Caverns, Cliff Houses, and Dunefields.

Lily and I had a productive several days getting chores done and resetting the Airstream in Tucson. The highlight of our time in Tucson – I was treated to an authentic Mexican food dinner the night before we hitched up and continued East to our next destination. Thanks for dinner Chris Huff.

El Charro Cafe – the nations oldest Mexican Restaurant and the inventor of the Chimichanga!

Tombstone, AZ

Before arriving at our next big destination, we made a quick stop at the town of Tombstone. It was on the way to our Harvest Host winery stop. Tombstone was an interesting little tourist trap and my friends from Oregon said it was a must do so we made the stop to check it out.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Camping in Arizona State Parks is a real treat IMO so I was very much looking forward to this destination. We stayed for 3 nights and really enjoyed the area. I spent one entire afternoon exploring the caverns on two guided tours. Unfortunately, Kartchner Caverns does not allow photos inside the caves so I cannot share my personal experience but it was really phenomenal to see the wonders that exist deep inside the earth. I included some photos from the website to show how amazing it was.

The only photographic proof that I was here 😝.
The Throne Room Tour ended with a little light show exhibiting the cavern columns.
Soda Straws hanging above the foot trench the original discovers made when first entering in 1974.
Daytime view from our campsite #25.
And, sunset view from our campsite #25.

This was our last stop in Arizona before heading into The Land of Enchantment. We will be back in AZ soon to visit Sedona and Lake Powell before heading in Southern Utah. But first, New Mexico.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

We crossed over the State Line on a rather windy drive from Arizona to New Mexico. This was the first time I experienced heavy wind gusts while towing the Airstream at highway speeds. It was a little stressful and unnerving so I set the cruise control to about 10 under the 75 MPH speed limit. Lily slept through it all.

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument was first on the list to see during our stay in Southwest New Mexico. Lily and I drove the 2 hour one-lane windy mountain road from Silver City to the 700 year old ruins deep in the Gila Wilderness. What a cool experience to climb the ladders and tour the insides of the ancient Mogollon homes.

Silver City, NM

We were parked at a strange little RV park which honestly felt like camping in someones back yard. It was an OK home base albeit very dusty – New Mexico is very dusty. The folks I encountered while camping there were interesting as well – many new age types and one guy told me he was there because the crystals in the earth told him to come visit them. I shared some of my lesser good wines with them and called it a day.

Parked in a someones backyard for 3 nights 😂.

Before leaving the area we stocked up on groceries and explored the artsy little town of Silver City. As I was walking around the tiny historic downtown, I discovered Tranquilbuzz Coffee and experienced my first “Dirty Chai Latte” which is a Chai Latte with a shot of espresso and it was DELICIOUS!!!!! Oh, and I enjoyed a cinnamon roll too.

Tranquilbuzz Coffee – such an awesome and chill and unique spot to sit and relax..

Sufficiently caffeinated and glucose elevated, I took in some interesting wall artwork around the historic buildings that encompassed downtown Silver City.

Las Cruces, NM

We were more than ready to move on from Silver City and head Northeast to our next destination. But first, a quick stop in Las Cruces to hike the Dripping Springs trail and have lunch overlooking the Melilla Valley. I needed to kill a few hours before arriving at the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park.

Parked at the trailhead overlooking Las Cruces.
The old livery where you would park your horses before entering Dripping Springs.
Just a quick trail selfie before hiking into the canyon. It’s hard to tell in a 1-dimensional picture how deep and tall the rock canyon behind me really was.
What’s left of the Dripping Springs resort.
The stone trail leading to the old Sanatorium.
The springs were dripping, barely. I think it gets better after a rain storm.

White Sands National Park

We left Las Cruces and drove over the San Andreas Mountains into the birthplace of America’s Missile and Space Activity – White Sands. What a cool and amazing place this is. I came to the park during the day to hike around the dunes with Lily and then back again at sunset to capture the effect the sunset has on the sands and dunefields. It was such a unique experience being there.

A little white doggy in a giant white desert.
Looking towards the missile test range area.

And then sunset arrived and it was really magical to see the sand change colors as the sun glowed behind the San Andreas Mountains.

A yucca tree poised against the purple/pink NM sky.
Little doggy footprints in the sand.
It’s marvelous how the sand takes on the color of the sky at dusk.
This place left a special impression on me.

Olive Lee Memorial State Park

This was our home for 4 days while we explored White Sands and I’m telling you camping at State Parks are the absolute best. They are always positioned in beautiful places with lots of space to roam and explore.

Space 22 nestled under the Dog Canyon.
You cannot beat State Parks for the best camping locations,
Our view from site 22 looking out over the Sacramento Mountains.

The sunsets I’ve experienced on this journey have been epic and the ones here in New Mexico do not disappoint. Just look how the rays shine onto the desert floor as the sun hangs onto the horizon.

Every night I’ve enjoyed Tequila happy hour with a stunning view and every morning cold brew coffee with the same amazing view.

Happy Hour.
Morning Hour.

Alas, we are nearly done with New Mexico. Our next destination is Albuquerque which isn’t really a destination but the truck is asking for an oil change and I need to pickup some Amazon packages and visit Costco and Trader Joes. Once we get those chores done we head back into Arizona for a few nights in Sedona. Can’t wait!

Wind Farms. A Saline Lake. The Green Desert.

Lily and I are very much enjoying the desert winter as everyone back home in Seattle endures snow and rain and gloom. I’ve worn shorts everyday since we arrived in the desert just before the holidays. Anyway, here’s what we’ve been up to while most everyone was taking down decorations and thinking about getting back to normal life post holidays.

Palm Springs

We rolled into Palm Springs one late December afternoon. The sun was shining and the winds were light. This would be our home base as we entered 2022. First on the list was to stock up on groceries at Trader Joes and then check out the area.

Palm Springs – the land of perpetual wind farms.
Did a little off roading around the giant wind mills.
View of the San Jacinto mountains over the Airstream at our home base.

The only thing I was really interested in doing while in Palm Springs was the Arial Tramway to the peak of Mount San Jacinto. I reserved tickets online a few weeks before arriving because the place is very popular with tourists from all over the world. I took the first tram at 9 am so it wasn’t very crowded.

Tramway canyon to the very top of the San Jacinto Peak.
First tram car waiting for loading.
I was literally the ONLY person wearing a mask even tho masks were required.
View from about half way up.
View from 10,000 feet.

Once at the top, there are hiking trails galore but it was too cold and icy to venture out. So I just spent some time taking in the views before heading back down. I learned that there are two rotating tram cars that pass each other midway on the journey. Here are two videos of the opposing cars traveling at the same speed.

Video of the tram car starting its descent back to the desert floor.

And, video of the opposing tram car starting its ascent to the peak.

Back at the hot springs resort, I was treated to some pretty awesome sunsets. Because of COVID and especially Omicron, I did NOT take any dips in the mineral spas or indulge in any NYE festivities.

Fabulous Palm Springs sunset.

After a week of sun and wind it was time to leave Palm Springs and head towards Arizona. But first, a quick overnight someplace very interesting and unique.

The Salton Sea

As we were driving East towards Arizona, we passed the Salton Sea and spontaneously decided to pull into a primitive campground for one night. It was really nice to be isolated and alone and not around people for 24 hours. The shores of the shallow saline lake are composed of fish and bird bones that die off due to the high levels of salt and other chemicals.

Lily investigating the vast beach of bones.
Our happy place.
Our camping spot right at the edge of the bone covered beach. Totally isolated and quiet. Could not have asked for a better location.
Lily taking in the setting sun.
And finally, the sunset, and the moon, and all was well and peaceful.

The next morning we woke up and took our time getting ready to hit the road. Next stop is the Green Desert in Arizona.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

We crossed our first time zone on this trip and entered Arizona. The landscape is incredibly interesting and I had to catch myself starring off into the distance too long as I was driving. I think the Arizona landscape looks like the floor of the ocean.

After 4-ish hours of driving we arrived in the Sonoran Desert and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. I was very much looking forward to being here for several days. We pulled into the Twin Peaks Campground which is actually our first National Park campground and it was perfect.

Space 127 surrounded by Organ Pipe Cacti and other desert flora.
Lily surveying the area and taking everything in.

The Sonoran Desert is actually a living, green desert. I hiked around and did some off roading to experience the amazing biodiversity and rare plants of this special area.

The Green Desert view from our campsite.
Hiking around and exploring the many National Park trails.

We took the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive which was an off-road trail that takes you all the way back into the Ajo Canyon and to the Arch Canyon Trail. I didn’t hike to the Arch because Lily was with me and it was too hot to leave her in the car that long.

The Ajo Canyon and Arch – tiny little Arch in center of the pic.

And of course the desert sunsets were just spectacular. I did a 1.5 mile hike from the campground to the top of a peak to capture these photos on our last night in the park.

Looking South towards Mexico. The border wall is just below the distant Mountain Range. Hard to see but it’s only about 7 miles from the campground.

Alas, our time camping in a National Park came to an end. We loved being there. It was 100% dry camping for 5 days and we ended up with water left over for at least another day or two. The roof solar panels charged up the lithium batteries to nearly full each day so I was able to enjoy every aspect of Airstream living (cooking, showering, streaming, brushing, flushing) while being totally unplugged for nearly a week. For us, it doesn’t get any better. Love being off-grid.


Before leaving the Sonoran Desert, we explored the casual little town of Ajo which is the centerpiece of a former copper mine and is filled with Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

A church in the historic downtown plaza.
The historical museum, I didn’t go inside because it was too hot to leave Lily in the car.

Here is some of the artwork that exists in the alley behind the downtown plaza storefronts.

Right across from Artists Alley was Oasis Coffee and of course I wanted to patronize a local business so I grabbed a chai latte. It was amazingly delicious and the best chai latte I’ve had on this trip.

Pretty expansive menu for such a small town.

So, that was our time exploring wind farms, saline beaches, and the green desert. We packed up and continued heading east towards Tucson for a quick stop to collect some Amazon packages and refresh the Airstream tanks.

By the way, it’s officially been two months since we left Seattle and we are still loving Airstream life and planning to keep on going and going. We’ve already got major stops planned well into February so stay tuned for more adventures.