Saturday, February 12, 2011


Continued east today to Sonoita.

This is ranch country. Lots of open range, grasslands with the occasional mesquite trees.

The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Sonoita has camping. I emailed my friend Ted Houghten (Wxtoad) the info to add to his list of campgrounds.

We discovered what is now, our personal, all-time favorite bakery. The Grasslands Bakery-Cafe. "All natural from seed to table. Baking breads and pastries in a natural organic style" Only open on weekends. 3119 Highway 83, Sonoita, AZ.
Amazing. Pastries, cakes, breads, salads, sandwiches, on & on. This has replaced the German bakery in Hermann, MO as our favorite. We're stocked up for the next week or so.

We continued to the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. It's a BLM administered area near Sonoita. The plan was to just explore then spend the night at the fairgrounds in town. This place was just so beautiful, we decided to stay
the night. We're near the Oak Tree Canyon area. Free camping. There is a good Border Patrol presence plus there are other campers in the area. Told Ted about this place as well. This is Gophers kind of place. She just wanders around sniffing at this & that.

Every time I drive by a KOA and look at the campers, I just think about how much they're missing. Look at this, and it's all free.

Carol says the landscape reminds her of the African Veldt and she expects to see a pride of lions parade by at any time. Well, we didn't see any lions, but shortly after sunset, a dozen or more cows did come parading by in single file. Gopher was outside and, of course, noticed the cows. She didn't start barking but was clearly interested. The cows also picked up the scent of a dog. Look at the picture of the cows looking at the dog.

This is a very enjoyable place to camp.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heading south

Gopher & I took one last early morning walk around Tubec. Mostly it was us and the garbage guys & the food delivery trucks. Took a few last pictures.
Today's destination is the Patagonia State Park, east of Nogales near Patagonia. The GPS picked out a scenic back-road planned to keep us off I-19. We were cruising along just fine until a sign appeared saying "pavement ends in 1,000'". I've driven on dirt roads before so not to worry. Well. The road got narrower & bumpier the further I went. Not knowing how much narrower or bumpier it got I decided to cut my losses and back up. There wasn't enough road to turn around.
Finally I just got back on I-19. Boring but predictable.
Patagonia Lake is the only body of water we've seen for quite a while. It's a man-made lake used for irrigation & drinking water. $25/night for a site with water & electric. Our site gives us a partial view of the lake. The Park has a marina with boat rentals. This is probably a popular summer camping area.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tubec Day 2

It was 31* this morning. Clear & sunny. Gopher & I took an early morning walk downtown. Carol joined us about 10:30. When we got up today, we both got weighed. To our great surprise, we're within our weight tolerance. Pushing the high side of the envelope, but still in the acceptable range.

I bet you didn't know that Tubec is the oldest European settlement in AZ. The Spanish subjugated the native population around Tubec long before they systematically enslaved the rest of the natives. "The church and the military were the vanguards of Spanish frontier expansion throughout Mexico. The Jesuit, Eusebio Francisco Kino, established a mission in Pimeria Alta from 1687 to 1711 to convert and control Indians in the area." The Spanish began to settle in this area as early as the 1730's, "and eventually controlled the land and the lives, of the Indians".
By 1860, Tubec was the largest town in Arizona.
I'm sitting in the camper looking out the window. Animal Control just showed up. There are two small dogs inside a car parked across from us. There is an AZ law we read about that prohibits locking dogs in cars. The lady from Animal Control had a thermometer on a long wire. She just threaded it through the window to get the inside temperature. It's a cool day and all the windows in the care are opened a few inches. I suspect the dogs are just fine. She just photographed the car & the dogs. Wonder just how big a ticket these people are in for?? The car is from Alaska.
The owners finally came back. Besides the ticket, they had to endure the embarrassment of a crowd of onlookers.

During our walk through Tubec this morning, we visited St. Ann's Church. For over 250 years, there has been a place of worship on this very spot.The existing church was built between 1910 to 1912 and completely restored in 1974.

Carols goal at Tubec was to find new matching wedding bands. The ones we have we bought at Richardson's Trading Company in Gallup, NM three or four years ago. We could not find a matching set that we liked. Carol did find a beautiful silver, opal & turquoise ring from a jeweler that custom makes rings. Expensive, but less then the $1,000+ rings she was looking at yesterday. After all Carol has endured over the last five years, I just can't say no to anything she wants. She asks for so little. The ring is beautiful. We also bought a painted gecko lizard to put around the pond at home. Later that day, Carol said I needed a new ring as well.

There is a very well known Mexican restaurant not far from here. Wisdom's Cafe. It's been in business for 66 years. Off we went. When we arrived at 5:00 there was a one hour wait!! Oh well, nothing else special planned. We got to talking to another couple waiting; Bob & Sue from Tucson. We got called first and had a table for four. I went and asked them if they would like to join us for dinner and they did. Probably saved them an additional 30 minute wait. Turns out they live in Tucson but travel extensively in a 5th wheel. Small world. Wisdom's Cafes signature desert is a deep-fried, cinnamon and sugar-dusted fruit burro!! We ordered ours with chocolate/cherry filling. It's served with two scoops of ice cream. Bet we're out of tolerance on our weight goal now.
Tomorrow, it's back to skinny, healthy stuff.
We have had the most wonderful time in Tubec. In the morning we continue our trek south and east towards Patagonia.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

South to Tubec

We headed out about 9:30 towards Tubec. The noise wasn't bad last night. Our 2008 Lazy Dazy, unlike our 2000, has the dual pane windows and rigid insulation. Those features really make it quiet inside. However, at about 8:30am, the fighter aircraft wing stationed at the Tucson Airport begin their takeoffs. They make the windows rattle when they take to the air.
The first stop was the Titan Missile Museum. I took the tour while Carol relaxed in the camper. Amazing. The museum area had a time-line starting with the first atomic bomb through 1987 when the last Titan II was deactivated as part of the SALT treaty. The missile had a nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead that could be delivered to its target in less then 30 minutes. At one time, there were 54 Titan II missile complexes across the US. The movie of the missile being fired was chilling. The fact that they were never needed, attests to the nuclear weapons policy called MAD; Mutually Assured Destruction. It does make a person pause when you think about the number of wacko states like North Korea and Pakistan, that have nukes, or Iran developing one. MAD doesn't work with nut cases.

On a more cheerful note.
After that we headed south to Tubec to visit "Arizona's longest running art festival, the 52nd Annual Tubec Festival of the Arts showcases the work
of hundreds of visiting artists, craft persons and musicians from around the country. Horse-drawn trolleys, roving entertainers and a food court enhance the festival atmosphere"
This is wonderful. We're "camped" in the parking lot next to where the festival is taking place. $6/night. Today we walked around perhaps half of the area. We'll be here all day tomorrow and perhaps Friday as well.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tucson, Tuesday

Said goodbye to Pat and headed out. We decided to visit the Pima Air & Space Museum. After the Smithsonian, it's supposedly the largest and highest quality such museum in America. The place was just huge. There were four large inside exhibit areas plus acres of outdoor exhibits. Dogs are allowed in the buildings and outdoors, so the three of us took a nice walk. After Carol tired out, we went back to the camper for lunch. After lunch Carol & Gopher rested up and I went back to the museum.
Tonight's "campground" is the parking lot of the Desert Diamond:Nogales Highway Casino. I just noticed we're camping right next to the Tucson Airport. Wonder how busy the airport is at night? We'll find out.

About an hour ago a long train went by. The tracks are between our campground and the airport. Free just doesn't buy as much as it used to.

We ate at the buffet. It was Oriental night at the trough. Not bad for $9/person. The cigarette smoke in the casino area was so thick it made my eyes water. We aren't much at gambling our money away anyway, but even were we so inclined, we would not have done it here.

Security is good in the parking lot. Well lighted plus Injun Joe, the security guy, rides his bike around here now & then.

Tucson is a really nice city. Lots of interesting things to see & do. Even so, we have a limited appetite for city traffic, noise, and such. Tomorrow we continue our exploration of rural SE Arizona.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tucson, Monday

This morning we said goodbye to our Lazy Daze friends and headed out. First stop; four loads of laundry. We only carry one set of linens for the beds, so now & then, I just strip the beds and everything gets washed.
After that, we went to the Saguaro National Park. Caught a really good talk by a Tohono O'odham Native American, I still call them Indians with no insult intended. Suppose I should be more P.C. The talk on their customs was followed by a movie all about the park. There is a 5 mile dirt road winding through the park. Five miles of dusty wash-board. We both agree, after you've seen your 10,000th Saguaro cactus, they do begin to all look alike. Did you know a Saguaro Cactus needs to be about 75 years old before it begins to develop the characteristic arms? I didn't. The really old ones are about 200 years old.
We like the desert, but are beginning to miss seeing green things that won't jab you, and grass. I also think Gopher misses "watering" grass.
We went to Pat McMorrows house for dinner. There were three other couples there. Carol had been college roommates with two of the girls, plus Pat. The other "girl" was a bridesmaid in Pat's wedding, as was Carol. Carol graduated from college in 1965. I must say, Carol looked the best of the group after all those years.
Right now, we're staying in Pat's attached RV Port. Full hookups. She has a Rialta that has close to 150,000 miles on it. Pat is quite the adventurer.
Don't know just what we're going to do tomorrow or where we're going to stay. We'll figure that out when tomorrow gets here.
Interesting listening to the "locals" talk. Everyone at dinner used to go to Rocky Point, Mexico in the winter. Now, none of them go unless they are part of an organized convoy. When Gopher and I were walking through Pat's neighborhood before dinner we saw two bumper stickers that said "But it a DRY hate" A reflection of the controversy over the recent immigrant legislation I suppose. Didn't ask anyone because mostly I have no interest in politics of any sort, plus it's not a good dinner topic,

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Tucson, continued

Sunday: We went to the Mission San Xavier del Bac this morning for the 11:00 mass. The Mission is on the Tohono O'odham reservation just south of Tucson. It was built in 1692 by Father Kino. There are 82 angles and 100 saints depicted either in sculpture or paint. We have been to some amazing missions during our travels,in fact we seek them out,but nothing quite as grand as this.
In the large courtyard in front of the church, a group of Indians had set up booths to sell food. We had a great lunch of Indian Tacos with green chili sauce. Another truly authentic taste of the local cuisine.
While traveling through the reservation, we have come across a number of cemeteries. They are the most colorful we have ever seen.

When we got back to the campground, our Lazy Daze friends Ken & Bev Schultz were there. We've been exchanging e-mails for a week and finally met up. We're sharing a pot of chili for dinner tonight. As we were driving into the campground, a Lazy Daze was checking in. John & ?? from Washington. They are big football fans so they are heading into town in search of the Super Bowl. We'll meet up with them in the morning.

The weather is getting much better. When I got up this morning it was a decent 41*. Right now it's 65 and sunny.

A bit of sad news came our way. Another really good Lazy Daze friend, Barb Thomas lost her long struggle with cancer. She passed away last night. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer, more helpful couple then Barry & Barb. Anytime anyone needed any help, Barry & Barb were the first to extend their hand. She will be missed by a lot of people.