Madera Malaise (the good kind)

Aside

My prediction about (myself) not getting out of the porch swing at our Madera Canyon (AZ) cabin has been self-fulfilling. There really isn’t much to report for the last few weeks.

So far, this year has been very different than last, which was our first time holed up here in the Canyon. Although it’s hard to believe, it is probably 10-15 degrees warmer every day than last year. In addition, the dryness is notable and alarming. For the first time in the nearly 9 years that I’ve been coming to the Green Valley area, (always in February), there is no snow in the upper elevations. Mt. Wrightson, which looms above our cabin, is devoid of snow. There’s no water in the creek which runs alongside the road down to Green Valley. Already, there are reports of two wildfires nearby. While we appreciate the warmer temperatures, the extreme dryness is worrisome. It doesn’t bode well for the long hot summer ahead.

Some things are the same. We’re still chasing the coatimundi away from our birdfeeders. One cheeky dude stands with his feet on the deck railing, and drinks from our hummingbird feeders.20180203_103909.jpgWe put an end to that little trick by raising all of our feeders a few inches – but they still come back and manage to get a snack every day.

While walking Jezzy a few days ago, seven coatimundis ran out in front of us – I thought Jezzy would have a heart attack! To me, coatimundis look like a cross between a raccoon and a monkey, but they can really move when they want to. We love our front-porch view of them every day.20180203_0956021410783041.jpgSpeaking of Jezzy, we have finally unraveled the mystery of her origins. Santa Claus brought her an Embarkvet DNA test, and we have the results. Her mom, maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were pure Boxer. Dad, paternal grandparents and great-grandparents are pure Old English Sheepdog. I guess that makes her an Old English Shebox – 50% Boxer, 50% Old English Sheepdog. Perfect. If you’re interested in seeing the details of her report, or are curious as to what you might find out about your own dog, click here.

It seems like the turkey flock here has grown a thousandfold. As many as 30 at a time congregate in our driveway and yard. One of the big toms has taken a liking (or maybe he wants to fight) our truck. Every morning we hear him banging away at his own reflection in the chrome bumper. It’s crazy.

We’ve hiked a bit, biked a bit. Watched the birds in the feeders. Southern Arizona is a bird-watchers heaven. So many species that we never see in Michigan are hanging out at our feeders here – Acorn Woodpeckers, Arizona Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays, Blue-Throated Hummingbirds, Oregon Junco, and Yellow-Eyed Juncos are regular visitors. It’s delightful.

A week ago, we went on a hike along a four-mile stretch of the D’Anza Historic Trail. The Friends of the D’Anza had a shuttle running, so you could walk from Tubac to Tumacacori and shuttle back. We’d never been on this flat trail, which runs along the (mostly dry) Santa Cruz River, so we headed out with Caroline and Greg. It was a pleasant hike – we met lots of families out for the day, enjoying the great weather. Without the trees in bloom yet, we had mostly a bit of light shade, with a few sections in full sun. 20180204_0929581343161400.jpgA few dicey water crossings added to a really nice hike.20180204_102300649982384.jpgWe ended our hike at the Tumacacori Mission. 20180213_07275675864348.jpgVolunteers had cooked food that was probably eaten by the original Trail travelers – on their journey from Mexico to San Franisco – hoppin John, cornbread, and some type of pudding. It was great. There was also a woman weaving baskets, slowly and patiently, with the most beautiful results. 20180204_111042202089401.jpgOur Vermont camping pals (former T@DA owners) Cathie and Jay have been here for several days. Although I’d have to admit that we’ve spent most of our time catching up on camping gigs and mutual friends, we did decide to venture across the Border to Nogales, Mexico for an afternoon. Folks we consulted said “Don’t do it. Dirty and dangerous.” We found it to be neither. The four-block area nearest the border was filled with Sunday-afternoon families out for a stroll and a snack.

Food vendors were out in force lining the streets, which (during the week) are home mostly to dentists, pharmacies, and eye clinics catering to US citizens crossing the border for inexpensive care.20180211_1326021515109109.jpg Since it was Sunday afternoon, only the pharmacies and restaurants were open, along with the stalls selling t-shirts and trinkets in the outdoor marketplace. But, there were few Americans around with ready cash. All the warnings against travel to the Mexico border towns have taken a toll in tourist traffic, and I’m sure many of the vendors there are suffering financially. But, for a few delightful hours, we wandered around, finishing with a beer/fish taco lunch.

While we were sitting in the restaurant, we did see an open-air Jeep-type vehicle with three heavily armed gendarmes in the back end. Cathie managed to capture a shot of them just as they passed by.img_74111626474770.jpg It was a reminder of the danger of this border city. But, as we wandered a few blocks later, we came upon the gathering of cops/cars, and they were gracious enough to allow Cathie to pose with one of their guys.

One of the cops even used Cathie’s phone to capture the photo. There is a bit of humanity everywhere. We all smiled and shook hands.

Of course, we had to ponder the Wall. Here’s what it looks like from the Mexico side of Nogales.img_74121575077241.jpgIn places, there are benches within a few feet of the wall, many occupied with people – perhaps waiting for their friends or relatives on the US side to connect.

So, that’s the No News Report from Madera Canyon. All is good here, but we’re already struggling with the idea that our time here is already half over! How can that be?

 

 

Canyon Life

A girl could get used to the Canyon life. To find ourselves up in this beautiful cabin in Madera Canyon for a month is life waking up and finding that you’ve won the lottery. img_0456After less than three weeks here, we are thoroughly integrated into life here – our spices are intermingled into the assortment left here, some of our favorite kitchen utensils have found their way into the suicide drawer (you know, the kitchen drawer where you keep sharp and pointy objects, and risk your life to just open it up and blindly reach in), our books are stacked on the coffee tables, and power cords for our electronic devices seem to be plugged in everywhere. Yep, the Crankshaws have moved in. We found that Dr. Neff, the builder of this cabin was a Spartan (yay!), Veterinary College ’44. A rattlesnake skin decorates our living room wall, and a mobile made of random feathers stuck into a section of desiccated cholla cactus drifts lazily overhead.20170216_062700.jpgWe’ve hiked, biked, and thoroughly enjoyed having Happy Hour on the deck with old and new friends and relatives (my sisters from Grand Rapids and Las Vegas are both here, as well) Now, we’re down to our last ten days before we have to move on, and the pressure is on! There’s no way we can squeeze all we want to do in the remaining days.

The sprawling wrap-around deck here has been a big source of pleasure.wp-1486302085679.jpg We’ve stocked three feeders – thistle, suet, and sunflower seed – and the birds flock in as soon as the sun warms the area in the morning, around 10am. We hung a hummingbird feeder as well (our cabin is named Hummingbird Hill), but we were swarmed with about 200 bees, so we gave that endeavor up. During the season though, it must be something here – I’ll bet there are at least six hummingbird feeders in the basement. New to me at the feeders are the Arizona woodpecker (the only woodpecker with brown back feathers), the yellow-eyed junco, and the bridled titmouse. Of course, I have no photos – my cell phone camera is no birding tool.

We also had a very unusual visitor in our sunflower feeder – a coatimundi. He was actually trying to empty the feeder into his face, when we saw him. These are lousy photos, but the best I could do. The first one is blurry, because I had to shoot through a window/screen. 20170216_064014.jpgwp-1487252265191.jpgHe was pretty good-sized – when he scampered off, he hit the deck with a pretty good thump. Haven’t seen him around since Jezzy found him behind our outdoor kitchen one day, and chased him up the hill. We’ve taken to bringing that feeder in after dusk so as not to encourage him. He does visit us though – about every other day we find a pile of coatimundi poop on the deck, so I think he’s getting the last laugh.

Madera Canyon was home to many mines in the early 1900s, and there are lots of artifacts from those mines still in the canyon. Last week, we hiked the steep Vault Mine Trail, and this week Carrie Nation Mine Trail, where lots of old equipment remains.wp-1487251845100.jpg

It’s always interesting to speculate on what life might have been like during those hard days. Our cabin is the final resting place of an old ore cart,wp-1486302273080.jpg spikes, blocks and pullys, and even an old funicular, which was probably repurposed to haul equipment up here when this cabin was under construction. Unfortunately, it’s in a spot where I just can’t figure out how to get a decent photo.

Until today, we’ve had pretty good weather. Last night, the wind whipped up, and we’ve been listening to rain hammer the roof and skylights all day. wp-1487452570118.jpgSadly, it’s quite cold outside (40s), so we’re not eager to sit on the deck and enjoy the storm. It’s supposed to get near freezing tonight, and we’re very near the snowline, so we might actually get some white stuff. Our driveway has about a 15% pitch with curves, so we know that we are not going anywhere until this all passes through, sometime tomorrow.

So, life is good. We’re getting an amazing amount of reading done. There’s a radio here, but no television. We’re used to that, but I sure would like to watch Planet Earth 2 when it starts tonight. Guess we’ll have to concentrate on our own nature show.wp-1487252068511.jpgFor entertainment, I can watch this video over and over of John, my sister Lynn, and brother-in-law Jerry sharing a picnic lunch with a big friend a few years ago while hiking in the Canyon. Makes me laugh every time.