Las Vegas, 8th March

Typical Swizzy cow at the airport

On 6th March we’re finally back on our way to Ushuaia. Well, at least we’re on the way back to Las Vegas to pick up Prado.

A night at 1 of these incredible airport hotels in Zurich – a place to survive the night. The next morning a last bye bye to 1 of these famous Swiss cows …

… and we’re in the plane to Frankfort, then on to Las Vegas. As usual with Condor. Not because we like it, just for convenience.

12h in this beautiful no-frills-plain. Nevertheless, on the way beautiful icy landscape of Greenland.

Some no frills gourmet delights – and we arrive in Las Vegas. Time to get ready for Uncle Don’s famous immigration officer.

Well, at the immigration maybe we expect too much of Uncle Don’s domestic workers. We expect 1 of these extremely unfriendly guys. Asking all kind of extremely important questions. Asking the exact time when Monika’s grandfather kissed his 1st girlfriend and Martin’s birthday in his previous life. The guy insisting in knowing the reason why we want to enter the US – even if we have no idea why someone with a reasonable mental health should have this idea – list to be completed by your fantasy.

Whatever. Our immigration guy just wants to know how long we plan to stay in this paradise – 3 months; what we plan to see – a few places; if we rent a car – yes and that’s it. Then he checks the computer, states that Martin had the same shirt on when entering the US last year and stamps 6 months in the passports. And we’ve entered the country. Imagine, what a friendly guy compared to the gentleman we had last year. Maybe the outcome of Uncle Don’s domestication program for difficult immigration officers. Maybe not.

Anyway. In the evening just remains a Pitcher of excellent Goose Island IPA in Las Vegas’ Beer Garden.

The next morning: reviving Prado at the storage. No problem, even if it’s slightly reluctant to leave. Probably because it fell a bit in love with this elderly pick-up on its side. Well, just senior citizen affairs, nothing serious.

So time to find a good mechanic. Fortunately we find a guy doing body repair and mechanics. So Prado gets new hinges for its backdoor – the 1s we damaged last year when we forgot to close the door when driving. A new timing belt – it’s just time to change – and of course all kind of lubes.

In the meantime for us a chance to stroll thru some incredible places at The Strip.

Time to admire some wonders of modern architecture as well as an outstanding example of bad taste.

Mesa, 10th March

The next morning: we accompany Prado to a spa, then packing’n’repacking, stowing all important’n’useless goodies and again we realize that we don’t have enough space in the car. Business as usual. Until we discover that the fridge is not working any more. What the hell. The plug is damaged. A reason for a beautiful sightseeing tour to Las Vegas’s camping and car part suppliers. Pretty hopeless, nobody sells this strange but very specific plug for an Engel car fridge. Thus, no fridge – warm beer.

A short drive to Kingman, Arizona.

There the opportunity to continue searching for the fridge’s problems. No way, some bricolage to bypass the broken plug doesn’t help, nor connecting to the main power. Thus complete frustration. As it’s all about cold beer.

Luckily we find a really cool brewery in town. With excellent pizza and even better IPA. Saves us from immediate suicide.

Later in the evening Google finds us a shop eventually selling’n’servicing Engel car fridges.

The next morning, after a night full of nightmarish encounters with broken Engel fridges we drive on. To Phoenix.

A rather boring drive. Some 3h thru desert like, flat landscape. We pass thru Greater Phoenix – some 100 km from 1 end to the other. Industrial parks mixed with residential areas for elderly citizens escaping harsh winter in the north. Really an area Martin wouldn’t even allow his mother in law to live.

Finally we spend the night in Mesa – a suburb of Phoenix.

An opportunity to finally fit all other spares we bought for Prado.

Great thanx to Euro4x4 parts that you made sure that all parts really fit for the car.

Time for a stroll thru Mesa city center. Quite dead.

Tucson, 12th March

It’s Monday. Thus the opportunity to have the fridge checked. Sierra Expeditions is the place. The guys have no clue what might be wrong with the fridge. But they sell the plug we need. Once they discover that we drive a Prado and that Prado even is a diesel they’re more than willing to test the fridge in their shop. What a wonder, it works on battery. Nevertheless, not on the main power. Something must be wrong with this fridge. Finally, we discover that our fridge is not suitable for America’s 110 V baby-voltage, only for 220 V.

Problem solved, we’re ready to move on. To Tucson. Must be better than ugly Phoenix.

Just some 150 km southwards. On the way 1 of these aircraft boneyards: in Pinal. A home away from home for retired planes. After being cannibalized they may enjoy Arizona’s sun and dry air for decades in respectable company of fellow sufferers.

Tucson. Somehow we expect a vibrant city. Some spillover from nearby Mexico.

Finally we discover a rather boring downtown. Just downtown as usual in most American cities: closed down shops, a few restaurants, banks, many lawyer’s offices. Nobody walking on the street sides.

Well, in Tucson there are a few buildings to admire – and there’s a certain Mexican influence in architecture.

A great surprise in the evening: The Hub Restaurant. Not only pretty good IPA, but also a kind of gourmet delight. Scallops with rice on green peppers with whatever sauce. Wow.

Of course, there’s much more to do in Tucson than drinking beer and complaining about the lack of a vibrant downtown.

To start with, there’s this famous cold war excursion. Most sexy senior citizens among our distinguished readers may remember these days when everybody was thinking globally. The time when everybody was that much involved in global thinking, that even nowadays’ all important issues, e.g. immigrating Mexicans or accelerated wall building at the Mexican border were no priorities.

At that time the world was divided into an area influenced by the US and 1 by the Soviets: the good hemisphere and the bad 1. And as there was a huge distance between the 2 antagonists, there was an enormous logistical challenge to ensure that the respective all-important atomic bombs could reach each other’s targets. Consequently, extremely efficient missiles were constructed.

On the heydays of Cold War hundreds of silos for atomic missiles were constructed all over the country.

After a few decades, the 2 superpowers got a little tired in threatening each other. So, some 30 years ago politics led to an end of Cold War; most of the missiles and their silos had to be scrapped (at least officially).

As everybody knows, history is important. Not for politicians to increase their wisdom, but for the guys earning a lot of bucks with history tourism.

And these guys offer a visit to the silo and the command center of 1 of the biggest missiles ever: the Titan II. Even if the atomic bomb of the missile has been removed still it seems to be a dangerous place. At least reading the signboard at the entrance.

Whatever, we take the risk. For us a chance to visit the last remaining Titan II command post. To see this missile designed to reach any Soviet town within 30′. To learn how dangerous it was to refuel it. To come to know how poisonous its fuel was. To feel that it’s still unclear if such a missile was more dangerous for neighboring Americans or the Soviets sipping their Vodka some 20’000 km away.

We also learn how to launch such a missile. It’s definitely reassuring, it always needs 2 to start it. So even the President could not launch it without the support of his wife.

Whatever. We learn that America solely had all these missiles as a mean of atomic deterrence. It was never considered an offensive weapon. What a pacific thinking. At least at that time.

Enough of these Cold War issues. Let’s move on to to the next boneyard: Pima, an area full of discarded planes. Nevertheless, we found some interesting issues which may solve some of the most urgent problems of Swizzy’s politicians.

But back to the boneyard: some 4000 military planes: The whole area fenced – maybe they’r really afraid that some Mexican narcos would steal them.

We discover another block. A block with slightly more historic planes. But probably still of good quality.

Immediately we think about our poor Swizzy politicians. Currently they have to live with a major pain in the ass: for many years they have tried to convince their citizens to buy new planes for their air force. Shiny, extremely expensive 1s. The 1s any Central Asian dictator is proud to present them to his worst enemies.

But these stupid citizens always refuse the budget for this great idea. It seems Swizzies prefer drinking wine’n’beer to paying tax for planes. No problem, that’s democracy.

And here in Pima we finally discover the solution for this dilemma.

Swizzy politicians, buy slightly older planes. Not the latest fashion, rather you should go for reliable good old quality. We found a few of these planes. They seem to be pretty good, probably cheap enough that Swizzy citizens wouldn’t oppose the deal – and the best of all: they have collapsible wings. So, they can even fly in the narrow valleys of Swizzie’s Alps. How great.

Bisbee, 14th March

Enough of this historic army stuff. Time to move on. To Saguaro National Park. In the outskirts of Tucson. A relatively small desert park, famous for its giant eponymous cactus and the numerous rattlesnakes. We rather head for the 1st 1s. A short trail to a hilltop – a rather thorny affair.

We move on. Southwards, towards the Mexican border. To Tombstone. A rather small village, formerly an important silver mine, today an equally important tourist trap. Whatever. Not really much to see there, everything looks slightly artificial, rather optimized for poor tourist’s spending.

A little more interesting their historic cementry. A place were visibly few guys were buried after a “natural” death.

Enough of poor murdered Tombstonians.

Time for a couple of beers in the saloon.

After a night at the Bordello – the must have-been-B&B in Tombstone a visit to the Chiricahua National Monument. Please refrain from getting depressive because you never ever heard of it. Nor did we. It’s just a few hills near the Mexican border. The place with what they call the Wonderland of Rocks. An opportunity for a hike.

Finally on to Bisbee – an old mining town next to the border. Famous for its historic buildings …

… and some fine contemporary art.

And that’s it for today. Much more even more boring or interesting stuff soon. In the meantime simply wait for it and be jealous.

Cheeeers

Monika’n’Martin