Like a big sodden blanket, inertia has settled in at Camp Fireball. Seems like we barely move some days – gotta shake this off!
Leaving Joshua Tree NP, we headed to Lake Pleasant Regional Park near Phoenix for a rally with a bunch of T@Bs and T@DAs. It’s always great to meet folks with like-style campers. We never fail to pick up tips for storage, cool spots to camp, and new gadgets to jazz up our camp. A cool little swivel table we saw here will be our next Fireball addition. But, we’re still not ready for exterior customization like the T@DA Goldie. Outrageous graphics +glued-on jewels set Goldie out in any crowd.
Jezzy HATED Lake Pleasant. Our campsite was perched on a ridge at the far edge of the campground. Sounds from a shooting range five miles away had her quivering and scared 18 hours a day. We probably wouldn’t go back here – the lake is the big attraction, and we’re not watersport people. There really wasn’t much else in the area that appealed to us.
We did venture into Phoenix one day to visit the Capitol. The original Capitol building is now a museum, flanked on both sides by more modern buildings where government building is conducted. “East Germanesque” is how one website described these facilities. Here’s the photo – you decide. The inside of the Capitol/museum is very plain. There’s a dome, but it’s painted pure white inside – no Greek goddesses holding scrolls of wisdom here! My favorite exhibit was the Arizona Lego Flag. It’s constructed of 114,000 Lego blocks, one for each of Arizona’s square miles.One whole room of the museum was dedicated to the USS Arizona, which was sunk at Pearl Harbor. I was astounded to learn that the Arizona had a custom-designed Reed & Barton silver service, which had not been onboard at the time of its sinking (it had been removed for refurbishment). These ornate pieces are displayed here, and they are gorgeous.A huge memorial plaza surrounds the government buildings. Here are memorials to soldiers fallen in each of the conflicts since Arizona became a state in 1912. In addition, there are memorials dedicated to the WWII Navaho Code-Talkers, fallen firefighters and police officers, police service dogs, and 9-11. Remember the 19 Prescott firefighters killed in 2014? It was startling to see such a large group of names engraved on the memorial. The mast of the Arizona, as well as a 16″ gun are also installed in the Park. The entire area is beautifully executed with life-sized bronze figures, sculptures, and signage. The sheer size of the monuments and the bright sunshine made photos difficult.
We were happy to move on to Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson. Set in the Tucson Mountains near the Desert Museum, this huge county park offers a great selection of trails for hiking and biking. We’ve got a great site, although once again a nearby shooting range has Jezzy cowering. What is it with Arizonians and their guns, anyway? (OK, let’s NOT get into that!)
We hiked up Brown Mountain and enjoyed views of the Tucson Valley, even though it’s shrouded in smog-like dust. We cycled around Saguaro National Park West. At Signal Hill, ancient petroglyphs still adorn the rocks here, created by the Hohokam hundreds of years ago.One bad thing? It seems as though the Saga of the Fireball Axle has at least one more chapter to be written. John has been watching our tire wear – we replaced one tire on our trip last fall. That tire is already showing signs of wear, and the tire on the opposite side with about 12,000 miles is nearly shot. He called the shop in Grand Rapids where we had the axle installed. Whoops – they no longer have a service department. So, we got a recommendation for a frame/axle shop in Tucson, and rolled in for a consultation. The guy took one look at things and said “I can see right away that this isn’t right”. He’s going to contact Alko, the axle manufacturer, and attempt to get a replacement under warranty. (We just had it installed in May 2014). If not, we’re going to have to get another new axle. Apparently, there’s a camber problem that cannot be repaired. Incredible.
Monday, we move on to Green Valley for a month. This will be a different kind of camping for us, as we’ll be installed in an RV park with nearby neighbors. A social experiment?