Happy Campers

Our last week in Green Valley flew past.  February is a darn short month when you’re having a great time.  So many things left undone – guess we’ll have to try to catch up again next year.  I did manage to capture one image that I’ve forgotten about every year……pecan trees.  Green Valley Pecan Company has thousands of pecan trees in the area.  By the time we arrive in February, the year’s pecan harvest has been collected, and the trees are in the process of being trimmed for next year.  But, in one area through which we cycle weekly, there are many trees not part of any commercial enterprise.  The pecans eventually drop to the ground, but in the meantime, they are a woolly accent to the stark branches.  Against a bright blue sky, it’s a great image.  The bird is an accidental bonus.20150224_152117After a flurry of packing and cleaning, we hit the road – headed toward Kartchner Caverns State Park for two days of camping, caving, and hiking.  It’s windy as hell – “30mph, gusting to 125” as John described it.  It’s miserable to be outside, although the temperature isn’t bad.  The wind just sucks the life and spirit out of everything.

We decided to take the scenic route to Kartchner.  Last month, we passed through the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in Sonoita, AZ.  It was breathtaking – we needed to pass through one more time.  What’s significant about this area is the expanse of grassland, free of mesquite trees.  Like this.20150228_13134020150228_131738Compare these view to the typical grassland area which had been planted with mesquite trees.  Their unruly multiplication casts an unwanted shadow across these semi-desert grasslands.  20150301_145828Although once considered desirable, the water-sucking mesquite is now seen a scourge, and many areas have active programs to remove them from the landscape.  The government and ranchers have partnered in the effort to restore the natural grasslands.  It’s a treat to drive the extra miles to experience this magnificent view.

Kartchner Caverns State Park is home to two enormous caverns, discovered in 1974 by two college students.  In a previous visit, we explored the Big Room, so this trip, we elected to take the Rotunda/Throne Tour.  It’s spectacularly beautiful, although I really cannot comprehend two young kids making this discovery, and keeping it to themselves for a couple of years.  The area became part of the AZ State Park system in the 1980s.  Today’s facilities were opened in 1999.  It’s a gem.  No cameras are allowed, so I don’t have photos.  It was actually nice to just look and listen without the burden of taking photos, too.

We had the whole afternoon available, so the Guindani Trail called our name.  This Trail winds along the Guindani Wash, leaving the State Park boundaries and wandering into the Coronado National Forest.  The 4.2 mile loop was a perfect blend of easy strolling, challenging rocky trails, and small streams. 20150301_13403420150301_133830 Never have I seen Jezzy plunge unhesitatingly into a shallow stream to cross.  At least six or seven times – maybe she’s finally growing up?

The last leg of the Trail offered us some spectacular views of this old ranchland.20150301_14103420150301_14250520150301_143050The open expanse of these Arizona lands are still a constant source of amazement to this Michigan girl.  We were treated to quite a cloud display, probably in anticipation of the storms scheduled to roll in tomorrow.20150301_122927One special treat of this stop was stumbling across a spectacularly-restored 1950 Spartanette.  Wow – what a beauty.20150228_152900Jim and Diane, the owners from Sierra Vista, AZ were gracious about showing their home to us – only their third trip after nearly two years of restoration.  Jim had so many creative touches in the interior.20150301_180943All the wooden sections were removed, and refinished.  The decorative tile was his own idea, as were all the maroon-painted surfaces.  The joints between the wood sections were finished with hemp tape and rope.  It was beautiful.   Check out this vintage refrigerator!  The bummer is that it works on electric only – no battery or propane power.  20150301_181221Looks like it rolled right out of I Love Lucy, doesn’t it?  Much to Diane’s surprise, Jim let it slip that he’d like to get other trailers, fix ’em up, and keep them all.  Oops – happy hour is over!

Moving on tomorrow morning.  The weather forecast has changed our plans to head to Gila Cliffs National Monument in NM.  The higher altitude there has a very snowy outlook for the next couple of days.  We’re going to re-route….no certain plans yet.

19 thoughts on “Happy Campers

  1. Love the pecan trees. I had no idea what they look like. The refrigerator in the Spartanette looks like a larger version of the refrigerator I grew up with in the 40’s and 50’s. Reminiscences are fun. I also noticed things not tied down, like the microwave oven and the tchotchkes. Hope they don’t have to stop quickly. Live and learn, I guess. Sad you couldn’t take pictures of the caves. Why don’t they allow them? Does it disrupt the wild life? Grasslands amaze me. I’m glad they are working to preserve them. Love all I’m learning from your posts. Safe travels.

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    • I’m sure the microwave and appliances are held in somehow. If they travel at all like we do, all the loose stuff is put on the bed before we roll. Takes a really BIG thump to dislodge it.

      There are amazing precautions being taken to make sure the cave is preserved without harm. So many lessons from Mammoth and Carlsbad, I guess. While it may seem overly restrictive, it’s wonderful to see such caution applied.

      Today, we passed a huge backhoe pulling up mesquite in a grasslands area. There were hundreds done, and many thousands to go. Another lesson here, I think.

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      • Your Spartanette is beautiful. I wouldn’t have the patience to pack/unpack nonessential stuff each trip, but I DO love the feel it gives to your home. Hope you didn’t take offense to my remark – didn’t mean to be thoughtless.

        Good luck with your future projects – hope we see you on the road in Re-Do #2 sometime.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Arizona offers the most beautiful skies. I never tire of the unique clouds which create stunning sunsets. Yep, gotta keep an eye on that elevation. Safe travels. Hope you find some new and fun place to stay :-)

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    • Think we are going to wander over to watch the Sandhills for a few days, thanks to your wonderful posts.

      Hope you are finding someplace cozy to tuck in while the weather figures itself out.

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      • FYI…. if there are more folks camped at the main parking lot at Whitewater Draw than you’d like, there’s a spot just a mile or so north on Coffman Rd called “Sportsman” parking that you can have all to yourselves. Enjoy!
        We’re at Lake Pleasant hunkered down and had a wonderful visit with our son yesterday. Laundry day today since the weather is so bad. Stay dry :-)

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  3. Thanks for the photos to remind me there is another world out there not buried in snow. I lived in AZ for 6 yrs so I’m also enjoying revisiting places I’ve been and seeing some that I missed. The pecan photo is gorgeous and there’s something about clouds that just let me escape for moments at a time. The tile in the Spartanette is beautiful! What a great idea. Do you know if the flooring is marmoleum?

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    • There sure are lots of interesting places to visit here. Hope we can one of these trips venture into Northern AZ, but its hard since we’re only here in the winter. Too high, too many closed roads.

      The floor is Marmoleum. I’ve already got my color picked out. It was perfect in the Spartanette – the depth of color is gorgeous. It will be fabulous in the Fireball.

      Hope the cold and snow goes away soon. You must be ready for a weather break (along with everybody else in the NE and Midwest. Hang tough, Ellalou.

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  4. Beautiful photos, Judy!! The pecan tree photo is stunning! What a treat it must have been to see that restored Spartanette. I know some Sisters on the Fly who would kill for that trailer! I’m curious about how they pack up to travel down the road.

    Stay away from that white stuff as long as you can!!!

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    • I wondered about all the stuff in the Spartanette, as well. They had tons of seemingly loose things. Don’t think they have too much camping experience, so they may have some unpleasant surprises ahead.

      We’re trying hard to dodge snow. The temps are decent, but the wind is awful. Supposed to gust to 40mph today. Ugh.

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  5. The photos of the grasslands remind me of portions of Wyoming and eastern Montana that I really like, another reason for me to visit Arizona.

    You’re so lucky to be somewhere warm, rather than here where we just set the record for the coldest February ever. I’m also glad that you’re rerouting to avoid the snow, as I’m tired of the white stuff and would rather not see any photos of it. ;)

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    • The endless cold must be grating on everybody by now. Time for winter to exit!

      Will try hard to stay out of the snow, but I’m not sure if we can totally avoid it. As I write this, the wind is absolutely howling!! Sky is dark – always a bad sign when it gets darker in the morning, instead of lighter. Going to be an interesting travel day.

      You’re gonna love our next destination, Jerry. Stay warm.

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