Living in a motorhome for a few months is much like daily life at home. The locations change but we still do the same activities, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, hiking and biking.
Birdwatching is different as we usually spot the birds on our hikes rather than have them come to our feeders as they do at home. There are many finches, sparrows, cardinals, doves and quails in the area and with the lack of trees, usually many birds pack into a single tree or cactus. There is a tree behind CC that birds “flock to” every evening. I have counted up to thirty birds sheltering among the dense leaves. One morning I saw the wily hawk sitting on the roof above the tree waiting to consume the first unsuspecting bird as it emerged for the day. Yes I know, hawks have to eat too but I scared him off nonetheless.
Songbirds perched in an Ocotillo cactus
We see a Roadrunner now and then, scooting across the road, of course, at high speed. Many Gamble's Quail near us hang out in groups as large as fourteen. They glide across the RV lot following one another in parade formation loudly calling “chit chit-chi-ca-goo”. One evening during our sunset watch, a hawk swooped out of nowhere and pounced on a quail for his evening meal. The other quails scattered like popcorn and sheltered under a car, watching the slaughter. The event took place only eighteen feet from our lawn chairs. On another occasion, a quail became trapped in a neighbour’s rat trap and ripped off it’s foot to escape, the poor thing.
As I have mentioned before, weight is always an issue in an RV so we cannot stock up on large amounts of items and must get rid of things when we buy new stuff. That is why we have minimal Christmas decorations and lights but with our SiriusXM radio blasting out grand old Christmas tunes, we are still able to make it feel Christmassy inside. Most folks in the park had Christmas lights up outside too.
christmas light under our poinsettia tree
Look waaaay up, mountain-top lights.
Cooking and baking can be frustrating as all bowls, implements and pots have to be scraped down and wiped out before washing. That will avoid food particles going into the grey tank but it can be frustrating at times. I baked gingerbread and shortbread and made some chocolate-clementine fudge to give to the neighbours. Chris baked up a tasty tray of sausage rolls for Christmas Eve. Preparing veggies, salads, meats, fish and soups are easier as they usually only involve a single bowl or pot. We have a convection microwave, gas stovetop and oven and the barbeque. We ordered some frozen food from Omaha Steaks before Christmas and had some bonus fun playing with the chunks of dry ice that the meaty package was shipped with.
Staying warm has been more of a challenge here in Benson this year. The cool nights begin with sunset around 5:30 and have been in the freezing range for a month, averaging 29-32 degrees Fahrenheit with a handful of nights in the lower 20’s. With no insulation under the floor, the motorhome can get chilly quite quickly. We have our propane furnace which we turn off at night as it is noisy. Our electric heater stays on to help keep things from freezing. We purchased a heated mattress pad which people often use in places without central heating like Australia. With dual controls, it has a preheat selection as well as various temperature choices to adjust during the night. I think many of my friends that suffer from cold feet or muscle aches and pains would benefit from one of these.
Temperatures warm up by 11:00 am and climb to the mid sixties by noon. The last couple of days have produced warmer day temperatures from 68-73. We actually had a day of overcast and rain and a rainbow to boot. The recorded amount was less than 1/8 inch and the last time it rained here was the beginning of August.
007, James Bond lives in our park?
Chris can still enjoy Ham Radio sessions but being outside makes it reliant on warmer temperatures. Setting everything up is time consuming but his portable antenna has been able to pull in quite a few countries.
I usually blog inside so temperature is not and issue. Messing about with my art materials is more challenging as I have to get everything out and put it all away again each time. I have been playing with collages using black and white photocopies of my own photos and mixed media. In the first one below, I took a rough pencil sketch, added coloured pencil, magazine images and song lyrics. The second one is still in progress, I cut up the photo of three pears as my starting point.
step 2…step 3…..we shall see where this leads
in progress…goose cut from a photo I took in England
photo from Galveston
bottles from photo, Corning Glass Museum
Dixie notices a big difference between home and Rving in Arizona. There is no Lake Huron to swim in, no grassy backyard to lounge in and no snow to roll in. Her arthritic paws are very painful and the RV lots and paths here are made with large gravel. I have been putting her booties on to encourage her to go for longer walks. She has made friends with Wilson, a male lab who drops by for visits and bones. Life is challenging for older dogs but twelve year old Dixie stays happy as long as she is close to Chris and I and her food bowl.
opening bones from Santa
cute-face on to assist her with mooching
Dixie and her buddy Wilson
There a many places within less than an hours drive from Benson to have a change of scenery or explore different shopping and restaurants. Having stayed here a few years ago, we have explored most of the area but we did make a trip to Bisbee and another to Tucson.
on route to Bisbee
Bisbee, a former booming copper mining town, is about thirty minutes south of Benson. We have visited it a few times in the past but its mountain sides hugging the town, funky houses, copper mine, retro street with vintage cars and the quaint residents always make for an interesting photo day. We began with a south-west inspired breakfast with tacos, eggs, avocado, black beans and fresh salsa at the Bisbee Breakfast Club Diner. Our favourite Lowell Street lined with old vehicles did not disappoint.
Bisbee copper mine
inspiration for my new year’s resolutions…. ya sure
beautiful old mining equipment in silhouette
We drove into downtown where we parked and wandered around. Some of the older brick buildings are beautiful and houses nestled in the hills are colourful in style and hue. Some homes are beautifully groomed whereas others are barley held together with their layers of paint. This free thinking, artistic community provides many unique sights for its visitors.
a bit of a fixer-upper
Chris was sorry he had not put a skirt like this on his Christmas list, not!
‘old-fashioned’ Mickey Mouse cactus
tiny town zoo; only one animal; friendly, I released and brought him home
Before we headed back to Benson, we drove up the narrow dirt road to check out the houses that straddle the mountain’s edge. Found a hidden old Renault hiding in a hillside garage. The view above Benson was quite rewarding.
eerie lights of tunnel construction work
I can’t stop taking pictures of these rustic windmills.
There are many trains that travel through Benson and their rumblings echo into the mountains day and night. They seem to have their horns turned down to the lowest bass notes. In the middle of the night, the engines seem to shout to each other in gruff tones like tough athletes throwing challenges back and forth. A long-winded, deep whistle usually follows and silence returns to the starry dark night.
We always see at least one train in Benson whenever we are there and just outside of town on a recent drive to Tucson, we saw a line of more than fifty engines stopped along the tracks.
miles of train engines along our route to Tucson
It’s a beautiful drive to Tucson passing many mountain ranges and coming in to Saguaro Cactus Country. Dixie went to daycare while we shopped at Whole Foods and a couple of hobby stores. We also picked up a mess of smoked ribs for the freezer from Brushfire BBQ. Delicious.
We have been wanting a change of scenery for a bike ride and Chris found us a trail along the river. Of course at this time of year most riverbeds are totally dry and that one was no exception. The ride was fun seeing the mountains all around and driving past the backside of Saguaro National Park. The temperature was up to eighty and not being acclimatized to the heat, we only rode for eight miles. The Rillito River Park Trail is a winner albeit a dried up river.
saw a number of parachutes dropping in to Tucson University Stadium