Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring Arizona, YouTube Video Link

Lazydays KOA (Tucson, Arizona): Campground Review

For our stay in Tucson, Arizona, we stayed at the Lazydays/Tucson KOA.

There were so many different kinds of sites to pick from: full hook ups, covered sites, sites with an outdoor fireplace, grass sites with a fence for dogs, tent sites, pull-through and back-in sites, and cabin rentals. The lots were gravel with a small paved parking pad for cars/trucks. It seemed to have plenty of room at each site. The sites also had some type of outdoor seating, but that also varied per site. There were fruit trees scattered around the campground. We saw limes, lemons, grapefruit, and the boys think they found an orange tree.

This campground had lots of amenities: 2 pools (heated) and a hot tub, laundry room, office store (mostly souvenir type stuff), office had pool table/bookshelves/shuffleboard, 2 bathroom/shower buildings, a gym, restaurant (sit down or would deliver to the pool or your RV), pond with bench seats, a bike course, putting greens (I would not call it putt putt, but the boys had fun with it), pickleball courts, WiFi (no streaming), cable (bring own coaxial cable), playground. There was also a tortoise, although we never saw him. The office also had the clubs, paddles/balls for the outdoor games. By the office was a large patio with outdoor seating and fire pits. If you wanted a fire at your site, you could rent a fire pit from the office as well. The gates closed at 7:00 pm, however you could still get in through the main entrance. You had to buzz or call in and have them open the gates.

Garbage was placed at the end of your site. You could also get a recycling bin from the office.

Laundry was the most expensive of the campgrounds so far, $2.50/load in the washer or dryer. There were plenty of machines and we didn’t have to wait. We had two loads, so it cost us $10. There was a change machine in the laundry room.

The campground did a nice job with having a variety of planned activities. While we were there it ranged from breakfast (coffee/juice, danish/muffins) to friendship bracelets to yoga. The activity list was posted in the office and laundry room.

There was some train and plane noise. Most of the plane noise seemed to come from military jets.

Arizona does require masks, so in the campground staff and guests must wear masks indoors.

The campground was well maintained. I would stay here again if we were in the area.

VIDEO: Tucson Lazydays KOA Campground Tour

 

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes

RV Sites: Pull through, Back-In

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site:

Amenities: picnic table, cable, playground, dog park, pickleball, putting green, gym

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook Ups: Yes. 20/30/50 Amps

Pool: Yes, heated

Food On-Site: Yes

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Fishing: No

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, Food, Sightseeing

Sonoran Hot Dogs In Tucson, Arizona

Have you ever heard of, or had, a Sonoran Hot Dog? We hadn’t either. Nathan sent Ben a link and recommended we try one while in Arizona.

These hot dogs are insane. They are wrapped in bacon, had pinto beans, tomatoes (or a mild pico de gallo), sauted onions, sour cream, and a chile sauce. There was a roasted jalapeno on the side. They were so good!

If you want to make your own at home, I found a recipe for Sonoran Hot Dogs online. Kroger has these bolillo rolls for sale near the bakery department (they are stupid cheap too, normally $1), that look identical to the buns used on the ones we ate.

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Arizona, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Saguaro National Park (It’s Two Parks!)

There were a few reasons we stayed in Arizona. One: To help break up the long, long, long, drive across the bottom of the country. (Seriously, you see it on a map, but until we were driving and there was literally nothing for a hundred+ miles, it doesn’t quite sink in just how much land this country has.) Two: To see the cacti. We went to Saguaro National Park, which was about a half hour drive from our campsite. Saguaro actually has two sections to the park: East and West. They are not connected! (See map below.) Although each side had the saguaro cactus that the park was named for, they did offer different things to see. We went to see Saguaro West, because I wanted to see the petroglyphs.

The Visitor Center looked like a nice building (but had closed by the time we got there). It had some nice informational signs with desert life information. There was not a ranger booth/ticket booth like in many of the other National Parks we had been to. Instead, you paid at the Visitor Center. There was also an outside payment box if the Visitor Center was closed. ($25/car for 7 days or $45 for a Saguaro annual pass. It is $80 for the America The Beautiful pass that lets you into all National Parks, Monuments, etc.)

We drove the Bajada Loop (aka Hohokam Rd.) It was really neat to see, but I would recommend going in a truck, SUV, or a car that sits up higher. The highway and road to the Visitor Center was paved. However, the scenic loop road was not! While, the end of the road was nice and flat, there were sections along the rest of the road that were definitely bumpy and had some ruts. (See Video: Drive Through Saguaro National Park West) We only saw a few people in the whole park, maybe 10 people besides us.

There were a few spots to pull off and hike. It was a warm day, 90 degrees F, so we just stuck with easy short trails. We ended up doing 3 trails: Valley View, Signal Hill (petroglyphs), and Desert Discovery Nature Trail (paved). In total, about 2 miles of hiking, so it was a light day.

Valley View offered a great view at the end of the trail over the valley below. There were just cacti as far as the eye could see. It also offered a few interesting plant information plaques along the way. It must be amazing when the cacti are in bloom.

We only saw 1 lizard (looked like a small whiptail like we have been seeing out West) and a few birds. We did see a web on the ground that covered a good amount of space, but no spider to go with it.

Catci look really weird when they die. Especially the Saguaro cactus.

Signal Hill was a short trail at the Signal Hill Picnic Area. There were several great grill areas and benches around for picnics. At the top of the trail was what looked like a pile of rocks. There were a bunch of petroglyphs on these rocks, some you can see from the bottom of the trail looking up, some you can see right next to the trail. If you enjoy petroglyphs, I would definitely take this trail (it’s only a .3 mile trail according to the park).

We ended the day with the Desert Discovery Nature Trail. It was an easy paved path. There were several informational signs around the trail. The sun was beginning to set, which gave the cacti a really neat backdrop. We saw a roadrunner running through the bushes near the parking lot. (Contrary to what TV taught me, there was no coyote chasing it. We didn’t see any ACME products either. They were fast, but didn’t say “Beep Beep”.)

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, Sightseeing

Buying a Cowboy Hat

We were going to get Nick a cowboy hat when we got to Texas for his birthday. However, we saw a really neat hat store (Russell’s) in Tombstone, so he ended up getting it early.

You know how in the Harry Potter books they help you pick out your perfect wand? Hat shopping was a little like that. We went over uses, wear, and the best hat for a kid. We were guided to the water resistant and packable hats (more crush resistant for a kid). He tried on different sizes, styles and crowns, and colors. (He ended up getting a Bailey Lite Felt hat. We got one a little loose so he had room to grow. The saleslady put in foam adjustment pieces to help it fit his head.)

Nick’s hat. Apparently there are also names for all the pieces of the hat.

Nick even wrote his own post about his experience! See below. 🙂

MY HAT ADVENTURE!!!!!!!!!

Hi my peeps, it’s Nick and this is about my adventure in Tombstone. As you probably know we went to Tombstone. But, you might not know is that I got an amazing hat. It is a cowboy hat that is brown, rain resistant, awesome, and it can be scrunched up and put in places. I went to a hat store there in Tombstone (yes, they have one). It was really cool. They had a lot of hats. Scrunchable hats are I guess rare, because there were not a lot of them at the shop. They had a lot of hats that were really tall. Not like huge hats, but really big though. They had a lot of black hats. I got a brown one because I knew that it would be hot. They had really light colors like grey but she said it might have a sweat line because I sweat a lot. The hat has a lot of great uses. The day I got it I used it as a hat but I also used it to cover my eyes so I could take a nap. It also has some disadvantages like it does not have a strap so it can fly off my head. (They only had one that had the strap but it was one of the tall ones). She also had to add some foam pieces so it fit my head. She also said that the hats there last a really long time. It was nice to have a hat that had a nice amount of shade. And if you are ever are in Tombstone be sure to check out the hat shop. And do not forget to look at the walking down Tombstone video. It should be on the good old YouTube. Yee haw!

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Stagecoach Tour in Tombstone, Arizona

While Ben and Will were exploring the Bird Cage, Nick and I took the Stagecoach tour. It cost $15 for the two of us (plus a tip).

The tour began at a single person booth next to the sidewalk. It was very easy to miss! There was a step ladder to get up into the coach. Inside, there were two seats on either end and one in the middle. Nick and I had the whole coach to ourselves! It was a little bumpy, but not bad. I imagine the original seats must have been a very bumpy ride.

It was really neat to see the town and hear some interesting history about Tombstone and its buildings. We even went on a couple of side streets and saw the courthouse (which is not on the main street, and we would have missed seeing otherwise). The driver had a headset on and there were speakers inside the coach, which made it was easy to hear him.

VIDEO: Stagecoach Ride/Tour Tombstone AZ

For the price, I think it is definitely worth the trip!

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

The Bird Cage Theater (Tombstone, Arizona)

There were many things to do in Tombstone, besides walking around and shopping. There were a few different kinds of tours. We wanted to take in all of them, but honestly didn’t want to spend that much money.

To see the two tours that we were interested in, we split up. Ben and Will did the Bird Cage Theater self-guided walking tour. It was $28 for the two of them.

The Bird Cage was built in 1881 and is the only original building in Tombstone. It wasn’t destroyed in either of the town’s fires.

The Bird Cage theater was an entertainment venue that provided all of the entertainment that you could want in the Old West. Part bar, part brothel, part theater (variety shows, singers and dancers) and part gambling hall (faro and poker) it must have been quite the site in it’s heyday. Even 139ish years later, it is remarkable.

The front room had a large painting of a belly dancer, complete with bullet holes and a knife slash from drunken rowdy patrons. The theater lays claim to some 154 bullet holes throughout. Will couldn’t find them all, but had fun trying. To the left in the front room is is the original wooden bar (it’s gorgeous).

They have converted the main area of the theater and backstage into a museum of relevant time based artifacts. You can see historic rifles, dentistry equipment, gambling devices, chamber pots, mining equipment, and so much more. The museum even contains the last known model of the hearse pictured below, The Black Moriah, currently valued at over $2,000,000 due to its rarity.

One of the craziest parts of this tour was Ben learned what a “crib” is. They had 14 box seating type areas overlooking the theater where soiled doves would entertain their gentlemen callers. Each crib had curtains that could be drawn as needed for some privacy. Everyone in Tombstone seemed to understand these terms. But we had no idea. Ben doesn’t like being embarrassed or ignorant and thus came back from the tour with a new history book from there bookstore (Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West by Michael Rutter*). It was certainly an interesting read. Although it will likely not make the bookcase when we get home.

The Bird Cage served the longest running poker game in history (8+ years!). The buy-in was $1,000 (approximately $25,000 in current value). They continuously had at least 4 players at the table for that whole time. The current museum claims to have the room laid out with the mirrors and poker tables in the same locations as they originally were. Not sure how that would work as the player to the dealers right would have had quite the advantage seeing a sloppy player’s hole cards in the mirror.

Ben and Will had a great time learning about the old west, since it was a self guided tour and they both like to read. Nick and my tour was over and Nick fell asleep waiting for them in the courtyard outside the Theater museum. They certainly got their money’s worth.

VIDEO: Walking Through The Bird Cage Theater. I would have had a better video, but when I was working on fixing Ben’s phone I accidentally deleted the longer video from the main front room. *Verbal permission given to use video and photographs by the shop on 11/2/2020.

*Affiliate link

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Gun Fight At The OK Corral (Tombstone, Arizona)

Old Tucson used to have a gunfight show. Ben was really looking forward to that, and was very disappointed to learn that Old Tucson was closed. However, we learned that Tombstone still had a daily gunfight show! The OK Corral Gunfight show happens three times daily. Tickets cost $10/person and includes the gun show, the Historama show (a mostly audio show), and a free paper at the Tombstone Epitaph (the newspaper).

You entered the OK Corral building from Allen Street (the main street). To the right was the Historama show, straight ahead was a shop and the place to buy your tickets. Continue straight back and you enter the outdoor space behind the building. There is a lot to see in this space. There were different historical information signs, buggies, historical photos. You could even try roping a steer! There was also a reenactment of the gunfight with statues and a voice recording.

Entering the live show area, there is a town scene to the left and bleachers/risers with a nice awning to the right.

The show is about the famous gunfight at the OK Corral between the Earps and the Clantons/McLaurys. The gunfight does include shooting blanks, so certain parts got a little loud. It also encouraged audience participation with cheers when the good guys came on and boos for the bad guys. We all really enjoyed the show!

VIDEO: Gun Fight At The OK Corral*.

We stopped by the Epitaph for our free newspaper. I really enjoyed walking through and seeing all the printing equipment and type sets.

The Historama show (about Tombstone’s history) runs on the hour, so we wandered back to the OK Corral for that show. We were the only ones in the room! There was a stage at the front of the room. A curtain drew back and we saw a diorama. It was cone shaped to look like a mountain. It had three different scenes on it, complete with figures and lights. It rotated to show different scenes and highlighted in lights what the audio was portraying. There was a screen that came down and showed images as well when the diorama was turning.

*I asked for and received permission to use the pictures/video I took of the show from the shop on 11/2/2020.

Posted in: Exploring Arizona, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Walking Through Tombstone (Tombstone Part 1)

Our first big adventure in Tucson was going to see Tombstone. We drove out to the town, which was about an about an hour drive from the RV park. There was a lot of on-street parking and a few public parking lots scattered around the edges of the town. From what I saw, it looked like mostly free parking, which is always nice.

We all loved Tombstone. I enjoyed it a lot more than Deadwood. There were more historical buildings, historical markers and signs. It seemed a lot more family friendly, as there was so much to do and see (and not a casino in sight!). The Chamber of Commerce and Tombstone Visitor Center had free maps of the town.

There were a few shows and tours around town. We crammed a lot into one day, so we’re going to do a short series of Tombstone posts!

The main street of Tombstone is Allen Street. The historical main street was closed off at either end so cars could not drive down the street (although in a few spots they could cross over the main street).

There were a lot of neat shops in the area and we picked up a few things for Christmas, as well as some postcards.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. The bar and restaurant are on the main floor. In the middle of the floor, there was a really cool spiral staircase going to the basement. There was a small shop down there with souvenir type things. The food prices were a little high on some things, but not too bad considering it is a tourist stop. A lemonade (came in a Solo cup, but had a refill) was $2.50, a large beer was $8 (offered a large or the “sippy cup” size), sampler appetizer platter was $15.99.

There was so much history to learn about, it was fun for all of us. I loved that the kids were having so much fun, that they were actually reading signs and learning. (To be fair, Will always wants to read the signs.) I would definitely recommend checking out Tombstone if you are in the area. (I will say that when we were there, most things closed at 5:00pm. We could have spent a lot more time there.)

YouTube VIDEO: Walking Down The Streets Of Tombstone

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Arizona, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

We made it to Arizona today! We drove to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from our campground.

We hiked the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails and the Bright Angel Point trail. These trails were pretty well paved. There were some nice overlooks along the way. We could even see the Colorado River on the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails. The views were amazing, although the trails were a little crowded.

It was pretty and had more trees than I was expecting. We saw some lizards, a couple of hawks, maybe a turkey vulture, some wild turkeys, and even a snake in the parking lot.

We have definitely seen more snakes on our trip than we usually do at home. We did our research before we left and learned identifying marks of poisonous snakes (at least for the US/North America). Poisonous snakes will have cat eyes (elongated pupil). They will have thicker bodies and broader triangular heads. Rattlesnakes will have the rattle sound, but some other snakes apparently will also mimic this noise by moving their tails against the ground/leaves. Poisonous snakes also have a heat pit on their face/nose, but I don’t think you can see that one from far away! The exception to these rules is the coral snake who has round pupils, but you can tell it’s poisonous by it’s coloring (red and yellow a dangerous fellow, red and black poison lack). This website was really helpful when it came time to teach the kids what to look out for. Of course, we still try to maintain all the distance we can!