What do you do when your home is where you park and a world wide pandemic pops up?

We were in Lone Pine, California when things started to get weird. Restaurants closing, empty store shelves, friendly people suddenly unfriendly. An emergency room nurse telling us to find shelter. A social media post saying the local hospital was being overrun. Federal, State and local campgrounds closing, and finally the people we were planning to visit in Oregon recommending that we stay away. It was mighty creepy.

So I sent an email.

Marcia & John Beland
Marcia & John Beland

We will forever be grateful to John & Marcia Beland of Sierra Vista, AZ for having us. 

The little piece of heaven where Shiny waited out the pandemic
The little piece of heaven where Shiny waited

Sierra Vista, which is Spanish for “Mountain View”, is a city in Cochise County, Arizona.  It is located 75 miles southeast of Tucson and 15 miles from the Mexican border.

Sierra Vista Location
Sierra Vista Location

Sierra Vista is in an ‘out of the way’ part of the country. John & Marcia’s property is in an  ‘out of the way’ part of Sierra Vista with no close neighbors. An ideal place to wait out a pandemic.

And then, this place has grown on us in such a way that we are seriously considering buying a lot here to winter on.

The Coronado's
This was our view every morning

As we drank our coffee in the morning we were entertained by wildlife out our back window. There was a rose bush that seemed to attract creatures big and small. This was better then any TV show.

The rose bush
The rose bush was the stage for our daily entertainment

One morning I woke up to a pack of 8 javalina all milling around the rose bush. One was nibbling on the bush as two younglings suckled.

Another morning a Gambel’s quail ambled by with 20 tiny chicks all in line behind her, headed for the seeds that spilled from a bird feeder. John told me that once he was watching a similar scene when a road runner came around the corner and picked off the last chick.

Some of the creatures around the rose bush

Road Runners frequented the rose bush. Often one would walk by us with a small lizard dangling from it’s mouth.

A coyote came to catch an early morning meal. Quail and rabbits scurried to safety. Wiley coyote was unsuccessful and quickly ran off.

Another day I was sitting outside when I looked up and saw two snakes slithering across the gravel driveway on their way to the rose bush. Cactus wrens frantically and uselessly pecking away at their backs. The 5 foot snakes turned out to be nonvenomous gopher snakes. We followed them as they eventually made their way across the yard and lost themselves under a mesquite tree.

And speaking of snakes, Susie has a slithery tale to tell “I was sitting outside by myself, watching the evening sky when I heard some rustling sounds coming from the dried vegetation to my left. I thought it might be the kangaroo rat and thought nothing more of it. This happened a couple more times. Next thing I know, I am looking down at the ground between my legs and see a snake smoving slowly under my chair from left to right. I was hoping it wasn’t a rattle snake but figured it was calm so maybe it wouldn’t pose a threat. It meandered its way under my chair and then under the old lawn mower to my right. I am surprised I didn’t panic, but it really was so beautiful that I was more fascinated than anything else. I think it was a Common King Snake.”

Here is a slide show of some of the birds that frequented the rose bush. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another morning ritual is we’d look to see if the blimp (Tethered Aerostat Radar System) was up. The blimp is used by the Border Patrol to monitor the US/Mexican border and does not fly if there is a substantial wind. We felt safe putting our awning down when it was up to help keep Shiny’s interior cooler. Blimp up, awning down. Blimp down, awning up.

At the Beland abode lunch is the big meal. So everyday we’d put our heads together to figure out what to make and who made what. Except for Thursdays. Thursdays was rib day, no exceptions!

John loves to grille and many a day he would cook a chicken or a roast along with garden vegetables. One day he made a pot of home made beans out by the grille. He added a Mexican spice called Epazote to the beans that local lore says prevents flatulence. It does not.

Here is a slide show of some of the plants around John & Marcia’s property.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

John is known around the country for the onions, turnips, and garlic that he grows.

So what did we do to keep busy? John has a very large collection of old fiddle LP’s so digitizing some of them kept me busy. Here in pictures are other things we did.

Alas all good things must come to an end. In the desert it gets hot in the summer. Shiny handles the cold about as good as any RV out there. We’ve proved that. Shiny’s one air conditioner just doesn’t make the cut with heat however.

And hot it got!

So on May 7th we moved to Alpine, AZ. Elevation 8000 feet and a whole new story.


  1. So interesting, as always. I think those amazing natural critters are around us all the time, we just don’t take the time to sit and watch. This morning, I saw a baby squirrel trying to get into my bird feeder. And…an Indigo Bunting, a Catbird, flocks of Goldfinch…and a circling hawk. No snakes, thank goodness.

  2. You guys are awesome. I miss you like crazy. Title of memoir? “Shining in a Pandemic”

  3. Loved reading. Brought back old memories when we were stationed there . Good luck in your adventures . 😁🍀

    1. Thanks for reading our blog. We tried to get on to the fort to see the petroglyphs but it was closed due to the virus.

  4. Great stuff! Did you see any hummingbirds? There are a dozen or more western species and they usually move north about the time you folks arrived in AZ. You may have missed some of it and the flyway may be a bit further west – sorry I’m not sure. Hope to “see” you all sometime this year. We’re only driving to the woods, the farmers market and the liquor store for our off-site travels.

    Stay safe!!!

    1. Thanks for reading the blog, Gene. We did see some hummingbirds but they we too fast for me to catch with my camera. Hopefully our paths will cross soon,

  5. Love your adventures. The fauna and flora of your latest stop, the uniqueness within a mile or two, or the people you meet and befriend. You’re very good at that. A winter lot. Like it.

    1. Thanks for writing to us, Jim. It is pretty cool to see what emerges when you have to ‘stay put’.

    1. You know it, Karen! Hope you are doing well. It must be so weird to have the festivals cancelled. I really can’t wrap my head around that.

    1. Thanks for the feed back Donnamarie. I hope that you and your family are doing well.

  6. Sierra Vista!!!

    We called it Sorry Vista – it’s the “gate town” right outside Ft. Huachuca, where I got to spend about a year while I was in the Army.

    The blimp flies from Ft. Huachuca – they also have/had an airfield there – I learned to fly in one of their Aero Club Cessnas.

    What memories!


Leave a Reply