Welcome to Just Around The Bend our travel blog. As we go about our adventures we are hoping to see and experience some wonderful places and meet a lot of interesting people. One of our challenges on the road and living in our little caravan is to stay fit and eat healthy. One would hope that the time factor is on our side and we can be creative in our cuisine keeping it healthy and tasty. Fitness should be happening every day and we will use a lot of exercises from Stephany at the Fit RV. Stay tuned. Jeff also hopes to get more Youtubes going at his JUST AROUND THE BEND CHANNEL.
Leaving our camp site at Gilbert Ray we decided to explore the city of Tucson. Where to start, its a very historic town with tons of Artisans and unforgettable restaurants. My husband knowing me well had spoken with the camp host who directed us to the best farmers market in Tucson, right down my ally for sure. The farmers market was spectacular with Artisans with pottery, hand woven rugs, art and amazing food, so much fun. Next we headed downtown.
As we parked our large truck in a legal parking spot we spotted a costumed Spanish soldier walking and asked about his costume. It turns out we were right next to the Presidio San Agustin Del Tucson Museum and the most northerly spanish fort. Today happened to be living history day and there was lots of action going on from soldiers shooting muskets to cannon fire. The volunteers were dressed in period costume and some making some great tasting homemade tortillas,cactus jams. salsas and soups with plenty to sample. A priest toured us around the fort with lots of information about life in the time period. We even got to view a 2000 year old Native American pit house.
Our next exploration was to find the beginning of The Turquoise Trail and great luck it began outside the walls of the FORT. We picked up a self guided brochure at the Presidio Museum and proceeded to walk the 2.5-mile loop trail through downtown Tucson. The trail highlights structures and sites of historic interest and is marked by a turquoise stripe on the sidewalk.
We would highly recommend visiting downtown Tucson if you are in the neighborhood, so fun and informative.
On our walk on the Turquoise Trail Jeff just happened to find a sampling of yes Organic Gelato and I have to say was outstanding.
Sometimes on our snow bird explorations we find a hidden gem and Gilbert Ray Campground ticks all of the boxes.
Bordering Saguaro National Park and a mier mile from Old Tucson Movie Studio Theme Park is Tucson Mountain Park which included in that park is Gilbert Ray Campground. Located 13 miles from Tucson, Gilbert Ray has 130 RV sites with individual electric hook-ups and 5 designated tent sites.. Water is available and a RV dump station. NO shower facilities. RESERVATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.
The fees are $20.00 a night and a maximum stay of 7 days only. The trick to getting a spot as this is a very popular campground with no reservations accepted is to get there early in the morning, I’d say 7am, yes I said 7 am is best. Its worth it as you will definitely want to stay longer as there is so much to see and do in the surrounding area.
Some of the sites are pretty small, but as you check in they ask the size of your RV and select an appropriate size site for you. No favoritism here you get what they choose.
Tucson Mountain Park has a lot of maintained trails and vista pullouts for spectacular views of the Sonoran desert with plenty of pullouts for vehicles. This particular year was abundant with rainfall and the cactus were blooming profusely. In all of the years we have explored the desert we have never seen so much beauty.
Next Stop The Channel Islands Please Join Us On Our Journey
OLD TUCSON is a theme park and historical film location in Pima County, Arizona. Over 400 movies and television shows were filmed at this location. if you are a fan of old western shows and movies you will probably recognize a lot of the backdrops. Located a mier mile from Gilbert Ray Campground and 4 miles from Saguaro National Park. General Admission is $19.95 and $10.95 for children (4-11) years old. A very large parking lot with plenty of RV room and free. Hours depend on the time of year, check their website as it changes often. Oldtucson.com. Old Tucson is very pet friendly as long as you keep your pet on a leash and your pet is friendly. NOTE: There is water placed for your pets comfort as it can get very hot and beware there is gun fire during part of the days events during stunt and cowboy shows.
Step back in time and plan on spending the entire day as we did enjoying numerous shows, gun fights, saloon musicals, living history and film history tour presentations. Don’t forget to take the train ride and plenty of rides for the kiddos to keep the whole family entertained. A western themed zipline is a very popular attraction located in the middle of the park which is an additional $20.00 a ride or 3 rides for $45.00.
The quality of the performances, whether it was singing, dancing or gunfighting was very, very professional. PERSONAL NOTE: Jeff was very happy as there was excellent BBQ and Good Ice Cream.
Our next adventure in the Tucson Area is The Historic Presidio District
Another fabulous State Park that is kept in great shape. Clean restrooms that are literally heated, free hot showers and clean, clean, clean. Sites are swept and tables are washed off as soon as it is vacated. The upper loops are $5.00 a night cheaper with great views of the Verde Valley. Quail loop campground was $35.00 a night, the upper loops $30.00 with spectacular views and less trees which make a difference in the warmer weather. Well that’s what the Ranger said anyway. . There are extensive trail systems for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You are miles from Sedona, Jerome, Cottonwood, Flagstaff and Clarksville. There is so much to see and do in the surrounding areas this campground makes for a great base camp.
The first day we visited Tuzigoot National Monument – Indian Ruins and Petroglyphs including a spectacular museum.
Montezuma’s Well WAS NEXT ON OUR LIST-more spectacular Indian ruins
Sedona Valley scenic byway was a beautiful drive with views and snow on the ground.
ALL ABOARD A FUN AND INTERACTIVE TRAIN RIDE
Like I said 2 weeks was probably not enough to see it all but we gave it a good try. In addition we visited Jerome and had a fabulous meal in a bordello called THE BORDELLO OF JEROME . The gyros were highly recommended and fantastic. The cook and owner made everything from scratch including the tzatziki sauce, pita bread and amazing feta crumbles, The lamb/beef mixture was non greasy and fantastic. We also roamed the streets of Cottonwood with lovely eclectic shops and a great BBQ restaurant called HOG WILD BBQ, I know the name is wild, ha but the food was outstanding.
Out next adventure takes us to Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson AZ – see ya there CHEERS JEFF AND LIZ
This is one of those local hidden gems that no one tells you about and lucky we found it exploring around Laughlin, Nevada. About a mile off of the main highway on a dusty gravel road named Christmas Tree Road is a protected petroglyph site that beats any petroglyph site we have visited yet in our travels. The parking lot is well marked with a very clean restroom before the trailhead begins. From the parking lot is a easy 1/2 mile walk to the beginning of the cliffs, with plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.
Of course being the Thompsons we packed a lunch and plenty of water and probably spent a good half of a day exploring . The trail meanders around the rocks and petroglyphs for about 2 1/2 miles if you want to walk to the end. It’s a ruff go after the first mile with lots of rock climbing and literally sliding down cliffs but great fun for the young. This is a must adventure if you are in the area.
CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND
OUR NEXT DESTINATION IS DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK IN ARIZONA
Boulder City was not what we expected. I thought dry, hot desert, nothing to explore, BORING, well that was not the case. I didn’t realize that a mire 4 miles from Boulder City was Hoover Dam and the expansion bridge which went across The Colorado river was incredible. After the Highway bypass was finished the cities staff went to work revitalizing the town and they did a great job. New bike paths, parks, and a nostalgic downtown with original neon signs. Boulder is one of the few Nevada cities that gambling and prostitution is illegal. This puts a relaxed persona on the town. There was a art and wine tour with live music downtown when we were visiting in February. The park on the way down to Lake Mead has resident Mountain Sheep hanging out in the park for great photo opportunities. We stayed 2 nights at the Elks Lodge RV park with Full hookups for members only. We moved over to Boulder Campground which is part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area ran by the National Park Service.The very scenic sites were 10 dollars a night for senior pass holders and 20 dollars for young folks. There is 2 more campgrounds on the Nevada side and more on the Arizona side of the Lake. There is also some dispersed sites on the lake for free BLM camping. A plus to the campground is a 38 mile paved bike loop which goes along the lake, up towards Henderson and loops back to Boulder City. We had fun in the city and the Hoover dam was fascinating. We were reminded of the Selma Hayek movie Fools Rush In. Boulder won our hearts with great people and a fun nostalgic town. We will be back.
Until our next Adventure CHEERS FROM JEFF AND lIZ AT JUSTAROUNDTHEBEND.BLOG
You are probably wondering where are these Nomads headed to next – Well its to DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK SEE YOU THERE!!!!
We sadly departed Alabama Hills BLM Land and headed over Highway 190 through the Panamint pass, with a 8% grade entering Death Valley. At the very top of the pass a turnout called Father Crowley Vista Point is worth a stop. Just about the time we got out of our truck to enjoy the view fighter jets decided to put on a show of a lifetime for us and before our eyes the jets flew deep in the canyon yet so close to us you could almost see the pilots eyes. The canyon wasn’t straight and to witness the skill of the pilots was spectacular, this went on for over 30 minutes.. From this point on make sure your brakes are good and use your gears, as it is 8 miles at a 8 percent grade yet very scenic.
We have now arrived at the floor of Death Valley, today it is 82 degrees, I can tell you we are not use to heat and it feels so warming and nice. We arrive at Sunrise Camp ground with no one to check you in at the kiosk, it’s kind of cool you go to a self-check in stations ( which are scattered everywhere) enter your information, slide your credit card and presto you go find a site anywhere you want as it is first come first serve. The fees are $7.00 a night golden age and $14.00 regular. Totally dry camping, you do get very clean restrooms, water and free sewer dump. Generators allowed with regulated operating hours. The camp hosts are amazing so friendly and helpful. In addition while we visited it was quiet, well except for the howling of the coyote’s, we chose camp site L1 with a vista view of the Funeral Mountains.
After settling in, we immediately head to the visitor’s center for maps, weather info and info on ranger talks. There is a lot to see and do from trail hiking, biking, arches to view and miles and miles of salt beds Ninety-one percent of Death Valley is designated wilderness, you must use common sense exploring this vast land. Before setting off on trails or roadways the park recommends one gallon of water, a day per person is required and you must stay on all trails and roadways. There are overly friendly coyote’s you must not feed, sidewinder rattlesnakes that burrow under the rocks and sand waiting for kangaroo rats and the cutest burrows that bite and love to block traffic.
PS: Texas Spring is another campground with the same
amities. Across the roadway is Furnace Creek Camp Ground with full amities if
Join us on our next adventure to Lake Mead, maybe the weather will let us launch our kayak and do some water exploring.