Thursday, February 28, 2019

time to go again

Time to pack up and break camp again.    We've enjoyed our time here at Catalina State Park (we always do), even with the snowy interlude last week.

Monday was the first really nice day and, luckily, that was the day we had an appointment with the windshield repair shop.   They arrived right on time and made quick work of removing Beluga's cracked windshield and installing the new one.

Yesterday Gay and Joe came over and we had a pleasant hike on the birding trail followed by pizza back at our site.

The trail is an easy one through a lush mesquite bosque, up a ridge with expansive views and big Saguaro and back down along and through the sometimes dry, sometimes wet Sutherland's wash.

Joe tests the water 

Yesterday the wash was running full and very cold.    Very cold.   In an effort to keep our feet dry we tried a trick I saw Hans and Lisa use on FaceBook a couple days ago.   For the first crossing  we all put tall kitchen garbage bags over our feet and held on to the ties as we walked across the water.   I think Gay stopped to take our pictures, I'd love to see them!     Halfway across we realized that the bags weren't working for us.    We all arrived on the other side with varying degrees of wet feet.

I didn't get any decent bird pictures as we walked along.   The few I did take were purely for identification purposes.   Hopefully Gay and her big honking lens got a couple good shots!

At the next water crossing (there were 4 all together) we (Dave and I) decided to take our shoes and socks off and wade through the icy water barefoot. 

Gay and Joe chose to leave their shoes on and just deal with wet feet for the rest of the hike.

Much better.   And, actually, for the last bit of the hike Dave and I just continued with our feet bare.   The footing on the trail was soft sand (it's part of the bridle path) and it felt quite nice for a change - don't judge.

Gay and Joe came back to Beluga for pizza and conversation before heading back to the KOA and their pups.

That's about the only exciting thing we did while we were here.   Mostly, we just  enjoyed our beautiful surroundings and those blue skies.

behind our campsite is the equestrian camping area often filled with beautiful horses

round tailed ground squirrels
We enjoyed the antics of our little neighbors, the ground squirrels.   They hustle about and dart in and out of their holes.   Often they sit on the edges and chatter to each other.    Sometimes they seem to just gaze at the scenery and enjoy each other's company.    One Happy Hour we sitting in our chairs, watching two little guys sitting outside their hole in companionable silence.   We laughed and said they looked like us, talking about who knows what and just enjoying themselves.     All of a sudden, out of the blue, a hawk swooped down and grabbed one of them and flew off!    The other one just sat there looking up and then it started it was calling the other.   Peeping like it was crying!   It carried on for quite awhile.....   It made us feel really bad.
  I know, I know...... Hawks need to eat too, anthropomorphism is dumb, I know.  It just seemed sad.

Today as we were coming back from Safeway we saw a beautiful Coyote in the field quite close to the road.   It seemed to be rooting around the base of a Mesquite so we stopped to watch.    Yep, you guessed it!  We watched it grab one of those little ground squirrels, give it a quick shake and then - down the hatch!    It's a tough life for a Round Tailed Ground Squirrel. 


Tomorrow morning we're off for a week stay in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Catalina State Park

We moved up to one of our favorite places on Monday afternoon.   Catalina State Park is hard to get a spot in but we were lucky enough to score a 2 week stay in a choice site.

Rain and cold temperatures were forecast for this week.   When we arrived the Ranger on duty gave us a slip of paper telling us that the dry wash, located across the entry road, may flood, trapping us in the campground at any time.    With heavy rain in the near forecast, we quickly set up camp and then headed out to the grocery store for some necessary (mayonnaise, cookies, asparagus, you know - staples) supplies.     

The sky threatened for most of the first day, spritzed a bit the next, the clouds over the mountains advancing and retreating ominously.

I had one off road drive planned and we decided we'd better do it before the weather really closed in.   We've driven part of Reddington Pass Road with Jodee and Bill and then again by ourselves - starting at it's beginning off Tanque Verde Road on Tucson's east side.   We enjoyed the road and the views but never got a chance to take it all the way to the end, near Oracle and I really wanted to do that.      Wednesday was the day.     

The road was paved all the way until just past San Manuel, an early Del Webb planned community surrounding a now defunct mine.   Shortly thereafter we dropped down onto dirt and continued through a veritable forest of huge, old Saguaro, over several dry washes and into vibrant green Mesquite bosques.

a sweet little crested Saguaro

tire bracelets on one arm!

After crossing the dry San Pedro River bed we parked the Jeep and took a lovely long walk down it's beautiful white sand bottom.   Birdsong kept us company as we walked along marveling at how completely flat and level the course was.   No rocks, no snags or erosions to mar the soft footing.

San Pedro River bed beckoned us 

We came to a running wash that didn't look too bad, too deep, so we got out and walked past it a ways to see what we'd be getting ourselves into if we went ahead.    

It was decided that, while Rocky could make it through this part of the wash easily, what came next would be too much of a challenge.   Deep, black, sticky mud waited for us after this stretch of running water.    That we didn't want to experience so we turned around and headed home.   

One wash evidently had fast running water in it often.   Someone had piled old cars at it's curve to try and keep the stream within it's banks. 

We had a lovely sunset that night and that was the end of our good weather...... 

It rained hard, all night long.    We woke up to a snow covered landscape and the realization that the park was now closed to incoming and outgoing traffic.    The wash was running.   Our surroundings had become a study in black and white.

bedroom window view

lark sparrow

flat Lewis was bored with nothing fun to do

While we were kept inside, we did a bit of cooking.  One thing was our version of the famous Sonoran hot dog.   We used one of our favorite western New York hotdogs (Sahlens) for the delicacy but the other ingredients were more or less traditional.   A soft Bolillo roll, beans, onions, pickles, tomatoes, jalepenos, etc., etc..    They were good.

Tonight we are under a hard freeze warning.   The expected night time temperatures are expected to be in the 20s.    That means that poor Dave must unhook and take in our water hose before bed to keep it from freezing.    Our outside compartments have heat ducts from the furnace so nothing else should freeze.     

To help the propane furnace keep us toasty warm and happy we run a small electric heater most all day.   Just on schedule, it stopped working a few hours ago.    The coldest night we've had so far and it stopped working.

workman at his workbench

Dave was determined to fix it, tonight.    He altered one of his screwdrivers to the necessary configuration and took the little appliance apart.   He discovered it was an easy fix.

Simply vacuum all the accumulated desert dust from the inside and it was humming along happily a few minutes later.    The little red light is glowing now and we're enjoying the heat that is pouring out.    Thanks Dave.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

One more day

Yesterday we took lunch and drove down to Madera Canyon to do a bit of birdwatching.     We keep trying to find the Elegant Trogon in the mixed woods there.     S.E. Arizona is the only place to see these magnificent birds and Madera Canyon (about 25 miles south of Tucson) is one of the "big" siting spots.

It was a clear, cool day and there were very few leaves on the trees yet.   We drove down Proctor Rd. (in the Canyon) to it's end and sat quietly and ate lunch.....No birds.    We moved to walk along the beautiful Madera Creek.

Dave has his winter jacket on...and he's still cold!

The wind was stiff, out of the north.    We kept walking and enjoying the clear racing creek and looking up into the bare canopy for birds.

We saw a couple Acorn Woodpeckers and a number of pretty little Grey-Headed Junco but no Elegant Trogon.....

The chilly wind prevailed and we gave up once again.   There are three ways to travel the 25 miles back to Tucson.    We came down on I-19 which is most expeditious but pretty boring.   One is a dirt road through acres of fairly boring mesquite and grasslands and the one we chose was Mission Road.   It took us north through the miles and miles of open pit copper mines and then into the San Xavier Indian Reservation.     The mines were interesting to look at, the machinery used in them was HUGE, unbelievably huge.    No traffic, interesting scenery, good choice.

Mt. Wrightson in the background - an edge of one of the Twin Butte mines in the foreground

Helmet Peak

mine tailings
Today was Daytona 500 Day in Beluga.  We watched and cooked and did laundry in preparation for our move to Catalina State Park in the morning.

I borrowed this photo from the internet to show you what we were looking for -
The Elegant Trogan!   Isn't it beautiful?

Friday, February 15, 2019

What we've been up to

The weather has been up and down here this year.   As I said before, we've taken advantage of the nasty days to take care of business but there have been far too many of those days for my taste.

We ordered a new water pump for Beluga and it took 10 days to get here.   When it finally arrived, it wasn't a water pump at all....D amn!    Not only did we not have the part we had been waiting for, but we had to run around and find a UPS store to return the trailer inverter control panel that GoGoRV evidently thought we needed.   Grrr.    We did see a fantastically fantastic crested Saguaro in our travels that day so all was not lost.

this beauty was replanted right next to a busy road....
we wondered why it was moved there and from where?

Nature is strange and beautiful

And drove past this really cool reflective building while we were out doing errands one day.

You can tell Spring is around the corner when you go into the pet store to buy dog food and you find rows and rows of sweet little chicks for sale.....

 The poodle mowing went well also.   Lewis is now all neat and fresh and smelling of lavender.   I don't know if he likes that, but we do.

Lewis loses a full pail of hair each time

Second Cup outdoors happened most days this week because we were able to find a tiny sliver of sun behind Beluga and, if we wore sweatshirts or vests, we could enjoy an hour or so there with Lewis and his rug.

fully engaged in his favorite game of hide the fish......

Gay and Joe came over for dinner on Tuesday.   It was nice enough to sit outside for awhile but as soon as the evening cold came creeping in we moved inside to eat and visit.    Gay made a knock-out Kentucky Derby Pie for dessert and the dear woman left the rest here for us to gorge ourselves on the next day (or perhaps later that evening?).    No pictures, gone too fast.

Wednesday Vivace's Seafood Soup called for Dave.   He's been trying to finagle a time to be in the area so we could "drop in" for lunch.    Wednesday was the day and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.   My lunch was yummy too but did not illicit the same level of happy sounds I heard from across the table.    Again, no pictures, gone too fast.

Friends Allison and Jim ( invited us to their sweet new Tucson Estates house for dinner on Thursday evening.    We had a lovely time, good food and conversation and.....once again, no pictures.

Today Dave and I drove down to the wine country around Sonoita.   We didn't do any wine tastings, but did take a nice long drive through nearby Las Cienegas National Conservation Area.

this 45,000 acre area consists of 5 of the rarest habitats in Arizona, but my favorite is the beautiful
semidesert grassland.

We were looking for birds, black tailed prairie dogs (they have been reintroduced since being totally eradicated in the 60's - due to over hunting.....) and the resident Pronghorn that populate the beautiful tan grasslands.

beautiful but deadly Shrike, aka the Butcher bird

We saw hawks soaring, hovering and hunting, shrikes and kestrel seemed to pose for us.    We heard birds (Flickers, sparrows, cardinals, etc.,) everywhere but couldn't put our eyes on many of them.

the Creek flows through the Cottonwood/Oak woods behind the Jeep

We walked along the perennially flowing Cienega Creek until the footing got too squishy due to the recent heavy rains.

Once back out in the grasslands we spotted lots of the sweet faced Pronghorn grazing peacefully.

Until I put my window down and began to speak to a few that were close to the road.....they were very curious.

Only two more days before we move up to Catalina State Park.   See you then!

field of California poppies near Allison and Jim's house