Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hanging Out in Ironwood Picnic Area in Tucson Mountain Park

Day 11

November 24: Checkout time from Gilbert Ray Campground is 11:00 am. We needed to wait until 2:00 pm to check back into the Lazydays KOA only 30 minutes away. 

We decided to wait at the Ironwood Picnic Area before we left Tucson Mountain Park.

We turned right on Hal Gras Road to enter the picnic area. We stopped at the second turnout with a private ramada covered picnic table. 

The area was immaculate and inviting with it's natural desert terrain and plants. With a grill, trash can and a restroom down the road it was a great spot for a family picnic.


A private site at Ironwood Picnic Area in Tucson Mountain Park.

We didn't have a picnic, but we enjoyed sitting in the sunshine to read and absorb the quiet atmosphere. Like Gilbert Ray, a Cactus Wren came by to check us out.

A Cactus Wren visits us at Ironwood Picnic Area.

While Wayne read, I took a short trail into the desert. It was a nice way to see nature up close and enjoy our wait-time in a pleasant way. An added bonus, if you are an astronomy buff the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association sponsors free dark sky star parties here. -- Margy

Friday, November 26, 2021

Snowbird RV Adventure: Lazydays to Gilbert Ray Campground

Days 7-10

November 20-23: After six days relaxing at Lazydays, we moved to nearby Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson Mountain Park. It's a Pima County Park only 16 miles from Lazydays, but worlds away in atmosphere.

Gilbert Ray has four loops with 130 sites. Most have power for $20 a night and a few tent only sites are $10. There are online reservations a year in advance for three loops. H Loop is first-come, first-serve.

Heading west on Irvington we were caught for an hour and a half waiting for the Tour de Tucson bike race to pass in front of us. That made us late for the USC vs UCLA football game, so Wayne pulled into a turnout after we entered Tucson Mountain Park and we watched the first half with a cellular hot spot and displayed on our RV TV. As USC fans, the results were disappointing.

We stopped at registration (only manned from January to March) but with a reservation there was already an tag at our site. I reserved early, so we got a private spot, #42 in Loop A. In addition to park personnel, there are camp hosts to provide assistance if needed.

Site #42 in A Loop has an unobstructed mountain view.

All RV sites have a 30 amp hookup and picnic table. No wood fires are allowed, but you can use a charcoal or gas grill. The sites are packed dirt and gravel. We haven't been here in the rain, but they are fine in the dry season. Water and restrooms are easily accessible.

Enjoying the privacy of our site, lots of Chain Fruit Chollas.

Reading quietly we saw some wildlife: hummingbirds, Cactus Wrens, two kinds of butterflies (one on my toe), a Harris ground squirrel and evening coyote howls.

A pair of Cactus Wrens visited us in camp.

Partly cloudy skies ended each of our four nights with gorgeous, colourful Arizona sunsets framed by tall saguaro cactus, spiky ocotillo and wispy green mesquite trees.

What better way to end the day than sitting outdoors enjoying the last evening warmth with a spectacular view. -- Wayne and Margy





On the way we stopped at Fry's to shop for groceries. In Arizona it's our market of choice.

I applied for a Fry's customer loyalty reward card years ago. I bring it with me each trip to save on my grocery bills. I have several other cards I can use if there isn't a Fry's nearby. You can get loyalty cards at the register or customer service desk. Register them online for extra benefits, or just use them to get the discount prices. Why pay the shelf price when you can get a lower one. -- Margy

Monday, November 22, 2021

Snowbird RV Adventure: Bellingham to Tuscon, Arizona

Days 1-6

If you've followed our Snowbird RV Adventures from the last two years you know we follow the same type of schedule. Breaking the trip into three segments works well for us. We are in the sunbelt for three of the cold northern months and back home to take care of business and return to our float cabin home in between.

November 14-19: We left Bellingham on Allegiant Airlines the morning the atmospheric river arrived. We outran it to Arizona leaving British Columbia and Washington State in the path of a 100-year storm that would bring devastating flooding and landslides.

We landed in Mesa and got our Enterprise rental car. Before COVID, Allegiant flew to Tucson. Now we drive two hours down I-10 to our first destination, Lazydays KOA RV Resort. We start and finish our trips here because we store the Sunseeker here.


Allegiant Airlines offers direct flights to many destinations.

The Tucson Lazydays KOA offers a resort style atmosphere. They have two pools, a nature center, activities for kids and adults, and the BBQ Rush restaurant onsite. If you want to stay a month or more, they have lower long-term rates

Tucson Lazydays KOA has a resort atmosphere.

We like the pull-through full-hookup patio grass sites the best. There are hedges on three sides and either a citrus (you can pick the fruit in season) or olive tree for shade. They have a wide variety of site styles including tent, cabin, regular and deluxe RV spots.

For the first three days we had a rental car.

We kept the rental car for several days to make our first Fry's grocery store run and eat out. One of our favourite Mexican restaurant is Aqui Con El Nene. Wayne gets the carne asada plate and I love the bean and cheese burrito.

With a rental car we could go to favourite Arizona restaurants.

We had a relaxing six days to read in the warm sunshine, take evening walks and watch a Netfix and HBOMax movies in the evenings. It's a great way to wind down and make sure all of our RV systems are in working order. -- Margy



We splurged and got an RV wash right in our Lazydays site. The owner and a crew of four from Tucson RV Wax got our Sunseeker spic 'n' span in only thirty minutes.

We opted for an onsite wash with Tucson RV Wax's service.

In April during our last leg we'll get a wash, wax and roof treatment to prepare our RV for storage over a long, very hot summer.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Book Review: "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese


The last book I reviewed, A Perfect Storm by Mike Martin, led me to this month's book. The main character in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is a Cree RCMP officer. He maintains traditional practices, and reads Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese for solace and inspiration. After reviewing books by Wagamese, I selected Indian Horse to be my first.

Indian Horse is a novel about Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway from Northern Ontario. He was raised by his grandmother in traditional ways, but at age eight he was forced to live at an Indian residential school.

Residential schools were funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and administered by churches. Their purpose was to expunge Indigenous ways and inculcate Canadian culture. Attendance for school age children was compulsory from 1894 until an unconscionable 1996 when the last closed. 

Not only were Indigenous children ripped from their families during formative years, they were subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuses, and too many died from harsh conditions and torture. The result is generations of First Nation peoples alienated from their culture and language, lacking education, and experiencing post-traumatic syndrome and racism.

Indian Horse takes us through this dark period through the eyes of Saul. The book opens with him telling the reader that he has been told he needs to tell the stories to understand where he is from and where he is going. As his story unfolds, we can feel his joy and sadness, his success and failure, his anguish and emergence from a blocked out horrific experience. 

Canadians are going through a reconciliation process to "redress the legacy of residential schools." In 2008, then Prime Minister Harper issued an apology on behalf of the Canadian government. That same year the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to hear testimony.  Their "Call to Action" was finally released in 2015.

A community traditional canoe carving reconciliation project.

Towns like Powell River across Canada brought Settlers (non-Indigenous Canadians) and First Nation members together to have hard conversations and to develop a better understanding of the ramifications of racial prejudice and subjugation. As a Settler in my native U.S.A. and my Canadian home I personally have a lot of work to do to reconcile my life of white privilege with systemic racism.

Indian Horse was the "People's Choice" Award of Canada Reads and First Nations Community Reads winner in 2012.  It's not an easy read, but the message is important especially now. I highly recommend Indian Horse and am looking forward to my next Richard Wagamese book.

Here's another book related to truth and reconciliation. Powell River is located on traditional land of the Tla'amin First Nation, a Coast Salish tribe. Written As I Remember It by elder Elsie Paul tells about this same period of time from a local perspective. 

Raised by her grandparents and hidden from authorities during fall sweeps, she was forced to attend the Sechelt Residential School at age ten. He memoir includes Tla'amin Nation history from oral traditions to the present as her people move away from Indian Act control to a self-governing nation. 

 Both books are available online including Amazon. -- Margy