31.01.2011 77 °F
I’m late again for my blog. It’s been almost 2 weeks since we did the things that I will be writing about. Doing stuff is so much more fun than writing about it. But you are all so worth it…..so here goes.
Sat, Jan 16, we took the day and went to Patagonia SP. We had heard that there were lots of winter birds there. We left Tucson and went east on I-10 for about 15 miles then took hwy83 south until we hit hwy 82 at Soniota. From there we went down into the cool little town of Patagonia. This is one of those quiet towns that are so quiet you drive through them and don’t even know you did. We stopped and went into the visitor center and asked about different things. The guy said you could get most of the town news on the bulletin board above the Coke machine at the corner store or at the post office bulletin board. The 2 lanes of the road were separated by a wide park-like area through town. We then drove on down to Patagonia Lake SP. We didn’t walk very far since Susie wasn’t feeling very well. But we did see quite a few birds including the gnatcatcher shown in my pictures. We had hoped for maybe something a bit more, but since we were there in the middle of the day when most wildlife is resting, we felt happy to see the birds that we did. At this point we decided to not go back the way we had come, but to continue on the hwy down to Nogales and catch hwy 19 north back to Tucson. This loop trip for the day was a lot of fun and we once again got to see new and different things.
The weather then and for the last 3 weeks has been just great with warm days (73-80 degrees) and cool nights (in the 40s). We find it interesting how quickly it cools down as soon as the sun goes down. One moment I’m wearing my shorts, and the next I’m cold. The winter ground does not hold the heat of the day.
Sun, Jan 17, was spent around camp getting things done that gotta get done
Monday, Jan 18, afternoon we did a little shopping and then went to Mission San Xavier. Since this mission is only about 20 minutes from our camp, we had saved it for a small/short excursion day. This is a very neat old mission that is still being used today. They are also undertaking a major restoration of all the buildings. We walked through and photographed what we could. It’s very striking to see this bright white structure out there in the middle of the desert. Very close to the mission is a very colorful cemetery. It was posted to keep out. I wanted to go in for better pictures. When I asked someone that was working in there if I could come in, they said “NO”. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s an Indian cemetery. I did get some shots of it over the fence.
Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan 19, 20. We decided that the day we went to Tombstone and Bisbee, AZ, would be too long. So we made it a 2 day trip. We left our trailer at our Desert Trails RV site and got a motel for the night we were gone. We went out I-10 east to Benson, then dropped down to Tombstone and Bisbee on hwy 80. Tuesday we spent most of our day in Tombstone reading, watching, learning, and photographing. When you walk down main street, you can get the feeling quite easily that you are in the middle of a western movie. It even becomes more real when some of the “in character” cowboys act out the gunfight at the OK corral. We spent quite a bit of time in the courthouse museum seeing and learning the history of Tombstone. When we were tired/done, we went on down past Bisbee to our motel for the night. The motel was just 1 mile from the Mexican border. We had it pretty much to ourselves with only 2 or 3 other guests. After breakfast the next morning, we drove down to the border. I was impressed with the size of the metal wall/fence that goes between our two nations. The border patrol in AZ is huge. Everywhere I looked there were white and green 4-wheel drive SUVs and pickups. They were constantly scouring the desert. We went through checkpoints at least 4 times and we didn’t even leave and come back in to the US. Of course, we had no trouble going through these checkpoints. I think it was racial profiling in reverse….blond hair, white skin, WA license plates, “old guy”……
We then went up to Bisbee and spent some time walking through town and looking in some of their art galleries. It’s a fun town, kind of hidden in a canyon. The road just winds along with cool old buildings on both sides. We had fun going in to their old, but still very functional library. Of course, mining is what made Bisbee and is a big part of Bisbee today. The mining now is open pit style that makes things look awful. But then I don’t like the destruction of any part of nature.
We then stopped again at Tombstone. But this time we stopped at Boothill, their cemetery. It was interesting to walk around and read the different tombstones. I’ve included some in my gallery. Then off we went back to our “home” at our RV site back in the Tucson area. The desert landscape grows on you. We both got to really like the open spaces and distant mountains. It is really beautiful.
Thursday, Jan 20, was our day to explore Tubac. This little town is about 45 miles south of Tucson on hwy 19. We had past it just Saturday on the way back up from our Patagonia loop trip. It is a town steeped in history, but now a very thriving art colony. It is the first European community in AZ and has the best preserved 18th century Spanish Presidio in the world. We toured the presidio SP and recounted the history of De Anza and his party of settlers as they made their historic journey up to Monterey and settle the San Francisco area. The museum is wonderful. But the rest of Tubac as I already said is filled with art galleries and workshops. The art being created and shown here is mostly that with a desert or southwest theme. There are some Mexican wares that have been brought up from south of the border and some Indian art work too. We just ran out of time and energy so have planned to revisit Tubac sometime on another winter.
Friday, Jan 21, was the only day that we traveled north. I guess you could say that we traveled north every day that we went to Tucson because we are about 10 miles SW of Tucson. But we had 3 new places in mind to see this time. The first one was Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. The desert gardens and tea house are a very popular place for residents and tourists alike to visit. We stopped and looked around, but decided since we were literally living in the desert, we would rather spend more time at the other places on our list further north. So we left and went up to Catalina SP. This SP is in a beautiful setting right on the western edge of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The campground (which we were interested in seeing) is so different from the RV parks that we have been living in this winter. There is space between the campsites and there are gorgeous views all around. But the tradeoff here is no sewer hookups and no reservations to camp there. You have to be here early to get a place and that is probably going to be a “dry” site w/o any water or power. But it is a beautiful place to be camping in. Then we left and off we went north to our last destination for the day. Biosphere II is a place like none other for the person interested in science and learning. It was made over 20 years ago and is an on-going experiment in a controlled situation as to how 5 different biomes can survive with varying amounts of water. It is like one huge greenhouse covering all 5 different biomes. They have a very elaborate system that can control the climates in each biome to test what will happen with any different set of circumstances. It is very interesting and educational. When we left we had only time to get back to Costco for gas and then to our trailer. It was another rewarding day.
Saturday, Jan 22, and it was our last day and night in Tucson. We had decided earlier that this day would be another nature day. We like to use Saturdays as days to rest and enjoy nature. We had not visited Sabino Canyon and had heard that it was very nice. When we got there in the early afternoon the parking lots were quite full and it seemed that many Tucsonites also wanted to enjoy nature. The visitor center had a nice video presentation of this canyon park showing the most popular flora and fauna. One of the most popular things to do there was to take a tram up the canyon and then walk back, or you could take the tram both ways. Since the distance and elevation gain up the canyon could be extensive, many people choose this option. We chose merely a walk up to a small dam on a stream. It was another nice day and warm as we walked past hundreds of Saguaro cactus giants. We found a quiet place to sit in the shade of trees by the stream and photographed some birds and butterflies. It was very relaxing and we could see why it was such a popular place for those that live in the nearby city. Some of the kids were playing in the stream and keeping cool. Another time, we might take the tram up the canyon a ways and then walk back down.