This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Friday 22 February 2019

Sandhill Cranes at the Whitewater Draw

Where are we now?
K&N RV Park, Huachuca City, Az

The area around Sierra Vista and Huachuca City present’s a fair amount of the Old Wild West History and fine nature attractions. The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area was on our plate this time to be discovered and promised itself as an interesting outing. The drive took us by the old Wild West Town of Tombstone and further on another 40 miles to McNeil, AZ on a paved and part wise sandy road, but no 4WD are required. Only on rainy days it is recommended to wait for a dry day to keep the mud off the car or truck!

It is said that there are over 25,000 Sandhill Cranes to be seen at the area of the Whitewater Draw in McNeil, Arizona, which they use as their wintering and roosting place.  It has become a tourist attraction and we just had to go and see them ourselves. I mean we’ve seen Sandhill Cranes before, but not that many in one location. Sandhill Cranes are migratory birds coming to this area in the fall and they stay as late as March.

To view the spectacle of seeing most of the birds depart for their feeding grounds, you’d have to be there before sunrise. There is limited parking for RVs at the area if you wish to camp there and stay overnight. However, I learned that many cranes return to their roosting sites after feeding between 11.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m. so we opted to get there by midday, a drive of approx. ¾ of an hour from our RV Park.

When we arrived at the site there were about 20 cars and two RVs parked and people armed with binoculars, spotting scopes on tripods and cameras with or without telelens objectives were wandering on the paths around the wetlands in the viewing area. Already at the parking lot we were overwhelmed by the noise created by the cranes and other birds in the area.  

The cranes stood in groups scattered over a large area in the shallow waters and fields and were nice to observe, however, the distance presented a challenge for my cameras to get a close up shot.  Smaller flocks of cranes kept flying in at a steady rate to settle somewhere in the marshes.

I walked on the path around the reed overgrown pond where seemingly thousands of yellow-headed blackbirds were making this racket we had heard when we arrived, hoping to see some of the other birds that make this their wintering spot. Unfortunately I was out of luck.

We had kept the dogs in their kennel on the rear seats of the truck with the windows part wise open as it was a mostly overcast day, but as you know the Dachsy’s are hunting hounds by nature and these birds would have them truly exited. After we left on our way home, we passed by a field where several Sandhill Cranes stood feeding. Apparently the diet consist mostly of gleaning grain from farmers fields, so you have a good chance to see them there. 

This was another wonderful trip exploring this Southern Arizona area close to Mexico!

While I am writing this blog we are in the middle of a snowstorm right here in our RV Park. Last night the weatherman from our only antenna receivable HD TV station was in panic. All schools in the area are closed today and the call is to stay off the roads.  So far we have accumulated 5 inches of snow and our only TV station went off air! Looks like we are going to be snowed in. (Hopefully the National Guard does not have to be called out :))

Thanks for visiting my blog and please come again..

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Patagonia Lake in Arizona

Where are we now?
K&N RV Park, Huachuca City. Az

For Benno and me the name “Patagonia” brings back lots of memories. In 2008 and 2009 we spent half a year cruising on our own vessel through the fjords of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, at the southern end of South America, on the way to Cape Horn.

Patagonia in South America
Patagonia in South America

Here in Arizona, roughly 30 miles from our RV Park is the town of Patagonia and the Patagonia Lake State Park. We wanted to see it and hopped into the truck to have a look. Basically you follow the State Route 82 until you see the sign to turn off the highway toward the State Park.

Patagonia Lake Arizona

Along the highway past the small town of Sonoita (they have unique road signs) we spotted advertisements of vineries and we saw vineyards that lay dormant at this time of year. Also small restaurants and diners looked interesting. In our rush to get to Patagonia Lake it didn’t occur to me to investigate these eateries further.  However, later when I searched the Internet, I was astounded to learn that the vineyards offer wine tastings and what we missed in regards to the restaurants. I am including a link to the "The best 11 things to do in Sonoita."l 

Further on down the highway I noticed another two neat signs advertising the town of Patagonia, so we stopped there to explore it. The town center nestled between the hills has a few nice stores, restaurants and a hotel.

When we arrived at the gate to the Patagonia State Park we realized that it would not make much sense to pay the entrance fee as it was half an hour before the 4 p.m. closing time, so we turned around and thought we would come again at an earlier time to have a closer look at the lake. I guess the following pictures will speak for themselves and not much explanation is necessary.   

On our return from the Patagonia Lake State Park we passed a shrine built into a cave or grotto high up on a cliff reachable by man made stairs next to the highway. We found it interesting and stopped at the small adjoining parking area to have a look. We truly hope it will not be destroyed in years to come. A sign right there had already a few bullet holes.

State Route 82

Next to the Patagonia sign was this one with a roadrunner. 

We don't have Roadrunner birds in Canada but I took a picture of one in the park for all who haven't seen one in the wild.

The Patagonia Lake State Park and lake area are for sure awesome during the warmer season and it would be also great to tour the vineyards so if you happen to be in the vicinity, then go visit.

Saturday 16 February 2019

Excursions to Tombstone and Bisbee

Where are we now
K&N RV Park, Huachuca City, AZ

One of our day trips was to the town of Bisbee, which is roughly 30 miles from our RV Park. The road we took let us through the historic town of Tombstone. 

Historic Tombstone
Reenacted shootouts on the streets
You can take a ride in any of the stagecoaches
lots of historic buildings

Further on along the highway 80 the landscape becomes very picturesque as the road leads through the Mule Mountains. Bisbee is at an elevation of 5,500 feet.

Along the way to Bisbee

The first thing you see when driving past Bisbee is the big hole or pit where the Lavender mine used to be. This gaping cavity of reddish stone and sand is about 1,000 feet deep and as per Internet info, produced 375 million tons of copper, silver and other minerals including a fair amount of gold over a span of 23 years.

Partial view of the Lavender mine pit

We walked around the fence of the pit to take a picture into the quarry and then wandered on to the part, which is left from the town of Lowell. Most of the town was indeed swallowed up by the Lavender Mine. The town of Lowell is or was Bisbee's closest neighboring town, which is pretty much boarded up, except for a few stores and the famous “Bisbee Breakfast Club Restaurant” that appeared to be busy with tourists and is known for superb breakfast beside other house specialties. Along the road you can admire old and antique cars, trucks and even a tour bus parked in front of abandoned and empty buildings. 

At the other end of the pit, opposite the Copper Queen Mine (we toured that the last time we were here) is the historic and artsy town of Bisbee. The town is built right into the mountain so many streets are elevated. We found a parking spot right in front of the Museum, where the front yard is occupied with a mining train. From there the streets are lined with artsy shops, galleries, restaurants, and antique dealers.  In one of those nice, boutique like stores, Benno found himself a new hat!

Benno asked the guy if he was a prospector on his way to dig for some gold 
Lots of steps up to the elevated town and more shops

We are used to seeing dogs that are being walked on a leash, but how about the girl taking a couple of donkeys on a leash through town?

And I think they got some pretty big flies crawling up the Museum here.

At the Copper Queen Mine you can purchase Geodes (a rock with quartz crystals in them) but they can be found right here in the desert of Arizona or its washes (Quartzsite) you just have to know what to look for!

If you find one of these Geodes, crack it open

Hope you enjoyed the tour and stay tuned for our two trips to Patagonia Lake and to the Whitewater Draw to view 20,000 sandhill cranes.