Jack and Rose Split Up!

Well, just for a week and only so Rose can attend the big family event at Disney World in Orlando while I hold down the fort in Arizona.  When last we posted, we had not decided how we would handle the last week of April:  Should we transition our rig two hours up the road to Phoenix since Rose would be flying out and back from there?  Or should I just drop her off in Phoenix and return to Tucson?  In the end, the market availability in Tucson versus getting shut out in Phoenix made our decision easy.

We started off, however, with a two day stay at Gilbert Ray County Park near the Saguaro National Park boundary.  This is a truly beautiful section of the Sonoran high desert, and a place we loved during our 2015 circuit of the west.  We would have spent more of our Tucson time here this year except that, as mentioned last post, this was a working port visit, and the things we needed to do benefited from both the central location and the full hook ups at Davis Monthan AFB.  But feeling like we had marked off quite a few items from the ever evolving “to do” list, we rewarded ourselves with a couple of nights of isolation at Gilbert Ray.

Two years ago the park astounded us with how much vibrant life exists in this type of desert, and this visit did not disappoint.  The sheer beauty of your surroundings goes a long way towards compensating for some of the limitations; the place just isn’t for every RVer.  They don’t take reservations, have a seven day stay limit, no water or sewage connections just 30 amp electricity, and it is cash or check, no credit cards accepted.

We don’t mind any of that: First come first serve suits our lack of a fixed schedule, we rarely stay in places more than a week, we don’t mind using our stored house water and dump stations, and at $20 a night cash/check only is hardly a major sticking point.  And since our last visit two years ago the park has added a modern flush toilet facility, which is a big improvement over chemical pit toilets.

During our stay we solidified plans for the rest of the week.  The fantastic folks at Windshields of Arizona were scheduled to replace Serenity’s windshield Tuesday morning, but were fine with us leaving the rig there one night.  This meant we could drop off the motorhome, drive Loki up to Phoenix, stay in a local hotel (on points of course!) that night, drop Rose at the airport the next morning and then I would drive back to Tucson and pick up Serenity.  From there it was back to Davis-Monthan’s family camp to prepare for a series of markets I would do alone.

Of the five markets that would work for me in terms of timing, we were approved to participate in three.  So after a couple of days of free and easy geographic bachelorhood, I headed to the Tucson Botanical Gardens for the first event late Friday afternoon.  It was a nice location in a walled garden setting under a pavilion, so no tent required, which made the set up that much easier.  Despite the walls the wind picked up dramatically and made things a bit stressful.

Rosemarie’s work station as she prepared items for my solo market experience.

The good side was we saw a steady stream of people coming in for the last night of the Botanical Gardens’ Frida Kahlo celebration, and most of them appeared to have a bit of disposable income.  The bad side is they didn’t use it.  Sure, we cleared the table fee and a bit, but it was a pretty disappointing evening, definitely in our bottom 20 or even 10% of market experiences to date.

Tucson Botanical Gardens event.

Somewhat irritated I packed up and drove home hoping for a better Saturday, in which I would have two markets to attend.  Early the next morning I headed to Rincon Valley for a more traditional market outside of a large barn structure.  The wind was quite heavy, to the point that I took the shade top off of our pop up awning and just used the frame to hold some of our displays.  It seemed like we had a slower through put than the Botanical Gardens event, but those that came: they came to buy.  We ended up with a noticeably better result, and cash in hand I raced back to our campground to knock out a couple of chores before heading south to the evening event at Desert Diamond Casino.

Ducks for sale at the Rincon Valley Farmers Market.

Now this was my kind of event!  All the vendors were situated within the plaza of a large, multi-building casino complex with a steady stream of patrons passing through our vending area.  There were a handful of food trucks, always a favorite for me, and live music.  The wind remained a factor, and I elected to just put the tent frame up, which was fine since I was located under a decent shade tree.  The only downside was how close I was to the live music and their speakers, which heavily limited my ability to interact with potential buyers.  We got them to make an adjustment to the speaker position and volume, and in the end I made a solid profit, turning the three event weekend from disappointing to quite successful.

Taco truck reward for a successful market.

Meanwhile Rosemarie spent the weekend at Disney World.  Now, I know what you are thinking: I really got the raw end of that deal, stuck with working three market events while she was in “the happiest place on earth.”  No.  Emphatically: No.  What she had was a family gathering in the Florida summer with eight children under the age of eight!  I will take my alone time in Tucson, thank you very much.  Seriously, this was a big deal; Titi Linda wanted to have all of her grandchildren together at Disney just one time, and the family made it happen, with her husband Jayson and all three of her sons doing what it took to take time off from work and get their respective families on board for a three day extravaganza through the various Disney properties.

Rosemarie was able to contribute as the only adult Florida resident (which meant a hefty savings for her ticket and five of the kids) and a gifted adult entry from one of her friends (thanks Bertha!), while Jayson covered everything else on his dime and through the generous donations made to their Go Fund Me account.

Then end result was a close knit family of 17 spending three days giving their children their first exposure to The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.  While some of those younguns might be too little to hold those memories, I know the adults will remember it forever.

Sunday morning, still reeling a bit from three markets in less than 36 hours, I prepped Serenity for the road and hooked up Loki for the two hour drive to Phoenix.  Once there I I got the rig situated at the only RV site I could find in the entire city or Glendale (at least the only one for someone under 55) and then picked up an exhausted Rosemarie from Phoenix airport.  We chose to stay in Glendale as that is where Rosemarie’s long time friend Brenda lives, whom we had not seen since our last visit to Arizona in 2015.

We went straight from the airport to her apartment, where she cooked Puerto Rican style rice and pork chops while enthusiastically catching us up on her life for the last year or two.  Stuffed to the nines, we retired for the evening to Triple T Mobile Home Resort.  I am not gonna lie: this place was overpriced and poorly managed.  Though we had full hook ups for the $35 a night cost, management did not answer phones, return calls after messages, or even show up on time for their posted business hours, and even then it was one of the more disorganized front offices I have dealt with.

The upside is it was positioned right for a one night stay, and the handful of residents I met were extremely helpful.  From the moment I pulled in after office hours, two helpful men directed me to the site where “they always put the overnighters, just check in with them in the morning” to the next day when I had accidentally killed Loki’s battery, people just helped me there.  When a young women, maybe 22, with a good number of tats and wearing carefully adorned basketball attire insists that she be the one to push the car while I sat inside and steered, well, I could either be happy for the help or take some sort of age related offense.  I went with the former, so thanks Ashley and company for the help.

That’s April.  I should mention that just before Rose left for Disney her passport came in, so we are ready to get this show on the road and sprint to Yuma and Los Algodonas for our dental work.  More on that coming up!