Friday, October 27, 2017

Fun, low-cost winter activities for RV Snowbirds in Tucson area

Sunset at Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, Ariz. (Julianne G Crane)
In addition to the warm days, magnificent sunsets and free natural beauty surrounding Tucson, Arizona, there are numerous fun and low-cost activities that entice tens of thousands of RV Snowbirds to return each winter.

According to the folks at, this area "inspires a sense of freedom among all who visit. Freedom of thought and expression. Freedom to discover and explore. And the freedom to be yourself."

"Tucson is calling you, the free thinker and the free at heart, to explore without boundaries. Our natural landscape draws visitors outdoors where there is plenty of room to roam."

Along with all that personal freedom are a number of free and low cost events on the calendar this winter. Here are just a few:

Yuma Japanese Gardens of Tucson

Yuma Japanese Gardens of Tucson
2130 N. Alvernon Way
Tucson, AZ 85712
(520) 303-3945

"Stroll beside a pond of flashing koi, contemplate a peaceful Zen garden, and absorb the beauty of intimate courtyard views of classical Japanese landscaping imagery. Five distinct garden styles, replica Japanese buildings, and tea ceremonies and other events immerse you in an ancient artistic heritage."

Visit changing exhibits in the museum and art gallery, and browse unique items in the gift shop, imported from Japan. All just steps from the Tucson Botanical Garden,

Oct. - May 7: Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1.
Admission: Varies, click here

- Tumacacori National Historical Park

Looking for an afternoon drive,  travel a few miles south of Tucson toward Nogales and visit the humble Tumacacori National Historical Park.

 Tumacacori is considered the Mission to the Pimas. Made of adobe, plaster and wood, "these ruins evoke tales of life and land transformed by cultures meeting and mixing."

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Entrance fee: $5 per person, age 16 or older, and is valid for seven days. Free to those with America the Beautiful or Golden Age passes.  For more on this historical park, click here.

2nd Saturdays Downtown Tucson

During the winter, RV Snowbirds can listen to music while they stroll and explore Downtown Tucson on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Street parking is free after 5 p.m.
The free event is full of activities from the (Grand)Kids’ Area at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum all the way down Congress Street to the Fox Tucson Theatre.  Entertainment is "totally family-friendly." Good Shepherd Ranch provides carriage rides at a minimal charge.

Second Saturdays at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley

10901 N Oracle Road, (north of the Home Depot Retail Center)
Oro Valley, Ariz.

Take advantage of a Farmers Market, concert series, guest speakers and much more. Free admission. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs for the live music.

Nov. 11, 2017 - April 14, 2018 schedule
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Open for tours; Farmer's Market; Artisan and Antique Fair.
9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Guest speakers.
10:30 a.m. - noon - Live Music (Country, Folk or Americana)
10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Heritage Garden demonstrations and a craft for children

*Ride your bike or walk to the Farmers Market and/or Second Saturdays at Steam Pump Ranch events, arriving via the bike path.

-- For a complete list of all the fun evenings happening around Tucson ... go to VisitTucson.Org

-- For information on nearby RV camping at Catalina State Park, click here -- on camping at Gilbert Ray Campground click here

--Julianne G. Crane 
--To read more about the RV Lifestyle by Julianne G. Crane and Jimmy Smith, go to

Friday, October 13, 2017

Afternoon Cream Tea in Florence, Oregon

Lovejoy's Restaurant & Tearoom, Florence, Ore. (Julianne G. Crane)
Recently Jimmy and I were attending an RV Rally in Florence, Oregon, with longtime RV friends Sherian and Lee Shriver of Ohio.

Warm reception at Lovejoy's Tearoom (Julianne G. Crane)
Late one overcast afternoon while walking through Florence's old downtown, Sherian and I were hankering for something sweet and stumbled onto Lovejoy's Tearoom when we spotted the word "scones" painted on the outside of the building.  Stepping inside, we learned it had a full lunch menu and we decided to return the next day.

3 RVing women Sherian - Julianne - Jacque meeting for tea.
Sherian and I had been reminiscing about other RVers we met at the Sandollar RV Park in Rockport, Texas, and I remembered that solo RVer Jacque Green was traveling somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I sent her a quick text asking: 'Where are you?'  Within moments she responded that she was at the Thousand Trails RV Park in Florence -- holy moly !!!!  She was staying in the park immediately next door to where we were camping. I called her and she quickly agreed to meet us for lunch at Lovejoy's.

On right RVers Jacque Green (Okla.) & Sherian Shriver (Ohio)

Lovejoy's Restaurant & Tearoom

Decorated in a warm, relaxing English country decor, the tearoom features softly draped curtains, flowery tablecloths along with lots and lots of tea cups and tea pots lining the walls.

Jacque ordered Bangers and Mash (English style sausage with Bisto gravy and homemade mashed potato) for $9.50. "It was very good especially for someone who had been eating her own cooking for a long time," said the fulltime solo RVer. Sherian order Squash Soup ($7 a bowl) that "was very good," she said.

I was longing for a traditional English Cream Tea that I remembered from my trips to Great Britain. The 'Devonshire Tea' ($9) selection included a pot of tea (I opted for the Yorkshire Gold) and a scone served with preserves and clotted cream.

Selection of British teas, jams, biscuits

I was a tad disappointed in the single scone (I had anticipated two) it was a bit dry and pricey for the size. That said, I will return to this charming tea shoppe that features a menu offering an array of English and Scottish favorites.

There are specials that change weekly. The amazing variety of teas are excellent and served in a "proper tea pot," neatly covered with a tea cozy.  For a peaceful atmosphere and hot authentic British teas, this is one of the best "tucked away treasures" on the Oregon Coast.

"It is a perfect place to go to on a cold early fall day," said Jacque.  "A wonderful place for women to meet," added Sherian.

Tea pots, tea towels for sale.

If you go:

Lovejoy's Restaurant and Tearoom
195 Nopal St.
Florence OR 97439
Hours: Tues-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Lovejoy's is located just off the main street in Old Town Florence and a few short blocks away from the no-frills Port of Siuslaw Campground and MarinaSee below for information and reviews on this and other RV Campgrounds and Parks.

RV Camping

For RV Parks and Campgrounds click on: '' ... or ... or

Text and photos: Julianne G. Crane
To read more articles about the RV lifestyle by Julianne G Crane, go to