We cross the border in Nogales without problems and even got a 12 months Visa from the very friendly officer. To quickly adopt to the American way of life our first stop after the border is at Carl`s Junior for a Hamburger before we continue on the Interstate 19 to Tucson. We are surprised about the width of the road without any potholes. Therefore, border control is present and causes a traffic jam at the checkpoint. Seems to be a pre-stage of the wall…..
We use the possibility to park our RV on the parking lot of a casino in Tucson. They are open around the clock and in case you feel an urge for gambling it`s only a short walk.
On the next Day, we move to an RV Park for 55+. No joke. The campground has 1100 sites and is mirrored opposite with additional 1100 sites. Tucson and also Phoenix are a paradise for retired people and everybody who can afford it comes here for the winter. We use the environment to install new batteries. Apart from this we are the highlight of the park. In 10 minutes intervals, someone comes along and wants to know what this is. What a rig, I`ve never seen anything like this, and so forth. After a while we think about to install a sign like: visiting hours from 4pm to 5pm, pictures $5.
For the days around Christmas we move to a smaller RV park where we meet Heike and Bernd who we first met three years ago, in Argentina. The Overlander world is small. We have a lot to talk about, cook together and spend some very nice days before they move on to Mexico.
Shortly after Christmas Monika and Gerhard, friends from Germany come for a visit, . Together we go for sightseeing in the Saguaro NP and Monika selects a ”small” roundtrip from 9 miles. After the first half we have planned to visit the Desert Museum but the queue at the cashier was endless and so we decided to move on as we have both seen the site already a few years ago.
Also, we visit the Titan Missile museum which seems to be a journey back in time to the days of the cold war. We did not know how close we were at the days of the Cuba crisis in 1963 as USA set the defense status to Def Con 2 which is one stage below war. Luckily nobody turned the key to start the missile as I did for demonstration purpose. However the slogan “protection through power” is at least questionable but it seems to work till today.
On the next day, we drive to Biosphere 2 where from 1991 to 1993 eight men and women lived in a closed ecological environment not connected to Biosphere 1 which is our earth. The project was also monitored from the NASA to get knowledge about future manned bases on moon or mars. In the eyes of the public the experiment did not succeed but from a science point of view it was a success and generated a lot of knowledge about life in an artificial environment. Today the site is managed from the University of Arizona.
In the afternoon, we drive towards Phoenix and park at the Lost Dutchman Campground in Apache Junction. The site is in a picturesque area and exactly right for the four of us to celebrate New Year Eve. Close by is an old Ghost town which is basically an artificial western town for tourists. The setup is well done and also the shoot-out every hour is not missing. We take it all including the 4 small beers for $25 in the saloon.
At New Years Eve we sit together at the campfire and celebrate the New Year the first time at 4pm which is midnight in Germany. After this we have an excellent dinner prepared over open fire. Despite the low temperatures we make it till midnight with a lot of wine, beer, rum and tequila and see the firework from Phoenix 40 miles away on a clear sky. Shortly after Monika and Gerhard have made themselves comfortable in our spare-bed it starts raining.
The first day of the New Year comes along with ice-cold wind at 8 degrees Celsius (45F) and in the afternoon our friends leave. We stay another day and then drive the Apache trail a 40 miles scenic route thru the mountains and stay overnight at a simple campground at the Apache Lake. On the next day, we move on to the Tonto National Monument at the Roosevelt Lake. These are Cliff Dwellings from the Salado Indians which lived here 600 years ago.
Then we changed our plans and moved to North instead of South as we`ve originally planned. You may think we are crazy to go into snowy areas but we have never seen the Grand Canyon in winter and so we decided for a 200 Miles detour. We make a quick stop at the Natural bridge in Pine and drive thru heavy snow fall and partly snow covered roads up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stay at Mathers Campground close to the rim and have more snow at night. But in the morning the sky is clear with minus 8 degrees and we make a long walk along the rim with optimal weather for good pictures.
We leave the Grand Canyon on the next day and continue our journey to South-East as originally planned. We drive via Flagstaff to the Petrified Forest where we stay overnight on the free campground at the southern park entrance. On the next morning, we visit the park where you can see a petrified forest from 200 million years ago.
Then we move on to New Mexico and Texas. But what we experience there is then part of the next blog. Until then enjoy reading and watching the pictures.