5 Months 12 Days

It’s 2017 and we’ve been on the road for two years! Not really. It’s been only 5 months, but those months cover part of 2016 and so far 1 month in 2017. The funny thing is it seems like only yesterday we sold our ranch and left the homesteading life.

At first we found it odd to say we live on the road. Now “We’re traveling full time” just rolls off our tongues. Most people are usually impressed with that answer and ask, “How is it?” We’re actually very fond of this mobile lifestyle. It’s low stress, low cost, there’s no mortgage, no grass to cut, we can change scenery any time we like, and we can visit people we haven’t seen in a while without the hassle of finding a hotel room. We’ve already met many wonderful people and made a lot of new friends. We’ve also had the time to stop at places we never had time for and can stay a few days, or not.

How long can we maintain this Vagabond life, moving from one RV park to another every few weeks? The people who camped next to us last week have been doing this for 18 years. We’re not sure if we’ll be on the road that long, but this could be just the beginning for us.

We’ve been camping in Tucson since November and have made several side trips. Last month, we visited Saguaro National Park, Mount Lemmon in Santa Catalina Mountains, the Airplane Boneyard on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, traveled to St. Louis where we got the entire family together, went to a Tucson Roadrunner’s hockey game, and rang in the New Year with 330,000 of our friends on the Las Vegas Strip.

East of Tucson is Saguaro National Park East. The park is home to the nation’s largest cacti, the giant saguaro. It’s the universal symbol of the old American west. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that can develop branches (or arms) as they age.  Saguaros are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer.   These majestic plants are found only in a small portion of the United States, and although not a protected species, Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of this species.

Mt. Lemmon is in the Santa Catalina Mountains within the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson. At its peak is the Mount Lemmon Observatory, which was formerly the site of a USAF radar base of the Air Defense Command, and the building that formerly housed a military emergency radar tracking station for landing the Space Shuttle at White Sands Missile Range. Mount Lemmon is 9,157 feet above sea level and receives approximately 180 inches (4.6 m) of snow annually, and that means snow skiing. Mount Lemmon Ski Valley has one lift and 21 runs. There’s no snow making equipment, so the ski season depends entirely on the weather. We were told the runs could be open as few as 2 days in a season and as long as 4 months.

The Airplane Boneyard on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is where military aircraft go to die. Officially called the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, tours of the “Boneyard”/AMARG are offered daily by the Pima Air and Space Museum. I went on the tour, and it brought tears to my eyes. All the aircraft types I few in the Marine Corps from 1981-1988 are now sitting in the boneyard to be converted to scrap; the T-34C, T-2, TA-4, and the A-6E. There are over 4,000 aircraft in the Boneyard. Most will be used for parts and then scrapped. A few aircraft will make it back in the air after rework or end up as a static display.

Daria and I also experienced some local culture. Tucson is a growing city with an abundance of young and talented people. There’s always something interesting going on. We attended a Road Runners Hockey game, enjoyed the production of Fiddler on the Roof by the Arizona Theater Company, and strolled through a huge art fair called the 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair.

Christmas was a first for the Ferri family. All the children, spouses, grandchildren, and future grandchildren were there. Words cannot describe how wonderful it was for us! Thomas and Jess hosted the memorable event.

The month was capped off attending a party with 330,000 other people who took to Las Vegas Boulevard to ring in the New Year. There were so many people we literally could not move for a few minutes. I’ve never been concerned in a crowd, but I was concerned in this one. I managed to shove our way through to an open spot in front of Caesars Palace just as the fireworks went off – and they were great! Been there, done that – checked off our bucket list.

We’ll be in Tucson for another month before heading east again. We will try to write more…but then, where does the time go? Happy New Year to all!