Returning To Moab, Utah (Again and Again) For More Adventures!

I really think that Moab, Utah will be on our travel plan every year.  We just love this place.  It has a vibe that we can relate to.  We spent 3 weeks here this time and tried some new adventures.  I’ll begin our Moab recap with some of our scenic drives and a little hiking.

Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky

Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky

Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky

Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky

Taking a Break on Our Hike in The Needles

Taking a Break on Our Hike in The Needles

Canyonlands National Park, The Needles

Canyonlands National Park, The Needles

Hiking to the Corona and Bowtie Arches

Hiking to the Corona and Bowtie Arches

Driving the 70-mile La Sal Mountain Loop

Driving the 70-mile La Sal Mountain Loop

View from La Sal Mountain Loop Road

View from La Sal Mountain Loop Road

Driving the La Sal Mountain Loop

Driving the La Sal Mountain Loop

We couldn’t resist getting out on the Colorado River this year.  There are many options offered (kayaks, rafting, tour boat, jet boat).  We decided to do the sunset 2 hr jetboat ride and had a blast!  Our driver made sure to give us a beautiful, as well as exhilarating ride.  So fun!

Fun, Fun, Fun on the Colorado River

Fun, Fun, Fun on the Colorado River

Breathtaking Beauty

Breathtaking Beauty

I Love The Reflection

I Love The Reflection

So Glad We Had Great Weather That Day!

So Glad We Had Great Weather That Day!

Our next big adventure was renting a Jeep for a day.  This year, in particular, we have been to so many places where having a Jeep would have been so perfect.  Now, after trying it out, we feel pretty sure that we will trade in our Ford Edge for a Jeep.  We’re excited!

We Rented A Jeep For The Day

We Rented A Jeep For The Day

Long Canyon

Long Canyon

Did you see the movie "Thelma and Louise"?   Remember the ending?

Did you see the movie “Thelma and Louise”? Remember the ending?

Shafer Trail into Canyonlands National Park

Shafer Road into Canyonlands National Park

View of Colorado River from Shafer Road

View of Colorado River from Shafer Road

Shafer Road Climbs 1,400 Feet From The Canyon Floor To The Rim

Shafer Road Climbs 1,400 Feet From The Canyon Floor To The Rim

Looking Down At Shafer Road

Looking Down At Shafer Road After Driving The Switchbacks To The Rim

Gemini Bridges Road Out Of Canyonlands

Gemini Bridges Road – It Was A Very Bumpy Road!

Willow Springs Road - The Back Road Into Arches National Park

Willow Springs Road – The Back Road Into Arches National Park

Willow Springs Road

Willow Springs Road

Mike Is Getting Good At Taking Selfies

Mike Is Getting Good At Taking Selfies

While waiting for our favorite boondocking site to become available, we spent a few days at Ken’s Lake Campground.  It’s a BLM operated campground so we get a senior discount of 50%.  We had a great site overlooking the lake.

Ken's Lake Campground

Ken’s Lake Campground

We learned of a nearby waterfall which was within hiking distance from our campsite, so we headed off to see it.  We were wondering if we took a wrong turn because I couldn’t hear any water.  When we reached the location, there was a trickle of water and the rocks looked wet.  But that was it.  This is the waterfall we hiked to see.

Waterfall?  Looks Like Wet Rocks To Me!

Waterfall? Looks Like Wet Rocks To Me!

We started hiking back down to the campground and I heard a roaring sound.  I turned around a saw this!  If I had stayed at the rocks two minutes longer, I would have been soaked (or worse)!

On/Off Switch?

On/Off Switch?

27 Kens Lake, Moab

Our favorite boondocking spot north of Moab was empty, so we headed over as quickly as possible and snagged this premium location minutes after it became available.  The previous occupants left a large pile of firewood behind, so we were all set for our 2+ week stay.  Whoopie!

Yikes!  That's tight.

Yikes! That’s tight.  It’s a skinny, rutted, dirt road getting in to our boondocking site.

Full Moon Over The La Sal Mountains (View from our camp)

Full Moon Over The La Sal Mountains (View from our camp)

The Sun Peeks Through the Clouds to Light Arches National Park (view from our camp)

The Sun Peeks Through the Clouds to Light Arches National Park (view from our camp)

We were joined by Al and Ingrid (Live, Laugh, RV blog) for Mother’s Day weekend.  Much to our delight, Ingrid cooked a bunch of her yummy goodies (healthy, too).  She prepared a skilletini breakfast for all of us on Mother’s Day and then we drank mimosas the rest of the day!  Oh happy day.

photo courtesy of Ingrid

photo courtesy of Ingrid

Ingrid caught this double rainbow early one morning

Ingrid caught this double rainbow early one morning

Mother's Day Mimosas and Much Laughter

Mother’s Day Mimosas and Much Laughter

We’re currently in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I will be leaving Mike and Lucy here and flying to California for a week with my daughter (and to get my regular dermatologist screening).  Can’t wait to see the family!

Cheers!

Arizona – Canyon de Chelly (pronounced D’Shay)

April 22-26, 2015

The cliff walls of Canyon de Chelly (D’Shay) dramatically rise to over 1,000 feet above the streams, cottonwood trees, and small farms of the Navajo people below.  People have lived in these canyons for nearly 5,000 years.  Canyon de Chelly National Monument protects nearly 84,000 acres within the Navajo Reservation, and is administered by the National Park Service.Canyon de Chelly -  01

The national monument preserves the history and the culture of Dine – the Navajo people.  To the outside world it is known as Canyon de Chelly.  To the people who live here it is Tsegi (SAY-ih), a physical and spiritual home.  An Indian guide is required to enter the canyon.  We HAD to go down there!  It was so beautiful and our guide, Terrill, was fun and informative.  But I must admit the jeep ride itself was a blast.  Mike and I have been talking about getting a jeep and this really helped push us toward it even more.

Terrill takes us into the canyon for a 3-hour tour in his jeep.

Terrill takes us into the canyon for a 3-hour tour in his jeep.

Driving in the Chinle Wash was fun!

Driving in the Chinle Wash was fun!

Canyon de Chelly -  04Canyon de Chelly -  06

Hey, I think that guy is trying to pass us!

Hey, I think that guy is trying to pass us!

It was a beautiful day

It was a beautiful day

We drove past little homes, farms, animals grazing and stopped many times to view the ancient ruins and petroglyphs.

Mike is enjoying this a lot!

This is fun!

It was so peaceful down there.  So quiet (when the jeep was stopped).  Only birds and leaves rustling in the breeze.  Really nice.

It was so peaceful down there. So quiet (when the jeep was stopped). Only sounds were birds and leaves rustling in the breeze. Really nice.

Ruins of the Ancient Puebloans

Ruins of the Ancient Puebloans

Compounds were built high on the canyon ledges and alcoves.

Compounds were built high on the canyon ledges and alcoves.

1,000 year old White House Ruin, named for the white plaster wall in the upper dwelling.

1,000 year old White House Ruin, named for the white plaster wall in the upper dwelling.

Canyon de Chelly -  16

Canyon de Chelly -  13Canyon de Chelly -  14

Mike gets a piece of Indian fry bread (with cinnamon) from a local woman in the canyon.

Mike gets a piece of Indian fry bread (with cinnamon) from a local woman in the canyon.

We took our own car on the 34-mile North Rim Drive, and the next day we took the 37-mile South Rim Drive.  We stopped at all of the pull-outs, some of which required a short hike to get to the overlook.  At several of the overlooks you will find local Navajo selling their beautiful artwork (jewelry, painting, sculpting).

It was fun to look down and recognize where we had been in the jeep.

It was fun to look down and recognize where we had been in the jeep.

Canyon de Chelly -  18

You can see the homes and little farms in the canyon.

Hiking to the overlook at the cool day.

Hiking to the overlook on the cool day.

Hiking to the overlook on the warm day.

Hiking to the overlook on the warm day.

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Using the zoom lens.

Using the zoom lens.

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Spider Rock

Spider Rock

Canyon de Chelly -  27

It was rainy the day we departed the campground.

It was rainy the day we departed the campground.

We had ZERO wifi or cellular service for the entire 5 days that we stayed here.  I can NOT believe that we lived without it for 7 years on the sailboat, because 5 days off-line about killed us!  We were having major withdrawal, so we left on a rainy day and headed straight to Moab, Utah.  We will spend 3 weeks in this favorite place of ours.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Arizona – Cottonwood, Prescott, Sedona, Winslow

April 12-21, 2015

Continuing on our trek toward Utah, we stopped in Cottonwood for 9 days.  We enjoy boondocking on the BLM land off of Thousand Trails Road.  Apparently, so do a lot of other campers.  It was quite full when we arrived, but we were able to snag a great spot.

Thousand Trails Road in Cottonwood, AZ

Thousand Trails Road in Cottonwood, AZ

Enjoying the view from our campsite.

Enjoying the view from our campsite.

Historic Old Town Cottonwood

Historic Old Town Cottonwood

Dinner at the Tavern Grill which should have been shared with John and Nancy, but they were vacationing in Mexico.  Oh well, Cheers!

Dinner at the Tavern Grill which should have been shared with John and Nancy, but they were vacationing in Mexico. Oh well, Cheers!

Looking at the picture I just posted (above) reminds me of the story about that shirt.  I went to the Columbia outlet store when we were in Phoenix to pick up a couple of new SPF long sleeve shirts since I have to stay completely covered when outdoors.  I was telling my brother-in-law how cool this shirt is because it has a little velcro tab on the front for my reading glasses.  I was excitedly going on and on about the convenience and demonstrating how it works, when he softly said “That’s for your fishing pole.”  It then occurred to me that this shirt was in the fishing section of the store.  He explained how the whole fishing pole thing worked, but since I don’t fish it sounded crazy. Reading glasses, yes.  Now that makes sense.

Our friends, Debbie and Dan were spending the weekend at their Prescott house, so we went up for the day.  They jogged/hiked with their dog and met us at Goldwater Lake for a picnic, then we went back to their house for chocolate martinis.  Totally kicked my butt.  They tasted so innocent!  (and delicious)  I drank lots and lots of water that night, and fortunately didn’t have a hangover the next day.  We always have a great time with Debbie and Dan and we were so glad we got to spend more time with them.

Picnic with Debbie and Dan at Goldwater Lake in Prescott

Picnic with Debbie and Dan at Goldwater Lake in Prescott

05 Prescott AZ Debbie and Dan

Dan built a nice fire when we got back to their Prescott home.

Dan built a nice fire when we got back to their Prescott home.

The mixologist at work

The mixologist at work

Here, Linda.  Drink this chocolate martini. heh-heh-heh

Here, Linda. Drink this chocolate martini. heh-heh-heh

With Cottonwood as our base camp, we made several day trips to Sedona to do some of those beautiful red rock hikes.

This was a 5-mile hike that included some climbing.

This was a 5-mile hike that included some climbing.

11 Sedona Boynton Trail12 Sedona Boynton Trail13 Sedona Boynton Trail

We did 7 miles on the Girdner Trail

We did 7 miles on the Girdner Trail

All the white flowers were so pretty!

All the white flowers were so pretty!

16 Sedona Girdner Trail17 Sedona Girdner Trail

Lucy was covered in red dirt.  We used an enormous amount of our precious water to bathe her.

Lucy was covered in red dirt. We used an enormous amount of our precious water to bathe her.  She doesn’t appear to appreciate it in this picture.

Next stop, Winslow, Arizona.  We are huge Eagles fans, so of course we had to see the “Standing on the Corner” statue.

Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona, and such a fine sight to see.  It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me.

Standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona, and such a fine sight to see. It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.

We camped at the Homolovi Ruins State Park so we could visit Winslow as well as tour the ruins.

We camped at the Homolovi Ruins State Park so we could visit Winslow as well as tour the ruins.

A section of the Homolovi Ruins

A section of the Homolovi Ruins of the Anasazi Indians from the 14th century

Nasty stickers known as goat heads made boots for Lucy a requirement if she wanted to hike with us.

Nasty stickers known as goat heads made boots for Lucy a requirement if she wanted to hike with us.

She hates them so much.   She kicked one off and begged us to let her hike without them.

She hates them so much. She kicked one off and begged us to let her hike without them.

I can do it.  See?  I don't need boots!

I can do it. See? I don’t need boots!

So why am I carrying her?     That little con artist!

So why am I carrying her? That little con artist!

My next post will be on our visit to the beautiful Canyon de Chelly.

Cheers!

Wickenburg, Arizona – Historic Old Mining Town

April 8-12, 2015

Headed to Congress AZ to get the rig weighed at Smart Weigh where they do one wheel at a time.  Wanted to make sure we were balanced.  We’re not, but there isn’t anything we can do about it.  We’ve shifted around all the weight we can, but there are simply too many permanently installed heavy things on the right rear side.  Sigh.

We took the opportunity to spend a few days camping in the nearby town of Wickenburg, an historic mining town founded in 1863.  It survived the typical hardships with Indian battles, bloodshed, drought, floods, and outlaws that most of our old west towns experienced.  When the railroad came in 1895, Wickenburg was thriving.01 Wickenburg banner

The Chamber of Commerce (located in the original train depot built in 1895) gave us a brochure for a walking tour of old town called “Out Wickenburg Way”.  There are 31 stops identifying historic buildings and a variety of bronze scultures located on some of the sidewalks and street corners.  Many of them have a button you can press for an audio presentation from the sculpture.  It was a fun little walk around town!

School Teacher at the Train Depot (see the audio button on the post to the right?)

School Teacher at the Train Depot (see the audio button on the post to the right?)

Sculpture of business woman Elizabeth Smith outside the Vernetta Hotel in the Hassayampa Building (1905)

Sculpture of business woman Elizabeth Smith outside the Vernetta Hotel in the Hassayampa Building (1905)

(Sculpture) Gold miner with donkey

(Sculpture) Gold miner with donkey

Bust of Henry Wickenburg, founder of the $30 million Vulture Mine, died penniless in 1905

Bust of Henry Wickenburg, founder of the $30 million Vulture Mine, died penniless in 1905

Cowboy and Dance Hall Girl

Cowboy and Dance Hall Girl

The Jail Tree, from 1863 to 1890, outlaws were chained to the jail tree for lack of a hoosegow.

The Jail Tree, from 1863 to 1890, outlaws were chained to the jail tree for lack of a hoosegow.

We were camped not far from the Vulture Mine, which has just recently started mining operations again after closing in 1942.  Vulture Mine is the most productive gold mine in Arizona history.  The abandoned mining town is now a ghost town with a weekly tour offered on Saturdays.  OK, why not?  We signed up for the tour.  The tour guide entertained our group with history, tales, and anecdotes.

08 Vulture Mine Tour sign16 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  5712 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  26 11 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  25 10 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  14 09 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  06 15 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  46 14 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  50 13 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  4317 Vulture Mine Tour - Wickenburg AZ -  53

We were feeling guilty about loafing in the RV one day, doing nothing but sitting on our butts.  So we had to get in a hike.  Since the Vulture Peak Trail was just down the road, we decided to go for it.  Unfortunately, by the time our guilt had kicked in, it was early afternoon and the sun was HOT.  We did a couple of miles and gave up only because we thought Lucy was getting over-heated (yeah, right).  Would have been a great morning hike, but we were leaving in the morning.  Maybe next time we’re in the area.

Can we make it to the peak?

Can we make it to the peak?

The desert is still in bloom.

The desert is still in bloom.

20 Vulture Peak Trail - Wickenburg AZ -  18

It's too hot to climb this much!

It’s too hot to climb this much!

Next stop, Cottonwood, Sedona, Prescott.  (We’re actually in Utah now.  I’m just catching up on the blog.)

Cheers!

A Nice, Long Visit With Friends and Family in Phoenix

Three weeks in one campground is a long stay for us.  It was nice to just hang out and enjoy leisure activities with friends and family in the Phoenix area (Cave Creek to be exact).  But before I get to all that, I need to fill in from where I last left you, which was in the Chiricahua Mountains.  From there, we headed to Tucson for a week of boondocking at Snyder Hill BLM.Snyder Hill BLM, Tucson AZ -  04

 

We did the easy hike to the top of Snyder Hill for this view.Snyder Hill BLM, Tucson AZ -  19Mike enjoyed a day at the Pima Air Museum.  He took many interesting pictures of airplanes (interesting to him anyway) but when I wait this long to do an update, I have sooooo many pictures to wade through.  Mike’s pics ended up on the cutting room floor.  Well, ok, here are two.Pima Air Museum, Tucson AZ -  07Pima Air Museum, Tucson AZ -  57Many people may not know that Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges (Rincon, Tucson, Tortolita, Santa Rita, and Santa Catalina).  In addition to the excellent hiking that this offers, there is also the beautiful Sky Island Scenic Byway to the top of Mt. Lemmon at over 9,000 feet.  From Snyder Hill on the southeast side of town, the drive takes a couple of hours allowing for some photo ops at several of the scenic pull-outs.

Sky Island Scenic Byway

Sky Island Scenic Byway

Sky Island Scenic Byway - 02We had packed a picnic lunch, but then we were seduced by the thin air and indulged in some fresh out of oven berry cobbler a la mode at the Cookie Cabin.  Yummmmm.Sky Island Scenic Byway - 03Sky Island Scenic Byway - 04

 

The Escapee’s RV Club annual Escapade Rally was taking place in Tucson while we were there, so we headed over to the fairgrounds to take a look.  We bought a few things from the vendor’s booths and that’s always fun.   Mike loves his new wheel covers because they are more pliable which makes them easier to handle.  And they have a deeper pocket over the top of the tire which makes for a more secure attachment.  We also bought a mesh sun shade panel that can attach to our large awning in case the sun is coming in from the side.  It will enable us to sit outside on those occasions when we are exposed to the setting sun on the patio side.

In mid-March we traveled up to Ben Avery Shooting Range Campground in Cave Creek (near Phoenix).  Mike’s mom lives with his sister Diane and her family in Cave Creek, so we love to visit this area as often as we can.  Plus, our friends Ingrid and Al were also staying at Ben Avery.  You must be a shooter to stay at the campground (Mike and Al both meet that qualification).  If you are a shooter, they offer great weekly and monthly rates.  They went out on several different days to shoot pistols, rifles, and shotguns.  Mike and Al were joined by Mike’s son and Al’s son, as well as Mike’s granddaughter for a day at the pistol/rifle range.  I could shoot them for not taking pictures that day.  OK, I guess that’s the wrong expression to use here.  Here’s a pic from another day where Al is coaching Mike on the fine art of ‘sporting clay shooting’ using Al’s really nice shotgun.

I was able to capture the shotgun shell ejecting as well as the clay target exploding.

I was able to capture the shotgun shell ejecting as well as the clay target exploding.  Mike had a fun day!  Al really knows his stuff when it comes to sport shooting.  Mike got a lot of great tips.

We enjoyed some hiking and happy hours, too.

Hiking Thunderbird Trail with Al and Ingrid

Hiking Thunderbird Trail with Al and Ingrid

Ingrid's perfect nachos

Ingrid’s perfect nachos

Mike whips up the Margaritas

Mike whips up the Margaritas

Spending time at Mike’s sister Diane’s house and visiting his mom was a priority for us. We went there close to every day and we have the extra pounds to prove it.  Diane planned big family meals with all the trimmings every night, including totally decadent desserts!  I don’t want you all to think that I’m a total slacker.  I cooked a few of the meals and contributed a side dish here and there, but really, Diane’s Italian heritage comes through loud and clear when her family shows up.  Mangia!  Mangia!

Mike’s son Sean and the kids drove out from Santa Clarita, California on our first weekend there.  Then his whole family came out again two weeks later for Easter weekend.  The grandkids really loved teasing Lucy into jumping in the swimming pool.  It didn’t take much to get her to do it, again and again.  Lucy loves children!

(clockwise) Mike, Sean, Keni, Diane, Glen, Perry, Cole, Nana, Brady, Kailyn, Linda

(clockwise) Mike, Sean, Keni, Diane, Glen, Perry, Cole, Nana, Brady, Kailyn, Linda

Lucy is thinking about it

Lucy is thinking about it

Lucy is airborne with front paws in dive mode.

Lucy is airborne with front paws in dive mode.

Lucy makes sure that Brady is ok

Lucy makes sure that Brady is ok

Glen gets some ribs going in the smoker

Glen gets some ribs going in the smoker

Brady ... just kickin' back

Brady … just kickin’ back

Diane's front yard confirms that it is Springtime in the desert

Diane’s front yard confirms that it is Springtime in the desert

Our fun little excursions included a day at the Cave Creek Rodeo and a day at a major league Spring Training game.

Cave Creek Rodeo

Cave Creek Rodeo

Cave Creek Rodeo AZ -  12Cave Creek Rodeo AZ -  42

Angels vs. Mariners

Angels vs. Mariners

Spring Training Baseball Game - Angels v Mariners AZ -  04

Ingrid and I enjoyed a day at the Sonoran Desert Museum.  Seeing all the possibilities that the desert offers in one place is amazing.  We both took so many pictures and it is absolutely impossible to capture all the beauty with just a few pics.Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  169Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  171Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  04Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  112Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  165Botanic Gardens, Phoenix AZ -  32

We were able to reconnect with some friends that we haven’t seen in years.  Jeff and Mike worked together before Mike retired.  After Jeff retired a couple of years ago, he and Elaine built a home at The Trilogy in Peoria.  Jeff and Elaine invited us to lunch at V’s Taproom overlooking the golf course at the Trilogy.  It’s a beautiful resort type of community with a plush country club and spa.  Very nice.  It was great to get together with them again after all these years.  Plus, we’ve been offered a room with a private bath if we ever feel the need for a vacation from our permanent vacation in the RV.  Thanks guys!  Love it.

Mike, Linda, Elaine, Jeff

Mike, Linda, Elaine, Jeff

And then my friend Debbie and her husband Dan invited us to dinner at their beautiful home in Paradise Valley.  The weather was perfect for enjoying their gorgeous yard and the full moon looked amazing over the glow of the outdoor fireplace.  We love spending time with them and hope to see them again soon when we visit Prescott.Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  04Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  26Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  19Dinner with Debbie and Dan, Phoenix AZ -  22

Debbie, Dan, Linda, Mike

Debbie, Dan, Linda, Mike

We’re currently in Cottonwood enduring some pretty high winds.  This is a good test for our new weather station which measures wind direction, wind speed, rain, temperature in and out, humidity, and moon phase.  It’s especially fun to be able to accurately measure the wind speed and wind direction, but I told Mike that we’re going to look like the Beverly Hillbillies if we attach any more gadgets on the RV.  We’ve got the satellite dish, TV antenna, solar panels, bike rack, and now the weather station.

The new weather station is taken inside when we are driving.

The new weather station is taken inside when we are driving.

Well, that almost brings us up to date.  We spent a few days in Wickenburg before coming to Cottonwood.  But I will wait a few days before doing another post.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Chiricahua National Monument – Arizona

Hiking this place has been on our bucket list for many years.  A long, long time ago, Mike and I loved to go off into the wilderness for days on end with only the packs on our backs.  We had always wanted to go backpacking in the Chiricahuas, but somehow never did make it down to this southeast corner of Arizona.  We’re not as tough as we used to be and don’t desire to backpack anymore.  But we do love day hiking, and the Chiricahua National Monument ranks up there as some of the best hiking EVER!  All I can say is that we will most definitely be returning to the Chiricahuas next year.  We hiked about 16 miles of these beautiful trails over 2 days, loving every minute of it.

Chiricahuas -  02

Chiricahuas -  22 Chiricahuas -  21 Chiricahuas -  20 Chiricahuas -  19Chiricahuas -  17Chiricahuas -  16Chiricahuas -  14Chiricahuas -  13Chiricahuas -  12Chiricahuas -  11Chiricahuas -  10Chiricahuas -  09Chiricahuas -  08Chiricahuas -  07Chiricahuas -  06Chiricahuas -  05Chiricahuas -  03Chiricahuas -  18

Salud!

More of Southern Arizona – Buenos Aires Nat’l Wildlife Refuge, Tucson, and Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

“You gotta be bird people!”, he said through clenched teeth.  I looked quizzically at the irritated man standing in the middle of our campsite.  It was clear that he meant it as an insult.  This strange and uncomfortable encounter occurred while we were camping at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge which borders Sonora, Mexico in Sasabe, Arizona.  Here’s the story … Primitive camping (free) is permitted in the wildlife refuge but only at 83 designated sites which are scattered throughout the 118,000 acres of grassland and mesquite groves.  Most are small sites, but there are a few that can comfortably accommodate a 40+ foot RV like ours.  We were excited to score a very large, beautiful site for our week of vegging in the wide open boondocks.

Our Fantastic Site #39 at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Our Fantastic Site #39 at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Very soon after we settled in, we noticed a number of cars and campers driving past us to the campsites further down the little dirt road.  Before long, we got a knock on the door by a group of women politely informing us that the Womens Javelina Hunting Club were coming in for the weekend.  There would be 70-100 women with guns, many of them first-timers.  “Uhh, ok.”  They would probably be stirring up a lot of dust going up and down the road in front of us.  “Ok.”  They would be meeting at the main campsite (the one closest to us just down the road) for breakfast at 4:30 a.m. before they all head out to hunt javelina.  “Ok, thanks for telling us.  No problem.  Have fun.”

It was obvious that we were occupying a premium site, right next to their hunting group’s main tent site, and they were hoping to scare us away.  She then told me that they were all sharing the many campsites along that road.  She said that people would be arriving late into the evening, would assume we were part of their group, and might set up tents in our campsite.  I told her that I would watch for such activity and that I would inform newcomers that we were not part of the group and send them on down the road.  Our conversation was very friendly, but I knew we weren’t reacting like she wanted us to.  She wanted us to be horrified at all this activity, and leave.  But we had already scoped out the entire area and we knew this was the only site that would accommodate us.  And it was a good one!  That evening, we only had one van pull in, but they left promptly when I apologized and told them we weren’t in the hunting club.

The next day is when Mr. Friendly arrived.  We had parked our car to block the entrance to our site (hint, hint).  He was in one car, and his wife in another.  They pulled around my car, driving through the brush, and parked right next to our campfire ring.  He jumped out of his car and started scoping out where he would pitch his tent.  I came out of the RV and said “Sorry!  We’re not part of your group.”  He just stared at me.  So I said “You’re with the hunting group, aren’t you?  They are just down the road a little farther.”   He paused, gave me a snarky look, and stated “This spot looks just fine to me.”

THIS is where he parked his car!

THIS is where he parked his car!

Ohhhhhh, I hate confrontation.  I just stood there with my mouth agape.  I said “You’re going to set up right on top of us?”  He squinted his eyes at me and snarled “Looks like a good spot.”  Then, suddenly his eyes got big, he threw his arms up, said “I’m outta here” and he quickly started backpedaling to his car.  His dramatic change of heart completely surprised me.  Then, I turned around and saw that Mike had come out of the RV to put a bag of trash in our car.  Mike hadn’t heard any of our conversation, did not know this guy was being a jerk, and didn’t even look in our direction.  He was merely walking the trash to the car.  It apparently scared the hell out of this guy.  Did he think I was alone?  Did he feel like Mr. Big Shot intimidating the little lady?  He shouted “You gotta be bird people!” as he jumped in his car (his wife hadn’t gotten out of hers) and both cars peeled out of our campsite.  So weird.  At first I didn’t get it.  I thought he was saying we looked like birds or something.  Mike suggested that he meant we were not hunters.  Ahhhhh, now I get it.  People come to the refuge to see the protected bird species, or to hunt the legal game.

We enjoyed the rest of our week, despite this encounter.  And the women’s group did not disturb us at all.  We did not hear any late night or early morning noise.  Their event only lasted a couple of days, then we had the whole place to ourselves again.3 Buenos Aires Natl Conservation Area Campsite 39

Hiking the Arivaca Creek Trail in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge

Hiking the Arivaca Creek Trail in Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge

Next, it was back to civilization.  We planned 7 days of fun in Tucson.  Since many of the activities we planned were not doggie-friendly, we decided that we should pay for a hook-up site so that Lucy could have air conditioned comfort while we left her alone in the RV.  We booked a week at the Gilbert Ray Campground on the west side of Tucson.  Poor Lucy.  She couldn’t even go hiking with us there.  But, even so, we enjoyed our stay immensely.  The hiking and the sight-seeing was tons of fun.

A Beautiful Hike in Tucson Mountain Park (right from our campground!)

A Beautiful Hike to Wasson Peak in Tucson Mountain Park (right from our campground!)

A Fun Happy Hour with Al and Ingrid

A Fun Happy Hour with Al and Ingrid

We enjoyed an evening with Al and Ingrid, our friends and fellow bloggers from Live, Laugh, RV.  Ingrid prepared her very special nachos and homemade brownies.  We all pigged out (in our most eloquent manner, of course).

A Nice Sunset at Snyder Hill BLM Campground

A Nice Sunset at Snyder Hill BLM Campground

We Visited The Mission San Xavier built in 1783.  A National Historic Landmark.

We Visited The Mission San Xavier built in 1783. A National Historic Landmark.

Mission San Xavier

Mission San Xavier

Walking Around the Artistic Little Town of Tubac

Walking Around the Artistic Little Town of Tubac

We Did The Walking Tour Of The Tucson Historic District.  Very Colorful!

We Did The 2-1/2 mile Walking Tour (called the Turquoise Trail) Of The Tucson Historic District, Very Colorful!

The Old CourtHouse on the Turquoise Trail

Built in 1929, the Pima County Courthouse on the Turquoise Trail

High on our list of things to do was a return visit to the Sonoran Desert Museum.  We just love the beautiful setting, the variety of wildlife, and the Raptors in Flight demonstration where the birds fly inches over your head.  It’s so thrilling!  (We must be bird people!)

Owl Alighting

Owl Alighting (not a very clear pic, but I love it anyway)

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

In The Hummingbird Garden of the Sonora Desert Museum

In The Hummingbird Garden of the Sonora Desert Museum

We love it that Jane and Bob, our friends who split the year between their two homes in Colorado and Arizona, invited us to a great hike in Tortolita Mountain Park.  It turned out to be more than we all bargained for and we almost missed our dinner reservation!  We arrived at the Old Pueblo Grill parched, hungry, and sore.  The Grand Marnier Margaritas were the perfect medication!

Hiking the Wild Burro Trail in Tortolita Mountain Park

Hiking the Wild Burro Trail in Tortolita Mountain Park

Jane and Bob on the trail

Jane and Bob on the trail

The next day we were off to the Rodeo!

Jane and Linda at the Tucson Rodeo "Fiesta de Los Vaqueros"

Jane and Linda at the Tucson Rodeo “Fiesta de Los Vaqueros”

It Was Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Lot of Pink Shirts on Everyone!

It Was Breast Cancer Awareness Day.  Pink Shirts on Everyone!

A Lot Of Action .. All Day!

A Lot Of Action .. All Day!

Dramatic Sunsets Almost Every Night

Dramatic Sunsets Almost Every Night.   I Call This One “The Eagle”

Our week flew by quickly.  Next up, Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area (1500 acres).  Over 20,000 Sandhill Cranes winter here and we were hoping to get there before they leave (usually by the end of February).  Not sure if the cold weather has played a role in keeping them here, but here they were!  And it was Amazing!

Camping is allowed for 3 days near the viewing platform at Whitewater Draw.

Camping is allowed for 3 days near the viewing platform at Whitewater Draw.  The viewing platforms are just a short walk away beyond the hay barn.

This Great Horned Owl Was In The Rafters Of The Hay Barn.  He Was Looking Right At Lucy!  It Was Scary!

This great horned owl was in the rafters of the hay barn. He was looking right at Lucy! It was scary!

Mike and Lucy at Whitewater Draw

Mike and Lucy at Whitewater Draw

The Sandhill Cranes spend the night standing in the shallow water.  They fly off at sunrise to go feed in the fields and return at sunset.  Usually they also return to the water in small groups for a mid-day break.  So one can view the cranes throughout the day.  However, the most dramatic viewing is sunrise and sunset when they flock in mass.  Jane’s pictures turned out better than mine, so I’m posting hers!  I tried to post a video of this, but I haven’t figured out how to do it efficiently yet.

Sandhill Cranes Flying (photo courtesy Jane Forster)

Sandhill Cranes Flying (photo courtesy my friend Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

(photo courtesy Jane Forster)

It is not only an incredible sight to see, but the sound!  Oh my god, the sound!  Awesome experience.

Now, we’re off to explore the Chiricahuas!  Cheers!