We left Casa Grande in a little RV caravan of Crawfords, Eyths and Hocks, headed for the Tucson area and Gilbert Ray campground, a county park in the middle of Sagauro National Park. Checking in we met a volunteer park ranger from Mio, Michigan. (Small world) Our sites were scattered but we managed to get together for games, meals, and hikes. We explored the area and visited the Desert Museum, Mission San Xavier, and drove up to Gates Pass to watch a sunset. (By the way, our docent at San Xavier was from Rogers City, Michigan - small world!)
We very much enjoyed the Desert Museum and spent a whole day there. We had a great docent who was very knowledgeable and got us to the Raptors Flight in time to see these birds fly directly over our heads (sometimes we had to duck as they flew over). There were ravens, a horned owl, and 2 kinds of hawks. We also went into the hummingbird exhibit and had those birds flying right in front of our face. Several of them were sitting on nests and we got to observe them up close. We learned a lot about the birds, animals and plants of the desert. Did you know the sagauro cactus is only found in the Sonoran Desert?
After spending several days there, we again left in our little caravan for Benson, AZ and Katchner Cavern State Park. Good thing we had reservations as the place was full. Dave had to leave shortly after we got set up in camp back to Tucson to pick up Mary Jane at the Tucson airport as she returned from Michigan for her Mom’s funeral. She made it back fine, but unfortunately her luggage did not. So after many phone calls and the airline not able to deliver her luggage to the campground, Dave and Mary Jane headed back on trip #3 to Tucson to pick it up before the airport closed at 11:00 P.M. The airline would have delivered the luggage the next day, but she had brought back several pounds of frozen walleye and pike stashed in her suitcase, and there was no way she was going to let that go to waste!
We took the tour through the Big Room inside the cave at Katchner Cavern and it was stunning. The cave wasn’t discovered until the 1970s and was kept a secret for about 20 years until the family that owned the land (Katchner) sold the property to the State of Arizona with the understanding that it would be preserved and open to the public. They have done a fabulous job of maintaining it and the tours are wonderful. If you ever get a chance to go, I would strongly recommend it.
After a few days at Katchner Cavern State Park, we headed back to the Tucson area and to an RV park near Green Valley, where Marty and Jim Lynette winter. We met up with them and they took a few of us on a hike into Madeira Canyon and then back to their condo for drinks and a grazing dinner. (Our favorite). We were also close to my niece Wendy so we got to spend the afternoon and evening with Wendy and her husband Ryan and their children, Dean and Charlotte. Ryan barbequed a big slab of tri-tip and we enjoyed a delicious dinner and play time with the kids.
We also attended the Tucson Rodeo. I had never been to a rodeo before so I was anxious to experience it all. It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed the food tents and watching the bucking broncos, the crazy cowboys riding bulls, the barrel riding cowgirls, the calf roping and the precision horseback riding. And even though I wasn’t fond of the scary bucking broncos and bull riders, it was a fun day.
We stayed at a very nice RV park, DeAnza Trails RV Resort, and Dave and Bonnie Horsfield rejoined us. There was lots to do at the park and we tried to do it all, pickle ball, shuffleboard, bean bag toss, billards, indoor pool, and eating at their on-site restaurant. One night they had a live band and dancing that we all took part in. One morning they had a Border Patrol agent come and speak and that was interesting as well. We even watched a Michigan State basketball game on their big screen TV one afternoon. Oh, and the gal checking us in was from Michigan. (Small world)
We have now left our little caravan and moved on without them. We had a wonderful time with all four of the couples and experienced so much, from boondocking in the desert to staying at a luxury park, to State and County parks. Different styles of camping and each one special in its own way. We shared meals, games, teasing, laughter, tears, and experiences that were enhanced because we were able to share them with friends. We will miss their company but will treasure the memories we made.
Onward and outward. Here we go.