Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bon Voyage

Today we drove from Tucson to San Diego. It was a nice day and took us about seven hours. We're spending the night at a Best Western overlooking the bay. The room for the night is $110 which includes leaving our truck parked in their covered parking lot for the duration of our trip. Parking alone at the pier would have been about $150 so this is a pretty good deal.

Tomorrow we board the ship which leaves at 5 pm. We'll be at sea for four days, spend one day each at Hilo, Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and Kona. Then four days at sea coming back and one night in Mexico. We return on February 4th. I sure hope our ship's captain knows how to steer properly :)

So, I won't be posting any blogs until after the trip. Internet is available on the ship, but it's pretty expensive, and I plan to be busy relaxing and enjoying myself. I may have internet withdrawal, but I think I can handle it.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tohono Chul Park

Yesterday we visited Tohono Chul Park. They advertise they are one of the world’s 10 great botanical gardens.

It was a beautiful park with many paths, but everything looked pretty much the same, namely lots of cactus. Of course, we are in the desert and cactus is what grows here. We haven’t visited that many botanical gardens, but I didn’t think it was so great as to be one of the top 10 in the entire world. Maybe if we visited in spring when the cactus are in bloom, it would have been much nicer.

There was a saguaro section at the garden with informational signs explaining how they grow. What an amazing plant. Their root system lies about 3 inches below the surface and stretch as far from the trunk as the plant is tall. These roots can soak up as much as 200 gallons of water in a single rainfall, enough to last the plant for a year.

P1120231The saguaro seed is the size of a pinhead. One cactus produces tens of thousands of seeds in a year, as many as 40 million in a lifetime. Out of those millions of seeds, only a few grow to adulthood. Many of the young plants grow under nurse trees to protect them from intense sun, cold and animals. Do you see the young saguaro under the nurse plant?


P1120226While the cause is not known, sometimes damage occurs to the top of a saguaro, causing a fanlike growth. This is thought to occur once in every 200,000 plants.






I thought this one had an interesting shape. It looks like an elephant’s trunk and tusks.


There were a number of metal sculptures scattered throughout the park. Supposedly, there are many wild javelina in the Tucson area. This may be the only one I see. I feel like I did last year when I was trying to find the elusive Big Horn Sheep.



P1120229We’ve seen these beautiful Azurite and Malachite rocks in several of the places we’ve visited.








Once again, the sunset was beautiful last night.


Our campground has entertainment two or three nights a week. Last night the group Mariachi de Atzlan performed. They’re a high school group that took 2nd place at the National competition last year. What a talented group of young people. They play and sing, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Titan Missile Museum

Yesterday we visited the Titan Missile Museum. In the early 1960s there were 54 Titan II missile silos built in Arkansas, Kansas and Arizona. The missiles were active for about 25 years. They protected our country during the Cold War years. In the mid 1980s President Reagan agreed to a treaty with the Russians and ordered the missiles disabled and the silos shut down.

All the silos were destroyed except this one in Tucson which was designated to become a museum. The missile in the silo does not have a warhead or fuel. The site doesn’t look like much from the outside.


Inside, the silo is 15 stories deep. There is a viewing platform at the top so visitors can see the missile inside.


Two of these huge engines were needed to send the missile to its target.


The warheads carried 9 megatons of explosives. That’s the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT. To put that amount in perspective, you would need a train with boxcars full of TNT that reaches from Tucson to Lexington, Kentucky to equal the explosives in one warhead. A warhead would cause a 3 mile fireball upon impact. The black portion at the top carried the warhead. The rest of the missile was mainly to carry the fuel.


P1120219The United States built these missiles as a deterrent to the Soviet Union. Luckily, none of the missiles were ever launched. After the Titan II program was cancelled, the warheads were removed and the missiles were used to send satellites into orbit.



We were taken inside the silo to the Command Center. Our friend Joan was chosen to be the commander for the launch. Two people were required to turn keys that would initiate a launch. There were many safeguards in place to prevent any accidents or sabotage.


This museum was also in our coupon booklet so the cost for both of us was $9.50. It was a very interesting site to visit.

On the way home, we stopped at the Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission is referred to as the White Dove of the Desert. It is still an active church and is located on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation.


The mission was built by the Jesuits in 1692. It suffered damage from an earthquake and was rebuilt by the Franciscans in 1783.

The inside was quite ornate and beautiful.


We’ve seen plenty of missions, but each is a little different. I always find it amazing to look at buildings that have survived for hundreds of years.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saguaro National Park West

All National Parks had free admission this weekend, so we decided to check out Saguaro National Park on Saturday. There are two sections to this park. We chose the West section which is closer to us.

The weather was a bit cool and windy and I wasn’t feeling great. I’m fighting a bit of a cold. So, I stamped my National Park Passport book, we looked around the museum and we watched the 15 minute slide show.

Then we drove the 6 mile loop to see the area with the heaviest cactus growth. It was a dirt road and pretty bumpy. The cactus looked pretty much the same as they do in the desert behind our campground. Here’s one of my pictures.


Here’s the postcard I bought to send to my mother.


Yesterday we joined our friends the Hansens and the Patzers at their rental condo to watch the Packer game. What a disappointing game. The Packers played so poorly. A very lousy end to a great season. After the game we ordered some pizza and played some games. For some reason this picture didn’t turn out well, but it’s the only one I have.


The six of us leave on Thursday for our cruise adventure!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pima Air and Space Museum

Yesterday we used our coupon book and visited the Pima Air and Space Museum. The admission price is $15.50, but there are two additional tours that are not included in the price. There is a narrated tram tour that takes you around all of the outside planes. And there is a narrated bus tour that takes you to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known as “the boneyard”. We decided to do both tours so the cost for the two of us was $41.50.
The boneyard is where all branches of the military send planes for storage, recycling or destruction. It covers over 2,600 acres. The Tucson area was chosen for three reasons; very little rain, low humidity and the ground under the topsoil is like concrete so they can park the planes right on the ground.
When the planes arrive, all the fuel and oil is removed, they are washed and then the windows and seams are sprayed with a latex coating to keep them from overheating.
Seeing all those planes and helicopters parked in the desert is quite an amazing site.
These are some of the largest cargo planes in the world. They’re currently being stored here. Each plane can carry 200,000 pounds.
We saw a number of interesting planes on the tram tour. This was Air Force One used by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Jackie Kennedy was responsible for the current paint color scheme of Air Force One.
This was President Eisenhower’s plane. Notice the color is silver.
There were many helicopters on display. This is a crane helicopter. It can lift and carry trucks and other vehicles. It’s also used to drop large amounts of water on fires.
There are several hangers on the museum grounds with some very interesting and unique planes in them. This little plane called “The Bumble Bee” holds the Guinness record for the smallest bi-plane. Notice the man in the background is taller than the plane.
This is a replica of the first Wright Brothers 1903 flying machine.
This Blackbird was a secret CIA reconnaissance plane. It broke a speed record at almost 2,200 MPH and flew from New York to London in three hours.
They have an F-14 Tomcat which is the plane made famous in the movie Top Gun with Tom Cruise.
There were also a number of experimental aircraft. Some of them never made of into production.
P1120202I found this contraption very interesting. The inventor tried to sell it to the military to replace parachutes. It had a 20 HP motor. The problem with it came if the soldier didn’t land on his feet. If he fell, the rotors hit the ground and broke into many splinters which were like missiles hitting anything in their path including the person attached to it. Not all inventions are successful.
Kevin and I both agreed that this museum was an okay place to visit. We felt that someone with a keen interest in airplanes would probably have enjoyed it much more than we did. Both narrated tours rambled on with the names of many different aircraft. After a while, they all sounded the same and became rather boring. Even with our coupon, we found it a bit pricey.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Biosphere 2

Yesterday we drove to the condo that our friends are renting. It’s about 30 miles northeast of where we are in a very nice complex. We’ve definitely found that the northern areas of Tucson are much nicer than the southern areas. We had a nice visit with them spending some time swimming in the pool and hot tub, playing cards and eating dinner.

Today we met them at the Biosphere 2 which is located about 30 miles north of Tucson. Some of you may remember when the Biosphere 2 was in the news in the early 1990s. Eight scientists spent two years sealed into the facility doing experiments. The admission price was $20 per person, but we had the 2 for 1 coupon in the Tucson Attraction coupon book.



As you can see, it was cloudy today. It’s the first cloudy day we’ve had, and I didn’t like it. Tomorrow the sun will be back :)

The Biosphere 2 facility has had several different owners over the years, and is now owned by the University of Arizona. Current experiments revolve around how water affects different climates. There are five distinct climates under the glass domes including a rain forest with a small waterfall.


They’ve even recreated the Pacific Ocean although it doesn’t look like much if you’ve actually seen the ocean.


We were taken on a guided tour. Our guide Bob H. was very knowledgeable and shared lots of information. The science and engineering involved in building the sphere is mindboggling. The complex covers about 3 acres, has 6,500 windows and is 91 feet tall at it’s highest point. It’s called Biosphere 2 because it is modeled on Earth, our first biosphere.

One of the outdoor experiments they are conducting is called “green roofs”. They are growing plants on the tops of these little houses. They’ve found that the rooftop gardens cool the temperature inside the house by about 7 degrees. Very important for conservation in the desert.


Overall, this was a very interesting and educational place to visit.

A few of the mountains north of Tucson have some snow on them. There is one called Mt. Lemmon that has skiing.


Because of the clouds, the sunset tonight was fantastic.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Catalina State Park

A couple of months ago I signed up to get Groupon emails for the Tucson area. One of them was for a half-price bike tune up. We bought a tune-up for each of our bikes at a cost of $25 per bike.

Once we got here, we realized that the bike shop was actually 30 miles north of where we are staying. It turns out that Catalina State Park is practically across the street from the bike shop. So, today we dropped off our bikes for their tune-ups and drove over to the park to do some hiking.

We’ve also purchased a Tucson Passport coupon book for $18. It has many 2 for 1 or 50% off discount offers. One of them was for 50% off the daily fee at Catalina State Park. So, we only had to pay $3.50 for the day pass.

The trail map showed 3 hikes that were about 1 mile each. The rest of the hikes were 7 to 10 miles one way with pretty steep inclines. For some reason, my joints were aching pretty bad today so we opted for the shorter hikes. Here’s a view of the Catalina Mountains from the Nature Trail. It looks like there is ice flowing down the side. Upon closer inspection, it was just some shiny rock.


I love the auto timer feature on my camera.


These two Saguaro each had over 20 arms. They are so cool.

P1120157 P1120163

The second trail that we hiked was called Birding Trail. It’s near the Sutherland Wash so there were actually trees and grassy areas. We didn’t see many birds though.


The third trail was called Romero Ruin Trail. Ruins from a Hohokam village dating back to 500 A.D. have been found in this area. There has been some excavation done, but mainly there are just some piles of rocks to see. I didn’t take any pictures of them. We saw lots of piles of rock just like it last year at some of the sites we visited.

P1120162We did notice some interesting plants. I think both of these plants were a type of cactus, and they both had what looked to me like some type of fruit growing on them. One was yellow and the other was red.





It’s hard to see the little red “berries” on this one. If you want to get a better look, click on the picture to enlarge it.


We hiked a total of about 3 miles. Then we headed back to the bike shop. I asked a few questions regarding what was done to our bikes, but the guy was very unfriendly. His demeanor was probably one of the worst customer service experiences I’ve ever had in a retail setting.

I road my bike around the parking lot and it did appear it was shifting better. So, I guess I just have to assume he did a good job and gave our bikes the tune-ups we paid for. I was hoping he could help me with the broken computer device I have that tracks your mileage and stuff like that. When I asked him about it, he didn’t even look at it. He just said he couldn’t do it. Oh well, I’ll find someone else who wants to earn some business from me. I also want to get a little mirror to put on my bike so I can see behind me. There are plenty of other bike shops around.

We had a buy one, get one free coupon for a Dairy Queen Blizzard so we had to stop on the way home and get our DQ fix. We also passed a Trader Joe’s so Kevin stopped and I ran in to stock up on the cranberry oatmeal I love. I did a quick look around, but I’m always overwhelmed in their stores. There’s so much I’m not familiar with. Anyone have any Trader Joe’s recommendations?

Our Wisconsin friends arrived in Tucson today. It turns out that Dick had to have a stent procedure done the day before they left home. These are the 2 couples going on the cruise with us. We’re going over to their rented condo tomorrow and discuss what we’re doing for the next 9 days before we head to San Diego. We certainly don’t want to put any stress on Dick. He needs to rest so he can be in great shape for the cruise.

I’m wondering what the news coverage around the country was this past weekend regarding the Tucson shootings a year ago. Last Sunday was the one year anniversary of that tragic event. As you can imagine, there were a number of vigils and tributes held in Tucson over the weekend. There was a great deal of news coverage with a couple of hour long specials. Congresswoman Gifford was in attendance. It’s good to see her doing so well, but it looks like she still has a long road ahead of her.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Desert Hiking

Most days since we’ve been here, we’ve been hiking for about four or five miles in the desert behind our campground. It feels good to be walking again.

I’ve found all the different types of Saguaro cactus to be very interesting. They seem to be like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Some have no arms, some have many arms, some have strange shaped arms. There are also holes in some of them. I think these holes may be made by birds.

P1120139 P1120140 P1120145


P1120144This one has a sign by it that says it’s about 200 years old. It’s huge. Kevin was kind enough to pose next to it to give you perspective of it’s size.









P1120146There are also some dead Saguaro in the desert. I was so surprised to see how they grow. The inside is actually a group of tall sticks. Then there is some type of covering that wraps around the sticks which is the green part you see on a live plant. Here’s a dead one that is still standing.






Next week we’re planning on going to Saguaro National Park. I’m sure we’ll learn much more about these amazing plants.

Yesterday we drove around Tucson and stopped at two truck dealers. We plan to buy a new truck this year. We thought we’d see what was available. We’re looking to buy a GMC or Chevy 2500HD extended cab diesel with a long box. There was not a single long box at either of the dealers.

Then we stopped at La Mesa RV to look at some RVs. We saw a Heartland Landmark that was very nice. It had some features that we liked better than the one we currently have. But nothing that would make us actually buy.

Kevin told me that unless I’m totally blown away, there’s no reason to buy a new one. He’s right. This is our home, and I’m very happy with the one we have. In order to spend the money to buy a new one, I will have to be blown away and swept off my feet. So far, that hasn’t happened. Good news for our bank account :)

We also stopped at Lazy Days RV. They had some Redwood 5th wheels. These came out in 2010 and are manufactured by Thor. They are called Residential and are being marketed specifically to fulltimers. Again, we saw some things we liked. In some ways they were very nice, but then there were some things that looked kind of cheap.

It was fun looking, and we didn’t spend any money. A good day!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Time For Reflection

We have been fulltime RVers for about 1-1/2 years now. During that time we have learned a great deal about this lifestyle.

When we were planning our “escape”, we did a lot of research. Of course, one of our concerns was financing. We read a lot of information in blogs and forums and were very appreciative of the honest financial information shared by other fulltimers.

Since we began our journey, we’ve kept a detailed record of our expenses. Before we started, we estimated we’d spend about $2,000 a month. We’ve discovered that we are actually spending about $2,500 a month, some months are higher, some lower. But, that’s our overall average.

We always planned to do some workamping, but these expenses are just confirming that we will work for at least a few years until some of our retirement monies kick in. We have savings, but we are trying to earn enough to cover our expenses so we don’t have to dip into those savings. It just makes us feel better to leave that nest egg alone. Probably our conservative Midwest upbringing.

We know there are fulltimers out there spending much less than that, and those spending more. Could we spend less? Absolutely, but we don’t want to cut anything. We are pretty conservative, but do enjoy certain things. We’re not willing to give up our satellite TV, internet, cell phones, golf, sightseeing, etc.

Another discovery we’ve made is you get what you pay for with regards to campgrounds. We enjoy the county park we camphost at in the summer. It’s a quiet, natural setting. We don’t mind staying at inexpensive Passport American campgrounds while we travel in between destinations. But, I think we’ll be choosing a little more upscale places to stay for the winter. I think paying a little more will be worth it for nicer resort-type places. It’s nice to have a variety throughout the year.

The weather continues to be fantastic with highs in the 70s and sun, sun, sun. We’ve been walking every day. There are a lot of interesting plants in this part of the desert. This cactus looks soft and fuzzy, but don’t touch it!


Here’s our site. As you can see, sites are tight and gravel. The people here seem nice. We’re planning on participating in some of the activities soon.


Tomorrow I plan to pull out my sewing machine and start a new quilting project. I have several projects I’m looking forward to working on.

Next week the two couples we will cruise to Hawaii with are arriving in Tucson. So, we’re holding off on sightseeing until they get here. Two weeks from today we’ll be cruising. Can’t wait!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


We have been blessed with fantastic weather since we left Wisconsin. All the way through Texas and New Mexico it was sunny and mild.

Yesterday we arrived in Tucson and the high was 79 degrees. Today the high was 76. Wow!! We’re loving it. Lows have been in the mid 40s. That’s the desert for you.

Today we went grocery shopping and then for an hour walk in the desert behind our campground. Both of us are feeling the effects of the sun today. We’re not sunburned, but definitely sun-kissed. We forgot the sunscreen today; we’ll need to be more careful in the future.

We are in what is considered the high desert, and it’s beautiful. Our campground actually is adjacent to Tucson Mountain Park so there is lots of great scenery all around us. Here’s the view out of our back window. The lady behind us has several bird feeders out so we’re enjoying seeing all the birds without any droppings in our area.


We’re staying at Desert Trails RV Park, south of Tucson. The price is $465 a month which includes a 30 amp FHU site with free wi-fi. The wi-fi has been spotty which I’m sure is the case in most places. It works better early in the morning when there aren’t a ton of people trying to access it.

The park is rather old and a bit rundown. It doesn’t appear there is a lot of money spent on upgrades. The sites are pretty tight. It’s not terrible, just a little “tired”. There is a nice pool and a hot tub. There are also quite a few planned activities. We’ll probably join in on some of them. The lady in the office was very nice and helpful.

We saw this fishhook barrel cactus on our walk. They have yellow fruit or flowers on them, very pretty. I never knew they always tilt to the south.


On the tire front, the good news is that Kevin was able to get a replacement tire in Midland, so we had a spare the rest of our trip. It was not a Goodyear store, so we will be contacting Goodyear directly for reimbursement. I definitely will be asking for all of the tires to be replaced. I’ll let you know what happens. I’m sure it will be a lengthy process, but I don’t give up very easily.

We only stayed in Midland for one night. I didn’t know it is the hometown of Laura Bush and that George and Barbara Bush lived there at one time with their family. There was a lot of oil activity around the area. This was the view out of our back window at the campground.


Quite an interesting sunset view.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!