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So-Long South Dakota, Arriving in Awesome Arizona

Our last few days in South Dakota were cold, windy & snowy. We gave up waiting for a “good day” to go see Sturgis, Deadwood & Spearfish and decided to take a drive that direction in spite of the weather. Heading North from Box Elder we came to Sturgis first.

Sturgis in November is pretty much a ghost town. This snowy November day we drove through and imagined what it must have been like in August when throngs of motorcycle enthusiasts descended upon Sturgis.

There are lots of motorcycle shops, motorcycle themed saloons and gift-shops. We had to stop and get a Sturgis T-shirt so we could pretend we are half as cool as all those doo-rag-wearing, tattooed bikers.

Next we drove through Deadwood where both Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane have their final resting places. Again, this South Dakota town was quiet and cold and snowy.

The Mount Moriah cemetery is located at the top of a steep hill in Deadwood.

Visitors leave mementos at the base of Wild Bill’s monument in the cemetery.  This day there were bullets and coins but we’ve been told that people leave Aces and 8’s (the cards that Wild Bill reportedly held in his hand at the time of his death) and liquor bottles as well.

We parked in town and walked up to the cemetery.

On our snowy little hike we saw several deer.  We felt like we were invading their space.  There may have been more deer than humans in Deadwood this day!

After Deadwood we visited Spearfish and drove through the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway before it started snowing again. I imagine the fall colors would have been amazing a few weeks earlier, but we still enjoyed the rock formations and the beauty of the canyon.

Due to the cold weather, wind and snow in South Dakota we decided to transfer Mark’s VA appointments and head south and west for the winter.  We left South Dakota on Tuesday, November 13th and headed toward Tucson, Arizona.

This map shows where we have traveled since we left North Carolina in September. Our first stop on this most recent leg of our journey from Box Elder, SD was Cheyenne, Wyoming.

There were many interesting rock formations in Wyoming but we did not escape the winds or the cold we had experienced in South Dakota!

We stayed one night at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.  The FamCamp there was $10 per night and electric only.  While on base we saw an interesting road sign (Old Glory Road), a beautiful sunset and a few prong horned antelope.

The next day we headed toward Colorado.  We were on I-25 all the way through Colorado and had beautiful mountains in view all the way.

As we neared the border we crossed through Raton Pass and into New Mexico. The Raton Pass is a 7,384 ft elevation mountain pass on the Colorado/New Mexico border.  The views were beautiful but it was narrow, snowy and under construction and we were thankful for good brakes!

We stopped just over the border at the Raton, NM KOA for the night.

This KOA was a good overnight stop and we were able to hook up to water there.  We were definitely headed in the right direction because it was much less windy and the temps did not dip below freezing. We still used our heated water hose while there just in case. The next morning we proceeded on toward Arizona.  Our drive through New Mexico brought new scenery.

We saw interesting New Mexico architecture and scary warning signs along the way.

There were lots of buttes in New Mexico.  See definition and pronunciation below:

Our stop for the night on Thursday was Agua Vida RV Park in Elephant Butte, NM.  It was a small, full hook-up RV park with a beautiful view of Elephant Butte and the lake. $25 for a full hook up site was a good deal.  The view alone was well worth it!

The temps continued to get more bearable the closer we got to Arizona!  Anticipation was growing as we neared our ultimate destination.  Friday we set out for Tucson and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. This day we took I-25 a little farther south before cutting west on I-10.  Before we crossed over into Arizona we passed through Hatch, NM, the birthplace of delicious Hatch chiles. Wegmans friends will be familiar with Hatch chiles as we used them in multiple ways at Wegmans, from breads in bakery to burgers in the meat dept.

We also passed over the continental divide.  It is the principle divide of the Americas separating the water that drains into the Pacific Ocean from the water that drains into the Atlantic Ocean.  We saw more interesting rock formations, mountains, mesas and buttes and then finally…the much anticipated Arizona Border!

Once in Arizona we continued to see the mountains and rocks but then we began seeing more and more cactus (cacti?) along the road.  On top of that, there were warning signs describing what to do in case of dust storms!

Tucson is surrounded by mountains and filled with cactus, palm trees and many other beautiful green plants and trees.

Driving into Tucson we saw “the boneyard,”  the place where old military planes have been stored since World War II. The climate (low humidity, meager rainfall and high altitude) provides the perfect conditions for storage of hundreds of aircraft for possible reuse or cannibalization.

We finally arrived at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base!

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is the home of Agave Gulch Famcamp.  Agave Gulch has 197 full hook up sites and they fill up fast this time of year.  It is a bargain at $23 a night and we signed a 3 month contract so this is our home till mid-February. The Famcamp has free wifi, 2 laundry facilities, a 24/7 guest lobby with free coffee and tea and they plan monthly events and day trips for the Famcamp residents.

Once we arrived and settled in, we located the base car wash and gave Babe a long overdue bath!

We explored the base and Famcamp and saw many different types of plants.

Small cactus,

Medium cactus,

and BIG cactus!  All very prickly but unique and beautiful.  And this is the view out the back window of our home…

We are pretty confident we won’t be seeing single digit or below zero temps anymore this year…

While in Arizona we hope to see some of the local sights and take a few day trips.   Stay tuned for more about Awesome Arizona!

2 thoughts on “So-Long South Dakota, Arriving in Awesome Arizona”

  1. So…Arizona till February. Given the long term MD forecast for snow this winter- I’d LOVE to be in Arizona till February. Got an extra bed? ????

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