We liked it so much we came back

After Quartzsite, we headed back to Catalina State Park in Tucson to hang out for 10 more nights. Mike and I both agree that Catalina State Park is one of our favorite (if not our top) places to camp in the time we’ve been traveling. We love the space, trails, trees, people, and convenience here. During our second stay, the weather was a tad warmer so we started seeing prairie dogs popping up everywhere.

The Prairie Dogs were out in force this week.

The Prairie Dogs were out in force this week.

It took Opie a couple of days before he noticed them. Once he did, he was on full alert and then hyper-alert once he figured out those pesky critters came out from the holes in the ground. Every walk after that included sticking his nose into every hole he could find, hoping some tasty treat would conveniently pop out.

Any tasty treats in this hole? Hm, maybe the next one...

Any tasty treats in this hole? Hm, maybe the next one…

Look ma! I checked every single hole!

Look mom! I checked every single hole!

Even though we barely touched on all the fun things Tucson had to offer during first visit, we decided to forgo most of the tourist stuff to catch up on all the mundane chores that had been building up. Most of it involved doing our normal RV maintenance like lubricating slide-out seals, cleaning wheels, applying UV protectant to DiamondShield, etc. We (ok, Mike) also installed the surge and power protector we bought at Quartzsite without electrocuting himself or Rover, YAY!

We also did a nice big spring clean (hm, I guess it’s more like a winter clean). We went through all our cabinets and basement storage in about 2 hours (there are definite advantages of living in 300 sq. ft.). The good news is we were able to weed out about 20 lbs of stuff, some of which went back to my sister for storage, some went to Goodwill, and some went onto eBay to get sold. The bad news is that we bought a water softener that weighs close to 30 lbs so Rover still gained weight… nuts.

Time to sort through all our "stuff" and weed out things we no longer need.

Time to sort through all our “stuff” and weed out things we no longer need.

Even with our honey-do list, we still made time to visit the Titan Missile Museum. It’s one of 54 missile silos that peppered Arizona, Kansas, and Arkansas during the cold war. It’s the last Titan II missile silo still in existence, all the rest were demolished as part of a treaty with Russia. The silo has been preserved with all the original machinery and even houses a Titan II missile (unarmed). As part of the treaty, the missile doors are bolted at halfway open, and the top of the missile has a large hole cut out of its heat shield to prove it cannot be flown.

Looking down into the Titan II silo.

Looking down into the Titan II silo.

These missiles were part of the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine that the military ascribed to. Basically if the enemy shoots nuclear missiles at us, we have the ability to immediately shoot nuclear weapons back at them causing total mutual annihilation. We haven’t really moved away from that doctrine, while we’ve decommissioned the Titan II missiles, we just have better, faster missiles in place in case of a nuclear attack. It’s a depressing thought but apparently it works as long as no crazy person decides to use a nuclear weapon.

The silo is all concrete and steel, the machinery is very dated, and everything is hardened against a nuclear attack. The team manning the launch station had no idea what their target would be, and if there was a nuclear strike, they only had 30 days of oxygen before they had to decide to either suffocate or attempt to reach the surface. At least they never had to make that decision and we were able to recycle the Titan II missiles to launch astronauts (Gemini) and satellites into orbit. Walking through the silo and seeing the missile is both awesome and depressing. It’s worth a look if you’re in the area, the general tour is only about an hour long.

Monitoring, launch, and guidance systems, along with a rotary telephone.

Monitoring, launch, and guidance systems, along with a rotary telephone.

Moving towards a more fun subject, we also experienced Bookmans Entertainment Exchange in Tucson. This giant store is the ultimate in used merchandise. They have tons of used magazines, books, video games, board games, puzzles, movies, and music. It’s one of those great places to go and browse for hours at a time! These are the moments when I’m glad we live in such a small space so temptation cannot rear its ugly head and convince me to buy buy buy!

We really did enjoy Tucson and we already miss it but we keep reminding ourselves that we can always come back next year to visit again.


  1. Bob   •  

    I really enjoy keeping up with your adventures (living vicariously).I’ve heard that in late February- early March, the desert flowers and cacti bloom for a short period of time and it’s worth seeing them. keep your eyes peeled.


    • Kat   •     Author

      We’re hoping that next year we might hit Tucson during the spring and perhaps see it in bloom. It would definitely be cool to see the flowers and maybe a flash flood (as long as we’re not part of it!)

  2. John R   •  

    the clouds in that top photo are to die for… love me some western skies

    • Kat   •     Author

      John, I have to say the skies are pretty cool here. Even more so because the mountains make a perfect backdrop! It’s so different from the East Coast where there is so much vegetation and the cloud cover is different. We’re definitely finding out the differences between the East and West Coast as we continue our adventures.

  3. DebbieM   •  

    Love the prairie dogs! I’ll bet Opie was in heaven! That would sure keep our dog busy. Looks like a great campground and we’ll keep that one in mind as we go through that area. Any chance you’ll be going through Glacier during the summer on your way back to Ohio? We’re hoping to spend July, maybe part of August there.

    • Kat   •     Author

      I also loved watching the prairie dogs. They don’t seem to have squirrels/chipmunks in the southwest so it was nice to watch something similar at the campground. Opie was definitely very very on-alert for all the prairie dogs. I was glad to see the holes in the ground were for prairie dogs and not for rattlesnakes!

      Glacier Park is on our list to see but we’re a bit bummed because Rover is too big to actually go through the park so we’ll have to camp on one side or the other. Do you have a recommendation on either the west or east side to hang out? If our timing works out, we’d love to meet up with you!

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