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Sunday, March 31, 2013

SAGUARO COUNTRY


Cactus wren  Photo taken by Dick Mallery



In my last blog I said we were headed for the big cities of Tucson and Phoenix. Along the way we  went to Green Valley to visit Traverse City friends, Nina and Jerry Mann, who now have a beautiful adobe winter home there. It was great fun to sit outside on their back patio under a full moon, watching for the rare comet Pan-STARRS, which we never did see.

We headed north and stayed in the Tucson Mountain Park at Gilbert Ray Campground. It is located next to Saguaro National Park. I love the saguaro cactus and all the creatures that depend on it and we arrived in time to experience the desert in bloom. One day we spent 6 hours touring the Sonoran Desert Museum.  I'm not a fan of museums and zoos, but this place impressed me when I visited it in 1979 and again this time.   SONORAN DESERT MUSEUM


Mountain Lion at Desert Museum Photo taken by Dick Mallery

We then moved to the NE side of Tucson to Catalina State Park and visited Sabino Canyon.  Maybe it was the time of year but it felt like an amusement park with all it's crowds. As we hiked through the canyon we could hear the sound of the tour guides on the shuttle buses over their speakers. It is a good thing that they don't allow cars on the drive to the top of the mountain anymore - too many people. Again I say, the Boomers are coming, the Boomers are coming!!  Over 10,000 Boomers retire each day and they say for the next twenty years. We are finding some places less attractive because of all the people. When it gets too difficult to get into parks we may change our way of traveling.

We then traveled up to Apache Jct. to Lost Dutchman State Park. This is a beautiful place next to the Superstition Mountains on the outskirts of Phoenix and a convenient place to camp for a week while we visited my parents and do some repairs. Dick is not in his element when we're in cities. He is not patient so that adds to his frustration with people and traffic. He did hike to the top of the mountain to get away from it all but there were a ton of people on the trails. He was happy to move on.

My parents
We moved north to Camp Verde to a National Forest campground situated along Clear Creek under Sycamore and Cottonwood trees. It was very quiet with lots of birds - nesting Kestrels, ravens, woodpeckers, cardinals, yellow-rumped warblers and at night listening to the calls of the great horned and screech owls.  My parents drove up to visit for a day, Laurie and Bill Bassett, friends from home, drove down from Oak Creek, where they rent a condo for a month, and we visited around a campfire under the full moon. We hadn't seen them since the Everglades and it was fun catching up.  We had a quiet few days until the weekend when the park filled up with loud, inconsiderate, partying people. We get spoiled with quiet secluded places. We'll be leaving soon to find that place.

Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Mtns.
Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson
Funny Face loves laying in the sun on the motorhome dashboard



Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTHWEST

When we travel west we always stop in Columbus, New Mexico. We like its uniqueness and friendliness. We camp in town at Pancho Villa State Park. Before Janice left us, we wanted her to experience The Pink Store, located just across the border in Palomas Mexico. When we crossed the border it was a bit unsettling to see Mexican police and military with M16s. We walked as quickly as we could to the The Pink Store to shop and have lunch. Before we went into Mexico, a park volunteer, who goes over to Palomas often, made the comment that it is very safe and there has never been any problems for US citizens.  Janice immediately asked, "What about Canadians?" Yvonne Romero, the owner of the store, always greets us as we arrive and makes everyone feel welcome.


Mexican Military in Palomas   Photo Credit Janice Henshaw

Statue of Pancho Villa in Palomas Square

Tarahumara woman selling her creations in Palomas
The Pink Store
Lunch   Photo Credit Janice Henshaw

This year we stayed to experience Camp Furlong Days. The annual event promotes friendship and goodwill between the US and Mexico.  Residents from both sides of the border join in celebrating. The date of this event is the date Mexico invaded the United States in 1916.  This year the Columbus Historical Society honored the 18 US victims of that day with photos on display. There were speakers and vendors and people singing and dancing in the plaza. The most spectacular of all was the parade of riders who had traveled over 150 miles to cross the border to join with riders from the U.S. in a celebration of peace.  


Parade of Mexican riders joined with the US riders 

Cabalgata Riders 

Centered in the Village Plaza - dancers, music, arts and crafts and food treats

 
This man is holding a picture of his grandfather who was killed the night of the raid.
 He was born the same date and time of the raid thirty-two years later. 
Sapphire Energy outside of Columbus, NM    Click here to read more

Loved the food at this little place in Columbus.  Manuela, the owner, takes orders, cooks, sometimes serves and somehow squeezes a little time to chat with customers.  

We make so many new friends while traveling and sometimes we're on the same routes and staying at the same campgrounds. We also look up friends from home who are traveling in the South for the winter. It makes traveling so much more fun. We looked up Marlene and Dave Ferguson before they headed back to Michigan and then spent a couple of days doing fun things with Mary Ann and Bob Warner. Of course when we're in Deming we try to look up the Kretek twins who we met through the Warners three years ago. These two women are now in their 80's and have lived in Deming since birth. They are very involved in the community and are very active. If they're not playing golf then they're involved in some fundraiser. They are characters and have some interesting comments on historical events in the area. They definitely don't like Pancho Villa. Their parents lived during the time of the raid and I'm sure they heard many things against him through the years. Also they remember as children the sound of the bomb that was tested in a remote area north of them.  It shook their windows but their mom said it was nothing, just go back to bed. Their brother had a paper route and had to go deliver papers and he saw the glow from it.  Info on atomic bomb 
Regarding the spaceship crash and the aliens, their friends who lived near Roswell saw the army come in and haul something out.  The army (government) said it was just a weather balloon but the ranchers say it was a space craft crash and they believe the ranchers and their friends.  Info on Alien Spaceship    (Gertrude and Geraldine Kretek pictured below)



Camping friends, Jon and Ellen Konnert, we met in Big Bend and again at Columbus and once more at Portal.
We look forward to meeting again.

From Columbus we continued west on Hwy 9 to Arizona and into the Chiricahua Mountains. We love the Portal, AZ side.  It was the first time driving into our favorite National Forest Campground with our new, taller motorhome.  We weren't sure if we could get in without scraping, so we parked the motorhome at the visitor's center and drove the car to the campground watching for branches that may be too low. There was only one that we had to worry about but we squeezed in just fine. 




After a couple days we drove to the West side of the Chiricahuas to the National Park but camped just outside of the park entrance because all the larger camping spaces were full. This little triangle of BLM land was the best camping spot. We were the only ones and it was dark and peaceful. The next morning, inside the park, we caught a morning shuttle to the top of the mountain and hiked the 9 1/2 miles back to our car through beautiful rock formations and landscape. Now it's on to civilization and the light and noise of Tucson and Phoenix. 





















Saturday, March 16, 2013

CARAVAN TO NEW MEXICO

Our motorhome leading the way - taken by Janice from her truck


The Ghost Town of Terlingua


Heading west out of Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande
Contrabando Movie set along the Rio Grande

We left Big Bend National Park passing through the old mining town of Trelingua and following the road along the Rio Grande River through Big Bend Ranch State Park and the border towns of **Lajitas, Redford and Presidio. We were in the lead with Janice and Baloo following. Our plan was to head for Marfa to see the famous Marfa lights. The gas station attendant in Marfa said RVs can park overnight at the Viewing Area.  As we were approaching the parking lot we thought we saw the famous “Pummell.”  Our German friends, Hilo and Sigo were camped there too. I felt very safe parked behind them for the night. No one would bother us with their rig in sight. We stayed awake until around 10 pm hoping to see this strange phenomenon that people come from all over to see. I woke up around 11:15 pm and looked out to see one twinkling light on the horizon that I hadn’t seen before. I woke Dick but he wasn’t impressed saying it was just a porch light or car lights. The next morning Janice was so excited saying there was no doubt she’d seen the lights around 11:30 p.m.  Marfa Lights
Parked at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area with Pummell in the lead
We went through many Border Patrol checkpoints where
dogs were used to sniff our rig for drugs or illegals.
We continued on to Guatalupe National Park and experienced a very windy night. The wind blows quite often in Texas. We asked a man if the wind ever stops blowing in Texas and his answer was, “Yes, just long enough to turn and blow the other direction.”
Janice was worried her 14 ft trailer would blow over. It didn’t help her any when the park ranger said the winds get so bad sometimes they have to close down the mountain pass. They’ve had 18 wheeler trucks get blown over on their sides. She parked between us and another RV to help shield her that night.

Guadalupe Mountains National Monument Campground
The next day we drove on west through the natural break in the Rockies that gives the town of El Paso its name, leaving the big state of Texas and into New Mexico. Our destination was Pancho Villa State Park, in the little village of Columbus.
Janice stayed with us a few more days but she decided she’d better say good-bye and start heading home to British Columbia, Canada. Canadian’s cannot be out of their Province for more than six months or they lose their health insurance and they can only legally be in the United States (a US thing) for six months but don’t ask me why. We hated to see her leave us. We will meet again for sure. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TEXAS TERRITORY

Abandoned building in one of the many little (ghost) towns along Hwy 90 

 Janice, hiking with us in Santa Elena Canyon near Cottonwood Campground

Big Bend Blue Bonnet - it's everywhere! Photo taken by Janice

Enjoying coffee and conversation at the Chisos Basin 
Cottonwood Campground
Texas has miles and miles of wide open spaces. Driving west on Hwy. 90 from San Antonio, ranches are few and far between and the towns we passed through looked like ghost towns. Our plan was to head for Alpine where we would stay at a commercial park so we could connect to cable and I could watch the Oscars. I decided to give up that idea when we began to experience cold temps and high winds.  I emailed my sister and asked if she would tape the show for me and mail it to Big Bend National Park. We would have an "Oscar Night" later. We wanted to head as far south as we could to the Rio Grande - the boundary between the United States and Mexico.  It was a wise move. Cottonwood Campground near Santa Elena Canyon was much more pleasant. We met up with our Canadian friend who had also headed that way for the same reasons and we explored that side of the park together. The center of attention was a pair of Great Horned Owls that we could spot in the high branches of a Cottonwood trees. Every evening, at the same time just before dusk, campers would gather to watch them mate. A great place for bird watching, the vermillion flycatchers were everywhere. After a few days we relocated to the Rio Grande Village on the East side of the park. Even though Janice needs to be home by March 22, she went too. On the way we stopped to stash a gallon of water at the Homer Ranch. Dick was planning a two day, 33 mile backpacking trip on the Outer Loop which passes through this ranch and water is scarce in the desert. One afternoon the three of us went to soak in the hot springs. Dick stayed in just a little too long. As he climbed out of the water to cool off he said to me, "I'm feeling faint" and slumped over. (Janice's first thought was being the joker Dick is that he was just pretending). If we hadn't been there to catch him who knows what would have happened. There was a river guide also enjoying his soak in the hot springs who quickly came over to help. Even though he's fainted before I was very upset. Dick finally woke up looking at this guy slapping him in the face. The next day he would leave on his two day hike. Janice knew I was a bit concerned that he might faint again and without someone there to catch him he'd fall off the side of a mountain. I think she was just as concerned as I was because she stayed around until he returned.

Above the Rio Grande on the Hot Springs Trail



The Mexicans come across the border and set up a display of handmade items for sale.
Here is a Snake skin covered walking stick and copper wire scorpion - a real scorpion (dead) used in the display

DICK'S PICS CLICK HERE

You are probably wondering what the green vehicle is in Dick's Pics. It belongs to a German couple. They renovated an old Berlin Wall Border Patrol truck and had it shipped to Canada. We kept meeting up with them in Big Bend and beyond. 


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