Tucson Mountain Park, Gilbert Ray and the Desert Museum



It’s early on Friday the 13th of March. The wind is whipping around the trailer here in Montgomery, Alabama and we are on the last two days of the Green Eggs and Ham rally! 

But I want to write about our last few days in Arizona…while the memory is still intact.

We leave our lovely parking lot in the Tonto National Forest.  It is time for David to have his blood tested again and there are groceries to be bought.  Between the wait at Walgreens’ clinic and fighting the senior crowd at Fry’s, we leave Apache Junction much later than planned.

Our destination is the Desert Museum in Tucson.  There’s a nice campground close to the museum but it may be full.  It does not take reservations.  I research free camping in Tucson in find a BLM close to our destination.  Nina and Paul warn that the road is rough and there’s some broken glass scattered throughout the camp.

After several hours of negotiating traffic, we find the area and, at first glance, it does not look too bad.

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  The sunset gives us another visual delight.

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David settles in with his book.

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We notice a bit of broken glass as we park.  By the next day, with the changing sunlight, I realize that we are surrounded by glass and dog poo!  David decides to nap and I decide to go find Gilbert Ray, the campground that keeps coming up in conversations.

After consulting Google Maps and making a few turns, I arrive at Tucson Mountain Park.  The beauty is overwhelming!  How can this be so pretty and our spot be so….less than pretty?

On to Gilbert Ray, stopping at the office to find that there are campsites available..even though it is Saturday afternoon!  After riding through all the loops, drinking in the lovely landscape, I wonder what kind of mood the husband will be in if I suggest that we break camp and move…NOW!

Luckily…the nap is over….and we break camp in record speed!




Love this guy!  He looks like he is directing traffic!

Camping at Gilbert Ray is like camping in a desert garden!

We pay for two nights…staying long enough to visit the Desert Museum.  And feeling nostalgic…already sad that our paradise visit is ending.

We hear from our neighbor to not miss the museum’s free flight show. 





The show is astounding!  It starts with two ravens, then a great-horned owl, then hawks….two are red tail hawks.  The birds fly freely, soaring out of sight into the clouds.  The handlers are not concerned when wild red tails bombard their wards, trying to knock them out of the wild birds’ territory.  They explain that their birds know where good living and easy food can be found…so they always return.DSC_0035

We return to camp for lunch and return to see the rest of the park.


There are coyotes.



Big Horn Sheep.


And hummingbirds!

It’s a perfect day and a perfect way to end our winter in the desert.




Five Nights in Texas!


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Llano River in Junction, TX

Technically it will not be 5 nights in Texas until tomorrow night but it’s going to take that long to get through this state.

The weather forecast dominates our thoughts this week.  Staying safe is at the top of our priorities.  Rain, wind, ice, snow and plummeting temps are heading our way!

We leave Tucson on Monday morning after a superb visit to the Desert Museum in the Tucson Mountain Park.  (Plan to write next about our time in Tucson.)

Our destination for the night is the KOA behind Camping World in El Paso. We need a few things from CW and the park is conveniently placed just off I-10.  The winds blow relentlessly all day….two hands on the wheel type wind.

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The setting sun over Camping World’s  inventory of trailers and, us, sandwiched between motor homes.

Tuesday morning’s mission is to find a Discount Tire store and get a second opinion on our truck tires.  We decide to stay another night in El Paso as it’s raining and there are groceries to be bought.  The tire store confirms our opinion that it’s time to replace two of the tires.  The other two are good enough to get us home.

We didn’t expect the tires to be in the same place as an outlet mall.  And I see a Crocs store!  I am almost Croc-less…none were bought this year in Mesa.  I rationalize that walking the mall will be an excellent way to get my daily steps done and ….. more rationalizations…..we have spent almost no money on camping in February and I have spent only $7.50 on clothes this trip, a $2 tee at Quartzsite and 3 items at a thrift store.  This is what I am telling myself as I enter a Chico's store for the very first time!

Short version….we leave several hours later.  I have 5,000 steps registered on my phone, two new pairs of Crocs….there was a sale…, a new blouse and David has a new pair of pants!

Groceries, lunch and a tour of Camping World leaves us exhausted.  What an expensive lay over day!

The scary weather is coming in on Wednesday and we are nervous.  We pick a nice RV park in Fort Stockton…nice in case we are stranded for several days.  Up early by 5:30 the next morning and on the road by 7. And it’s a good thing!

Rain, sun, rain keeps us guessing for most of the day but by the time we roll into the park, dark clouds and gale force winds were whipping  around the Casita.

The sun comes out momentarily and I run out to take this photo.

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The Fort Stockton RV park also has a nice little cafĂ©, the Road Runner.  There’s nothing better than food to lift our morale…not looking forward to the 22 degrees forecast for the night.

After ribs, maybe the best I have eaten, mashed potatoes and green beans, I am wishing to be back in the sun so I can walk off all the calories.

We survive the night without getting cold, as long as we are under the comforter!  But it takes the little ceramic heater and one stove eye on low to get the inside temperature into the 50’s the next morning.

The roads are icy and we wait for the sunshine before getting back on the road.  After a sunny trip, we are at Morgan’s Shady RV in Junction, Texas, another 200 miles down the road.  We can see the lovely Llano River from the side dinette.  The rest of the windows are covered with Reflectix.

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The plan for tomorrow is to get through Houston!  Once we say good bye to Texas, our journey will get easier.

Trying to keep good thoughts about the upcoming rally….note to self, stop checking the Montgomery, AL 10 day forecast! 

Maybe it won’t rain the whole time!