Monday afternoon we arrived at the Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson and settled into the very same spot we stayed exactly one year ago. The timing was a strange coincidence, but the site was not. Last year we stayed in two different sites at Gilbert Ray, and we liked the second spot so much that we requested it again.
Gilbert Ray does not allow reservations, so we were pretty happy to find that “our” site was open. The major difference between this year and last is the weather. Last year during our three week stay in Tucson the weather was on the cool side with temps in the 60s or even colder during the day. One day it even snowed! Yeah, we were surprised. It seems highly unlikely that we’ll have a repeat of this strange occurrence since the southwest is in the middle of a warmer than average winter. In fact, when we arrived on Monday it was in the mid-80s! Much preferred over snow.
This will be a fairly short stay for us, and we don’t have anything too exciting planned other than our usual excursions out in the desert. One evening after work we made the trek up Brown Mountain. The trailhead is across the street from the campground which makes it an easy hike for us to do in the afternoon. Last year we hiked the entire eight mile loop trail and found six geocaches along the way. This time we just hiked to the top and back down so we could get home in time for dinner.
As we walked across the rocky ridge of the mountain top we had another exciting reptilian encounter. This time it wasn’t a rattlesnake, but the coolest looking lizard ever! This colorful guy is called a Gila Monster and is only one of two venomous lizards that live in North America. While their bite is pretty nasty (once they latch on they can gnaw on you for 20 minutes or so and are very difficult to remove), they are incredibly slow moving, which means if you allow yourself to get bit by one then it’s probably your own fault. The Gila Monster spends 90-95% of of its life in underground burrows, emerging only to feed and bask in the sun. Which makes the fact that we saw one out and about pretty cool.
We also had some encounters of the human kind. There were a few folks here in Tucson that we wanted to meet up with, and since we always like to mix our social affairs with food, I arranged a dinner-time pot luck at our site. The first to arrive were Lisa & Hans. We run into these guys everywhere, and after a little bit of calculation realized that we have bumped into them in five different states! Next up were Sam & Stephanie along with Jen & her very cute pup named Q. The last four are Airstreamers who we were meeting for the very first time. They are all relatively new to the life on the road and it was fun to get to know them over the course of the evening.
As often happens when you get a bunch of RVers together the meal turned into a veritable feast. My contributions included a few appetizers, one of which were these delicious Avocado Egg Rolls with a Basil Dipping Sauce, a Broccoli Salad (recipe at the end of the post), and Lemon-Dill Chicken Skewers. Lisa & Hans brought a yummy quinoa salad with feta cheese, Jen brought a lentil salad that was expertly seasoned with a cumin-y flavor along with homemade chocolate chip cookies, and Stephanie and Sam brought a Vanilla Bundt Cake that was incredibly moist and fluffy. Wow! I told you it was a feast.
We only have a few more days here in Tucson and plan to fit in one last hike before we head south to explore some new areas of Arizona.
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 2 cups red grapes, cut in half
- 6 slices cooked & crumbled bacon
- 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl combine the broccoli through pecans.
2. In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients.
3. Toss the dressing with the salad.