Arizona is a beautiful state. Last winter, we intentionally explored the Grand Canyon and the Verde Valley area. We also explored Prescott for about a month as we reassessed after our car accident, purchased a new tow vehicle and rig, and recommitted to traveling fulltime.
This time, however, we decided to go South and explore Tucson.
Indian Bread Rocks
After leaving Deming, New Mexico we spent one evening near Bowie, Arizona at Indian Bread Rocks BLM and loved it! We ventured a bit too far on the dirt road and struggled to turn around, but we managed. I really wish we’d had more time to spend here. We had quite the adventure in under 24 hours. We hiked around our general camping area, startled an owl, found owl pellets, had cows grazing outside our rig all night, and even heard some loud and close by coyotes.
The Thing — Off I-10
When I was 19, I moved from Texas to California and a friend of mine drove with me. As we drove I-10 somewhere in New Mexico I was immediately reminded of my first journey along this stretch of road. Why, you might ask? Well, There are billboards for literally over 100 miles advertising The Thing. When I was 19, I REALLY wanted to see it. The friend who travelled with me happened to be driving when we passed it and he would not stop.
Now as a more seasoned adult of 34, I saw those billboards and I remembered how sad I was for never finding out what The Thing was when I was 19. So I did the most logical thing any 34 year old, mother of two, wife of a roadside attraction hater would do. I absolutely stopped and we went on The Thing tour.
What is The Thing? Well, I am sad to say they ask we do not share that information. You will just have to stop on in and see it for yourself.
Gilbert Ray Campground
We parked our home right outside the national park at Gilbert Ray Campground and really loved the location. It was close enough to town that we could grab anything we wanted or needed, and so close to the west side of national park that it was easy to access all the good stuff. Plus, there were gorgeous sunsets!
While here we did a couple of neat roadschooling activities.
First, we did a math scavenger hunt. I used sticky notes and put numbers on them. For the 6-year-old, I did skip-counting by 5s numbers 0-60, and for the 3-year-old (who wanted to participate, but is in no way obligated to) I did numbers 1-10. I stuck them all around our campsite. Once they had collected them all, they had to stick them to the RV in order. It was actually a lot of fun and something we will absolutely be doing again.
Second, we made fry bread. We used the recipe I included in the Arizona Wanderland Travel Guide and really had a great time making this culturally and historically important Native food. We don’t really ever fry anything, so this was a really special treat. While the dough was resting, we read the book Fry Bread by Kevin Maillard. After they were all done we ate them with either honey or maple syrup as a topping, and talked about a personal accomplishment that each of us was excited about and something we recognized as an accomplishment in each other.
Valley View Overlook Trail – Saguaro National Park Hike 1
While searching for 1-2 mile trails that I would hike with my little humans, I found the Valley View Overlook trail. Most overlook trails are out of our range or difficulty level, but not this one. It is labeled as easy on All Trails and is only .8 miles. Plus, we were surrounded by saguaros and that alone made the hike delightful. There are even a couple benches at the top to stop and take in the view while having a snack break.
It was also on this hike that we did our nature journals. This is an important part of our homeschool, mostly because it forces us to sit and focus on one element in nature. In this case, a saguaro.
Petroglyphs at King Canyon – Saguaro National Park Hike 2
Our family adventure goal for February was to take a long hike. This was not as long as we had hoped to tackle (only 2.2 miles), but Petroglyphs at King Canyon was a really neat hike. There were little rock ledges the kids (and us adults too) had to climb up, petroglyphs, saguaros, and a beautiful overlook spot. We also happened to be there as the sun was setting, so we had a beautiful view of that as well.
Our family adventure goals stats: 2/12. This month (March), we are hiking a mountain. So stay tuned for that.
Feliz Paseos Park – Hike 3
I really wanted to explore a bit more outside of the National Park, so we ventured a tiny bit and found this gem of a park. Seriously, I loved Feliz Paseos Park. There are multiple trails, and we took several of them to form a 1.4 mile loop. The plants are marked well, so we learned a ton about the different desert plants that grow in the area, and they also provide informational signs on the desert animals as well.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
One afternoon Doug ventured out with the kids to this amazing zoo/museum. We did not realize how big it was, so when they headed over there at 3pm, they only had about an hour and a half to explore 98 acres of neat experiences. This is absolutely meant to be an all day adventure. While bummed they did not get to see all the things, the 6-year-old was over the moon that he was able to see a real life chuckwalla lizard and Gila monster, as well as their amazing rock display. The kid is a major rock hound.
Fulltime Family Fun
One more awesome thing we did, is we met another fulltime travelling family. Steve, Kaylee, and their two wonderful children! Another fun fact is that this family is part of my new Wanderland Travel Ambassador Program. I am so excited that I was able to meet another fulltime family, but also that they will be using the Wanderland Travel Guides as part of their roadschooling experience! But of course, as is the case with almost every human encounter we have, we did not take a photo. Just take our word for it. They were wonderful and a game of tag was involved.
And that is how we explored Tucson! Stay tuned for our adventures in Palm Desert California!
CURRENT ADVENTURE STATS:
On the road: 19 months
Miles towing our home: 17,128
Campgrounds visited: 96
Breweries visited: 39
National Parks visited: 22/62
National Monuments/Seashores/Historic Sites/etc.: 9
State Parks visited: 28