Pics by Loretta
After several months in humid and rainy Texas, we've moved west to higher and drier (sunnier, too) New Mexico and Arizona.
We stayed at Rusty's RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM, which is one of the nicest RV parks we've stayed at, with gigantic campsites, spectacular mountain views and very reasonable rates. There's not even a whiff of a cell signal there, but Rusty's had great wifi.
|Rusty's RV Ranch|
|Biking Around Rusty's|
We spent a week exploring the Chiricahua Mountains on the New Mexico and Arizona border - also close to the Mexican border. We had heard this was a big time birding area, but apparently, we were there a month or so early for peak birding. One benefit of arriving early was being there before the crowds of birders showed up, so there were times it seemed we had the Chiricahua Mountains all to ourselves.
|Part of the Chiricahua Landscape|
That doesn't mean we didn't see any birds, because we did! Including several new (to us) like the Yellow Eyed Junco, Arizona Woodpecker, Verdin, and Cassin's Finch.
|Yellow Eyed Junco|
See where it got its name?
The main area we explored is called Clear Creek Canyon and the gorgeous scenery was beyond what we were expecting.
|Yes, this is a waterfall in the desert!|
Before you enter the canyon, you pass through the small town of Portal, that consists of a small store/cafe, a Post Office, the library, and some residences.
|Portal Store, Cafe & Lodge|
|Portal, AZ Post Office|
The people that live here all love birds and birders. We learned that many retired biologists retire to this quaint community. Most of the houses have many bird feeders set up and some even have sitting areas for anyone to spend some time enjoying the birds.
Lots of bird action at these feeders, and we saw a few new hummingbirds like the Blue Throated and the Magnificent.
|Female Blue Throated Hummingbird|
|Male Blue Throated Hummingbird|
The bird feeders attract more than just birds, too!
Even the Post Office has a resident Western Screech Owl that we were told has been nesting in the same Sycamore tree for the past few years.
|Sleepy Western Screech Owl in Sycamore|
One of the birds we were really hoping to see was the Elegant Trogan - but no luck spotting him - but we did see this Wild Turkey.
|Colorful Wild Turkey|
Next, we headed for a week in the Tucson mountains just outside of Tucson, Arizona. We stayed at extremely popular Gilbert Ray Campground. They don't take reservations, and they were filled up by noon most every day we were there. The views of the mountains and Saguaro cactus from the campground were outstanding, and there's lots to see and do nearby.
|Saguaros as Far as You Can See|
The western unit of Saguaro National Park was only five (5) miles away and we spent a day there on some of the trails and driving the scenic loop road.
|Saguaro National Park|
|Roadrunner at Visitor Center|
|Petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park|
Lots of trails here and one day we hiked the Brown Mountain Loop right from our campsite. The trail took us to the top of several summits with 360 degree views, one of which we enjoyed our lunch on a perfectly blue sky day.
|Beginning of Brown Mountain Hike|
|Lunch on a Rock|
on top of Brown Mountain
About forty (40) miles south is Madera Canyon and we had heard the Elegant Trogan had been spotted there several times recently, so we made a day trip there. Alas, we again didn't see it, but we had a great day birding and hiking in the beautiful location.
We visited the Mission San Xavier Del Bac, which was built at it's current location between 1783 and 1787. For more info, click on: http://www.sanxaviermission.org/
|Mission San Xavier Del Bac|
|Extravagant and Ornate|
|I Just Don't Know.....|
We'd heard about the Mt. Lemmon scenic byway outside Tucson, so we decided to check it out. All I can say is WOW!
We started the byway at about 2,000 feet elevation, 70 degrees and Saguaro cactus pretty much everywhere. Less that 30 miles later, we were over 9,000 feet elevation surrounded by spruce and fir trees with ICE in them and patches of snow on the ground!
|On Our Way to 9,000' Elevation|
|Frozen Mist in the Pines|
|Heavy Frost and/or Snow|
Over the course of the drive, you pass through six (6) vegetative life zones. They say it's like driving from Mexico to Canada in 27 miles! The scenery along the way is incredible plus there's trails, picnic areas, campgrounds and scenic pulloffs the whole way. We spent a day here and we could easily spend a week next time.
We are now making our way further West and will be on the Left Coast most of the rest of 2018.
We have a special side trip planned in the very near future. Stay tuned!
|An Arizona Sunset|
|Saguaro at Sunset|