Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

El Paso / Juarez Mexico

October 23 - 26, 2017: 

After leaving Tuscon AZ we were going to stop for an overnight in Los Cruzes New Mexico but decided to push a bit farther to El Paso TX.  Las Cruces is where we were going to stop but El Paso was only just another 46 miles making it a 300 mile trip from Tuscon.  We had explored Las Cruces before but not El Paso so that is why we changed to El Paso.

Welcome to Texas.  We have been gone from Texas for 6 months now!

We are going to visit a couple border towns as we head south back to our winter residence in Elsa TX. Patty did some research while I was driving on the accessibility of Juarez.  First, she found that it seemed to be a safe place to visit now.  A couple of years ago the murder rate there was like 3,500 a year!  Now it is less than 100.  Basically, the murder rate is less than that of St. Louis and Detroit in the US.  Secondly, she found that it is just a short walk across the border bridge to the Mexican side and back.  So we are going to give it a try.

We picked the Mission RV Park on the South side of El Paso for a 4-night stay.  Since we were on the road later than usual due to our last minute change to El Paso, we were driving during rush hour on I-10.  I-10 in El Paso is under major repair and reconstruction.  It was not a lot of fun driving through at all!  

The new bridges in El Paso are beautiful!

University of Texas El Paso Texas Tech monument along I-10.
There are four of these monuments along I-10.

A cool wind turbine along I-10 in El Paso. 
This actually powers the interchange lights here.

We arrived at the Mission RV Park just at dark around 6pm.  The park is not a destination park but is located in a great place for exploring the area.  Our site is on gravel but is a nice size and no neighbors in the adjoining sites. 

Our first day in the area we just did domestic chores.  We got clothes washed and we went to the store for food.   We also managed to get the truck washed.  Sometimes you just need to do stuff like this and it is great doing it in a new location.  Everyday there is something new!

Downtown El Paso has one of these interesting auto-clean public toilets. 
It cost $.25 to open the sliding door and use it. 

It was very clean inside too!

Our second day we decided to make the trip to Juarez Mexico.  There are a couple of routes to take but just one with a footbridge to enter.  So we walked across the South Stanton Street Bridge into Juarez.  We parked in a pay parking lot that really didn’t look very safe; people hanging around everywhere here.  I would not want to do this after dark at all!  Actually, it was safer looking on the Juarez Mexico side of the bridge.

Walking across the footbridge into Juarez Mexico

At the border on the bridge

A look outside the footbridge onto the roadway into Mexico

On the US side the bridge looked a lot like what we are used to on the Mexican side of the border.  The area is full of street vendors selling loads of Mexican goods.  It looks like since the Juarez side was dangerous for so long that the vendors moved to the US side.

We have been across the border many times in Nuevo Progreso which is near our winter place in the Rio Grande Valley.  That area is very used to us American tourists coming across so they are set up for us.  It was not the case in Juarez.  It was just like walking into a city that happened to be Mexican.  There were no outside street vendors hassling you which was good.  But we wanted to find a restaurant for lunch and there weren’t any near the border.  We did a google search and found what we thought would be a good restaurant about a mile away.  So we put my phone into navigate mode and off we went.

Sights along our mile hike into Juarez

They had a very nice bike path that we walked on most of the way. 
Never saw a bike though.

Right in the middle of the bike path they put a bus station! 
The station is built right on top of the path.

From the words on the hill in the background we now know that the bible is truth and from the store we know where Waldo is!

We had a great walk and had no issues at all with anybody or anything.  We asked for directions once and several people helped us.  The restaurant was great too!  It was small place that was packed with city workers.  They even made the tortillas right there.  Before we left the woman who makes the tortillas asked if we wanted a few for dinner tonight.  She made a few and packaged them up real nice for us.  We never got them across the border though.  I left them in a shop by accident!

The restaurant we walked a mile to

Woman making tortillas from scratch and per table.

My meal and I was stuffed after eating about half of this.  
The meals for us cost about $15 total with a beer each

Interesting decor inside the restaurant

We spent about 2  hours shopping on the way back to the border.  We found that drugs were much more expensive here than in our familiar place, Nuevo Progreso.  No clue as to why that was.  However, blankets and clothes were much cheaper.  We got 4 heavy blankets for the grandkids and daughter-in-law and, believe it or not, we got a Cowboys blanket for Patty’s son here too!

It always amazes us that the poorest places have the nicest churches

Where we bought blankets for the grandkids

It was a little difficult to figure out how to get back across the border as there were no signs for the footbridge.  We asked several people before we found someone who spoke enough English to give good directions.  Then when we got the entrance we needed to pay something like $.25 cents to cross through a turnstile.  We didn’t have change and there wasn’t anyone to make change either.  A Mexican woman passing by gave us the money to cross back.  She wouldn’t take my dollar as payment.  We really felt very safe and welcome there!

So that is it for Juarez Mexico!  Next Stop is Marfa TX.

Stay tuned!

Tucson Arizona

October 18 - 23, 2017: 

We are on our way to another city we have not stopped in before, Tucson AZ.  Tucson is a little over 400 miles making it a bit too far for us to do in one day so we stopped about half way in Congress AZ.

Entering AZ!

We decided to spend a couple of days at the Escapees RV Park called North Ranch. I think this the third Escapees RV Park we have stayed in over the past 6 years.  They are all different but they are always a great place to stay.  The North Ranch is no different in that fact.  It is also a very big RV Park with somewhere around 110 RV transient sites and then another 300 - 400 permanent sites with mostly houses.  The back side of the RV Park is connected to BLM land so we are really in a very rural area of AZ.

The North Ranch Escapees RV Park

Our site here at North Ranch.  Not much to it but we really don't care because we only use parks as a place to put the RV while we explore.

North Ranch is a great place to visit Congress and Wickenburg AZ.  Since we had just the one day we decided to explore Wickenburg.  Wickenburg was recommended as a good place to explore by our NJ friends (Drew and Barbara) who have a house near here.  It was a shame that we just missed seeing them here by a day! 

Wickenburg AZ.  Old time movie theater.  We see a lot of these out in the rural southwest

Like the saguaro parking lot

They didn't have adequate materials for building jails here as most buildings were made of adobe.  Prisoners could easily claw there way out.  So they just chained prisoners to this tree

These statues were all over Wickenburg AZ

Top of the day with handmade ice cream.  Note the live music in the background

Just outside Congress AZ near North Ranch RV Park

The RV Park has a cactus garden

I just loved the houses here in the park!  Took these on one of my interval walk/runs in the park

While walking I came across these people taking down an old rotten saguaro

There she falls!

Love the way they decorate their roadway here in the desert southwest.

After North Ranch we moved on to Tucson and the Sentinel Peak RV Park.  The Sentinel RV Park is a great park to stay in to visit downtown Tucson as it is very close to downtown and the new light rail line.  The park itself is just a small parking lot sort of place but the people are very friendly.  The woman who workcamps there and runs the office is great!

Our site in Sentinel RV Park

We stayed here 4 nights giving us 2 whole days to do a little exploring.  The first day we went into the downtown area via the light rail system.  We just had to walk a couple of blocks to get on the rail line into the city.  We went into the arts and crafts area called the Old Town Artisans.  While there we found the best little place for lunch there called the La Cocina.  We ate in the outside area under a canopy of trees and fountains and with live blues music.  It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Downtown Tucson

We really loved this place to eat in the Artisans Village

Some blues being played

I took this picture so we could find these cheaper somewhere.  I really want one!

The Tucson courthouse

We spent the rest of the day exploring the many little shops in this artist area before heading back to our RV.  We decided that we would eat in tonight and go out to dinner tomorrow.

Our second day started as a visit to the Ecosphere about 30 miles to the north-west of Tucson.  The Ecosphere is where a group of people in the 90s spent 2 years living in an artificial environment.  I had heard of this back when it was happening but never thought I would get to see this place.  

The Ecosphere is now owned by the Arizona State University and was started back in the early 1980s as a small experimental environmental laboratory.  Basically they built prototypes of this geo dome before they built the real and final product that we saw.  This was a great experience to visit and take a tour of this place, we loved it.  

Our tour guide on the left.  The tour was about 90 minutes and only cost $5 each

When they had the people living in the biosphere this is where friends and family came to visit through this window and phone.  Sort of like being in jail.

Inside the biosphere is a complete ecosystem.  They have an ocean, desert, and wetlands.

There is also a rainforest

Hard to imagine living in here for 2 years.  They planted and grew all of their food.  They even had chickens and pigs!

This is some of the underside of the biosphere where the water and air from the biosphere is moved around.  All of the air and water came from the biosphere and nothing but sun from the outside.

This is an air shaft tunnel for the air lung.

Inside the air lung.  This large place that is elevated in the picture moves up and down with the air pressure in the biosphere.  Without this the biosphere would explode!  It mimics our expandable atmosphere.

These are the garden areas

Close ups of the main part of the biosphere

After the Ecosphere we drove south to another National Park, the Saguaro National Park.  For those who don’t know, the Saguaro is a type of cactus that mostly only grows in southern AZ.  We drove in and went to the visitor center first to check in and get a pass.  After we got our pass we took a short 3 mile hike to see the petroglyphs.  This was another great place!  It is so weird to be in so many tall Saguaros and see them as far as you can see!

If you look closely you can see the petroglyphs

Now the petroglyphs can be seen clearly

Me with a large saguaro

End of a long day exploring the area around Tucson

A large A representing Arizona State University

As we are leaving we see more very nice roadway art.  It looks nothing like NJ!

So that was it for out travels to Tuscon!

Stay Tuned!

"I am writing these last few 2017 travel blogs a couple of months late as it gets hard to write them after we stop for the winter.  I have a couple more to go to finish the year."