Friday, March 21, 2014

Arizona - Willcox to Tucson

We left New Mexico and continued west into southern Arizona.  It was desert landscape all the way with miles and miles of straight line highway.  Not as pretty as west Texas, but still a little dusty.  I wanted to visit the south eastern part of the Arizona.  This is the area that Apache's lived for over 400 years.  We spent the night in Willcox staying at the Magic Circle RV Park.  The park is right off I-10.  Its a pea stone lot with no shade, but it's was nice enough for an overnight stay with full hook-ups.  The owner was very helpful in giving me input on the road conditions in the area and what was worth seeing.

All day while driving and that night, I noticed how dry it was. I probably didn't drink enough water and was a little dehydrated.  My skin was itchy and it actually hurt my nose to breath the dry air.  The humidity was 14%!!  I strung some cords from the cabinet handles and hung up a few wet towels in the RV to get some moisture (the McGuiver humidifier). By morning they were all dry as a bone and my nose was doing much better.

Our plan for the next day was to drive the Magic Circle of Cochise and visit Chiricahua National Monument.  This route goes east from Willcox on Rt 186 and then intersects Rt 191 turning south and then west to bring us back in a large circle to I-10.  Its about a 100 mile loop.  It's the road less traveled and we got a chance to see some beautiful landscape.  Its all high plains grass land versus the desert scrub in the lower elevations.  We saw several cattle ranches along foot hills of the Coronado National Forest.

Cattle Ranch off Rt 191

The Chiricahua Monument was a real scenic surprise.  This land was made into a protected monument in 1924 by the CCC.  It was actually home to a CCC camp.  The elevation is quite high starting at 5,400 ft. and rising to over 6,800 at Massai Point. The park has many hiking trails and a 6 mile scenic drive up Bonita Canyon to Massai Point. The road is spectacular, with jaw dropping vistas.  Its narrow and has some tight switch backs but the views at the top are great.  The rock formations are very unique and make up quite a lot of the landscape. I took a video going up and down, but here are some pictures of the park.

Route 191 back towards I-10 is very desolute. You even pass the ghost town of Pearce along the way.

Closed store in Pearce
 We spent the night boon docking at the Desert Diamond Casino south of Tucson.  This was a great place to spend the night.  They allow up to seven nights of free overnight stays in their parking lot for RV's.  If you apply for a courtesy card in the casino, you get a free dinner ticket to the buffet.  They also have free wifi from the hotel.  Not a bad deal - free overnight parking, a free meal, and free wifi.

Cactus Garden at Desert Diamond Casino

Our plan is to spend 3 days in the Tucson area visiting the Saguaro National Park, the Desert Museum, and some historic sites.  More on this in the next entry.

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