18 May 2012

So Many Views and so Few Eyes!!

Well our time in Patagonia and SE AZ are coming to an end.  We are now trying to rush in all those things we wanted to do but have not done YET!  We have been truly blessed by this opportunity at the Patagonia-Sonita Creek Preserve!  BJ has become an accomplished entry level birder and has really developed a love for it.  I have enjoyed some fantastic off-roading in our Jeep that has taken us to some beautiful locations with memorable views.
The Patagonia Mountains soar over the town of Patagonia and Red Mountain is, at 6300 feet, about 2100 feet above the town and the major peak in the majestic range to the south.  
Red Mountain Foods with Red Mt behind it!
From top of Red Mt looking down on Red Mt Foods and rest of Patagonia!

To the northeast, the Santa Rita mountains dominate the region with Mt Wrightson at nearly 10,000 feet.  Mt Hopkins is just about as tall and has an observatory with three different telescopes on top plus a geocache I will have to get next time we are here!!
Mt Wrightson in the Santa Ritas!
Santa Rita mountains in background

We drove thru Box Canyon to the north side of the Santa Ritas one day.  Box Canyon Road was a gravel road carved into the side of the mountain.  On one side you had a cliff raising above you and on the other side a cliff dropped away to the creek about 300 feet below.  The alternate route going around the west end of the Santa Ritas was nearly twice as far, approximately 70 miles rather then nearly 40 miles to Madeira Canyon and was not nearly as scenic!
Box Canyon Road
More Box Canyon Road
Box Canyon at night - only those reflictors between you and the bottom!

On the other side of the Santa Ritas was Florida Canyon and Florida Workcamp.  Except I have learned while out here that all my life I have been mispronouncing my home state – it is pronounced FLO-REE-DA.  Duh, who woulda known!  The Florida Trail climbs thru Florida Canyon by MT Wrightson and eventually to Madera Canyon which is an especially beautiful canyon that we visited several times and will do again when we return to SE AZ.
That is pronounced FLO-REE-DA 
Well marked trail.
We hiked up the Florida Trail for aways, BJ was looking for birds and I was just looking for views.  Green Valley was out in front of us and on the other side was I-19 that runs between Tucson and Nogales.
We got excited when we saw a large body of water on the other side of the valley and I-19.  We were envisioning a great rec area and some kayaking opportunities.  We wondered why we had not heard of this apparently large  
lake.  Well we eventually found out it was water from a mining operation and was not open or safe for use.  Apparently remediation of the problem is under way for some undetermined amount of time! 
The view of Green Valley from about half way up the Florida Trail. 

Of course we have bird pictures on top of bird pictures.  BJ has become a real birder while we have been here.  She has i-bird loaded on her i-phone to help her identify birds by their songs, She has books and lists and pictures and descriptions and great fun with bird searching!  If any visiting birders ask me too much I tell them I am a parrot – I can repeat what I have heard but don't ask me any questions and I refer them to BJ.
A hawk on her nest!
The Vermilion Flycatcher can be spotted easily with its bright red colors and black mask!

Our 3 month tour ends next week and we are looking forward to resuming our travels but our time here has been some of the best since we hit the road.  We will definitely return to AZ and most certainly to SE AZ!  It is a magical place full of beauty and dramatic views. 
We may even buy a place to stop and spend some time if we decide to slow down on the travelling!
A fixer upper for us - just need to add a carport for the RV!

14 May 2012

A Day on the Water (At Last)

It has been 2 Dec of last year since we have had the kayaks in the water!  Since arriving here at Patagonia we have been wanting to get to Patagonia Lake State Park about 6 miles west of us to do some paddling.  Finally we thought the weather matrix was aligned for us, it was our day off, it was warm, and no crowds at the popular state park.  We loaded the kayaks back on the Hullavators and headed to the lake.  The boat ramp was empty, the sky was clear and the sun was shinning warmly on us!  (We ignored the chilly water, as we were not planning on being in it on this day!)

The launch ramp at Patagonia Lk State Prk

We dropped the kayaks in the water, moved the Jeep to parking and headed out of the cove where the boat ramp was!

Patagonia Lake is not a large lake but is longer then it is wide!  From the dam it looks like a "Y" with two "legs" breaking off from the main body of water. The lake was formed in the 1950's when Sonoita Creek was dammed up to create a recreation area.  The shoreline was formed as the dammed up creek filled two canyons behind the dam.  That made for some interesting shoreline scenes.  The canyon walls dropped directly into the water most of the way around the lake.  Plants and cactus grew right up to the waterline!  

There was some beach at the far end of the lake away from the dam, but that was about all.  Water sports like boating and fishing, skiiing were popular as was kayaking.  We saw another couple kayaking and I expect as the weather warms, and especially on the weekends, it will be more crowded then we saw it on a Tuesday.


More shoreline!

BJ on the water!
We paddled west toward the dam enjoying the kayaks, the sun, and the views.  At the dam which is a very simple affair we met some other water lovers that were hanging out around the dam enjoying a day at the lake.
My kayaking buddy!

Some more fun guys at the dam!
He is thirsty!

So after about an hour on the water the wind suddenly picked up gusting hard from the west!  I had to paddle hard to get back to the cove where the boat ramp was and BJ had been in the other leg and was being driven by the wind againest the bank rather then in the direction of the cove.

However, we both made it back and we loaded the kayaks and headed back to the RV.  Despite the rough ending we enjoyed our time on the water.

Always at home, no matter where we are!!