By Kathy Maass
One of the joys that my husband and I have undertaken these past few years is motor home travel. We had first joined a motor home group while I was still working for Intel in Oregon during the mid 1990s. We found this was a great way to meet and make new friends – through this common interest of motor home outings. We both held offices within a chapter there in the NW for a few years.
We’d started with a 34 foot Pace Arrow and were hooked. In 2000, while I was on my 3rd sabbatical with Intel, we traded the Pace Arrow in on a 37 foot Riata, which was a diesel engine, a bit bigger and much quieter with the engine in the back. We decided to move to AZ in 2005.
In 2007, we traded our 37 ft. diesel pusher for a 30 foot Class C Itasca Spirit. We’d talked about downsizing during the past few years, and the time seemed right now that we are settled in the SW and no longer living in our home on wheels for months at a time. We wanted our first outing to be brief, long enough to enjoy the rig and check it out, and we wanted to have fun and not bother with a tow vehicle. We chose to visit two locations close to home: Benson, AZ and the Kartchner Cavern RV Park.
Our first destination was Benson, AZ – a comfortable 3-hour trip down I-10 located south of Tucson and on hwy 80. It is central to many Arizona attractions. About a dozen rigs occupied the Benson RV Campground – we had no problem getting a nice site there. It is a nice campground; the people are nice, it has paved roads, full hook-ups and a paved pad at each campsite, and typical southwest landscape throughout the campground – that means no green grass and a lot of rocks. It does have every convenience you could wish for however: swim pool, laundry, a small library, an exercise room, a large meeting room and it is walking distance to Safeway and a strip mall.
We took our granddaughter, Desirae, with us. She was enthusiastic as we headed out, looking forward to seeing the quaint western town of Tombstone again. We’d all been there a couple times, and knew there were things to do in that particular location that we hadn’t done during previous visits. From our campsite in Benson, we drove the motor home down to Tombstone and noted along the way that there are several RV Parks right in that area that we’ll keep in mind for our next trip in that direction. We parked on the highway entering town – again, the town wasn’t overly busy and parking was no problem. We walked into town and did the tourist thing – rode the stagecoach, enjoyed lunch at one of the local western theme restaurants, shopped a bit, and rode the trolley. The narrators were knowledgeable about the town history on both of these tours, and we all came away having learned something new. Did you know that there is a network of mines shafts under the town of Tombstone? Although we didn’t go to the “shoot out” at the OK corral during this visit that is another sight that first timers might want to plan to see.
We returned to our campsite in Benson and the following day headed over to the Kartchner Cavern area. Entering the State park area, we learned they are celebrating their 30th anniversary and camping was ½ price (not bad when you pay only $11 for a night of camping in a scenic campground). Our first stop past the entrance was at the information center where we purchased tickets for a walking tour of the Kartchner Caverns – these too were ½ price due to the park anniversary. Tickets for adults were $9.00 and for children $4.50 – these prices will double in mid-October when they open up the rest of the rooms in the cavern.
We drove on into the campground and selected our spot to set up. Once settled in, we made the short walk back to the information building spending time to see the humming bird sanctuary and then we watched the short video about the Kartchner Caverns. Part of the cavern is closed for the season due to the annual migration of the bat population. Once the bats are ready to leave the caverns in October, the rest of the rooms will be opened to the public. The tour group is driven to the cavern entrance; this tour lasts about 1 ½ hours and takes visitors through the entrance and along the rugged interior on paved, handicap accessible cement walkways. We had been forewarned that the humidity was in the 90s and temps in the 80s inside the cavern. Since we were close to the front of the group with Desirae, the guide asked her to be his helper and as we left each section and prepared to enter the next area, he had her push the button to turn on the lights alerting the interior that our group was approaching. This was a treat for her, highlighting the outing for the day.
The sights in the cavern were spectacular with the guide pointing out the various rock formations caused by the water dripping down through and over the interior: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, bacon and other formations were pointed out throughout and the walk was concluded in a stadium setting with a music accompanied light show illuminating the various interior formations. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the
campground there at Kartchner Caverns and would recommend this as a “must see” to anyone who is out to see the sights of Arizona. Weather was clouding up as we left the area and headed home, but considered this a great first time out in our new coach. For more information Kathy can be reached at email@example.com.