Hot Fun in the Sun

It has been a week long on fun, and short on quality photos. There’s a lot to be said about having such a great time that you forget to record anything for future reference. What was all the fun about?

20180126_11331482552024.jpgT@bazona! An annual gathering in the Arizona desert of fun-minded folks who share a passion for camping in their T@Bs, T@Gs, and T@DAs, T@B and T@DA share a common heritage, as they were both manufactured by Dutchman – T@B from 2004-09, and T@DA from 2008-10. Dutchman then got out of the small trailer business, and the T@B line was picked up by Nucamp. It’s more of a traditional teardrop shape than ours is, but loaded with charm and features. A T@G is an even smaller version – about the size of a queen-sized bed, most (?) with a clamshell kitchen.

We registered to join T@bazona last summer, and were fortunate to snag a site in the Usery Park group campground (no electric/water), where we camped with 25 other campers adjacent to the main campground, home to another 30 or so nestled in gorgeous sites with electric/water, firepits, and picnic tables.20180124_1428551804002955.jpg There were probably 80 people in all. This gorgeous county park in Maricopa County (Phoenix) is a a treasure – a maze of hiking/biking/bridal trails encircle the campground.

It’s beautifully maintained – kudos to the folks here who support this wonderful park system with their tax dollars. We’ve stayed at other Parks in the County, and they are all places to which we would return.

T@bazona is socializing with like-minded campers, sharing food, campfires, and the occasional adult beverage, and (of course) camping stories, tips, and tricks.20180127_1816321517153322.jpgThat’s the #1 reason we enjoy these rallies so much – avid campers trick out their rigs, and are proud and happy to show off the results. It’s all about solar, storage, decorative tips, towing, WiFi, and awnings/shelters. We had campers from as far away as Maryland, two rigs from Michigan, and from all points inbetween – everyone has their own style.

We have an organized sort of Parade of Homes, where  we traipse from camper to camper looking at all the cool stuff everyone has done. Most of the attendees were in T@Bs, along with a handful of T@Gs. We were the sole T@DA this year. Here are a few things that I’d never seen before (remember, I warned you that I took very few photos)…

Solar oven. There were cookies baking inside. Not sure how great this would be in Michigan, but it seems tailor-made for Arizona.20180127_144242408289790.jpgHow about this nifty propane radiant heater? Never seen one of these before. This could heat up our little awning on a chilly night.20180131_1713591686625743.jpgWe’re not big on game playing, but who wouldn’t love T@B checkers?20180127_135748656221599.jpgOur next project may be to develop some kind of aerial pole thingy to boost our wifi cell service. In areas where we have a weak signal, we usually wind up putting one of our phones on the roof of the Campsh@ck to boost the signal for our hotspot. I’ve been campaigning for John to mount a flagpole holder on the camper, and put a fishing pole in the holder. We could put the cell phone in a baggie on a hook and raise it up above the roofline to boost signal. Not pretty or elegant, but hopefully effective. John took a bunch of photos of possible projects, but he’s being pretty secretive about sharing them (for now, anyway).

We did get in a hike to the wind cave at Usery, with camping pals Mickie and Kim. 20180126_1020002127100023.jpg20180126_095349926059056.jpgIt was a gorgeous morning for a hike, and we wound up and up along the trail to the cave, about 1000′ elevation over a two-mile hike. Perfect morning to hit the trail, and I’m happy we got our hike done by the time the afternoon furnace-like heat kicked in.

After four days, it was time to leave. We were excited to head to Catalina State Park for a rendezvous with our Vermont friends (and former T@DA owners) Cathie and Jay. They’ve since moved on to an Airstream, but retain a small-camper enthusiasm for the outdoor life. We hoped for a more sedate experience in Catalina than the last time we visited. 

Go for a hike? Sure? We wandered up the trail with Jay to Romero Pools, which we have visited a few times in the past. It was shocking to see how little water there was.20180129_110405959072727.jpg20180129_110647-11827750297.jpg Where’s the pool? Other times we have visited, we’ve been treated to the delightful sound of running water down the mountainside into the pools, and dozens of hikers cooling off hot feet in the cool flowing water. This was a very different experience. Nearly barren. It was hot on the trail – we suffered.20180129_115821-11850123116.jpgEverything here is so dry – we are one matchstick away from a catastrophe, it seems. In the seven or eight years I’ve been coming to this area, this is the first time where there has been ZERO snow in the upper elevations. Mount Lemmon has an elevation of about 9200′ – there should be some snow up there in January. Seems like this is a bad sign for the area in the coming months.

Ahhhh….we’re now in the comfort of our Madera Canyon cabin. If you are a reader of this blog from a year ago, you’ll recognize this view.20180131_170553-11329694649.jpg Yep. For the next month, we are stretching out. Hike. Bird-watching. Coatimundi. Time with my sisters (who are both in the area for this month). SuperBowl. Cycling. If you want to find me in the next month, I’d suggest you look on the porch swing on the right.

We began our first day here with the most incredible views from of the supermoon eclipse. Set our alarm for 4:30 am, and sat outside with coffee, watching the eclipse develop over the mountainside. For the second time in a year, I was very sad not to have photography equipment up to the challenge of a celestial event. It was magnificent.

Feeling very peaceful….wishing the same for you.



26 Miles Across the Road

Well, it’s been interesting, to say the least, since we left Lost Dutchman State Park on Thursday.

We were delighted to find that the best route to Catalina State Park in Tucson would keep us off the Interstate.  That always makes for a good day.  After a decent breakfast at the Hoosier Cafe, we hit the road.  Our route took us through Florence, AZ, which must be the Prison Capitol of the state!  Razor wire everywhere.  Interestingly enough, this was where John’s dad spent a good portion of his WWII military service.  German POWs were held at the base in Florence, where Frank was a truck driver.

Just a ways down the road, we saw a sign for the Tom Mix memorial.  Check it out?  Of course!  Turns out that this famous film cowboy was killed in a car accident here in October, 1940.20150128_122828 His horse, Tony the Wonder Horse, died exactly two years later.  What I liked most about this whole tale was the fact that Mix had been playing poker with Scotty (of Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley fame) earlier on the day of the crash.  Some reports said his car was filled with cash and jewelry, other reports said that was untrue.  Interesting spot for a ten-minute break.20150128_123227We’ve got a pretty good spot at Catalina, although we’re dismayed by the unkempt appearance of the Park.  Perhaps we’ve just been spoiled by the immaculate conditions at Dutchman, but all we see are weeds grown too high, dirt and sand. 20150128_142444 Disappointed to see no fire pits here at all.  Hard to sit outside in the cold, dark without fire.  Storms are predicted for the next couple of days, so we deploy our big awning.  It’s nice to be able to sit outside in the rain.

Thursday looks to be the only dry day, so we decide to hike to Romero Pools, roughly a six mile round trip.  Of course, it starts off uphill, which tests our still-tender Flatiron muscles.20150129_11265320150129_131801This is a gorgeous trail, with many beautiful views.20150129_13445420150129_134941  A steady stream of downhill hikers gives us a bit of encouragement that we may have the Pools area to ourselves.  Turns out to be nearly so.20150129_123150Our friend Vern invited us to dinner at his Tucson home.  Such a treat not to cook our own food after a tiring hike.  We feasted on carne asada, with some terrific tortillas, chips and guacamole.  It was wonderful to be in a home, with all that comfort and warmth.  The patio fire pit was perfect.

Weather trouble began brewing later that night.  Rain, sometimes really pounding, battered us.  Knowing that we’d be spending lots of time inside the Fireball, we decided to do some much needed grocery shopping.20150130_143938Once we got back to camp, the pounding began.  Yikes!  By 6pm, we had received nearly an inch of rain.  Doesn’t sound like much, but this hard desert surface in a mountain valley has nowhere to put all that water.  Late Friday night, we could hear it pouring downdown the mountains into the wash.

Saturday, we awoke to find ourselves marooned in Catalina SP.  The only road out was covered with about a foot of water, over the top of a couple feet of sand, which totally obliterated the road.20150131_085731The water was really rushing past.  It was fascinating.  We hiked to the Trailhead, to find it nearly unrecognizable.20150131_09272520150131_091612Anyway……long story short….heavy equipment was brought in, and tons of sand were scraped off the path.  A few vehicles escaped, mostly 4wd.  One incoming vehicle got stuck (much to the delight of the many spectators), but eventually got himself and his rig across.  We stood in the rain for three hours, watching the spectacle of the earth movers and trucks trying to unbury our road.20150131_123954High drama + high comedy with the impatient drivers thrown in.

In any case, we believe well be able to leave Sunday, as planned.  lt finally stopped raining around 6pm, so the water should recede.  The road crew will start work early to scrape all the new sand off to open one lane.

If you never see this blog again, we didn’t make it.  Otherwise, I’ll check in sometime next week.

Oh, one more thing.  As we pulled into the campground here, we see a campsite with two tents, and an EZ Up, with numerous flags aflutter – an American flag, an Ohio Stare Flag,  Harley Davidson flag of some kind, and a custom-made one that says “One Year In a Tent”.  2014 – 2015.  Interesting, I think.20150130_142446While walking Jezzy, I encounter OYIAT guy.  We have a conversation like this…

Me:  Are you the  One Year in a Tent guy?

OYIAT Guy:  Yep, that’s me!

Me:  So, what’s that all about?

OYIAT Guy:  Well, I started on a very appropriate day last year.  Want to guess when that was?

Me:  Independence Day?

OYIAT Guy:  Nope, April Fool’s Day!

Me:  Wow. Then you’re almost done.

OYIAT Guy:  Last night was Day 227.  I only count the days we actually sleep in the tent.

Me:  Open mouth, stupid look.

OYIAT Guy:  Yeah, we’ve traveled thru 28 states, blahblahblah……

Am I out of line here? Doesn’t One Year In A Tent mean 365 consecutive days?  PLUS, he’s running a generator in his tent!!!!  Get out, OYIAT Guy.  You are a fraud.  I am so done with you.

End of rant.

It’s 10:30pm, and is has started to rain again!  Damn!  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  Hope it’s just a gentle shower.  We’ll see…..