Saturday, April 16, 2011

Welcome to spring in the desert...

Just one week ago we were in Globe, AZ watching the large snowflakes and the feel the 37F. with the nearby hillsides white! Today we're in Indio, CA and parked behind the Fantasy Springs Casino at 103.5F trying to find a bit of coolness on the shady side of the motorhome. We just left our friends' drive in Scottsdale after Ms. Nancy got in one more swim in 70F water, refreshed and ready to travel, even if she didn't think her evening would be this warm.
These past few weeks have taken us through southern Arizona, from when we last left Ajo through to Tucson, the ranch and grasslands of Southern AZ along the Mexican border, the Huachuca mountains, the copper mining district and funky town of Bisbee, the Chiracahua National Monument and now Safford and Globe along the "old west highway" on to Phoenix. We've never been travelers to back track, so all our routes tend to be nice loops and this one should take us back to SoCal and Glen Eden.
By way of overview (and photos) we had a wonderful time with some of our oldest friends from our early RVing days and exploring a new region. We enjoyed good weather, until now, good food including Ethiopian, vegetarian, different quality of Mexican and middle eastern, and even a good steak house. Nancy got some much needed pool time while in Tucson. While there, Tom, dropped and broke his 6year+ camera while on a bicycle ride and was really bummed out. Laundry got done, and new sites were visited and old ones revisited. We got back to the Sonoran Desert Museum, a landmark in the Tucson area, with our friend Deanna. Wildflowers were somewhat scarce this year due to poor winter rains in the area. Sierra Vista was a great location to explore the popular birding spots of Ramsey Canyon and the San Pedro Riparian area which was one of the busiest for migrating hummers and other species between the Rio Grande and the Colorado Rivers. Water is a real treat in the desert, and even the grasslands of southern AZ We explored nearby Fort Huachuca, home of the famous all black cavalry units or "Buffalo Soldiers" of the 19th and early 20th century. They were renowned as talented and hard fighting in the Indian wars against the Apache who were the main obstacle to travel and settlement of this area, and later went on to valor in WWI and WWII. More recently the Fort has become the center of advanced communications as an outgrowth of the US Army Signal Corps. It's an active post and is the primary support in the community.
We were also able to visit the nearby copper mining town of Bisbee. Now rediscovered as a funky and artsy tourist area after years of decline from when the mines closed and converted the labor intensive underground & hard rock mining for the energy and capital equipment intensive open pit mining. We did take in an underground tour of the Copper Queen Mine complete with hardhats, lights and rainslickers...enhances the tourist experience I guess. Interesting history, too, of diversity and labor protest in early part of 20th century, as well. One of the first mass deportations in US history occurred here in 1917 with roundup of hundreds of striking miners and their "removal" to New Mexico.
After a week in the area we decided it was time to move along to the rest of our winter travel route and to the Chiracahua National Monument. We (at least one of us) have always wanted to explore these mountains and former lands of the Chiracahua Apache. The "HooDoos" or rock formations are the result of wind and water erosion acting on the 2000feet of rhyolite laid down by the TurkeyCreek volcano over 25million years ago. It's a beautiful area with lots of trails and hideaways in the rocks, surrounded by high country grasslands and oak-juniper forest lands of the Coronado National Forest. We thoroughly enjoyed our short time here. After that we traveled north through Willcox and along the "old west highway" through Safford, San Carlos, Globe and Superior ending at Apache Junction after a brief visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and a tour of spring flowers and wonderful desert landscaped exhibits.

We finished our tour in Phoenix area enjoying visits and food with friends along the street in Chandler and in the drive of friends in Scottsdale. And now it's time to head west and back to our SoCal homespace. Our garden seeds have grown to healthy seedlings and are ready to be planted..our first return to gardening in over 18 years! We rigged a simple rack to hold the seedlings in our shower under the skylight and they grew wonderfully. We're now considering using it for other plantings throughout the summer months since the light is so good, and it's relatively insulated from temperature swings. Just another adaptation to life on the road. That's it for this installment. We're headed back to where diesel prices are above $4.50/gallon so our summer travel plans are really uncertain at this time. Stay tuned for more...happy trails.