Friday, February 24, 2012


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.

Barn OwlWednesday, 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!

Harris Hawk Harris Hawk in flight

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.

Pool and hot tub at Comfort Inn Fountain courtyard

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.

To the land fillA 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!


  1. Wow ~ Sounds like it worked out anyways...
    Have fun & Travel safe!!!!

  2. Cochise County is a place we would like to spend more time in..That hotel looked lovely...Sometimes things happen for reasons,eh?

  3. If you are ever looking for a good AZ State Park in Eastern AZ, we highly recommend Roper Lake State Park, near the town of Roper. Comes complete with mineral hot springs to soak in and just down the road, Casa Manana, yummy Mexican restaurant on the corner of downtown at the 2nd red light! It's about 30 minutes north of I-10 on highway 191. You can look up Roper Lake State Park on our blog. I think you would like it there!

  4. We will definitely be hitting the Museum and both shows! We didn't have Catalina State park on our list to visit...but we do now. Thanks for the great blog. ~wheresweaver

  5. I just knew when you had those perfect plans that something was going to go bust. That always happens to me. But you guys just made lemonade out of those lemons and I know the others are really glad to have you and your grocery store there with them.:-)

    Thanks again for the recommendations on great places to visit!! I've got them both written down. Sorry I didn't get to see Catalina through your eyes but.........maybe next time!

  6. the hotel looks sure had a busy day!!!

  7. The desert museum is fantastic. We saw the raptor demonstration as well- very cool.

  8. Well damn, we were at Justins for a one-nighter last Monday and had we paid closer attention to your whereabouts on your blog we would have searched you out to say hello and a thanks for the great RV park reviews.
    Can you please mention what Revived Auto Detailing was able to do to your rig, was it an inside and outside cleanup, wash/wax/buff?

  9. We highly agree with Happy Trails. We just left Roper Lake State Park and loved it there. I'll be making our blog post about that soon so you can check it out. Speaking of nice state parks, we enjoyed Catalina as well. You must go if you get the opportunity. I just did the blog posting on this park today. You can read all about it at

    At least with the online reservations for the state parks now, you could have a guaranteed electric site.

    Have fun with your friends and family.

  10. Chris and Caron: Revived just did the outside of our rig, but they will also do the inside (for an extra price, of course). For us, they did a complete exterior detail: wash, wax, buff; UV protection on the roof; polished the wheels; dressed the tires; cleaned and dressed the mud flap... maybe other stuff, too, that we didn't notice. :)

    They charge by the foot. The original price they quoted was more than we pay at VIP in San Bernardino, which is where we usually go... AND there was no opportunity to stay in the rig overnight. Odel said we usually pay $400, and the owner said he would meet that price. Revived put UV protectant on the roof; VIP doesn't. On the other hand, Odel feels VIP got a better shine than Revived, though we agree that both do a good job. VIP wants the rig for 48 hours; Revived had it for all of one day and half of the next. VIP opens and cleans the awnings; I don't know if VIP did that.

    Though the wax job might not have been QUITE as good with Revived, it was much easier for us to move out for one night rather than 2, and we like Tucson better than San Bernardino, so this might become our new stop.

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