Sunday, March 19, 2023

Two weeks away

 Now that we're back home again I can show you the rest of our short Benson based adventure.    The snow didn't last very long so we were off exploring the area again the next day.    

unusual parallel contrails in the blue blue sky

We took Cascabel Road north from Benson on a quest for crested Saguaros.   I read somewhere, don't remember exactly where, that there were a few in the vicinity so off we went.     The road was paved for 10 miles or so and then was a relatively wide, graded road that followed the path of the San Pedro River and across it's various washes.     The sky alternated between brilliantly blue and a threatening gray but no rain or snow appeared.   Phew.

San Pedro

please don't rain.....

The further we drove the more giant Saguaros we saw, probably the biggest ones we've ever encountered.    

It was a great drive and we found what we were ultimately looking for!    We saw 7 cresteds in about 30 miles of driving!    Some were near the road, some in the distance on private land, some small and early in development and some huge and old.





three (ish)





Another day we (in John and Pam's Jeep) drove down to Tombstone to see all the work done at Jodee and Bill's house after a car crashed into their livingroom a few years ago!    Beautiful new fireplace and bathroom, lovely colors and views - all in all the perfect home for them.     When we were done oohing and ahhing we followed them in their Jeep into new to us areas to visit some ghost towns Pam had on her agenda.  Pearce, Gleeson, Fairbank.....

a Jodee sized door

John and Tessa wait for us to catch up

Tessa follows to make sure Pam doesn't fall into an abandoned mine

the school complete with entry columns (and two heads....)

the jail

Since this post was not done in a timely manner, and since we drove so many places in such a short time I can't (actually WE can't) seem to put everything into the proper order, which days we went where and saw what so forgive me.    I'll just show you the pictures and that will be that!

These next shots are from Bisbee, I know they are....It's a favorite place to wander and enjoy the quirky art and, as always, eat!

beautiful tailings color

four amigos keeping busy while waiting for lunch

We also made sure we got out in nature for some explorations.   One day we headed to Cochise Stronghold for a short nature hike with Pam and John.     We were a little nervous about this destination as we got closer because  we saw smoke coming from the entrance.....

As we approached we saw large signs informing us of a prescribed burn in the Stronghold, but the road was open so we decided to see how far we could go before the smoke became too thick and hindered our sight.    We all hated the thought of turning around.....       

cough cough

It was being well managed and we eventually drove out of the heavy smoke so we're glad we didn't abort our exploration.

We parked at the end of the road and followed the short nature trail.   The sky was blue and the area beautiful.

Pam and John continued on to the interpretive trail but we opted to sit beside the running creek and eat our lunch.....accompanied by a family of noisy Mexican Jay's.

We made two other excursions on our own a few days later.    One to White Water Draw Wildlife Area and the other to the Chiricahua National Monument, about 75 miles to our east.

We've been to White Water Draw before, the first time with Nina and Paul.    We always enjoy finding water and the birds it attracts, so we were happy to stroll around the ponds again, seeing what we could see.

Beluga and The Beast in 2013

old friends, years ago at White Water

This visit the famous Sandhill Cranes were in a field on the other side of the muddy pond.   We could hear them and see them in the distance.   Hundreds of Snow Geese were in residence at the far side of the water.    Near shore, the shallow water was muddy from the large numbers of Northern Shoveler ducks crusing around with their bills down, stiring up plant matter for lunch.   It was a challenge to photograph them with their heads up!

at last he comes up for air!

Mrs. Shoveler was much more photogenic

We were disappointed that the old barn that housed a grand Great Horned Owl was no longer standing.  We missed seeing him......


Our last adventure was at the Chiricahua National Monument.    It was a long drive but well worth the effort.     After arriving at the Visitor's Center - yes, I did go to the VC first - we wandered down to nearby Bonita Creek and sat on a huge, sun warmed rock to eat our lunch.    Once again, we were joined by several beautiful Mexican Jays.

After lunch we took the Bonita Canyon Scenic Drive into the fantastic rock formations.   

I bet that rock made noise when it fell!

can you see Cochise Head?  He's lying back, looking at the heavens

We stopped several times to wonder at the views.    I wanted to get out into those rocks and boulders very badly.    Seeing them from the car is wonderful, but I really wanted to get closer so when we reached the end of the loop drive we decided to do a bit of a hike.

The trail started out smooth enough so I didn't take my hiking poles.   In retrospect, that was probably not a good decision as the footing became increasingly rocky.   Ah well, hindsight you know.    I had Dave's strong arm to help me over a few spots and I'm quite proficient at butt crawling down rocks so it was no problem to see the balanced rocks and grottos.

Satisfied and happy we returned to the Jeep and made the long drive back home to Beluga.    Late afternoon sun on the Dragoons made me smile as we approached Benson.

That pretty much wraps up our two week getaway.    It was a much needed break and we thank Pam and John for suggesting it.     The drive back to Wickenburg revealed that much happens in two weeks.....the desert landscape a few weeks ago was very different from the riot of wild flowers that greeted us on our way home.     Pictures couldn't do it justice, nor did I want to take my eyes off the riot of orange, yellow, blue and purple flashing by my window to try and focus a camera.     Here's one quick shot of lupines et al lining the interstate.   Spring is here!


  1. The crested saguaros, White Water, Chiricahua, good friends, how does it get any better?!?! You cannot help but wonder how old some of those saguaros are and the stories they could tell if they could talk.

    1. You're right, this trip was pretty good..... I agree, I wish we could hear what they've seen in their lives.

  2. Great visit and sights with good friends! I think crested #6 is a bit of a show-off :) Lot's of color in the desert this year, so much to enjoy.

    1. Isn't # 6 a riot! An over achiever to be sure. I wish we could have gotten closer to it.

  3. A great visit with friends for sure! I had made a note to visit Gleeson before we went, but I was late finding out it is only open the first Saturday in the month and added it to the next visit. And how great to see the rocks up close and personal…the grotto has been on my list for a while. Love the crested saguaros. I’m kind of favoring #4…it has a unique pattern.

    1. The growth pattern on #4 reminded me of a quilt, it was beautiful!

  4. So glad you guys enjoyed "our neck of the woods"! We've never done the Cascabel drive--it's now on our list! We too were sad to see the old barn at Whitewater had been torn down, we saw owls almost every time we went. Bisbee is a quirky little town and your photos definitely capture that quirkiness!

    1. Cascabel Rd. roughly parallels Reddington Rd. (which runs from Tanque Verde to San Manuel), one we've taken many times. I'm glad we investigated it this time, I loved all the Crested sightings and only wish I had been able to get much closer to some of them - next time? Bisbee is really unique, something different to see every time!

  5. Such a fun two weeks. So glad we could make it work for the four us. The Chiricahau's are spectacular and so worth the long journey.

    1. We really enjoyed our getaway, thanks for all you organized, except for the snow.....

  6. What a wonderful two-week fun to revisit some of our favorite desert places through your travels (Bisbee, the Chiricahua, Whitewater Draw...). You found some spectacular crested saguaro! Best of all, you're adventuring with good friends. :-)) Love seeing you all together.

    1. Thanks Laurel. We had a great, low key time!

  7. Oh, all the stunning places we visited in our last AZ hurrah! They will, for that reason, be some of our favorite memories, and it was fun to go along with you to "see" them again. I'm glad you got out for a walk at Chiricahua -- getting into the rocks is such a special feeling. There is so much of the SW that folks drive right by thinking it looks desolate or boring, but we know the truth!

    1. You're right Joodie, we know the truth!