Don’t Even Ask!
Well OK, You Can Ask Al
COTV Does Tucson
April 4-6, 2014
Off on another adventure, on Friday 10 cars met at Kohl’s for an 8:30am departure. The adventurous couples were Jim and Diane Sommars, Bill and Sandi Steed, Steve and Liz Rose, Chuck and Connie Shamblin, Steve and Marsue Page, Joe and Rosemary Priebe, Ed and Carolyn Keefer and Rob and Daryl Weber. Vickie Hackworth was busy organizing a Womens Club conference, so Al brought along a friend, Ed. Cynthia Stedfield was also busy so Bill brought along a friend, Jim. The connection there is that Bill and Jim’s children are married to each other. One more couple, Bob and Monica Clark, would join us along the way as it is silly for them to drive up from San Diego to turn around and go back the same way. Steve and Marsue Page came in their Mercedes as they were heading to Phoenix afterwards to do business, but they kept up all the way.
What are the odds that of 22 people and 13 men, we would have 2 Jims, 2 Eds, 2 Bills, 2 Steves and 2 Bob/Robs. You can tell we are all of the same generation, when our parents gave their sons less exotic names than you see nowadays.
Jim Sommars had mapped out the route well as usual, so we headed down the 15 south, to the 52, to the 125 and then to the 8 east. We had a rest stop at the Golden Acorn Casino, where we were joined by Bob and Monica. It had been chilly when we left the Kohl’s parking lot and it wasn’t any warmer at the Golden Acorn. The group decided to make our next stop lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Yuma, AZ, so off we went. As always, the Cracker Barrel hit the spot, with menu choices for everyone. The service was good and the food tasted good as well. After lunch, those who needed to got gas while some of the women shopped and then we set off for the last leg to Tucson. Traffic was steady, but at one point there was an opening to pass a semi and Rob Weber and Bill Steed took the opportunity to test the speed limit with Rob hitting 140 and Bill slowing down at 120 so he didn’t run into Rob.
We arrived at the Hampton Inn on North Oracle in Tucson just before 6pm. The hotel recommended a Mexican restaurant, Las Margaritas, across the street and they were accommodating enough to set up tables for such a large group on short notice. The margaritas and beers flowed and the group got noisier and noisier until it was time to call it a day as we had a departure time of 9am on Saturday.
Saturday morning everyone did breakfast at the hotel. Connie Shamblin and Liz Rose decided that they weren’t all that interested in seeing lots of planes, so they planned to take the Shamblin car and go shopping while Chuck rode shotgun with Steve. The rest of us had a “drivers’ meeting” to plan the day and then caravanned to our first stop, the Pima Air and Space Museum where Jim had set up a group tram tour of the 160 planes in the outside display. Our guide was fantastic and said he thought he had discussed at least 140 of the planes. We then spent as much time as we wanted touring the inside displays in the various hangars or having an early lunch at the Grill on the premises. At that point, everyone headed out to various destinations which interested them. Some took a 27 mile ride on a road known for its “twisties”. Some went to Old Town Tucson. Some went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a large outdoor area featuring 1200 native plants in 16 individual gardens and a variety of native animals, like the javelina. Our focus was the Raptor Free Flight at 2pm, where various raptor or predator birds are released and fly above the crowd, sometimes getting so close you can feel their wings touch your head. The demonstration that day was with a gray hawk, a snowy barn owl and a family group of Harris Hawks. The big hit for Jim and Diane was that one of the Harris Hawks actually swooped down and caught a small prey right near them.
We all merged at the hotel about 4-5pm and had a delightful party of wine, cheese and crackers provided by Connie and Chuck. Connie certainly fits in well with the group as she figured out early on how much we like to eat. Bill and Sandi had seen a restaurant that looked like fun on the way back from their drive, so almost all of us headed to Pinnacle Pete’s for steak. Sandi had made a reservation for 20 and they had told her they were going to set up the table for us right then, but when we got there they told us a 1 1/2 hour wait, so we voted to try another restaurant in the same complex, Dakota. They were happy to seat us right away. Although we split into smaller groups, we still had a fun time.
Sunday morning we packed the cars, checked out and left for the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley. Again, we drew a great guide, Fred, who walked us down several levels underground and through all of the safety doors to the command center where there was a 4 person crew on duty for all the years of the Cold War, prepared to set off the Titan Missile with its atomic payload at whatever target had been selected. Although the atomic bomb has been removed from the missile, everything else is still in place. Fred picked Connie to be the Commander and went through the whole drill of events that would deploy the missile. She has a card now that says she is a member of the crew and recognizes that “She Pushed The Button” (the one that launches the missile).
After the Titan Missile tour, everyone split up to go their own ways. Al and Ed headed to Laughlin for a retired sheriffs’ conference. The Steeds, Keefers and Roses went to Bullhead City. Steve and Marsue went to Phoenix. Jim and Diane went to visit family. The rest either headed straight home or were going home after a lunch or other errand.
All in all, another great COTV road trip! We wished that you all could have been there.