Thursday, February 02, 2012
The Rovers Roost RV park is only 1.6 miles off I-8 making it a very convenient stopping place. The first night of dry camping is free. Dump and water is $5.
We were on our way to Tucson by about 9am. First stop was Whole Foods for some of their great fresh salads. After that it was Trader Joe’s. Carol had wanted some peanut oriental salad dressing that Annie used when making her broccoli and cranberry salad at Q. Unfortunately they were out of stock but we managed to find some unusual dinner ideas; things we don’t normally buy. Then for the Wal-Mart run to replenish the basics.
We arrived at the Catalina State Park about noon time figuring it would be a cinch getting a campsite on a Thursday. The place was full. Fortunately they have an overflow area for $15/night so that’s where we are now, along with 19 other campers. We have reservations in the campground for Friday and Saturday; also dry camping. The main campground has large and widely spaced sites, but by the nature of the desert environment, there is basically no visual privacy between sites.
Gopher and I took a nice walk on one of the many trails that run through the park. There was some rain a week, or so, ago and everything is nice and green. Gopher enjoyed seeing some nice, green grass after having been in the desert since December 29. Some of the cactus were flowering.
This morning we awoke to 26* and frost. Gophers outside water bowl was frozen solid. Reminded me of Woodstock ice skating on Snoopy’s water bowl. Enough of this. We’re changing our plans and heading south on Sunday or Monday. The new plan is to go to the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) then follow the Gulf Coast to Florida. We’ve taken that route a number of times and have some favorite beach boondocking spots plus a couple of new ones I’ve heard about.
John and Marge met us at the trailhead parking area about 11:00. We all enjoyed a nice walk around the riparian area where the main trails begin. The park has several miles of hiking trails. Not so many years ago, we were up to long hikes. The saguaro cactus continue to amaze us although we’ve seen them time and again. From a very informative brochure about the Saguaro: The seedling will grow only one or two inches during its first 10 to 15 years. At age of 40 to 75, it will reach a height of eight feet and begin to produce blossoms. At about age 75, branches will begin to develop. If it does not fall victim to lightning, frost, or severe drought, the saguaro may live to be 200 years old, reach a height of 50 feet, weigh as much as 6 tons, and support as many as 50 arms. The biggest one I saw had perhaps 35 arms. I suspect it had to be well over 100 years old.
John and Marge treated us to a wonderful dinner at the El Charro Café which has been in business since 1922. It’s the Nations oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family.
It was a very enjoyable day catching up on family news and events. This summers Wagner family reunion is now a certainty. July 6-8 in New London/Mystic,CT.
The biggest Saguaro I came across
Our "official" campsite
The overflow area
A cactus in bloom
34* this morning. The Wave 3 propane heater keeps the interior temperature about 20* above the outside temperature. Still chilly, but tolerable. While Carol was still sleeping, I drove down the trailhead parking area then took a nice walk with Gopher. On Saturday, weather permitting, there is a very nice nature presentation put on by park volunteers. Everything in the exhibit came from the park or surrounding mountains. After breakfast we walked down. There were lots of different types of rattlesnakes, a Gila Monster, Pack Rats, etc. We’re always learning something new. This morning, a very knowledgeable women gave us a personal presentation about the skull collection. We learned that if the eye sockets are facing forward, the skull is from a carnivore predator because they need to be looking ahead for potential prey. For example, humans, cats(mountain lions) and dogs(coyotes) of different types. If the eye sockets are positioned to look to the sides, the animal is not a predator. They are potential prey and have side looking eyes to expand their field of vision so as to be able to spot predators. Animals like deer, mice, rabbits, and such. During our morning hike we photographed a plaque about bobcats, saw a bobcat skull and a bobcat skin, but not a live bobcat. Our friends Jim and Gayle have a great picture of a live bobcat on their blog. Much better then seeing just pieces and parts of a dead bobcat.
Johnny came down for a visit while Marge went to the big Tucson gem show with some of her friends who are also vacationing here.
Rattlesnakes. Forgot just what kind.
Carol and John
We stopped by Trader Joe’s. They had the salad dressing Carol wanted, plus a few other items, then to Whole Foods for some more of their super salads. Then we went to the Mission San Xavier del Bac which is located on the Tohono O’odham reservation south of Tucson, for Sunday Mass. We’ve been here before and return whenever we’re in town.
From the brochure:
A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797.
The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.
The local Indians set up food booths around the plaza in front of the church. Everything is made at the stand as you watch. Very authentic. We shared an Indian Taco and a chunk of very crispy cinnamon sugar fry bread for lunch.
After lunch we began the long trek south to Padre Island. Tonight we’re at the SKP Dream Catcher park in Deming, NM. Very basic, but less then a mile off I-10