We had our week so carefully planned.
On Monday, we’d do all the “get ready to go after three weeks in one site” stuff.
Tuesday morning, we’d pull out early to deliver Scoopy to Revived Auto Detailing for a day and a half beauty treatment. We’d spend the day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and check into a motel on the east side of town, near Sabino Canyon, overnight.
Wednesday, we’d hike in Sabino Canyon in the morning, pick Scoopy up at 1 pm and skedaddle on over to Catalina State Park. Arriving in early afternoon, mid-week, we’d be likely to snag a W/E site by the end of the day, where we’d spend the next week or so hiking and visiting with our friends Alex and Ellen. Odel made a tee-time for he and Alex for Friday.
Sounds great, eh?
On Monday, I emailed Ellen to find out how things looked at Catalina State Park; had they had any delay getting a site? An overnight in dry camping? Her reply, which arrive quickly, mentioned the word “reservations”. Reservations?? At Catalina???
In a quickly flurry of emails, we were surprised to learn that Arizona State Parks, first-come, first-served for all the time we have been traveling, are now on a reservation system! Our carefully-crafted plan was useless; all the empty sites Ellen could see from her window were reserved. A quick phone call to a reservations agent confirmed what we found on the online website: all sites, with the exception of one night here or there, were reserved for the next 10 days.
Wow, did that change our plans! The rest of Monday afternoon was spent in hasty research and preparation to leave, and by the end of the day we had recovered from our big surprise.
Tuesday morning, we had Scoopy in the hands of Revived Auto Detailing at 9 am, and we were at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum just in time to powerwalk down to the 10 am Raptor Free-Flight show (with a short stop to photograph and admire the barn owl, as well as the docent who patiently exhibited the bird on her outstretched arm). The morning free-flight show features several different kinds of raptors; the afternoon ( 2 pm) show features a family of Harris’s hawks. We stayed around long enough to see both shows, enjoying the wonderful trails, exhibits, and lunch in the few hours between the raptor shows. No visitor to Tucson should miss this incredible attraction, and one visit definitely is not enough. I could write reams about our visit, but the real message is: GO!
We were pretty well wiped out by the end of the afternoon, and just managed to beat Tucson’s commute traffic as we drove all the way from the west side to the east to check into to our motel, Comfort Inn at Sabino Canyon. This very unassuming motel is tucked into the end of an uninspiring strip mall, but we had done our research and the place lived up to reviews we read: very friendly staff, very clean rooms, and an appealing interior design that erased the image of our strip mall location. The sparkling hot tub and pool felt SO GOOD after our day on the trails of the museum. A very good Mexican dinner followed, and we were sound asleep by 9 pm in a very comfortable king-sized bed.
Wednesday morning began just as we’d planned, with a hike at Sabino Canyon (preceded by a quite good, full breakfast at the Comfort Inn, included in our overnight stay). A phone call to Revived confirmed that Scoopy would be ready to pick up at 1 pm, and we proceeded with Plan B: fill the rig with groceries, then head down for one last visit to Paws and Hooves Ranch, where Rosanna and her nephew Ron would arrive that night for several days of post-move cleanup work.
When I say fill the rig with groceries, I mean some major shopping. The nearest good-sized grocery stores to the ranch are at least 45 minutes away. The nearest restaurant is a café that isn’t open for dinner; dining out is not the easy option – particularly for vegetarians Rosanna and Ron. Since Rosanna no longer had a working kitchen (everything had been moved to California), we turned Scoopy into a food truck.
In two hours of shopping (Costco and Sunflower Market), we packed Jules to the ceiling with fresh produce, wine, frozen seafood, bread, cheese – everything that we needed for breakfast, lunch and dinner for four ranch hands for 4-5 days. It took us a good half hour to transfer everything to Scoopy, and we left with bags of groceries still unpacked to beat the traffic out of town.
A hike, marathon shopping, and a 2+ hour drive… we were so happy to pull into Paws and Hooves Ranch. Rosanna’s property sitters, Suzan and Art (part of our Escapee Boomers RV club), welcomed us with hugs, then left us to set up near the barn where we could plug into a 15 amp outlet to keep our batteries topped off (Suzan and Art being in the RV site). I put together some vegetable soup for dinner, and we carted food and wine over to the house to greet Rosanna and Ron when they arrived at 9 pm.
So, we’re back at the ranch for one last visit. The weather is very good, we’re a congenial group, and there is PLENTY of work to be done. Yesterday, as we were burying Farah – an elderly sheep who died the day before we arrived – in heavy, rocky soil, dust covered and sweaty, Rosanna made a wry comment about how we owed all the fun to Catalina shutting us out with their new reservations policy. You know what? We’re glad we’ve been diverted back to Cochise County and one last visit!