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Leaving the Southwest

From Tucson to Las Cruces... 300 miles down!

From Tucson to Las Cruces… 300 miles down!

We’ve been meandering around the desert southwest since November, enjoying a fabulous and temperate winter with lots of boondocking. Our very first season spent in the area.. aside from our ungodly hot summer in 2011 after we found our bus in Yuma.

The Escapade earlier this month served as our bookend event to mark our time to move on to other areas and adventures.

Which means.. our glorious season of exploring the area has come to an end.

This post is a quick summation of our final stops in the southwest.

Catalina State Park – Tucson, AZ

The Snowmads and their new Trek.

The Snowmads and their new Trek.

Our first stop after the Escapade, was heading up north of Tucson to join up with our dear friends Jason & Kristin (aka the Snowmads). They just picked up their new Trek motorhome in Florida, and are on their way to Alaska for the summer.

It’s particularly fitting that the last time we saw them was just before we parted ways when we made the decision to head to Goshen, IN last spring for the Escapade that started this whole Xscapers thing.. and now they were in town for the launch!

We were so super busy getting ready for Escapade, that when Kristin contacted me saying they had just booked two weeks at Catalina State Park (our review) in the Ringtail Loop – that I just jumped on booking a few days ourselves.

Catalina State Park Ringtail Loop (aka. The Overflow Lot). At least we pulled up to a little yard.

Catalina State Park Ringtail Loop (aka. The Overflow Lot). At least we pulled up to a little yard.

We really should have thought this through a bit more.

  • For one, we knew post Escapade we’d be whipped socially and really craving more space & privacy around us.  The Ringtail Loop of Catalina State Park is a glorified dirt parking lot and considered the overflow area for the main campgrounds. They really pack them in here. We actually had more space and privacy at the Escapade!
  • Next, it was Spring Break. You’d think after all these years on the road, we’d have learned our lessons to avoid state parks and other touristy places during major school holidays if we want peace and quiet. Most of the kids were excellent fine youngsters enjoying their time in the outdoors.  But we had some families around us that were not so considerate (including allowing their kids to bang on our RV and run over our ground deployed solar panels… it took bringing in the camp hosts to alleviate the situation.)
  • Plus, let’s add in that the park took nearly an hour to get to from the fairgrounds, and going in the wrong direction for us. It’s located north of Tucson, down a 10+ mile road full of every big box store imaginable. The stop and go traffic made for quite the annoying drive. The bonus of course being, the park is just mere minutes from major shopping – which we did take advantage of.

Suffice it to say, camping in the overflow area of Catalina State Park was definitely not a well though out choice for us. But it is quite lovely.

Our reason for being there.. getting some rare quality time with Kristin and Jason, was so worth it. We likely won’t see these guys again for a long time as we’re heading in opposite directions.

Brunch with Kristin & Jason and Taylor & Beth of TheLearningBanks.com

Brunch with Kristin & Jason and Taylor & Beth of TheLearningBanks.com

So while our house has wheels, and it was so tempting to just leave out early – we decided to grin and bear it, and focus on our time with them.

Sometimes, that’s just what you have to do.. not every situation is going to be perfect.

We also got to meet up with many other fellow travelers and blog readers while in the area – some planned, and many unplanned drop by visits.

Usually we love this stuff, but we really needed to hide and get caught up on many projects. For anyone who stopped by, sorry if we came off as aloof.. we were operating on fumes.

St. Clair Winery – Deming, NM

We had been scouting out many options for after Tucson in eastern Arizona – but by this time, we were ready to make some miles on our journey into Austin. So we decided on a Harvest Hosts Stay in Deming, NM.

Meeting Don & Kim Greene of HarvestHosts.com

Meeting Don & Kim Greene of HarvestHosts.com

We had the pleasure at Escapade of finally meeting up with Don & Kim, who run Harvest Hosts, and they had given us the recommendation of St. Clair Winery as a pleasant and easy stop.

We called ahead, and were invited to stop in. Upon arrival and presenting our membership card to check in – we were invited to stay two nights if we liked, and then presented with a free tasting flight.

They have over 50 wines they bottle at this facility, and we certainly weren’t able to sample them all.

But several we enjoyed quite a bit and bought some bottles of.

They had us at $2 wine re-fill!

They had us at $2 wine re-fill!

And then they told us about their bulk wine special. They keep four wines on tap (ON TAP?!?) – a dry red, a sweet red, a dry white and a sweet white.

For a $1.50 you can buy an empty screw top bottle from them and then they fill/re-fill it for just $3 with any combination of the four you like.

But this week, they were on special for just $2 per fill.

Holy guacamole batman..  $2 refills on a most excellent wine?? We may just have to take them up on this 2 night invitation!

I posted about sleeping at a winery with wine on tap to my personal Facebook page, and discovered that our friends Jeanette and Eric were aiming for the state park in Deming the next evening.

Wine Tasting with Jeanette & Eric. There was much laughter over a game of Cards Against Humanity that evening!

Wine Tasting with Jeanette & Eric. There was much laughter over a game of Cards Against Humanity that evening!

When they decided to switch course, join Harvest Hosts and join us at St. Clair instead – that sealed the deal.

We were staying put.

Excellent $2 wine. A whole winery to ourselves with wide open views. An extremely friendly staff. Nearby excellent food.

Yeah, now this is just what we needed to re-charge!

We had a very enjoyable evening getting to know Jeanette & Eric better – we had first met them in Cedar Key last winter when they were still prepping to hit the road.

Now they are 3 months into their full time adventures!

By the way, if they ever invite you to play cards – their cat is a shark. (grin)

Las Cruces, NM

A few weeks ago, we got an e-mail invitation from a fellow bus owner to park at their place if we were passing through Las Cruces. They sent pictures of their beautiful MCI-9, and promised us lots of privacy. Sure, sounds good to us!

So our next stop was an hour up the road.

We pulled into a huge driveway to a smiling host pleased to greet us and welcome us in. Turns out, he found our YouTube engine rebuild video recently when searching for information on Detroit Diesel Engines, and then saw we were coming their way and decided to invite us over. (We just love how this social media thing works!)

A lovely stay in Las Cruces with charming and lovely hosts!

A lovely stay in Las Cruces with charming and lovely hosts!

He also told us that about 20 years ago, he owned a GM 4106 like ours.. and brought out photos of it. A gorgeous nearly stock bus, in the same paint scheme as ours. He then mentioned that he sold it to a guy who took it to Alaska.

Something in the recesses of my mind triggered.. ‘I KNOW THIS BUS!’.  I had actually been in contact with the current owner, the grandson of the gentleman our host sold it to – so I confirmed the details.  What a small small bus world it is!

True to their words, our hosts had a gorgeous property with a clear view of the Organ Mountains – and we had a lot of time in solitude to get caught up and re-charged. And we also had the opportunity to hang out one evening (sharing some of that $2 wine, of course!) getting to know them better.

Good bye Southwest!

We’ve had an absolutely tremendous time exploring the desert southwest this past winter. So many amazing places visited, people we’ve met and awesome adventures.

While we didn’t get to explore as many locations as we thought we might (3 months is a lot shorter in retrospect!), we’re thrilled with our decision to stick around this part of the country.

The general route we're taking into Austin. Only adds about 40 miles to following I-10, but all new to us stops!

The general route we’re taking into Austin. Only adds about 40 miles to following I-10, but all new to us stops!

Later this week, I’m planning a wrap up post of all of the boondocking locations we stayed at this winter.. so stay tuned for that. We’ve had a lot of folks asking us for more details and information.

But spring has sprung, and we’re now enroute to Austin and crossed into Texas yesterday.

Having already followed I-10 once before, we’ve decided to try a slightly different route. We’re staying a bit north and exploring some new to us stops as we pass through Odessa and Llano on our approach in.

We have about 10 days on our hands to split up between various parks and Harvest Hosts location. We hope to find some balance between time on our own, new adventures and getting caught up on a bunch of stuff.

Live Video Chat Announcement

Join us for our next Live Video Chat this Thursday evening…

When: Thursday, March 26 at 7:30pm Central / 5:30pm Pacific

Topic: RV Clubs – Which to Join?

Where: Our Livestream Channel (you’ll need to setup a free account to join in)


IMG_9813Passport America, Escapees, Xscapers, Good Sam, FMCA, Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, Thousand Trails, Coach Net… which are worth joining now or later? What are their benefits? Which are right for you?

We’ll overview the major clubs, describe their features and give you some information to make your own decisions.

As always, Q&A to follow – so bring your questions! If you can’t make it, the video will be archived in our Video Chat Center.


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13 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Sorry you had so much trouble at Catalina. We love the place (B loop) but were there before spring break. It was full and hard to get into but there were no kids running around. Watching the sunset on the Catalina Mountains was very special. Don’t miss Marfa, TX if you have not passed it. Try to see the lights.

  2. Sounds like we are or will be passing each other on US180. We just arrived in Carlsbad, NM after coming out of Big Spring, TX. Next stop will be Deming, but first we are going to explore Carlsbad Caverns.
    Your timing in good for Texas, the rains are finally stopping or happening less often.

  3. Welcome back to Texas. Always enjoy your posts and travels. We will be at Cedar Hill State Park Thursday and will stop in for your live video chat if we can get the bandwidth. Don’t miss Cooper’s BBQ in LLano. Always rated in top ten in Texas.

    • We drove past Cooper’s on our way passing through Llano, hoping to stop. But… There were easily hundreds of people in line – egads!

      We’ll have to try again sometime other than just after noon on a beautiful Sunday. If that many people are willing to stand in line for hours waiting, it must clearly be something special.

      – Chris

  4. What a fun article. I really enjoy reading about your travels so thanks for sharing your great experiences.

  5. Thanks for letting us crash your recharge time! It was nice spending time with you again, especially since your blog helped us make the decision to hit the road. Keep up the great flow of info and ideas, but don’t forget to schedule the down time. Safe travels!

  6. We had a similar experience in the Ringtail Loop at Catalina. It wasn’t spring break, but during the Gem Show, and the RVs were packed in there so tight that we couldn’t have extended our awning if we wanted to. Our major issue was that the generator hours were not enforced, and since it was dry camping people were running those things late into the night. Not sure why the camp hosts let this happen. We loved the rest of the park and all the hiking trails, but even if it was free I would NEVER stay in that loop again.

    • We were all prepared for lots of generator noise from reading reviews and such… thankfully, they were minimal during our stay.

      The park itself is pretty indeed… but a drive through the other loops didn’t leave us overly impressed. But if meeting up with friends in the area again, we’d probably go back if we could snag a regular site.

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