November and December 2010

It’s hard to believe this year of great rv adventures is almost over. A lot has happened, and much has changed, so I’ll try to get you all up to date.

After getting back to Tucson, we spent two months at Far Horizons, Tucson Village. The park itself is not terribly attractive – some newer park models, but mostly older trailers, permanently fixed on a slab, with carports, all very close together. However, the center of the park is wonderful, and lovely, too. There is a big pool and spa where I did my laps for 25-30 minutes several times a week, and a terrific fitness center where Robert worked out on the treadmill almost every day. There are rooms with puzzles, a library, a painting room, and rooms for stained glass, sewing – just about everything you could think of. So… we enjoyed our rv adventure here very much.

However, Robert had been having some health issues since early September, and they were getting worse: chest pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness. He started a round of doctor visits at the VA Hospital here in Tucson and we were totally frustrated with the pace of getting anything done. We still don’t have all the answers.

He’d been told his heart rate was way too low and he needed a pacemaker (he’s been told that by many doctors over the years). We didn’t know how long it would take to get one. There was also a problem with his lungs, but we won’t know much more about that until early February.

In the meantime, he was understandably reluctant to make a decision about buying something to give us more space and to use as a base when we winter here. Mehitabel was feeling smaller and smaller to both of us, especially now that the traveling part of our rv adventure was over. Banging into each other in 250 sq.ft. and the stress of all the above unknowns was taking its toll.

Ajo Mountains - Southern AZAjo Mountain Range

Finally he decided to buy a furnished double-wide in a lovely mobile home park. We had seen it a few times and both liked it. But we also knew that we needed some time apart. So, the 29th of November he moved into his new home and I moved out of Tucson Village and over to the parking lot at Casino del Sol.

I didn’t lose any money while camped there. On the other hand, I didn’t win any either!

Deciding I didn’t want to spend an unknown length of time having an rv adventure there in the parking lot, I went online to see if I could find a job with a park in the area that would give me free hookups for the rv. One of the open positions I applied for was in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 125 miles from Tucson, and 5 miles from the AZ/Mexico border, right in the heart of drug and gun smuggling territory.

I drove down to visit the park and met a lot of the people that I’d be working with. They were great, the park is beautiful, and I suspected it was safer there than in Tucson, which has the highest crime rate of any city in AZ.

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My New RV Adventure 

Workamping at ORPIImpersonating a Maintenance Worker

So… Mehitabel and I moved down there on Friday, 12/10, and started our new rv adventure, a janitor/maintenance job, the following week. We spent the first few nights in the Twin Peaks Campground, then moved down into the VIP campground when a site opened up there. I have full hookups for Mehitabel – water, sewer and electric – plus free propane and laundry facilities. There is a VIP Community building which also has 3 freezers and a refrigerator.

The only frustration was that I got absolutely no internet connection at the site, so had to take my computer up to the regular campground, on higher ground, and work in my car. I’d have to see what I could do to remedy this situation.

Believe it or not, I was excited to be doing this! I did not have a great desire to have an rv adventure work-camping job that included cleaning restrooms and mopping floors, but I found it was not that bad at all.

Along with the campground there are three remote areas with dumpsters and pit toilets, so we got to drive out into the desert to  incredibly lovely places to check on those. Surprisingly enough, the restrooms stayed quite clean.


Twin Peaks Campground at Organ Pipe Cactus NMTwin Peaks Campground - Organ Pipe Cactus NM

Once or twice a week, we collected trash along the highway through the park – it was nice to be outside and we did a lot of walking. At the end of my 8-hour work days, I was totally wiped out, but I was getting stronger and I knew that all that exercise was good for me!

Some of the other volunteers worked the kiosk booth, checking people in and collecting fees – I definitely would not like being stuck in that little booth for several hours a day. On the other hand, the camp hosts seem to have a good job.

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Crested Organ Pipe CactusCrested Organ Pipe Cactus

There is no TV here – unless you have satellite, which I didn’t. No radio stations either. So, I missed listening to NPR and knowing what was going on in the world outside the park – but not too much. I got to do a lot of reading, much of it about the park and AZ history, and I enjoyed that.

December was a slow month at the park – the numbers were way down from the previous year. A lot of potential campers were probably put off by the continual press about the drug smuggling and didn't wish to have an rv adventure in such an area. There were a number of Law Enforcement Rangers in the park – young men doing an occasionally dangerous job. They worked with the Border Patrol people at both ends of the park and took good care of us!

The photo to the right above is of a crested organ pipe cactus - no one seems to know what makes them occasionally grow like this. There are crested saguaros, too.

Robert was not too happy about where I was of course. We saw each other a few times before I moved to Organ Pipe and he had come down twice since I arrived. We were much more relaxed with each other and didn’t expect the current housing situation to last forever. I worked 4 days (Mon through Thurs), then had 3 off. We celebrated Christmas together, having a potluck dinner with the other VIPs. I think he was less worried about my being here after spending time here himself.

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Early Morning on the Ajo Mountain LoopOn Ajo Mountain Loop

Since there was only one grocery store, 35 miles away in Ajo, and the prices were much higher than in Tucson, I gave Robert a grocery list of special items which he brought down when he came. He also brought big bags full of grapefruit and oranges from his own trees, so he was a very welcome visitor in our little VIP campground.

Arches Canyon - Organ Pipe Cactus NMArches Canyon Trail

We had been apart a couple of times in the past year, once for a month when I was in NC, and again this spring when he spent 2-3 weeks in MN visiting family while I stayed at Hart Ranch in Rapid City. Both times had been good for the relationship, so we believed this one would do us good as well (little did we know).

I think we’ll probably have other vacations from each other as time goes on. He’s not sure he wants to travel quite as much in the summer, though he could change his mind once the health issues are resolved.

I’m definitely not done with my rv adventures yet, though I will concentrate on work-camping jobs now. I have another job lined up, working as a camp host, for the second half of summer 2011 at a State Park in Utah, very near Bryce Canyon. Perhaps he’ll join me there for part of the time. Who knows?

Sunset in the VIP Campground - Organ Pipe Cactus NMSunset at VIP Campground

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