|Overflow parking at Rockhound. No room for awnings.|
Our winter trip to Tucson finally arrived. We left Amarillo a day after we had received about 6 inches of snow, so some warm temperatures and sunshine looked inviting. We stopped in Ruidoso and picked up my brother, Larry, and his wife Terry. Later that afternoon we arrived at Rockhound State Park in southwestern New Mexico. We hadn't been able to get a reservation for that night and the campground was full, but we got a spot in the overflow camping area (which is really the group camping area). We had water and electricity and about an hour later we had three more rigs there with us. A pretty tight squeeze. This is a remote, quiet, campground with great desert mountain views and stargazing opportunities. At $14 per night it is also a real bargain. The staff and camp host were all friendly and helpful. The regular campsites are large and spaced far apart and only a handful of them can be reserved in advance. All others are first come first served.
|At Catalina State Park. Betty is wearing the |
sugar cane emerald necklace bought from a
dealer from a Brazilian emerald mine.
|Labradorite Larry purchased from a mineral |
dealer from Madagascar.
The next day we arrived at Catalina State Park. This park is on the north side of Tucson with mountains on several sides, and a new shopping center with restaurants and a Wal Mart across the street. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show was the purpose of our trip. We spent a day at the convention center where the gems and a lot of bling were. We bought a sugar cane emerald necklace and an emerald in matrix pendant for Betty. Later we ventured out to where the minerals and fossils could be found. Larry bought araganite crystals and about 30 pounds of labradorite. There really was something for everyone.
|These girls agree. Size does matter.|
The following day we saw the Saguaro National Park. Unbelievably large and beautiful cacti in any shape or configuration you can imagine. Our GPS was taking us along several miles of rough roads to get to the headquarters, so after a couple miles we turned back before risking the need for chiropractic treatment. However, what we saw was amazing. Would I go back? You bet. But next time we'll take a different road.
In a huge campsite, the sunrise illuminates the
Florida Mountains in the background
We left Tucson and returned to Rockhound State Park. This time we had a reservation and it was an awesome site. The campground is terraced on the side of a mountain so practically every campsite has a great view. We hiked some then enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine by a campfire. The next morning we did a bit of rockhounding. It is possible to find opals, turquoise and a variety of other rocks and minerals. This is one of the few parks where visitors are encouraged to take some rocks with you when you leave! We did!
When we left Amarillo it had just snowed. Within hours of our return it began snowing again. Even more amazing, it snowed in Tucson shortly after we left! How lucky is that?
We hope to see you on the road soon!
|A campfire in the evening with friends or family. |
It doesn't get any better.
|Larry and I relax at sunset in Tucson.|