Wild Wild West Tucson

The Wild Wild West

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The Wild Wild West: Tucson, AZ and Beyond

One of the beautiful things of being financially independent is having flexibility (okay, I also do yoga) of my time. Having retired parents and in-laws allows for us to visit them whenever or wherever they might be. So, that is what we did this past week. We headed to Tucson, AZ to visit my in-laws or I really should say out-laws since we were heading into the Wild Wild West.

Boondocking

We packed up our car, with more stuff than we needed, and started driving. Our destination was Tucson, AZ, which is about 8 hours from the Los Angeles area. It was a doable day’s drive without any major detours or stops to see the sights. It was a pretty uneventful drive, but it was my first time really seeing BML land at the California/Arizona border. The town of Quartzsite was just coming off of their annual RV rally where thousands of RVs descended upon the town. Quartzsite is known as the “boondocking capital of the world”. It was really amazing to see RVs just parked in the middle of nowhere. 

We have been toying around with buying an RV and traveling the US. My husband, Scott, has gone down the YouTube rabbit hole of RVs and van life. It is an intriguing lifestyle and I really just want to be able to make sandwiches in the back of the RV. We are not quite ready to pull the trigger on RV life, but this was our first little glimpse of what that might be like. Little did we know that RVs would be a theme for this trip. 

Freedom Pose

RV Parks Galore

My in-laws like to snowbird in Tucson and have a big 5th wheel RV that they stay in at a pretty nice RV park. The park has 399 square feet park models that you can buy or you can park your RV for a few months for the winter. You get a built in community with free wine on Friday nights! It is a 55 & Over community, so we will have to wait a few years to check that option out. We stayed in a hotel nearby so we were close to the parents, but there were RV parks all over and from what we hear, they are booked up with snowbirds a year in advance.

Trip Highlights

Saguaros Galore

Saguaro Chingona

We did some exploring and outdoor activities while we were in Tucson. The biggest highlight was seeing the saguaro cactus, which are the iconic cactus you see on everything in Arizona. The Saguaro National Park was one of the highlights of the trip. The saguaros are everywhere! Stunning in their diversity, they are the snowflakes of the cactus world, everyone is different.

Hug a cactus

Mount Lemmon

Another highlight was our drive up to Mount Lemmon along the Catalina Mountains to the north of Tucson. The amazing part of this drive was the diversity of climates and geology along the way. We started at the desert floor with all the saguros and then as we drove up this 9,159 foot mountain, it was unbelievable to see the change in the topography and vegetation change as you go up in altitude. At the top there is a small ski resort with some snow and lots of families out romping around in the patches of snow. 

Mount Lemmon

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

horned owl

We spent the day at this amazing outdoor museum, which has walking trails and exhibits throughout the outdoor park. The highlight was seeing the free flight of the raptors. We got to see the chihuahuan ravens, a horned owl and the Harris hawks swoop over our head. This narrated show was a great way to see these magnificent birds. Stunning to see them up close!

No Lookers!

We drive down to Bisbee, AZ, which is best known for its former copper mine. We took the mine tour, which was worth it. Miners back in the day, were paid more than 3x what cowboys or other workers were paid. Cute little hilly town that was fun climbing their millions of stairs. We spoke with some locals on one of our stair climbs in a residential neighborhood and there are some quirky hippy characters that live there for sure!

This hippy on the left happens to be Scott!! Haha!

The Wild Wild West

Tombstone

We then spent the night in Tombstone, AZ. We knew this would be a tourist trap, but wanted to see where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday walked the streets and lived. The town is set up for endless photo ops, which for some reason we only took a few photos while we were in town. There are shoot outs throughout the day down the dusty street of town and people walking around in full period costumes, but somehow we missed all of that because we were sitting at the Tombstone Brewery drinking! Great beer by the way!

We met up with some full-time RVers while drinking a beer. Check out Tim & Ursulla on Instagram @airstreamvagabond. They have been living in their 30-foot Airstream for the last 4 years and are loving the nomadic life. They meet up with friends along the way and love boondocking. We enjoyed sharing a few beers and getting a little glimpse of what RV life looks like. I think one of the biggest lessons was to just embrace being spontaneous and not get crazy with planning things too far out. Things happen while living in an RV and keep things flexible. We have heard that it is so hard to get RV reservations now because so many people during COVID had bought RVs and are out on the road. This is true, but if you are a little more flexible and can boondock, the possibilities are way more open.

Tombstone Brewery

Cagey Characters

We did a tour of the Bird Cage Theater while in Tombstone. It is the site of the oldest standing poker game that lasted over 8 years! The building pretty much looks like it did in the 1880’s and is loaded with relics and photos. I am sure there are ghosts there too, but we did not stay for the famed ghost tour, which is supposed to be a hoot.

We headed to dinner at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, which was hopping and met some more RVers from Alaska. We met up with Meegan and Scott on their first day of driving their outrageously large RV. They were virgins on the RV trail to somewhere. They were a hoot! They had a different philosophy and had their entire trip planned out, but got stuck in Phoenix for weeks waiting on a part to fix their RV before they could hit the road. The whole non-planning thing was seeming to be the best strategy since you never know what is going to happen in RV life. 

We were also fortunate enough to meet Nate at the saloon. He is a financially independent, free spirit biker that travels the US and the world on his Harley. We got an in-depth tutorial of how to put beads in a beard. If you need a 101 Guide, let me know and I can share the intricate details.

Beard Censored

Wrap Up

All in all, we had a great trip visiting family, seeing some amazing desert landscapes and meeting some interesting characters. We got a sneak peek into RV life, but we also got the chance to take a road trip to see if this is the path we want to take in our post FI life. We are doing mini-experiments, trying on different lifestyles and seeing what is a fit for us.  

We found that by being open and friendly, we got to meet people that are living amazing and interesting lives, which we find fascinating. People are out there trying to live their best life and I love that. This fits well into my Year of the Snowglobe post, where I talk about how it is our time to shake things up a bit and see what the Wild Wild West has to offer!

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