking in. Hope I don't get carded! (Now I really feel like a teenager.)

So that's the scoop coming out of Mesa. More later.