On our way to Tucson (after they practically had to kick us out of Rancho Sonora to get us moving!) we stopped in Oracle to see the Biosphere II. I didn't realize they no longer had people living in there, but it had been taken over by Columbia University and turned into a huge research laboraotry. It was still quite interesting, and much of the "Biospherian" days are still evident.
After a quick stop in Tucson, we headed for Tombstone. They have done a nice job with that town, keeping much of the old west alive there. Boardwalks, old time saloons with "characters", both real and paid, and a hand out for each historic building in town. This is one place they should get together and have a "master ticket" that covers everything, instead of $2-$3 each time you turn around. Besides the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, and much Geranimo lore, they also have the world's largest Rose Bush, complete with offical Guiness World's record certification. It is a tiny, very fragrant flower and the rambler covers an huge arbor behind a building (another $3 to see it!). The rose dates back to the 1800's, and the flower's petals blow all over town, spreading the fragrance well beyond it's yard.
Evening found us a lovely campground on the way back to Tucson, complete with lake, clubhouse, pool and spa, and nice grounds. It was really nice to cook, and just putter around in the Van.
Tucson has become one of our potential sites for a winter home, and so we decided to do a little looking at houses on this Sunday afternoon. We spent a couple of hours at a Charbonneau type of development called Quail Creek near the town of Green Valley, south of Tucson. Saw some things we liked, will probably come back this winter and look a little more. We are also going to visit some people we met at Canyon de Chelley who live in Saddlebrooke, a sister community to this one, north of Tucson.
We had heard about this great campground near Suguaro National Park, so we set out to find Gilbert Ray. Truly another find! Private sites set right in the desert landscape with the Tucson Mountains as a backdrop. With the cactus all in bloom and the Sugauro's standing guard, it was one of the best places we've stayed. We didn't discover til the morning that there were no showers, but we survived with a sponge bath! Electric only, so we had to use our on board fresh water -- fortunately we had some!
Before we headed for the Park, we stopped at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Another gem really worth seeing. Lots of desert animals including the elusive Jackalina's, Cougars, Bobcats, etc. I, of course, was very interested in all the plant life -- and it was marked, so I could finally learn the names of some of these beautiful cactus.
A nice drive through Sagauro NP and all the sentinals standing guard over the desert, and we were off to find downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona for Phil and his picture taking of stadiums. I had spotted an inexpensive, yet interesting motel in the AAA book. Score! For $44 we are ensconced in the Ghost Ranch Lodge on the miracle mile. Beautiful grounds, great pool area, nice rooms, a laundry for Phil, and a nice restaurant and bar. After a couple camping nights, we were ready, so spent the remainder of the day around the pool and just enjoying this beautiful place.
Today we headed up to Saddlebrooke, a retirement community north of Tucson where Bob and Alice Cruse live. We met them at Canyon de Chelley and they generously invited us to their home and offered to show us around their beautiful community. After a nice breakfast with them in their lovely home, we headed out and found lots to do there, and many great choices of homes. But the best part was hearing the insights of Bob and Alice, who moved here from West Linn a couple of years ago -- great tips about desert living! A definite retirement possibility. We really enjoyed getting to knew them a bit, and look forward to seeing them in Oregon this summer when they are back to visit.
After we left them, we spent even more time looking around Saddlebrooke and talking to the Sales office. Since we had looked at the sister community, Quail Creek, south of Tucson, we decided to go back there for another look while Saddlebrooke was fresh in our mind also. Both communities are really nice, but I don't think we are quite ready to make a decision at this time, even though we found a lot in Quail Creek that we really liked.
Even though we have really enjoyed our time in Tucson, Phoenix is calling us. We need to get ready to head for home for 10 days, and figure out what we're going to do with the Van. We are going to take some time to just regroup, pack, run a couple of errands, see a couple of things -- Karsten Golf and Taliesin West are on the agenda -- and be ready to head out on Saturday morning.