Motorhome Day 1

JANUARY 29, 2024: This was the day we had been waiting for – picking up our motor home. Traveling in Arizona and New Mexico visiting Jewish Heritage sites was going to be our sixth motorhome trip – the first four were together with our kids many years ago. The fifth was a trip in Australia in 2020, cut short by the covid pandemic.

For our first four trips, we always rented the motorhome from the same company – Cruise America. They are headquartered in Phoenix, and we used them for the first time in 1995 when we rented the largest model – a 30-foot long motorhome to accommodate the seven of us on a six-week trip to the national parks in western USA. This once-in-a-lifetime trip was so wonderful, that we did three additional motorhome trips with the family. Now, almost thirty years later, we were returning to the same rental agency. Being just the two of us, we no longer need the largest model, and selected a standard 25-foot length vehicle. It has a kitchen and dining table, a queen size bed, a large (for motorhomes) fridge and freezer, a toilet and a shower. And importantly for me, as one who does not know how to pack light, lots of storage space, including an area accessed from the outside, big enough to hold all our suitcases and more.

The earliest hour for motorhome pick up was 1:00 in the afternoon, so we spent the morning buying supplies – bottled water, food, pillows, etc…

We drove to the pick-up spot in our rental car and moved all the items from the car into the motorhome – 4 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, a backpack with our computers, my purse will all our important documents, a laundry bag, our hiking poles, 2 pillows from Target, 5 bags of groceries from Trader Joes, and more bags from additional purchases this morning.

With everything thrown inside, we left the motorhome there and we drove to the airport to return the rental car. I made the mistake of asking Google Maps to take us to the airport, figuring there would be signs for Car Rental Return. We followed the confusing signs and drove an additional 15 minutes to the return area, not very close to the airport. There is a train that connects the two. Public transportation is not available at the car rental building, so once we returned the rental car, we boarded the airport train and exited at the first stop to order an Uber to take us back to the motorhome. This was not a popular station (mostly deserted), and it took some time for the Uber driver to come. Due to an accident, traffic back was at a standstill. We finally reached the motorhome, left all our items thrown as is, and started the 2-hour drive south towards Tucson, much later in the day than we had planned.

Usually when we travel, every minute of the day is scheduled and all accommodations and activities are pre-booked. Taking this trip was a last minute decision – nothing was scheduled, nothing was pre-booked. Instead, we just have a basic route laid out and we would decide as we go – definitely out of my comfort zone. For our first night in the motorhome, I remembered reading about a nice campground outside of Tucson and yesterday, when I went to register, it notified me that all reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance – we had missed the opportunity. This just confirmed what I already knew – there is an advantage to planning ahead.

Taking a chance, I phoned the campsite while waiting for the Uber. Maybe there would be a spot open for this evening? We were very lucky – one spot left. If we do not arrive by 17:00, when the office closes to officially register, we should go directly to our site – site A69.

Considering it would take us about two hours to get there, and it was already past 3:30, and we did not want to drive in the dark, we decided to take the shortest route to the campground. Originally, the plan had been to drive through Saguaro National Park and then to the campground. The shortest way would take us only through a small section of Saguaro National Park and directly into Tucson Mountain Park, where the campground was located.

This turned out to be a beautiful drive, and we reached the campground just as the sun was setting. A spectacular ending to our first motorhome day.

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