Friday April 22

Mesa to Tucson

We left Mesa the next morning, cheerful about going to Tucson and having a real motel room that night. We drove down a back road that was more direct (and more fun) than taking the freeway, and aside from me fretting a bit because the gas tank was low (and we filled it in plenty of time) it was a perfect drive.

On the way, we passed a parking lot with a stone cairn and a historical marker, and needed a stop anyway, and found the Tom Mix Memorial.

For you young pups out there, Tom Mix was one of the first silent movie cowboy stars, and made the transition to talkies in the 30s very well. He was still very well known when he died in 1940.

And how did he die? Well, that's interesting...if you read the purple prose in the local newspaper article, thoughtfully covered in plastic and mounted on the side of the rock memorial, it appears that he drove too fast through a construction barrier, put his car in a ditch, got out of the car just fine, and then the huge trunk strapped to the back of his car fell on him and broke his neck.

On this very spot!

It was actually a pretty cool thing to have at a roadside pullout-with-picnic-tables

Approaching Tucson, which is wrapped around a mountain range and surrounded by beautiful desert. I loved Tucson, it was beautiful, there was lots to do, everything was cheap and there were Del Tacos around. For what more could one ask?
So when we were planning this trip in March by exchanging a lot of emails, Jim, Jo Nell and I agreed that we didn't want to plan where we would be every night, so we could decide at the moment where we wanted to end up. But Jo Nell got a plane ticket to fly out of Tucson at 10:30 am on Sunday the 24th. That means we have to get you to the airport at 9 at the latest, I said, and I don't want to have to be at a campsite where we have to get up early enough to have breakfast, pack up and drive to the airport that early. Let's get a motel in Tucson for Saturday night, and I can come back and pack up after I drop you both off (because by this time Jim had gotten his ticket too, for right after Jo Nell's flight left.) We were going to spend Saturday in Tombstone, so a motel would mean we could stay late if we wanted to.

Then Jo Nell said she wanted to spend time in Tucson, and we decided to spend Friday there, and it made sense to get the same motel room for both Friday and Saturday nights. so I found a motel that had a room with three beds for 90 bucks, which I thought sounded pretty darn good.

Then Jim said, I can probably get us rooms on the Air Force base there, let me check. And he did, he said they had a two-room suite for 63 bucks.

I had visions of bunks and shared bathrooms, but Jim was really enthusiastic about it (he's ex-Air Force and knew what he was talking about, which we didn't) and so we said, sure, we'll go with that.

We had to drive all the way around Davis-Monthan AFB to find the entrance that was open on a Friday night...lots of planes!
On the left is where Jim checked us in, then we drove to a completely different set of buildings, that were more like apartments then motel rooms.

Here are Jim and Jo Nell in front of our new home-away-from-home.

And OMG, it was a veritable PALACE. Here is the living room/dining room/kitchen combo, and below you can see part of each bedroom (and the girls had seperate beds for once!). There was a laundry, which I desperately needed, and...oh JOY OF JOYS! A BATHTUB. I was so happy. And good wifi. Aaaaaah. We loved it. Thank you, Jim!