March 18, 2012

What About a Home Base?

During our sailing years and now while RV’ing, we’d occasionally lounge in the cockpit, or look at each other across the cat snoozing on the truck seat and we want some sort of home base? Were would it be? What would it be like?
And now, WE’VE DONE IT!  
On March 8, just three and a half weeks after driving our 5th wheel home into Tucson, we turned a key and entered the door to a house – OUR house! Guided by a friend who is a mighty fine realtor, we acquired an acre of land with an older double-wide manufactured home.
Our property is in the northern region of the Sonoran desert, which covers large parts of Arizona and California, Northwest Sonora Mexico and the length of Baja California. We’re happy that the home place has native vegetation, including a few saguaros, the cactus most commonly associated with the Sonora desert and Tucson. Two of them are really big. Healthy? We're not sure, but they are big. And they have residents!

The house needs work; including new siding that will be impervious to woodpeckers (there are existing holes!), double pane windows, and gradual remodeling of what is already a nice layout for us. The center is a large kitchen/dining/living room open space, and there's a bedroom at each end. One will be a radio shack/hobby area. The front porch will one day be enclosed as an “Arizona Room.” Chuck will build a shop building. I will help the cactus and native plants along, and plan a cactus walk.  

The work will be interspersed with our travels, which will continue. Just think of those hot desert summers!
We had three days to measure, patch walls, change locks and water cactus…then we drove away to visit Chuck’s brother and family in Los Angeles. It's raining in LA now, and we hope that the storm delivers some moisture to Arizona, which needs it!

The future cactus path, where young ones grow sheltered under bushes:

A large barrel cactus, tiny saguaro, and dove eggs.

We’re 16 miles west of northern Tucson, not far from the Arizona Sonora-Desert Museum. To see the neighborhood, Google West Orange Grove Road, Picture Rocks, AZ.

March 5, 2012

January Flight from Austin Cold

So, what’s been going on lately!!?? Lots, but let me first step back to early in the year.

We left Austin in cold early January to find out why the Rio Grande Valley is so popular with RV’ers. Chuck was wearing a bandage after nose Mohs surgery. Honestly, it was ugly at first, but with daily peroxide and Vaseline, seven weeks later we removed the bandage. It’s as beautiful as ever! I had a bit of a scraping procedure, myself, and hope the scar will fade.

We rendezvoused with Mexico camping pals Russ & Ruth Ann at the Anglers' Nest in Los Indios, not far from the border fence. Though cold fronts go through occasionally, it was downright tropical compared to Austin and San Antonio. Campgrounds, businesses and events all cater to the huge winter senior population. Rather trippy, going to the zoo with an audience that is 95% seniors - OK, like us! There's lots of history here, and it's fine for birding.

This part of Texas has a cross-cultural, rural atmosphere. I did my walking 'round the fields. We crossed the border on foot to Progresso for lunch and shopping. Cute flowered bag, Ruth Ann! I bought one too, in blue.
Several campground residents visited one of dozens of Ropa (clothes)warehouses that sort and pack used clothing into bales that are shipped abroad by the ton. This is the source of American clothes we saw and bought at outdoor bazaars in Mexico and Latin America! Clothing here sells cheap by the pound, and seniors go wild while dodging the forklifts. We, and R and RA, did NOT climb on the piles. I frankly prefer to pay more for clothes sorted on racks, but grabbed a great purse for 35 cents that I'd lusted for in retail shops. Chuck bought t-shirts for cleaning rags.
At Anglers' Nest, residents entertain themselves: A crafty camper guided us in making “redneck wine glasses” from Dollar Store candle holders and canning jars. The jar lid is handy for strolling potlucks. Hint: use sandpaper and strong glue.

We spent quality time with other Mexico campers, too. Dave and Sara’s Mission campground is like a mini birdwatcher site and offers watercolor and other classes. Gene and Dana’s condo in South Padre Island is lovely, as are his watercolors that line the walls. About half of our Mexico camping pals did go south this year, but the rest of us stayed in the states and talk about how we miss the southern stomping grounds.