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Sat. Apr. 20 to Fri. Apr. 26 2013- Casa Grande, Tucson, Sierra Vista AZ, Elephant Butte Lake State Park, NM

Saturday-  We had the pet parade today. We did not win anything, but we did receive this nice picture.


We had the Alfa See Ya’s meeting at 1 PM. ( that is the other Alfa club that we belong to, who we went with to the FMCA rally in January). Bob fell asleep in the meeting. We decided to go to Walmart and then return and take a nap. He still has the A-fib.

At 4:30, we went to happy hour, then to the final dinner. The menu tonight was a very nice salad with Vidalia onion salad dressing, pork roast, creamed corn, and potatoes. Desert was an apple dumpling with vanilla cream sauce.

After the meal, they announced the golf winners and the lawn bowling winners. They also gave away 50 gift cards. Then the big prizes came, with some big gift cards for RV repairs. Finally, they gave away 13 baskets, donated by the clubs. We did not win anything this evening,but we had a nice time.

It was also time to say good bye to old friends and new ones. We had a great rally and hope that we can come back again next year.

Sunday-  Bob still had the A-fib, it is now 74 hours. He had been feeling better, then worse again. We could tell, but we were not sure that he was still having the A-fib. We wanted to make sure that it was A-fib, not something else, so we went to the ER at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center. The EKG showed that he was having the A-fib. When watching the monitor, he was flipping in and out of the A-fib, which is why he would feel better, then worse. So the MD, Dr. McLeod, had a chest X-ray and drew blood work. After we had been there for awhile, he converted into normal sinus rhythm, so they discharged him.

We returned to Palm Creek and said good-bye to more of our friends. We loved it at Palm Creek. Every RV park that we stay at will be compared, mostly unfavorably, to Palm Creek. We will definitely return and may even purchase a site there!



These were some flowering cacti. Aren’t they pretty?

We left around 10:30 and turned south on I-10, heading to Tucson. We pulled into the Lazy Days’ campground to stay for two free nights. This is a very nice campground with all the facilities. We actually have a concrete pad with a nice table and chairs.

We set up, turned on the air, and headed out to lunch at the original  El  Charro Restaurant. It is the oldest restaurant in the country, still  run by the original family. It is also one of the top 50 restaurants in the country. Fortunately we arrived after the lunch rush. 016

Bob had a tamale trio and I had the chili rellano.




The restaurant is located in the original family home. If you are ever in Tucson, be sure to eat there. It is the best Mexican food we have ever had.

After lunch, we waddled out to the car and took a quick driving tour of the various neighborhoods.  We passed the old courthouse, which is still in use.


And St. Augustine Cathedral, also still in use, but re-built in 1988.


We passed this old motel with the sign. Not sure if it is original, but it sure is retro! Note the diving lady on the top!


We continued on to the 4th Ave. shopping street, which seemed sort of ‘hippy’. There was even a solar powered book store, the first in the nation, or so they claim.

While driving there, the air conditioner in the car gave out. Yesterday, it had done this also. Where it suddenly put out hot air, then returned to cold. Today, we were almost back at the motor home when it converted back to cold. The temp was 90, so this was not pleasant!

We returned to the motor home and Bob worked on finding a Honda dealer. There go tomorrow’s plans!  I sat out and read my book in the shade from the motor home. It was 92 degrees, but in the shade it felt a lot cooler. It was very comfortable.

We ate a late dinner of the leftover prime rib, outside on our nice table. We have enough leftovers for several days from the rally!

Monday- We were up early so that Bob could take the car to the Honda dealer for repair. He had made an 8 AM appointment online. I walked for 1/2 hour around the resort. I already miss riding my bike, but it is a pain to take them down for only two nights.

I stayed at the motor home, doing laundry and completing one more article. I went to complete number 10, but I had updated it last year, so hopefully I am done!

Bob called at about 10:30 to say it was the compressor clutch, $655, so he is waiting for the repair.

When he returned to the motor home, we ate lunch and took a ‘siesta’. We stayed home this evening, continuing to eat leftovers. We sat outside until we could not read any more, then went in and watched TV and read.

Tuesday-  I went over to the Fitness Center and rode the bike and used the leg press. My right knee was bothering me from walking yesterday, so I rode the bike instead.

Since we had not been able to see much of Tucson we decided to stay another day. So we walked up to the office and paid for another night, $34 with tax. Since we had 2 free nights, that is only a little over $11 per night.

The temp was already 80 at 8:45; so we decided not to go to Old Tucson,  our original plan, but to go to Mission San Xavier instead. The docent tours are on the 1/2 hour, every 1/2 hour during the day.

The church was started in 1756 and took 5 years to build. They ran out of money, which is why there is only one bell tower. The church is on the Register of Historic Places, and therefore will never be completed. The building will only be renovated.

Mission San Xavier

The walls are 3 feet thick, except for the towers, which are 6 feet thick. The builders, and it is the same family for 7 generations who exclusively work on the church, used sand, lime, clay, rock and wood. The liquid used is prickly pine juice ( without the tequila!). The Apaches were a constant threat, so there were times that the church was closed and all the gold hidden in the area, to protect it from the raiders.

Mexico won independence in 1821 from Spain. and the area was purchased from Mexico in 1854 as part of the Gadsden purchase.  The Mission was originally staffed by the Jesuits, but the Spanish King did not like that the area residents were not paying taxes, so he kicked out the Jesuits and brought in the Franciscans. Of course the area residents thought that the land belonged to them, not to Spain! In 1887, the building was damaged in an earthquake and major repairs were begun in 1906. Since the church was not always occupied, people would move in to live in to the building, burning fires. The smoke from the fires was so thick, that the walls became black. It took five years, of meticulous cleaning by experts brought in from Italy, to clean the interior walls and ceilings, to find the murals painted on the walls.

Since these people were so poor, they could not afford to bring wood from Mexico for touches like frames on pictures, they painted directly on the walls and painted frames around the art. Low on the walls in most churches are marble tiles. They could not afford marble, so they painted the tiles onto the walls. The original colors were pastel, but in 1958 an artist was commissioned to re-paint the tiles and he painted them bright colors.


There are 171 angels in the church and a lot of statues. Both sides of the building are identical, which means that when they put a door on one side, they would paint one on the opposite side to maintain the identical feeling.

This Baptismal Font is from the 1500’s Spain.

Baptismal font from the 1500's in Spain

The alter is Baroque, which is very ornate. The stations of the cross are just crosses, but in the garden, in front of the place where they kept the bodies for burial, there are the ornate stations. Note the very uncomfortable pews. There were no benches for kneeling.

From the back of the church

The building was placed on the National Register in 1963. It is called the Sistine Chapel of America and the White Church. It is widely considered to be America’s finest example of Spanish Colonial architecture. The statues date from the 1750’s. Essentially when you enter the building you walk into the 18th century.

This is the alter area, with all the statues of the saints, except for the large statue in the rear, Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino,Being the alter

the Jesuit pioneer and explorer who founded the original mission in 1692. There is a movement to have him declared a saint. If so, the wish is for him to be the patron saint of the cowboys, as he spent so much time in the saddle, on horseback, tending to his flock.  This is a replica, in wood, of his body. Note the small items pinned to his frock. The faithful purchase one of these items in the gift shop. An example is a leg, if they wish for him to heal their leg, and they pin the item to the gown. They then lift him by the neck, three times, to wake him, and request from him their wish. The body was originally in this spot, but had deteriorated too much, and a wooden icon is in place.

Statue of Father Kino



A Jewish woman was traveling in Mexico and bought two of these lion statues for the church to replace ones that were stolen and burned behind the church.

Lions donated by Gabby Giffords mother

The woman was Gabby Gifford’s mother!

One woman had a son, a jockey,who was in a coma for 30 days. She prayed and stated that she would organize a pilgrimage. Her son came out of a coma, so she handed out fliers at stables around the area. They were to meet at the base of A mountain on a certain day, on horseback and travel to the Mission. 12 riders/horses showed up. They started off and by the time they arrived at the Mission there were over 100. This happened for 3 years until it became too dangerous, with the horses and the tourists and no insurance. The tour, by Stan our docent, lasted one hour. The time flew by!

Here are some of the cactus tended by the Jesuits.


Prickly Pear Flowers  Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers  Prickly Pear colors

DSCN0054  DSCN0056

There were 8 of us on the tour and the docent and a couple of people spoke about the Gallery in the Sun. So we decided that we would find it and visit. So we drove to north Tucson. When we got close, we realized there was another El Charro location close by, so we stopped in for lunch. Bob had a tamale and tostada, I had the same Chili Rellano dish.

From there we went to the Gallery. It was not as described, but interesting. The artist was Ted De Grazia. His primary work was in oils, but he also did pottery and other items. Some of his designs where also placed on cloth.


De Grazia at work

Ted DeGrazia bowl Ted DeGrazia drawings

My favorite  Mission San Xavier by DeGrazia

He was famous for children and horses.

De Grazia horses

In 1976 he became angry with the IRS/ government. He found out that his heirs would have to pay outrageous inheritance taxes. Some of his supporters contacted then AZ Senators Barry Goldwater and another name I was familiar with but cannot remember. They put a bill into the Senate, but evidently De Grazia could not wait. He went to his second home in Apache Junction and burned $250K worth of art! He had a valid point. As an artist, he could only take about $3 for each piece as a tax deduction, but the heirs would have to pay inheritance tax on his art valued at that time at $30 K to 250K. A whole lot more that he could deduct.  He never produced another piece of art again, and died in 1982.

We left there and returned home. Bob took a nap and after we sat outside. Dinner was more leftovers!

Wednesday-  We left Lazy Days at about 10:20, driving east on I-10. We exited at the first Benson exit, south on Hwy. 90 turned east on Hwy. 82 to Tombstone Territories RV Park. This is a Passport America park, $15 each night. We were parked and set up by 12:00, about 70 miles.

After lunch and dog walks, we went back west on Hwy. 82 to Hwy. 90 and continued south into Huachuca(pronounced Wa-chuka) City then onto Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca, an army base.

Sign near museum

Once we passed through the security gate ( they only checked our drivers licenses) we proceeded to the Army Ft. Huachuca Museum. There were actually three museums, the first two were about the Army in this area, first as the Calvery then later as how the base grew. This was home to the Buffalo Soldiers. They were the African American soldiers, prior to WWII.  There were also various women’s exhibits, including Army nurses and African American women soldiers. The third museum was the US Army Intelligence Museum.

Museum exhibit

Museum exhibit

We returned to the motor home walked and fed the dogs, then returned to Sierra Vista to meet up with Bob’s cousin Rhonda Root, her husband Brian, and one of her sons, Brandon,his wife and son at  Ricardo’s a Mexican Restaurant for dinner. We had a great time visiting, then returned to Ronda and Brian’s beautiful adobe home and sat talking for hours.  

They almost lost their home to a fire in 2011. Brian was out with a water truck keeping the fire at bay, when the winds shifted away from the house. The fire scorched some of their trees it was so close! The house is located just three miles from the  Mexican border, although an acutal border crossing is 20 miles away.

Thursday-  The winds were howling today, so we were very glad that we were not driving the motor home anywhere! Part of the reason we had changed our plans!

We drove left out of the RV Park to Tombstone, about 9 miles away,  which bill’s itself as “The Town Too Tough To Die”. All the billboards on the highway and in the town show the actors from the movie Tombstone,(1993) Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton. Our first stop was at Boot Hill. We wandered through the cemetery. The entrance is pretty tacky and touristy, but there is no charge to wander through the graveyard. Most of the people buried in the cemetery died in 1881 or 1882. Many died from gunfights the others died from an epidemic.



Here are the Clanton’s, killed at the OK Corral by Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.

We drove through the town and parked in the public parking lot. The old town had two blocks closed off, with a lot of ‘cowboys’ milling around .They were trying to encourage you to attend one of the many shows. The town was very commercial/touristy. We wandered into the stores. We bought some Lemon-pepper Vinegar and some Cranberry-Peach for marinades. We drove past the OK Corral, but did not want to see the show.

DSCN0147  DSCN0149

We visited the Courthouse,



then left to go to Bisbee. Bisbee, on the National Register of Historic Districts, was about 25 miles away on Hwy. 80, Founded in 1880; it is nestled in the mile-high Mule Mountains of Southeastern Arizona, about 90 miles from Tucson.  It was once a booming mining community, reminding us of Idaho Springs CO, (only a lot larger) with the highway above and the town on the sides of the canyon below.

Bisbee AZ

At one time this was the largest town between St. Louis and San Francisco. We drove around the town and wanted to stop for lunch. The local brewery only sold sausages, so we tried the Copper Queen Hotel, but the restaurant was closed. So we ended up at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, a great choice! The restaurant is located in an old Rexall Drug Store. Opened in 2005, it expanded in 2006, and was listed as one of the top Roadside Eateries in 2011. The food was really good, as was the service. Bob had the Ruben and I had the BLT. Each were the best that we have ever eaten!

The restaurant is located away from the main part of town, past the Copper Queen Mine, which was staked in 1877 and closed in 1975. The mine is huge and the highway goes through part of the mine.

Silver Queen Mine

The part of town where the restaurant was located looked like something out of the 1950’s. Note the old cars and the old Trailways Bus on the street.

Old Town Bisbee, note old cars and Trailways bus

We drove back west towards Sierra Vista. We had noted this little Shrine on the way by, so we stopped to see what it was about. It was

DSCN0166 Side of the road memorial

We continued back to Sierra Vista and stopped at NFCU, for me to update my ‘hadn’t been used” check card. This is the last NFCU we will visit for awhile. We can do all of our banking on line now!

We left Sierra Vista and returned to the motor home. We did laundry and took a short nap. At a little after 5 PM we met Ronda for dinner. We met her at the house, just missing Brian who was headed to his bowling league, so he could not join us.

We had a nice German dinner at The German Café, which was listed as one of Arizona’s top restaurants. Rhonda had the Goulash, Bob had a brat and I had the Jagersnitzel.


We said a fond farewell to Rhonda, hoping that we can visit again before another 40 years passes!

On the way home the moon came up over the mountains.

Full moon over the desert.

Friday- We were awake early, as Roxie was cold and woke us up to get under the covers. The temp was 44 outside and 52 inside. I climbed out of bed and closed the window and turned on the heat. Bob realized that the roof vent in the living room was open, so he shivered his way out there to close the vent. We stayed in bed and cuddled until the motor home warmed up.

We left the campground at 8:55, driving west on Rt. 82 to Rt. 90 north. We had to stop at the Immigration Checkpoint. We laughed as all they did was ask if everyone in the motor home was an American citizen. Guess they saw “Grandpa and Grandma: in their motor home and figured that we were not smuggling any illegal aliens into the country. The entire time we were here there was Border Patrol everywhere!

Immigration search point, Rt. 90, Hauchua AZ

We turned east on I-10, heading out of Arizona to New Mexico. It was a pleasant drive, with minimal winds. The scenery is desolate, but the desert has it’s own beauty.

While driving we spotted four or five dust tornado’s. One was parallel to the interstate just cruising along. We were able to get this picture of one in the distance.

Dirt tornado

We left I-10 in Deming, taking Rt. 26 across to I-25. This was a nice two lane road. We drove north on I-25 for about 50 miles to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, where we are staying for 3 nights. We usually do not make reservations, but since it was a weekend and a state park, I had made a reservation. We lucked out, as choosing a site on the internet is always a guess. Site # 4, in the Desert Cove section, has 50 amp electric and water. The site is flat, with double asphalt for parking the motor home and the car. As Bob worked on getting us hooked up, I took out the recliners and we sat out until dinner, ( leftovers again). After dinner we took the dogs for a nice walk around the park. Elephant Butte is a large state park with numerous campgrounds.

Bob noticed that he was short of breath when walking the dogs. The A-fib started again! Five days this time!!

One Response

  1. Very interesting. My wife, my (13 year old) son and I tried to get into Fort Huachuca in December, 2008 to see the museum(s). We went through the standard screening with civilian guards until we were asked to pull over to a security area. After quite a while (20 minutes +/-) when an Army MP arrived. After conferring with the civilian guards, he approached us and asked why the license plate on the front of the car was one digit different from the back of the car! Well, this was news to us! My son was freaking out, worried that we’d all be arrested. My wife and I are both retired Sheriff’s Deputies, so we were laughing about it. All of our documents including driver’s licenses, registration, insurance certificate, were all the same. Only one license plate was one digit off …038 and …039. So they hemmed and hawed while they tried to get a decision – which, by the way was on December 31st, so late in the afternoon you KNOW there is not going to be anyone with any seniority about – they’re already at the Club, preparing to bring in the New Year! At any rate, after about 2 1/2 hours they advised us that it would be better if we just came back after we got the license plates straightened out (this was about 4:30 PM, and we were READY to get out of there!) And we left without going to jail, much to the relief or our son!. Interestingly, after we eventually got home and straightened out the license plate issue, we were advised that the other plate belonged to the same year, make and model as our car, and was registered in a nearby city…. We ended up getting issued completely new and different license plates, and you can bet I TRIPLE checked them for sameness before I put them on…. 🙂

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