Tag Archives: arizona

Apache Trail and Tortilla Flat- Beautiful Arizona

It’s been a busy season here in Apache Junction and with my new Social Media Director job, and six websites to maintain, I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind here on The Traveling Sitcom.  We will be here in Arizona for five more weeks and I hope to catch up on at least the highlights of this beautiful area over the next few weeks.

We are going to start with the amazingly beautiful Apache Trail.

Yes, we are finding the time to explore.  After all, that is why we went into full timing in the first place.  The Apache Trail and Tortilla Flat were first on our list of must sees.  And apparently we liked them because we have driven this route several times now.

Named after the Apache Indians who once used this route,  the Apache Trail, or AZ 88 as it is officially known, links Apache Junction with Theodore Roosevelt Lake,  traveling through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest.

Known as one of the ten most dangerous roads in Arizona, we had to check it out.

But before we hit the actual trail, we made one stop…

Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat was originally a freight camp, home to a small community for years. Only a small part of the town remains, but what’s left is touristy Old West.

The town, population six, is Arizona’s smallest town with a post office as well as a voter’s precinct.

Quite literally, Tortilla Flat is just a wide spot in the road.  But we had heard a lot about it from those that visit here every year.  We were told to try the hamburgers at the restaurant there.  They were supposed to be epic.

Hamburgers, you say?  Well, we certainly needed to check that out.  I mean sometimes you have to make a few sacrifices in the name of tourism.

Walking into the Superstition Saloon and Restaurant is an adventure in itself.  The first thing you see (besides the kitchy saddle barstools) are thousands and thousands of dollar bills on every single wall and ceiling in the place.  According to our waiter, over 500,000 in dollar bills.

Interesting enough, this saloon was rebuilt after the 1987 fire which destroyed almost the entire town.   At that time, the saloon had been blanketed with dollar bills that burned with the building.

The tradition has lived on.

Okay, I’m sure you are wanting to know about the burger.  Yes, it was awesome.  We will be back.

The rest of Tortilla Flat consists of an old one-room school house, an ice cream parlor, two gift shops and a post office.

We tried out the Prickly Pear Gelato before we left town.  An interesting flavor, similar to strawberry, but not as strong.  Not sure I’d get it again, but I can now say I had it.

And now to check out Apache Trail!


Armed with our maps and our sturdy KIA Soul, we ventured onward, determined to get a taste of this road that we had heard so much about.  We had pavement for a few miles past Tortilla Flat until we got to mile marker #220.

And then our adventure began.

We passed a scenic lake, took a few photos and at this point were not too intimidated by the road ahead.

And then the hairpin turns and the switchbacks began.  Our little KIA climbed and climbed.  Rail guards were few and far between and in most instances as we climbed the narrow road, there was nothing between us and the edge of the cliff but a few feet of dusty road.

It may seem a little late to mention this, but your car should be in good working order before taking this trip. This is not an area that you want to break down in.  There are also restrictions on size and weight of vehicles on the Apache Trail. It is not recommended for RVs.

Our little KIA was not informed of this ahead of time.  We didn’t want it to freak out.

You see, there is no cell phone coverage here, and very little traffic.  Which is good in a way because the road is so narrow and every blind corner is an adventure in itself.

But the amazing scenery is worth the journey!  Every inch of it.  The forty mile route took us about 4 hours.  By the time we got to Roosevelt Dam, it was nearly dark.  And our KIA was no longer silver.  More of a muddy brown.

We have since taken this trip two more times.  The Apache Trail is a definite must do if you are in the area.  Put aside a day and check it out.

Motorcycling the Desert

Another thing that has been keeping us busy this season is motorcycling with a group from the resort.  Turns out there are lots here that have motorcycles and about once a week somebody organizes a ride.

It’s the most use our motorcycle has gotten since we hit the road three years ago.

The desert offers so much to see.  I honestly never get tired of looking at the beautiful vistas.

I have lots more to show you and hope to share it over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!


suzy signature

Working and Playing in the Desert

We love Arizona and so far the winter has been typical for the state.   Very warm during the day and chilly at night.  We have not seen a drop of rain since we got here and word has it that they have actually gone over 90 days without rain.  We really can’t complain about the weather, but I’m sure the farmers aren’t too happy about it.

We took a trip this week down to Casa Grande to the Wuertz Gourd Farm last week and stocked back up on gourds.  Since we’ve been here, I’ve had some time to stock my Etsy shop and chicken gourds are my biggest seller.  Keeping them in my shop especially this time of year can be daunting.  Luckily my gourd source is right here.

A local gourd farm! Perfect for craft supplies!

Hundreds and hundreds of gourds to choose from.  It is fun to go from basket to basket and imagine what that gourd could become.  I actually tried to branch into other animals at one point, but the chicken gourds are what everyone wants.  So there is that.

Back at the RV Resort, I’ve been following folks around taking photos of events, and making a nuisance of myself.  Folks are slowly warming up to me.  I have to say that the first few weeks were a little tough.  People get suspicious when you are constantly taking photos of them.

Ralph, on the other hand, has no problem with it.

Last week, I covered the Golf Scramble, Bowling, went on another fun motorcycle trip, went to several dinners, and some great entertainment.  Here is a short clip of the entertainment from last Friday night.

This week we are going on another mystery tour and I will be documenting a ladies shopping trip out.  Lots of Christmas things going on too.

Which means that we cannot help but get in the Christmas spirit.  We decorated up the inside of the coach.  And I have Christmas music playing in spite of Dave’s raised eyebrows.  (Normally our radio is set on all Ozzy all the time).  It’s Christmas, so I win.

Another project that is getting finished finally is my Words to Live By Block of the Month quilt.  I started releasing the free patterns on my website, Suzy’s Sitcom, in January.  And I am finally finishing it!  It is always nice to complete a project.

If you are into quilting, the pattern is available free of charge on my website until end of January 2018.

Yep.  Busyness.  That is my theme right now.


suzy signature

Beautiful Arizona- our winter destination

We finally made it back to Arizona!  I have to say that since we have been on the road, Arizona is one of our favorite places.  And it never fails to impress.

Since becoming full time rv’ers, we have found that many full timers establish a winter destination and return there every year.  About half the RV parks in the US close down for the winter, leaving only those in the western and southern states available.  We got into this whole thing to travel and really don’t want to be tied down to one place and so far have spent our winters in Florida and Arizona.

But it seems that the state of Arizona has us back again for the second year in a row.  Back in early summer, I applied for a position as a Social Media Director for a group of resorts in Arizona.  I didn’t really think that they’d consider me, but I like to always keep options open for additional income.

And what do you know?  I was hired!  This is a year-round position that I can do from my coach anywhere in the country as long as I have internet connection.  They do require, though, that we spend our winter season in Apache Junction, AZ at the largest of the resorts.

We arrived at the resort the first week of November, after spending a little time with family in Atlanta.  My job is to document all the activities, update Facebook and their websites, and create a weekly email newsletter.

Dave’s job?  Well he is so far taking the winter off.  That may change if he gets bored, but it is nice to know that between my websites and the two companies that I do social networking for, we can pay the bills and enjoy traveling.

Shortly after arriving, we noticed that about 2 dozen or so people in the park have motorcycles.  They were happy to have us join them and so far, we have been on three long motorcycle adventures.  Finally, the motorcycle is getting some use.

One of the first activities that I documented this season was called the “Mystery Tour”.  Basically, everyone who wanted to go met at the entranceway where we were handed maps.  We carpooled to the mystery location and then enjoyed a fun tour.  Here is the movie that I put together afterward:

The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix were amazing.

If you ever get a chance to be in the area, we highly recommend a trip out to see them.  Meridian RV Resort does a mystery tour once a month and we can’t wait to see where we will be going next!

My new job has me going outside my comfort zone in a lot of areas.  I’m required to attend and document all functions and activities.

Things like the Shooters Club where we literally took our tiny KIA 4-wheeling through the desert to the local shooting range.  No cell phone signal, lots of loud guns, and possibly snakes.  Craziness.

We have been to lots of great dinners and have seen some great live entertainment!  Oh, and I will also be covering lots of fun events outside of the resort! Things like the Tumbleweed Christmas Tree in Chandler, State Fairs, The Renaissance Festival, and much more.

And the season has just begun.  Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Arizona.  We will be here until the beginning of April.


suzy signature

The Science of Tucson

We are currently on our way back across the country to spend a bit of time with my daughter and her family in Atlanta.  In the meantime, I wanted to finish up talking about the Tucson area with one final post.

There is so much to see and do in this beautiful area of the country.   Earlier we covered the amazing Biosphere 2.  This week I wanted to talk a little about Pima Air and Space Museum, the huge aircraft boneyard, Titan Missile Museum and the amazing Kitt Peak National Observatory.  All are within a short driving distance of downtown Tucson!

Kitt Peak National Observatory

For those that love the science of observing the stars or those that just love a fantastic scenic view, a drive to Kitt Peak National Observatory is something you should not miss!

Kitt Peak Observatory includes 24 optical and two radio telescopes, and is the largest, most diverse group of astronomical instruments in the world.  It sits at 6875 feet above sea level overlooking the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

And talk about an amazing view!  The drive from Tucson is a little over an hour and the road up the mountain includes lots of switchbacks and a bit of steepness.  But it is very worth the drive.

Kitt Peak was chosen because of it’s high percentage of clear weather, low levels of humidity, and the fact that there is very little light pollution in the area.  A perfect place for an observatory!

One of the most interesting structures was the McMath-Pierce telescope.  It includes a tower nearly 100 feet high, and a shaft that slants two hundred feet into the ground.  The purpose?  McMath-Pierce telescope is used to study the sun!

The McMath-Pierce is used to study the structure of sunspots, as well as sunspot spectra. A sunspot is a temporary cool region in the sun’s photosphere.   This telescope makes it possible to look directly at the sun.

Kitt Peak is also famous for hosting the first telescope used to search for near-Earth asteroids, and calculating the probability of an impact with planet Earth.

Click here for more!

Local Secrets of Tucson

Yesterday, we left Tucson and are currently heading east towards Atlanta.  We plan on making a slow trek back.  Our daughter is due to have our first grandchild soon and we would love to be there for that.

It was an unplanned exit, as we had intended on staying in Tucson until April 1.  Unfortunately, our job there did not work out.  I will go into it more at a later date.  Things are too fresh right now and Dave and I are planning on decompressing a bit as we head back across the country.

In the meantime, I would love to share with you a few of the local secrets of Tucson.  We truly loved the area, and will go back one day.   Arizona was home to us.

Unique Local Food of Tucson

As with most southwestern towns, Tucson has a large abundance of Mexican restaurants.  We tried as many as we could while we were in the area.  All were good and each had their own unique flair.

Guadalajara Restaurant offered the unique aspect of making your salsa for you at your table.  Not only was it fun to watch, but your salsa was made to our own specifications.

Want it extra hot?  No problem!

We loved the mariachi band, the festive atmosphere and of course the food!

Sonoran Hotdogs

Our coworkers, Rob and Connie from Circle Pines, spend their winters in Tucson.  They told us not to miss the Sonoran Hotdogs.  In fact, they made a point to take us out to their favorite place to get them.

The best thing about work camping is making lifelong friends.

So, what is a Sonoran hotdog?

It starts with a hotdog wrapped in bacon and grilled until it’s crispy. It is then stuffed into a hand made split-top roll called a bolillo (pronouced boh-lee-yoh). It is topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, grilled and raw onions, mayonnaise, mustard and jalapeño salsa.

It is literally heaven in a bun.

El Güero Canelo, is perhaps the most famous maker of Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson.  Seriously, if you are in the Tucson area, don’t miss out on Sonoran Hotdogs!

Want pizza?  Grimaldi’s is a great place for just that.  Huge is the word.  And tasty too.


And finally, we need to get dessert, right?

Raspados is the Mexican version of “scraped ice” or snow cones.  They are made with layers of shaved ice, homemade syrups, fruits, candies , ice cream, and sweetened condensed milk.  While standard flavors like strawberry, banana, plum and pineapple are popular, there are also exotic combinations such as the chamoyada with lime, tamarind candy and spicy chamoy sauce.

Don’t leave Tucson without trying one.  They are amazing!

Sentinel Peak (Also known as “A Mountain”)

From downtown Tucson, you can see the big white “A” on Sentinel Peak located just southwest of the city.  The A is a 160 ft. tall structure made from basalt rock, constructed in the early 1900’s by students from the University of Arizona.


The secret is that you can actually drive up this mountain, see the A up close and personal and look down at amazing views of downtown Tucson!

The perfect time to check this view out is either a sunrise or a sunset.  Since we don’t love getting up early, we hit it one evening during an amazing sunset.

Touching the A is considered good luck.  So naturally, we did.

And then we enjoyed the sunset over Tucson.  Sentinel Peak was surprisingly busy for the sunset viewing.  Apparently, this is not such a secret after all…

Click here for more!

Mt. Lemmon and life in Tucson

Well, its been a couple of weeks since my last update and life in Tucson is a bit cold (especially at night) and a bit frustrating at times, but I have to say it is a beautiful area to live this time of year.

We really love the fact that we can step right outside our door and pick fresh oranges every day for orange juice.  We are definitely getting our share of vitamin C.

As for the work thing.  Well, it could be better.  I’ve written about work camping before- The Good, the bad and the ugly.   We came to this campground to work in the kitchen.  We thought it would be a nice break from working guest services; a job that we have consistently been doing for the past few years.

However, it seems that working in the kitchen, at least at this campground was not working for us.  We asked to be moved back to customer service and they moved us to the front office a little over a week ago.

So, with that said, we are making the best of our stay here and enjoying the area.  And looking forward to our move onto the next part of the country.  LOL!

Tucson has some pretty amazing sunsets.  This photo was taken from our doorway.   I have to say that it truly is a beautiful place to live.


This past week, we decided to take advantage of our couple days off and take a drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.  From the campground, we can see it rising above the city of Tucson.  This time of year, you can see the snow at the summit.

We wanted to touch some snow.   So off we went.

Mt Lemmon Scenic Byway is the only paved road that leads to the top of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Range. It is said to be one of the most scenic drives in southeast Arizona.

Because the road starts in the Lower Sonoran desert and climbs to high forests, it offers the biological equivalent of driving from the deserts of Mexico to the forests of Canada in a short stretch of 27 miles.

Here at the base of the mountain, we were surrounded by Saguaro cactus and desert scenery.  It would change pretty quickly.

Click here for more!

The Human Experiment called Biosphere 2

Affiliate link to Amazon below

I love science and I love history and our next place to visit just happened to fall into both categories!  You see, in the fall of 1991, eight men and women confined themselves into a glass and steel complex known as Biosphere 2 for a total of two years.  Their mission was to see if they could live in a self-sustaining sealed off environment.  A possible model for colonizing outer space.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment11

Twenty five years later, Biosphere 2 still stands.  It is located in the town of Oracle, about 40 miles north of Tucson.  Depending upon who you talk to, it is a representative of a massively expensive failed experiment, or a unique and fascinating look into future possibilities.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment8

Now owned and operated by the University of Arizona who currently use it for research, Biosphere 2 is a popular attraction for those of us that are fascinated by what was later called, “The Human Experiment”

Back in 1991, I was the mom to two young children and busy with job and family, I remember vaguely about this place in the news.  So, we decided to take a tour of the facility and learn a bit more!

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment3

Named Biosphere 2, as the original Biosphere is the current one that we all live in, it was built to demonstrate how a closed ecological system can support and maintain human life.

It is a 3.14-acre structure and remains the largest closed system ever created.  Costing nearly $150 million, it was entirely funded by one man- Edward Bass, an environmentalist heir to a Texas oil fortune.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment14

Biosphere 2 contains five separate biome areas:  a rainforest, an ocean with a coral reef, a mangrove wetlands, a savannah grassland, and a fog desert.  It also includes a human habitat and a huge below ground infrastructure that supports it all.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment4

Here we are looking down at the biome that includes the self contained “ocean”.  This includes a wave making machine and at one time, a nice coral reef.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment10

This is the rain forest.  It was meant to be the main source of oxygen in this sealed environment.  The Biosphere 2 contained over 3000 documented species of plants and animals across its five biomes.

The premise of the experiment was that the eight people would be locked into this self-sustaining environment for two years.  No coming or going permitted.  It was meant to test if living inside an artificial reconstruction of Earth’s environment for long term was possible.

Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment.  Originally from 1991 to 1993, and then again for just a few months in 1994.  Both attempts ran into major problems.

How did those eight people fare after two years closed up in this ultra huge terrarium?

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment6

Both heavily publicized experiments ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment7

This is one of the two “lungs” for Biosphere 2.  As we stood here, we could watch the ceiling rise and fall as air pressure regulated it.

With the Sun’s heat frequently causing Biosphere 2’s contained volume of atmosphere to expand, the formation of cracks started to indicate some structural stress on the building’s exterior.

The solution for this problem was provided with an additional set of chambers or ‘lungs’ which allowed for the overflow and extraction of air.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment2

But as problems were solved, more presented themselves.  An unusually dark and overcast winter was to blame for reduced plant and crop production.  Lowered oxygen and increased carbon dioxide affected the crew’s health.

The human experiment itself was widely considered a failure.  However, much was learned in the Biosphere 2, and still continues to this day.

look at biosphere 2 the human experiment9

The University of Arizona assumed full ownership of the structure in 2011 and continues biological research onsite, with an emphasis on growing plants in space, on earth in closed biospheres and possible space colonization.

Want to know more about what actually went on inside Biosphere 2 during those two years of enclosure?  I did too.  I figured with 4 men and 4 women, there had to be drama.  So I bought the book, The Human Experiment by Jane Poynter.

It is an interesting look from her point of view as one of those 8 people enclosed in this fascinating place.


suzy signature

Mission San Xavier del Bac

We love the fact that on our days off from work camping, we can take the time to enjoy the beauty around us.  We were told by the locals that Mission San Xavier del Bac was an experience that we really couldn’t miss while we are here in Tucson.


Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona and is widely considered to be the finest example of Spanish architecture in the United States.  It is located just 9 miles south of downtown Tucson and draws around 200,000 visitors each year.

We decided to take a trip out there to see it this week.


And we were not disappointed!

Mission San Xavier del Bac is affectionately called the “White Dove of the Desert”.  It sits on the land of the Tohono O’odham Indians who have protected the mission for hundreds of years.


San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692.  This particular church was completed in 1797 with the help of the local Tohono O’odham Indians, over 220 years ago!

As we walked inside, we were in awe of the amazing detail in every nook and crevice of this fabulous church.


Little is known about the people who decorated the interior. It is assumed that much of the artwork was probably created by artists from Queretero in New Spain (now Mexico).


The sculptures were created elsewhere and then carried by donkey through the desert to their destination at the Mission.


We were told that what we were seeing today is the result of careful restoration.  Because of it’s age, the structure of the Mission obtained damage over the years.  An earthquake in 1887 caused major damage, and in 1939, lightning struck the West Tower lantern.


In 1978, a group of community leaders began a five-year program to conserve and restore this national treasure.  An international team of conservators were brought in to clean, remove over-painting and repair the beautiful murals and sculptures within the Mission.


Exterior preservation is still in process when funds are available.

Walking the grounds, we discovered several beautiful desert gardens and a small museum and gift shop.


Through the gate, you can walk up to the hill next door that has a large cross on top.  The view is worth the small climb.

And don’t miss the local Tohono O’odham Indians who have set up stands in the parking lot selling lots of freshly made fry bread.


I just love it when I run across a totally unexpected sign.  Certainly, don’t feed the coyotes.

Apparently they like fry bread too!


If you are visiting the Tucson area, don’t miss this historic landmark!  It is free to the public and is an awe inspiring look into ancient architecture, amazing art, and religious history!

Do keep in mind that this is still an active church.  Masses are held daily.  All are welcome to attend mass, but be aware that no photos are allowed at that time.


suzy signature

A Review of 2016 on the Road

We left Atlanta in April of 2015 for a life on the road.  Over the past nearly 2 years, we have enjoyed lots of great sights, met lots of fun people and experienced living in a 400 square foot “tiny home” with 2 dogs and one bathroom.

And this is just the beginning!

santa fe new mexico
Santa Fe, NM

We get asked a lot if we will ever settle down again in a regular home.  At this point in time, we have no plans for that.  We have absolutely no regrets.  We love our new roaming lifestyle and the fact that as we work-camp across the country, we get to actually experience each area as the locals do.

traveling in amarillo texas
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX

With the year 2017 on the horizon, I wanted to do a review of the past year on the road along with some of the trials and tribulations that went along with it.

Many ask about our financials, so I will go into that a bit, along with a few things we have learned and experienced as we traveled this year.

traveling in amarillo texas

Total Mileage this year

We began our year working in St. Petersburg, FL at the St. Petersburg KOA.  Our job ended there near the end of March.  Our next job would begin around May 1 in Williams, AZ, but we needed to make an extended stop in Atlanta due to health issues with our dog, Ralph.


Our route took us to Orlando, a short pit stop in our favorite campground on Tybee Island, then onto Atlanta for a total of 633 miles.


route to williams

We then traveled westward through Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and finally Williams, AZ, right near the Grand Canyon.  This was a total of  1,798 miles.


Our job in Williams ended on October 31 and our job in Tucson began on November 15.  We took the long way with a detour through Laughlin, NV and Lake Havasu City, AZ, adding another     520 miles.

Grand total miles on the coach for 2016 was 2,951 miles.

Click here for more!

traveling-sitcom-page 2

Only in Arizona- The Tumbleweed Christmas Tree!

Yes, at first glance it looks like a normal Christmas tree in the center of town.  But Chandler, Arizona creates something unique and beautiful each year.  Something that you can find nowhere else in the country…


This beautiful tree is made up of thousands of tumbleweeds!

Yes, thousands of them!  It takes around 1,000 of these tumbling dead bushes to create the massive 30″ tall tree each year.


Local tradition holds that Chandler’s Tumbleweed Tree was the brainchild of Earle Barnum.  He came up with the idea for the tumbleweed tree after seeing a tree built with local pine boughs in his hometown in Indiana.

How do they make a Tumbleweed Tree?

Starting in the fall, the tumbleweeds are gathered and then placed around a chicken wire frame.  They are then sprayed with flame retardant white paint, sprinkled with over 65 pounds of glitter, and strung with lights.

This wonderfully unique tradition has been carried on for over 60 years in the town of Chandler.

Of course, once we heard about it, we had to see it!


There was lots to see and do in the town area surrounding the Tumbleweed Tree including great little shops and restaurants.  Naturally, we had to try out one of the restaurants.

The sacrifices we make for this website.  LOL!


We decided to check out Crust Restaurant, a local Italian eatery.  From inside, we could watch the tree as darkness began to fall and the lights were lit.


We had some amazing pasta dishes at Crust.  We enjoyed a fresh board of Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Bruschetta, along with our main course of Grandma’s Pasta- a yummy mix of pasta, meatballs, sausage, ricotta and marinara!

Definitely worth a return visit!


And as darkness fell, the Tumbleweed Tree grew even more beautiful!


We really enjoyed the lights in the square.


After all, it is pretty hard to decorate an RV.   The lights in the streets were amazing.



This is our second Christmas living full time in our coach.  And one of the things I love about that is that we can experience Christmas just a bit differently each year.

Last year, we were on the beaches of Florida, and this year we are enjoying a Tumbleweed Christmas tree!


And back at the campground, the doggies are settling in just fine.  Faith and Ralph have decided that the campground was pretty nice about supplying them with an official “doggie sidewalk”.


We brought a few more of the old traditions back to our coach including whipping up a big batch of Old Fashioned Potato Candy.  (You can find the full recipe on my other website, Suzy’s Sitcom).

christmas dogs

Faith and Ralph (and both of us) wish you all an amazing, happy and healthy holiday season!

Next week, I plan on doing a review of our past year on the road!  Stay tuned!


suzy signature