Postcard from Arizona

We’re finally out of Santa Fe! You’d almost think we didn’t want to leave. Which is close. But temps were dropping and we even had some snow. Clearly we’d over-stayed our welcome and it was time to move on.

Plus the solar power system being installed at Santa Fe Skies RV Park is in the early construction phase which means they’re moving dirt. And moving dirt means dust. Yuk! Everything would get a fine layer in a matter of a few hours. We are actually very excited that a small RV park would tackle the largest private photovoltaic installation in the state. Way to go guys! Maybe when we return in April to check on the house they’ll have some of the 1,100+ panels installed and working.

Las Cruces, NM


We drove from Santa Fe to Las Cruces for the first stop. Nearly 300 miles which is over our informal limit. Unfortunately, unless you want to stop in ABQ- only 50 miles away- there’s nowhere to stop except Socorro and they were rebuilding their water system.

The Las Cruces KOA is a nice park. Yeah, it’s dusty from the gravel base, but the view is spectacular and the park is very well maintained. In fact the were in the midst of replacing the decking around the pool while we were there.

I’d been haunting the propane crossover valve/empty tank gauge since Santa Fe. One tank had stopped delivering propane even though it was nearly full. And of course it had to happen on a cold nite when the furnace was cycling a lot. I went to Ferrell Gas before leaving Santa Fe to see about repairing or replacing the tank. One of the staff said the tank was probably fine and that I just needed to change my habits. Seems there’s an additional valve inside the Overfill Protection Device which will cause flow to stop if the main valve is opened too quickly. Sounded like BS to me, but what the hell… I’ll give it a try. I reinstalled the tank and opened the tank as I always do. Sure enough, the flow stopped and the crossover valve indicated the tank was empty. So I closed the valve, removed the hose then re-installed it. This time I very slowly bled the valve open. Then for 2 days I checked to see if crossover valve still indicated it hadn’t switched tanks. So there we were in Las Cruces and… I’ll be damned: it’s still OK! He was right on the money. So far the tank has been operating just fine and hasn’t switched unnecessarily. So here’s Lesson #3,417:

Thou shalt always open the valve on a re-filled tank of propane very slowly.  

Thank you Ferrell Gas of Santa Fe!

While in Las Cruces we made an emergency trip to Starbucks for coffee beans. Don’t want to run low else the Admiral gets nasty in the morning!

Mesilla, AZ


We also took a short drive to Mesilla. It’s a small town adjacent to Las Cruces that has had the foresight to preserve it’s old plaza area. We spent a little time wandering the area and shops and enjoyed the change of pace from busy traveller to casual tourist. Unfortunately we couldn’t try the usual touristy things like fudge and ice cream (yeah, it was that warm!) but we still managed to have a good time not eating.

Loved the look of this small walled compound. Great colors and interesting xeriscape plantings. You see a lot of low water-need plantings in the southwest.

One mishap… a protective filter attached to my favorite Canon lens went for a walk and crashed on the sidewalk. Bummer. Thankfully there was not other damage.

Lordsburg, NM


We were faced with another 300-miler going from Las Cruces to the Tucson area, so this time we broke it up with a midway-stop in Lordsburg. Not much here except a decent restaurant. We didn’t eat at Kranberry’s this trip, but it’s a worthwhile eating place if you pass Lordsburg at mealtime. And Kranberry’s has a fair sized parking lot in the back so a motorhome or smaller trailer could make a food stop here before moving on. I believe you would have to approach it from the back street.

The Lordsburg KOA reminded me of Van Horn, TX in a way, but without the corrals, rodeo ring and great on-site restaurant. Not a garden spot but the park is fine and we were well off I-10 so it was quiet.

Benson, AZ 

Fred the Gnome in thermal distress!

We ended up in Benson even though I’d hoped to stop at Beaudry RV Resort in Tucson. We knew Beaudry RV sales had gone bankrupt (the Montana dealership is now with Orangewood RV of Phoenix which gives them a presence in Tucson), but since the phone still worked at the resort I thought the park might still be operating. After 8 or more calls I finally gave up (the park is indeed kaput). Then I tried South Forty RV Park which didn’t want dogs larger than 20# (maybe they prefer small dogs that bite instead of big dogs that lick?), so that was out. Then several reads on various web sites left me with more questions than answers. So I gave up and opted for KOA again. The Benson KOA isn’t a high end park by any stretch (though you wouldn’t know it from the price), but the scenery is wonderful, it’s a long way from I-10, and since we’d been here before, we knew what to expect. Got a little chiily while we were there. A little frost on the pumpkin… and on Fred the Gnome.

In the roughly 1 year since we were last here, the park seems to have become busier. We pulled in to find perhaps 15 rigs already parked. Last time we were here there was more than one nite when ours was the only rig here (not counting the 10 or more permanent residents at the back of the park). After we arrived we learned the park is providing dinner on Thanksgiving Day (as well as another planned on Christmas). Pretty nice for travelers that are probably not expecting anything!

High Desert Mkt & Deli

Bisbee, AZ

We took a side trip to Bisbee, AZ just to see what it was about. The old town was a great place to explore and we managed to find a primo lunch stop. Hi Desert Market & Cafe has a deli to die for! The food was excellent and compared to Santa Fe it was inexpensive. Well… it’s inexpensive if you stay away from dessert! Unfortunately it was more temptation than we could bare so we split a piece of carrot cake. Which was no hardship since each slice is about double the size of anything I’ve been served before. And their carrot cake recipe adds some apple which was excellent! It’s only 40 miles from Benson, so if you’re in the area do yourself a favor and head over here for lunch or dinner.

Lavender Pit in Bisbee, AZ

I’d assumed Bisbee was yet another gold or silver mining town. I was only 1/2 right. It’s a mining town alright, but it’s copper that they were after while gold, silver and turquoise (an oxide of copper) were byproducts from of copper mining. A large open pit mine (Lavender Pit, named after the person who conceived the project) is visible from the side of AZ-80 and there’s a pull-off so you can see down into the mine. Open pit mines were tried first in Utah in an attempt to make low-grade ore profitable and it worked here as well. The name “Lavender” has nothing to do with color. The pit is named after Harrison Lavender who was a VP for Phelps Dodge and was in charge of operations when they started mining, You can get a tour of an open pit mine ( Copper Queen Mine) if you’re inclined, but the Lavender Pit has been closed since 1974 (to the extent that an open 900 foot deep pit can be called “closed”!).

F-100… I passed these being assembled daily on my first job

Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ

We had hoped to connect with internet acquaintances from Alaska who were staying in the Family Camping facility at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. The base is right beside the Pima Air & Space Museum which we wanted to see, so access would have been very easy. Unfortunately (thanks to the extra problems we encountered at the house) we weren’t able to arrive in time to be brought onto the base for a couple nites as their guests. And since Benson is about 40 miles from Tucson it makes the logistics impossible to get between the Pima museum and Benson to be able to get the dogs out for a walk mid-way thru the visit (Pima has in/out gate privileges). So unless we find another RV park nearby, we’ll have to save the air museum for another trip.

At least we were able to meet and visit with Dan and Betty for awhile and see their new (2-days old!) 2011 Montana 3400RL. We thought it was gorgeous but then we should since it seemed to be identical to our own 2010-3400RL which we bought last March. They’re on their way to Phoenix next and we’ll stay in Benson a little longer since the weather is decent and we want to see more of the area.

SKP Saguaro Co-op

One of our stops here will be at the SKP Saquaro park. This co-op park is affiliated with Escapees RV Club and we want to see what their facility is like. Friends Mike & Susan who we met in Santa Fe are on the waiting list for a long term lease on an available site so we want to see what grabbed them. From the web site it appears the sites are huge… on the order of 2,000 sq. ft. or more.

More coming…

About bruce10b

Celia and I are full-time RVers wintering (and now summering!) in Benson, AZ. The 2 bernese mountain dogs that initiated the name of this blog are gone but forever alive in our memory.
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