This year we decided to spend Christmas in Tucson, Arizona. As I’ve stated before, my husband installs solar farms all over the country. Ergo, we are not free to set our own destinations, yet. For several months we have been land-locked in West Texas. Not traveling gives us a chance to save money, however, it also gets boring. So, for Christmas this year we headed farther west to explore southern Arizona. We’d driven through but have only had the opportunity to stay in the northern part of the state.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
First, we stopped for a night in Las Cruces, New Mexico; about midway between Tucson and our current work location. I like to get the driving over within a day, if possible. However, compromise is king in a relationship and Bobby wanted to break it up.
We stayed once before at the Las Cruces KOA Journey. Most importantly, it’s clean and safe. The staff and lodgers are always very friendly and helpful. In addition, they have a short dog walk area where you can hear roosters crowing from local farms. They also provide a small, fenced dog park. It’s a perfect overnight stop.
We like New Mexico. Especially the areas of Santa Fe, Madrid, and Cloudcroft. I wrote about our weekend in New Mexico. Check it out!
Touring Tucson & Beyond
We planned for a destination Christmas in Tucson, Arizona. First, we were surprised by the weather. We expected the 60s and possibly even 70-degree days, being so far south. However, Christmas week the temperature never reached 60 degrees. It was co-o-old!
Silly us, we thought we were heading for warmer weather. Where we’re staying in West Texas the winter temps vary between the 30s and the 60s and it can be extremely windy.
Undaunted by the cold we were determined to enjoy the area. Therefore, on the first day, we checked out Tucson in the warm truck. One thing we loved was the architecture and the many buildings sporting southwestern-themed murals.
Desert Trails RV Park
We spent the week at the Desert Trails RV Park. The prices were reasonable and, again, it was clean and safe. Best of all, it was not on a main drag or interstate with all the traffic noise. Similar to most southern parks, winters are crowded. If you plan to spend Christmas in Tucson, reserve early!
Desert Trails is very compact, but the spaces provide plenty of room. The rows are back-ins and most we saw had another RV backed in behind them. The best thing about the park for us were the trails that could be accessed directly from the park property. Trails of varying lengths and destinations led from the back of the park out into the desert and to Tuscon Mountain Park. The trail we took was very flat and easy. Since we were didn’t venture farther, I’m not sure how the longer trails compare.
There were numerous activities at the RV park, including a Christmas potluck, and two dog parks for small and large furbabies. We were happy with the location and the surroundings. All the RV spots were away from the road and just far enough from town.
The second day, Christmas. we woke up early and went for a scenic drive in the desert. We found a beautiful road that led along the edge of the Saguaro National Park. From Desert Trails RV Park, we headed north on North Kinney Road and turned right (east) on Golden Gate Road. It was beautiful. We chose not to go to the National Park. After doing some research we thought we’d seen most of what there was to see from the road. For example, the photo to the right.
After our drive, we headed to Waffle House for a great breakfast. There were several Waffle Houses in Tucson and they are open 24/7 365.
We had planned rides up Mount Lemon and Kitt Peak to check out their observatories. Unfortunately, there was a snowstorm in the higher elevations. All the roads up the mountains were closed. The weather was not cooperating. It was a bummer. If you’re in Tucson I would strongly recommend checking out the observatories. If my research was correct, we missed something worth seeing.
Finding Old Friends
Christmas morning I sent out quite a few texts to wish family and friends a Merry day. Surprisingly, some friends we’d met in Florida replied, “Merry Christmas, from Tucson!” In other words, we’re here! We made plans to meet for dinner.
Thursday afternoon, tired of the cold, we decided to go to the movies. Jumanji, the sequel, was playing at a really cool theater in Tucson. Roadhouse Cinema is a movie theater with huge, comfy recliners that offer full meals, snacks and drinks served at your seat. The movie was hilarious, almost as good as the first remake, but the service made the day. Unfortunately, we had dinner plans so we couldn’t indulge much. Be sure to order tickets in advance as they sell out quickly.
After the movie, we met our friends for dinner at a little, Mexican Restaurant called El Merendero. The place was something you might find on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. It was perfect. We spent the evening catching up. They shared that they were bored with wintering in southern Florida but did not like the cold weather in Arizona. We suggested Sanlan RV Park in Lakeland.
Lakeland, Florida is a quaint little town in central Florida, a little over an hour from Orlando. Sanlan is a beautiful park with hundreds of activities in the winter, a golf course, and long trails through a connected nature center. Obviously I need to do a blog on Lakeland and Sanlan.
An American breakfast is one of the things that are lacking in our current West Texas location. We found ourselves at Waffle House several mornings. Most importantly, they scramble the eggs in a bowl, not the pan. Later we discovered Coyote Pause at Cat Mountain Station. Coyote, another local dive, is more of a gourmet grill with unique options for breakfast and lunch. We loved it. FYI: By dive, I mean local, small, clean, and fun restaurants; not affiliated with a chain.
Outside the restaurant, there was a small courtyard with art galleries and gift shops. It was cold the morning we explored, but the marketplace is very small.
Several services in West Texas are few and far between so we decided to get this taken care of over our vacation. Friday Bobby had an appointment to get a tooth out at a Tucson oral surgeon. Back to Coyote Pause for breakfast.
Due to a conflict with the diagnosis, the oral surgeon refused to remove the tooth. The appointment kind of messed up our day so we went back to the RV Park and hiked with our dog, Spotty, on the trails heading out of the park. Later we went back downtown in Tucson. Similar to West Texas, many of the restaurants served Mexican cuisine.
This was an exceptionally long post. If you would like to continue reading Winter in Tucson.
Enjoy the Journey!