HEADED FOR ARIZONA, OUR FIRST NIGHT WAS AT HOLE-IN-THE-WALL. UNFORTUNATELY MITCHELL CAVERNS IS STILL CLOSED (it is a State Park) BUT HOLE-IN-THE-WALL IS A LOVELY CAMPGROUND AND IS PART OF THE EAST MOJAVE PRESERVE, RUN BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
FROM HOLE-IN-THE-WALL TO THE AVI HOTEL IN LAUGHLIN WE GOT OUR CASINO FIX AND THEN HEADED TO THE ANNUAL CRAZY SWAP MEET IN QUARTZSITE. WE DRY CAMPED WITH THE MOE (Mojave Outback Explorers).
On Saturday we set up an author’s sign/sell table at the Oasis Book Store. There we met some fellow authors with whom we had become friends at this same event over the past few years:
(ABOVE L-R) Elaine Held, Claudia, Bill Held, Dianne Wilson.
Above is Paul Winer – owner of Oasis Book Store. He is an integral part of the town of Quartzsite, a professional artist who plays and sings boogie woogie, and brings culture to the town through his bookstore. Most people are repeat customers and therefore not shocked at how he is dressed (or how he is undressed), allthough the man standing behind us seems to be pretty shocked. Anyway, thanks go to Paul for inviting authors to sign and sell their books at his store.
Short on sales, but long on fun! The Quartzsite Big Event attracts snow birds from all over the U.S. particularly this year where the north, east, south, midwest are plagued with ice storms while we bask in the desert sun.
From Quartzsite we back-tracked through Blythe to find an old mine called Tumco, not too far from Yuma. A short hike and remnants of this once booming gold mining town tell a story.
Above is an Organ Pipe Cactus for which the park is named: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, established to celebrate the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. It is a wilderness of plants, animals and dramatic mountain scenery. The campground is lovely. Only a few miles from the Mexican Border at Lukeville, the presence of Border Patrol is overwhelming.
We had plenty of time to focus our binoculars on a number of biirds. Above is a phainopepla
Because we had a large fire dish, we could have the only kind of campfire allowed:in the park (above ground). Soon fellow campers wandered over with their chairs and we made new friends and had a lovely evening. Two of the couples were from Reno and Port Angeles.
We applied for and received a permit to drive beyond the loop road to hike up to Dripping Springs. Although we never found “the springs” there were strange cactus and lovely desert scenes along the way (above, for example). Occasionally a border patrol jeep would kick up dust on the road.
South of Tucson we hooked up at D’Anza RV Park in Amado AZ and from there took off for adventures. At night the park featured dinner and dancing to a Country Western Band and we practiced our two-step
BELOW IS THE FRED LAWRENCE OBSERVATORY
The Fred Lawerence Whipple Observatory is located 15 miles south of Tucson on Mt. Hopkins, but you can only visit on certain days on guided tours. We were, however, welcomed at the Visitor Center. The telescope at the Visitor Center doesn’t look like a telescope to me!
We ate at the Cow Palace where I had a wonderful rack of lamb. The restaurant below is an oddity, Unfortunately it was closed,
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP???? THAT IS THE QUESTION MY HUSBAND ALWAYS ASKS. BELOW ARE SOME PHOTOS FROM MADERA CANYON, MY FAVORITE
There is a birding area here sponsored by the Santa Rita Lodge. The lodge is delightful, there is a campground nearby, and a Bed & Breakfast just up the street. People come from all over to birdwatch. One fun sighting was a flock of turkeys.
(flashes of gold: lesser goldfinches.
(OMG! An hepatic tanager)
THE STORY OF THIS MISSION (Near Tubac) IS JUST A PART OF THE MOVEMENTS FORCED ON THE NATIVE AMERICANS IN ORDER TO SHOW THEM A “PROPER WAY OF LIFE” The Tumacacori Mission was sustained for over 150 years by members of two religious orders: the blackrobed Jesuits and later the grey-robed Franciscan Friars. They were often the only ones in a climate of exploitation, to have the Indian’s interests at heart.
Nearby the Mission is a favorite stop for locals (below). Here I found edible lavendar which I bought for the members of the Duarte Reading Circle since our book this month was “Garden Spells” which had edible flowers as part of the plot.
FOR A CHANGE OF PACE WE VISITED TOMBSTONE, ALAN HUNG OUT WITH THE COWBOYS WHILE I STROLLED THROUGH THE DUSTY MAIN STREET. WE ENDED UP AT BIG NOSE KATE’S BAR FOR A RED EYE.
The Tombstone Courthouse
The O.K Corral
Alan fits right in!
HEADED OUT TO LAKE PATAGONIA, ALAN CAPTURED THIS SCENE:
BUT THE SMALLER BURSTS OF BEAUTY IN THE AREA ALSO CAPTURED HIS EYE:
WE WERE SO IMPRESSED WITH THE CAMPGROUND AT PATAGONIA LAKE THAT AFTER VISITING KARTCHNER CAVERNS, WE HEADED BACK THERE AND STAYED A NIGHT. WE WERE REWARDED BY A MAGNICENT SITING, ONE THAT THE RANGER CALLS THE PARK’S “money bird.”
THE ELEGANT TROGON
The elegant trogon (or copper-tailed trogon) is known to lurk around the trail. After walking only a few minutes a fellow birder ran over to meet us, warning that the trogon was in sight. Its brilliant emerald feathers were aglow, but it would not pose so that the front was in view. Still it was exciting to witness.
Other birds awaited: (Below: Great Blue Heron
(above: Northern Cardinal
HEY, WHAT FOOL STOPS AT A PLACE LIKE THIS??
The caverns are magnificent but you cannot take photos inside. We loved the tour – it is one of the more beautful caves in the West. The campground is excellent, all campsites with plenty of room, hook ups, views. There are even showers and lovely scenery. In the Discovery Center there is a mock cave where you can practice your spelunking skills. Alan is finding it a pretty tight squeeze (above).
The sotol cactus (above) is a magnificently sculptural plant for the desert garden. Sotol has striking straplike blue-green leaves that make it look a bit like yucca or agave.
(Hey, we thought it was cold during the night – so weren’t surprised to wake up to a dusting of snow behind the campground.).Braving the snowy climate, we drove up to the CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT which the Chiricahua Apache called “LAND OF STANDING UP ROCKS.” This area is called a sky island – an isolated mountain range rising above the surrounding grassland sea.
(Below: Mexican Jay
OK, WE’VE SEEN WHAT WE CAME TO SEE, AND IT IS TIME TO HEAD ON HOME. BUT WAIT….WE ARE RETIRED. WE DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME. SO, LET’S SPEND A FEW DAYS IN ONE OF OUR FAVORITE PARKS: ANZA BORREGO!!! THERE WAS SO MUCH TO DO: ATTEND THE GALA GRAND OPENING OF THE BORREGO SPRINGS ART CENTER, PERUSE THE FARMER’S MARKET, DINNER AT CARLEE’S AND AT THE RED OCOTILLO, A DRIVE UP TO JULIAN, AND, OF COURSE, VISIT THE AWESOME SCULPTURES OF RICARDO BRECEDA. ALAN COULD NOT TAKE ENOUGH PICTURES!
AND HERE IN BORREGO SPRINGS WE MET SOME NEW FRIENDS WHO WERE CAMPING AROUND THE WEST ESCAPING THE BITTER COLD OF THEIR HOME (and their own RV Park) in Bella Coola, Canada: Susan and Karl Osmers.
A few errant photos below and then signing off til next time.