Friday, February 27, 2015

Old Friends


Right behind my RV they are building a gas station. It is behind a big fence so I can't see all the activity but I certainly can hear it. I can tell you that they start constructing at 6:30 in the a.m. I'm retired, I don't need to get up at this ungodly hour.

I filled up my fresh water tank since I was hooked up to water. I filled it up so full that it was running out of the overfill pipes. I then retracted my hydraulic lifts and drove into the street so I could hook up my car. Once I got into the street, all of a sudden water was just flowing out of the overfill pipes and gushing into the street. I thought that maybe I had changed the level of the RV, maybe it was sort of sloshing over. But this was no little sloshing, it was a full bore gush. When it finally stopped, I went and looked at the fresh water level indicator and it was registering at half full. This is the second time this has happened, the first time I thought that maybe I hadn't filled the tank full enough. I guess this is another thing to research on the internet and add to my ever growing list of things to get fixed.

Left Phoenix and drove north. My drive was only an hour today. Lots of mesas – those flat topped hills along the way. I got to Quail Ridge RV Park. It is an RV park but it doesn't seem all crowded with rigs on top of one another. That is probably because there are only 30 sites here as opposed to 334 mobile homes and 122 RV spots in Royal Palms, our last spot. There is not much of a place to walk Miko so we just circle the park over and over and over, meeting all the Minnesotans in the park.

The reason I am staying at this park is because it is pretty close to Prescott Valley where my friend Sharon lives. Sharon was originally from Iowa, we used to compete against each other in ACTHA which is a competitive trail riding organization. Sharon is one of the few people who actually beat me back when I was competing. On top of it all, she is just one of those warmhearted, nice people. We met in the town of Dewey at a steakhouse called Leff T's. The food was good, the company even better. It is nice to meet up with people that you know in different places.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Big City Phoenix

special thanks to Pete Lee for the postcard

I just want to show you a shot of me doing laundry. I know, some of you up north might consider it mean, but oh well.



Royal Palms Pool

Originally I was moving into Phoenix because I wanted to go to the Phoenix Art Museum and a few other cultural attractions. Of course, I don't have to stick to any set plan and today is no exception.

One of the things I wanted to do since I started Rving was to go to an RV Rally. An RV Rally is usually sponsored by an RV company or an RV club. I just happened to notice that there was an RV Rally in Phoenix this weekend. Whoopee. It is sponsored by Good Sam club and is located at the Phoenix International Raceway, about a half hour away. I headed down there, got a day pass for $10, got on a tram and went into the center field(is that what you call the middle part of a racetrack?) Fifty zillion Rvs were all located there, all shapes and sizes. The more interesting part was the shopping. All the things that you never knew you that you absolutely needed for the RV lifestyle. It was sort of like the grandstand shopping at the Minnesota State Fair. Believe it or not I did not buy anything. I do not think I need to go to anymore Rallies in the future unless there are some fabulous seminars or something extra special that will draw me in.



I just want to show you two pictures that show you why I like State Parks more than RV Parks.

Guess which one is the State Park. 


 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Catch Up


It has all of a sudden come to my attention that I have forgotten to update the blog. It is hard to keep on top of chores as each day sort of melts into the next. So, this blog entry will cover three days. Then I think I am caught up.

My first day at White Tank, Miko and I drove down to the Library/Nature Center three miles down the road from the campground. I wanted to find out which trails I should make sure that I don't miss in my limited time here. I also wanted to check out the status of the local rattlesnakes in the area since Arizona is experiencing a much warmer than normal winter and the snakes are starting to come out.

Our first trail was called the Waterfall/Petroglyph Trail. Part of it was paved and it was wheelchair accessible for most of the trail. All along the way there were Petroglyphs and at the end, you climbed over some rocks to get to the Falls. I was fortunate enough to see the falls or at least the little trickle they were calling the Falls. I suppose during times of rain, there would be more. I'm having a hard time adjusting to the water situation here in Arizona, coming from the Land of 10,000 lakes as I am. Here, as you are crossing a bridge, there will be a sign that says La Carimba River(or something like that) and then you cross over a dry wash. Arizona must really be something to see during their monsoon season in the summer. 

Antique Graffiti


Can you see the waterfall on the right hand side?  Going into the pool?  Naw, me either

 

The next trail we tried was a combination of most of the trails in the park – or at least a part of each one of the trails. The trails are so flat that it hardly seemed like we were trail walking.
What? What Hazards? Where?  Where?

There was a really nice two mile trail behind the campground that we would do every night.
Nice except for the Cholla Forest that we had to go thru

Sunsets were glorious each night.

 

On Wednesday, we had to leave White Tank and move into Phoenix. I wanted to see some art museums and get a little culture, but the main reason is that I really need to do laundry. I am now in a full service park where everybody is packed in like sardines. There is a busy road right outside the park fence (yes, I am in a gated +55 community). Traffic, sirens -after spending a couple of weeks in state parks, this is like sensory overload. Other than that, it is a nice park I have water, electric and sewer hookups for a measly $16 a night. I have earplugs to deal with the sirens. I think I am set.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Casa Grande and White Tank Mountain


Move Day today.

Putzed around as usual and finally got on the road around 11. First stop is Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. This is a four story tall building and sixty feet long. It is the largest known structure of the HoHokum (learned this is a negative name for the people, they are now called the “Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert”) This structure is part of what was a whole village. What is interesting about it is that the walls face the four cardinal points of the compass. A circular hole in the upper west wall aligns with the setting sun at summer soltice. Other holes in the building align with the sun and moon at specific times. Our own little Stonehenge. It was originally built around 1300 AD but there is not much left of it. In the 1930s, they built a fancy roof to help protect the ruins. 

 

What made this special in my eyes is that I could take Miko all around the ruins and also into the Visitor Center. This is unheard of in the National Park system. Yay, Casa Grande peeps!!!

Little Miko at the Casa Grande Ruins


We roamed around the ruins and then a tour started. Miko and I sat and listened attentively to the volunteer who had some insights into why this structure was here and it's importance. We then bugged out and headed on down the road when it came to actually tour the site again. The tour guide, while very knowledgeable tended to be a little long winded so we moved on.

We drove northward and had to drive on I-10 through Phoenix. I am really glad it was a sunday and there was “light” traffic seeing at how there were seven lanes through much of the way. I can only imagine how it is during rush hour.

Our destination: White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Phoenix has five regional parks which are booked up weeks in advance. I lucked out because a couple of days ago, I tried one more time to see if there were any openings in any of the parks and White Tank had some openings. My site is rather cool, not only do I have electricity and water, but looking out the back of the rig I have beautiful mountains and looking out through the front I can see the twinkling lights of Phoenix. Score!!! Again.

During our evening constitutional around the campground, I found out the people across the street from me are from Plymouth Minnesota. What is the deal? Is there anybody left back home? I have met more Minnesotans down here than I have back home. Strange.

Another perk here is the incredible sunsets.

View out my front door

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sure are a lot of hills in Arizona


Note to Self: When planning on a day of hiking, one should perhaps get up a little early so one does not have to hike during the hottest part of the day
Note to Self Part II: When hiking during the hottest part of day, perhaps one should not wear Black T-shirt.
The Desert is Starting to Bloom

Miko Hitting The Trail



Today I'm going to do the Callaway Trail and the Nature Trail. Rather short little trails, but probably more my speed. We got into the car and drove over. The Callaway Trail goes up to an overlook and when I say up, I mean up. Lots of climbing – it is a pretty rocky trail and narrow. It was hard to find a spot to get off the trail to let others pass, either going up or down. While you are on this trail, you can look over to the face of the Peak and see the die-hard hikers climbing up on this side of the Peak. Tiny little specks but it looked like it was a hard climb. I was perfectly happy to putz along on my trail of choice. As it was, when I got back, I had climbed 30 flights of stairs according to my FitBit. I don't know how it measures flights, but it sure sounds impressive to me.
During one of my many walks around the campground, I ran into a couple of fellow campers who graciously invited me over to their campsite for Happy Hour. Charles and Jeannie are from the Phoenix area and are just a blast. Charles butchers his own meat and he insisted that I stay for dinner. He grilled this most incredible steak, melt in your mouth tender. Jeannie's passion is music and is a very accomplished vocalist and songwriter. I really hope she follows her dreams and goes for it. I enjoyed my evening immensely. I should also mention that Charles is a mountain biker and in one of his rides today around the park, he came across an ostrich farm.  He took the most hilarious video of an ostrich, who once she saw Charles started flirting outrageously. 
Such great fun to sit under the stars, drinking wine with good people.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Reasonable Desert


Big surprise today – woke up and it was cloudy. I know I shouldn't complain, but I was thinking the other day about how every day with sunshine does get a little boring. A little bit of weather makes my heart sing. I'm not complaining because I certainly don't want the weather gods to think that I am ungrateful for all this sunshine. Let's just say that it was nice to wake up to some clouds.

I decided that it would probably be wise to take my car to the trail heads. No need to get all tuckered out before I even get to the trail. I tow my car behind the RV using a tow bar. It is important when you want to hook up or unhook that the car and the RV are in a straight line. Otherwise it is very difficult to get the pin that connects the tow bar to the car out. Usually it is a 5 minute job to unhook the car. Forty minutes later, I finally got it unhooked. Guess I wasn't all that straight – another learning experience.

Then I had to fix the rod that holds the door to the RV open. One end had fallen off. A simple matter of screwing the rod into the holders. Except...when you screw one end of the rod into it's holder, it unscrews the other end. It is a careful balancing act but I got 'er done.

Enough of this home maintenance stuff. The clouds also made it a perfect day for a hike. I'm going to take the Sunset Vista Trail which goes around behind Picacho Peak. I want to take Miko so that precludes me climbing the peak. I had heard from some of the other residents in the campground that when you start climbing the peak, there are ladders that you have to climb and that it is definitely not a place for people with vertigo. Talented as Miko is, I don't think she could make it up a ladder on a sheer cliff wall. Whew – decision made. I, of course, would have climbed the wall in spite of my vertigo, but I couldn't leave Miko behind. Um-hmm.

I'm liking this type of desert – it is greener, it is seems friendlier. The trail goes up and down, you cross over the saddle of a small mountain and then you are in a valley. The flowers are starting to come out. I learn later that the yellow flowers are called Mexican poppies and they only bloom for a couple of weeks and then they are done. Our timing is great because there are a few big patches of them in bloom.

When we get close to Picacho Peak, you can see way up there little tiny bits of color where there are people doing the ascent. I'm pretty comfortable in my decision not to go. Way too far and way too much effort. As it was, I have a FitBit which measures the number of steps I take and also the flights of stairs. I was amazed when I got back home that I had traveled 13,375 steps and believe it or not 70 flights of stairs. Had to take a nap when I got back to the RV.

Almost looks like the Smokies


Look!!!!  A front shot of Miko!!!
Mexican Poppies
This is how close I came before we turned around - so close, yet so far away

The Peak



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Picacho Peak


Move Day today. You can only stay at Gilbert Ray Campground for seven days and then they make you leave. You have to be gone for seven days before you can come back into the campground. Except for the killer vegetation, I really liked it here, people were nice, scenery was nice and the price was right – only $20 a night. Take that, Marriott.

I had to dump tanks and fill up my fresh water. I would only have electricity at Picacho Peak State Park. It was a short drive only forty minutes but the landscape changed quite a bit. Whereas before it was all desert and those nasty killer plants, now, all of a sudden there is some scruffy grass. The Saguaros are still here though.

The focal point of this park is the Peak. I have to decide tomorrow morning whether or not I will climb the Peak. There are several trails in the park but the one that goes to the peak is described “The route is steep and twisting, with steel cables (gloves are recommended) anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare. This is a difficult but rewarding hike. “ I'll have to think on this a bit.




View from My Lawn chair


Picacho Peak - am I going to climb it?



 Sunset again

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Teddy Bears and Luddites


Out to lunch with Ann at Cafe Torino. We sat at a table outside which was a real treat, it being February and all.

I had a DVD with me that contained old family movies from the twenties and thirties. There were movies of Ann as a baby and I wanted to show them to her. Ann is a Luddite, someone who does not embrace modern technology. She has no computer, refuses to get one and also does not have a DVD player. Shocking!!! Actually I admire her for sticking to her values and not caving in to pressure. We had to go to the public library and try to use their computers. For some reason, we couldn't get it to work. I was bummed because I was looking forward to viewing it with her so she could tell me more of the “old” stories.

We said goodbye, I will miss Ann – she is really a very cool lady.

Ok, now I want to show you a picture of a Teddy Bear Cactus.

Isn't It Pretty?


And here is one of those little buds that jump out and attack you

Nasty Little Suckers

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

San Xavier del Bac


It is another Mission Day. There is a mission in Tucson that is considered a Tucson showcase. A National Historic Landmark, Mission San Xavier del Bac. It was founded by the same Jesuit priest, Father Kino, that founded Tumacacori mission that I saw a few days ago, but Lordy, what a difference. There have been many many bucks spent on restoring this particular mission and it shows. It is beautiful. Again I lucked out and got there just as a tour was starting. You get so much more out of a place when you hear from the experts who know their subject. The mission is done in a High Baroque style which as the guide put it, a triumphant, extravagant, almost theatrical (and at times) melodramatic style. Basically, it is gilded gaudiness. Let there be no surface left unadorned. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

The mission builders ran out of money before they could get the dome on the right side tower completed

The Altar
When the Jesuits were arrested the Franciscans took over the mission.  St. Francis is their patron saint.  There was a statue of St.Francis lying there and according to legend, if you made a wish and then lifted the head of this supine sculpture up, your wish would be granted.  I saw a lot of people coming in and lifting St. Francis' head up.  There was one couple, who stood in front of St. Francis, kissed and smiled at each other and then the guy started lifting St. Francis' head up, over and over.  Almost like he was doing reps or something. I wonder what that couple was wishing for.

St Francis



Monday, February 16, 2015

I Hate The Friggin' Desert (well, maybe)


I picked up Cousin Ann and we headed out to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. This isn't what you think of when you think Museum – it is more like a zoo or a botanical garden. Keep in mind, my cousin Ann is 89 years old. I asked her if she wanted a wheelchair or an electric scooter or a stroller :-) and she said didn't need one, she was a good walker and she was. Amazing how good she is at getting around.

What the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is, is a large open air showcase of Arizona flora and fauna. We went into a hummingbird aviary, underground to watch animals that were normally active at night sleeping, watched desert big horn sheep bounce around on their rocks, watched an otter and a beaver swim underwater and into a desert bird aviary. There was a docent in front of the Bighorns and he had a ram's horn and skull that we could cold. I don't know how those rams are able to keep their heads up in polite society, the horns are so heavy. They must have incredible neck muscles.
Ducks in the Desert?

Mrs. Desert Bighorn


When Ann got tired, we headed back to the RV so she could meet Miko. I made her dinner (I'm slowly learning to compensate for not having a microwave) and then I took her home back over the mountain. Sunset was incredible as usual. On the way back over the mountain, it was completely dark. The good thing about that was that I couldn't see the drop offs and cliffs on the side of the road.
When I got home, I had to take Miko out for her nightly walk. It was pitch black out so I took my little flashlight with me so I could see where the blacktop was so I wouldn't fall off of the road again. Miko goes off to the side to do her business, I go to pick it up. Miko is in the middle of the road and has stopped dead in the middle. She won't move. I put the flashlight on her and right on her chest, under her front leg is a huge cactus clump, thorns and all. They have these cactus down here called Teddy Bear Cholla. They are really pretty, they are soft and really cuddly looking until you realize that they are covered with a ton of nasty spines. They are also called Jumping Cactus because if you brush against them, a large segment will attach itself to you and cause untold pain. This is what Miko had attached to her. The spines were embedded in her skin.
She lay down in the middle of the road and I tried to pull the cactus out but every time I did, she screamed. It was killing me to cause her this pain. Every time I tried to pull a spine out, it would attach to me and I can tell you, it was painful. Miko was so good, laying there in the middle of the road hoping that I could help her. Because of where this cactus was, there was no way she could walk.
I was beginning to lose it – I couldn't get the cactus dislodged, we were in the middle of the campground road in the dark. We were about 100 feet from the nearest RV which just so happened to be the camp host. They had just rolled into the campground that day, I don't think they had officially started working yet. I told Miko to Stay (a task that we had hardly worked on before) and ran over and started banging on their door, all the while yelling at Miko to stay. The hosts opened their door, I asked them to help, told them my dog had gotten into cholla and bring tweezers. I ran back to Miko and bless her heart, she had not moved at all. I can't tell you how proud I was of her.

The hosts came out and said that they had just learned that day about how to get cholla out of fur. You take a comb, put it next to the dog's skin and pop the cactus bud off. I was a little skeptical because I had tried to pull the cactus out already with my fingers and all it had done was cause Miko pain. We had nothing left to lose, I couldn't pick Miko up to get her off the road so I told them to go for it.
It was amazing how quickly that cholla popped off of Miko. She did not yelp once and she laid still for the whole operation. She lay there for a moment, then she got up, shook herself and then she walked over to the host and started licking his hands as though she was saying thank you. I felt around in the area where the cactus had been and could not feel any more stickers.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to these camp hosts. I don't know what we would have done if they had not been there and also if they had not just learned what to do in a situation like this. When I got back to the RV, I just grabbed Miko and cried.
The desert is really pretty in a sort of alien sort of way, but there are so many things out here that will hurt you. Things to think about – does warm weather, beautiful sunsets, lazy days outweigh vegetation that is out to get you?





Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mellow Down Easy


Woke up today to a strange sound – pitter patter of rain on the roof. Just a little pitter patter but when I looked outside, nothing was really wet. Rain in the desert. I had plans to go do some touristy things but I started to think that maybe I don't “have” to do anything. I think I am still struggling with this lifestyle. I need to not be so results driven and not be constantly trying to check things off of a list. It is ok to just sit and be. I should try more of it, see how it works out for me.

So, I did not go anyplace beyond walking the dog around the campground. I wiped down the outside of the RV, it had gotten really dusty being on the road. I tried to plan out where I was going next, but there was a definite lack of enthusiasm on my part. I sat and stared out the door because it was a lovely sight


and then I watched the sunset

Arizona Sunset

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines Day in Miniature or The Desert is a Dangerous Place Part II


I'm pretty excited because today I am going to get together with my 2nd cousin Ann. Ann is a special person to me. I knew of her when I was growing up, but never knew her. That changed several years ago when I accompanied my mother down to Tucson because she wanted to visit her cousin. I don't know what happened, but I just connected with Ann. It was like we had been close family members forever. I really wish she lived closer to me so I could spend more time with her.

I picked her up at her senior apartment and we were off to the Mini Time Museum of Miniatures. This museum contains over 275 little houses and room boxes. Some of these houses were totally amazing in the amount of detail. There were tiny little tapestries that had been woven. Little tiny gold edged plates, little toy soldiers only a quarter inch tall. I thought that this museum would be entertaining in a bizarre sort of way – sort of like the largest ball of twine, something along that line. But, this was way beyond that – it was almost awe-inspiring. What was interesting to me was that there were several men in the museum and I would over hear them saying things like “how did they do that” or “this is incredible”. You would think that all of these doll houses would not be so fascinating. There were many different houses/rooms from around the world. There was also an area called “The Enchanted Realm” where they had fantasy rooms – miniature mice, fairies, elves, dragons.

One exhibit that was interesting was one where they made life size replicas of famous diamonds, such as the Hope diamond. They would talk about the history of the diamond, how it was cut, the affect it had on various historical figures. They had miniatures of the people who were associated with the diamond.



Ann took me out to lunch to a restaurant called Relish. She had a grilled three cheese sandwich which was to die for, I had a chicken wrap which had cilantro sour cream in it. Excellent.

When I got back to home, I took Miko for her nightly walk. The sun was setting, beautiful sunset as usual. There is a paved road through the campground, I'm walking along, it is getting dark and I fall off of the road. What? An inch difference between the blacktop and the desert and Bam, I go do a face plant – well, actually a palm plant. Both of my palms got really scrapped up. What a clutz.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Back To The Mission


I had called Frigidaire again to see about getting the microwave fixed. I figured that since I was going to be in Tucson for a week, there might be a chance of getting it fixed. Frigidaire gave me the number of a repair place and I called them. They said that I had to bring the microwave into their shop for them to look at it. Excuse me – this is a built in microwave. There is no way that I would take on the job of dismantling it even if I knew how to do it. I called the main office of Frigidaire back again and the woman said to me – you know, the first available appointment I can get you is Thursday next week. Thursday is the day I am planning on leaving town again. Then she said, you know – even if they come out, they are probably going to have to order parts which can take another five days. Oh well, guess I will try to figure out where I'm going to be next for a long period of time. So...no microwave.

Today I wandered down to Tumacacori – a mission that was started in 1691. It was first started by the Jesuits and then fifty years later, the king of Spain decided to arrest all the Jesuits because they weren't sending enough money back to Spain. A year later, the Franciscans came and took over the Mission. The Mission continued until 1848 when the Apaches and hard winters finally closed it down.

I got to the mission right around 2:00 and lucked out because there was a tour starting right then. It was a nice day to wander around the ruins and it was nice to have somebody tell us what it was we were seeing. Our docent was a guy from Minnesota who was very proud of the fact that he worked in law enforcement in the attorney general's office (Skip Humphrey). Standard mission stuff – church, granary, school. The interior was a little different, very narrow and no pews. The congregation were expected to stand or kneel. The church is still used occasionally by the descendents of the O'odham tribe.

There were a lot of artists setting up their easels, evidently this mission is a favorite among artists.

The Ranger and the Mission

Those are altars sticking out from the sides

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Racing The Wind


Woke up at the crack of dawn and checked wind speeds. It was only about 15 mph but the forecast for each hour had the wind moving up into the howl status. Tucson was only an hour and a half away, I decided to go for it. Especially since the wind was coming out of the east which would give me a nice tail wind.

My destination is the Gilbert Ray Campground on the west side of Tucson. It is part of Tucson Mountain Park and butts up next to part of the Saguaro National Park. I plan to stay here a week. I will only have an electrical hookup, so I made sure my fresh water tank was full and my waste tanks were empty. I should have no problem making it a week. I'm excited because I will be seeing my cousin Ann for part of the time here.

The desert here is very strange. It looks a lot like the desert I've been going through but there are all these Saguaros here. They are the tall cacti that are like tall pillars with arms growing out of them. They dot the mountain sides and it is just sort of a foreign landscape for me. I like this campground – nobody is too close to me and the views are great. Again, the stars are amazing.



View out the driver's side of my Site at Gilbert Ray Campground

View out the passenger side of my site at Gilbert Ray

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Coronado

Moved on to the town of Huachaca City, a little farther south than Wilcox. Stopped at another RV park – K and N RV Park. Small little park, mostly snowbirds that live there for the whole season. The owners had taken an old gas station and restored it so that it looked like a gas station from the thirties, but all nice and sparkly and clean. They had old gas pumps, old shell signs – it was very very pretty. 
 
After setting up camp – I hesitate to call it camp since these RV parks are not my idea of camping – there is absolutely no wilderness around our little gated community – I said goodbye to Miko, told her not to howl and took off for the Coronado National Memorial. This will mean that in two days, I will have visited a National Historic Site, a National Monument and a National Memorial. Who knew that there were so many different designations for tourist sites.

On the way down to the Memorial, I saw one of the Border Patrol's blimps that they put up in the sky to watch for illegal activity. Seems like we are being watched more and more.
Looks like one of those gold fish snacks, doesn't it?


Coronado National Monument commemorates Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition and the cultural influences of Spanish colonial exploration in the 1500s. Of course Coronado did not actually come through this particular spot (close but not this exact spot), but it was scenic so I guess 'they' thought it would be a good place for a memorial.

When you get to the visitor's center, you watch a short movie talking about Coronado and why 'they' think he is important. I told the volunteer lady that I wanted to go up to Montezuma's Peak because I had heard that it had panoramic views and it was worthwhile. She asked me what kind of vehicle I was driving because you cannot go up the road if you are driving anything longer than 24 feet or if you are driving a sports car. I should have paid attention to what she was saying because those two requirements mean we are going to be talking serious mountain driving. Vehicles longer than 24 feet cannot handle switchbacks well and the sports cars generally have very low clearance and will bottom out on the road. I know my car has a low clearance so I wasn't sure if I should go. The volunteer lady said – well, go – if you bottom out at the first dip, just turn around. Ok, sounds good to me.

The first mile of the road is narrow but paved. As I'm driving along, there are several Border Patrol vehicles patrolling the park road. I thought to myself, perhaps I should have paid more attention to how close I was to the border and ask Ms. Volunteer Lady if this was a safe thing to do.
After the first mile, the road gets even narrower and it is no longer paved. It is gravel, rutted and twisty and turny. The part that got me though was that on one side of the road it was straight down, no gentle slope, just sheer cliffs and no guardrails. I am really scared of heights, I would glance over toward the cliff and my stomach would just roil. The speed limit was 15 mph, I think I was doing about 2mph. It is quite a climb, about 1300 feet in altitude difference between the visitor center and the Peak. I kept thinking to myself that even though I am scared out of my mind, I will be proud of myself when I got to the top. When I finally did get to the top, I was not so much proud of myself for doing it, but totally relived.



Notice that little road way down there

Except – at the top there was a big parking lot. I was the only one there except for Border Patrol. There were four officers plus two tall towers that had some sort of radar screen that was scanning the valleys. One on the U.S. Side and one looking over the Mexican side. I decided that maybe I should ask about safety at this point so I asked one of the Border Patrol guys. He said I was perfectly safe up there, the only dangerous thing was the road that I had just come up on. Thanks guys, I still have to go down that road to get back to civilization.

The Border Patrol and their towers - one overlooking Mexico and one overlooking the U.S.


Once you get to the parking lot, you have to climb about 375 to actually get to Montezuma's Peak. That doesn't sound like much but it sure is when it is all uphill. They had little information signs staggered along the way so you could stop and pretend you are reading while you try to catch your breath. The views were stupendous and I did feel very proud of myself for 'conquering' the mountain. I had to push myself to get to the peak but I did it. Yay Me!!!





Mexico

Montezuma's Peak - so close but yet, so far

The United States side of the mountain

When I got back to the parking lot, the Border Patrol guys were all gone. I was alone on top of the mountain – if I hadn't been so scared when I was at the Peak, I would have twirled around just like Julie Andrews on her mountaintop in Sound of Music. 
 
Now I had to go down the road. On the way up, I never met another car. On the way down, I met three cars coming up. The problem with this is the person going down is on the right side of the road – the cliff side. I just got over as far as I was comfortable which wasn't all that far and then those other people had to squeeze by me while I was stopped with my eyes closed. 
 
Finally got down into the valley and headed back to the RV. I stopped at a grocery store called Food City. It was a very Hispanic store, lots of your standard foods all had their labels in Spanish. They also had some Mexican specialties like Mexican cookies and some fruits and vegetables that I wasn't too sure about.

I spent the rest of the night, trying to figure out if I should try to get to Tucson the next day. There were high wind warning for Thursday and they were warning high profile vehicles (RVs) to stay off of the road. I will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see what the winds are like.