We had a short drive from Bullhead City to Las Vegas that started with a 16 mile climb out of the Colorado River Valley. The Journey did a great job pulling the grade and we were in Las Vegas in less than 2 hours. We are not big gamblers but do enjoy the shows. We saw the very funny ventriloquist, Jeff Dunham, at Planet Hollywood and then the new Cirque du Soleil show, Zarkana at the Aria. Both shows were a lot of fun. Josie was a great sport and we ate dinner one evening at Pinks Hotdogs on the Strip. Pinks is a famous Hollywood, California eatery that we have eaten at a few times when visiting that area.
We had a pleasant surprise when we found out Josie's son Michael was coming into town on business. We had a great 2 hour dinner with him and were so busy catching up that we forgot to take a picture. On our final afternoon we met Scott's mom Elaine for long lunch. It is always good to see her.
We were able to give the Jeep some TLC after all the off road trips she has taken us on. We had new tires and brakes installed, so we should be good to go for a while now. I did get out to the Henderson Bird Viewing Area one morning and found a few great western birds. We will now start heading east.
We made the long drive from the Southeast Arizona to Northwest Arizona in 9 hours. The wind gave us a little trouble but the trip seemed to fly by as we tried to identify all the cacti along the highway with the book the Loomis's had given Josie on the Flora and Fauna of the Southwest. That evening we sat out at our site and enjoyed the sun set and the lights from the casinos across the Colorado River in Laughlin. If you have never been to Laughlin, you have not missed a thing. We went over to the river boardwalk our first full day in the area for the Blues and Brews Festival and were not impressed with the casinos or the people who frequent them. Enough said. We took it easy for a few days just enjoying the warm weather. I took advantage of a great tee time special on Golfnow, and played the Laughlin Ranch Golf Club, the 13th highest rated course in Arizona. I was paired up with three nice young men from Lake Havasu and we had a great time. The course had spectacular views on almost every hole.
We took one day to drive an 11 mile Jeep trail from Bullhead City to Oatman, an old mining town on the original Route 66. We saw many wild burros along the way. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned in the Oatman Hotel in 1939. Gable had been to the area to film a movie a few years earlier and fell in love with the town. The main draw today in Oatman are the not so wild burros who roam the main street looking for handouts. We took a bag of carrots to feed them and we became very popular people. Many of the tourist stores in town have colorful names catering to the presence of the burros. From Oatman we drove 30 miles on Route 66 to Kingman, Arizona. Along the way there are many historical buildings that at one time were well used stops on the route. We had lunch at the Dambar in Kingman. The bar has been a fixture on the old highway for years under different names. In the late 50's a man bought it without telling his wife. Once she found out she called it that "damn bar" and the name stuck. It is a popular stop on 66 and we had a great steak lunch followed by a slice of Damberry pie a la mode.
On our final day in Bullhead City we drove over into Nevada and drove the Christmas Tree Pass Jeep Trail in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The first two miles of the road were passable for just about any vehicle. This section led to the parking lot for The Grapevine Canyon Trail. We hiked up about a half mile until we came to the first set of petroglyphs. Along the way Josie was identifying the Cacti we passed. Having picked up all this knowledge from the Field Guide the Loomis's had given her. We also found a few of the local residents on the rocks.
Once we left the Grapevine Trail area the road got rougher and steeper, with great rock formations on both sides of the road. We soon found out why the trail is called Christmas Tree Pass. On top of the pass, at around 4000 feet, Juniper trees start to become the major flora of the area. Many of them along the road have been decorated for the season. It was funny to see them as we had not been told that they would be there.
Tomorrow we drive to Las Vegas. We are glad to be leaving before the weekend as they are estimating over fifty thousand bikers will be arriving for the Laughlin River Run Motorcycle Rally. From the already large police presence we are guessing they are expecting a wild crowd.
Have had a great time birding Southwest Arizona with Kathy and Bob Loomis. Here are some pictures I took of a few of the birds we have seen. Some of my pictures are good and some not so good. A few are not quite in focus and I tend to cut the tails off the bird with a lot of my pictures. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did trying to take them. You can put your cursor on the picture to go forward of backward or to pause.
Our trip from Phoenix to Southeast Arizona was a short one, but we did have a problem with the lights on the tow Jeep not working correctly. I tried to find the problem but could not figure it out. So we called a local repair man who said he would try to get out to see us the next day. Josie said for me to go ahead and go birding with Bob and Kathy and she would stay with the RV. The man came early and found a bad relay switch under the RV. Josie had to get under the RV to hold the relay while he replaced it. I would pay money for a picture of that. You would think we would get a discount because she did some of the work. She even got stains on her blouse that would not come out and she had to throw it away. What a trooper.
The first stop in our SEAZ tour was Green Valley. From here we ventured into the famous birding spots of Madera and Montosa Canyons. The bird feeders at the Santa Rita lodge and other homes in the area make for easy birdwatching. All you have to do is sit and let the birds come to you. Even though we moved south the weather was much cooler since we were now at 4000 feet.
We also took a trip to the top of Mt Lemmon, a nine thousand foot peak that towers over Tucson, where we searched for high altitude birds. Our friends from Pueblo El Mirage, Carol and Lee recommended we have lunch at the Irondoor restaurant at the ski resort at the top of the mountain. So glad they told us about it as we had a fantastic lunch topped off with Spiced Wine and individual pies that Josie and I split.
After four days in Green Valley we moved to the small town of Patagonia, AZ. We checked into the RV Park and were greeted by our new neighbors, a herd of Texas Longhorn cattle. While we were here one cow gave birth, and we were able to watch the newborn calf take its first steps.
On our first evening in the RV Park we heard the calls of a Great Horned Owl coming for the large cottonwood tree nearby. With a little searching we found their nest with the mother owl on it and the father sitting nearby. With a little more observation we were able to see that she had two owlets in the nest. We heard them calling every evening and morning we were there.
Patagonia is famous in birding circles for the Paton House. Many years ago Mr. and Mrs. Paton started putting up Hummingbird feeders and invited the public to visit their back yard and sit and watch the hummers come to the feeders. They have both passed on (BJ & Karin bow your heads) and their children sold the home to the Tucson Audubon Society, so that the public can still come and watch the birds.
One of the other famous birding spots in this area is California Gulch, the home of the hard to find Five-stripped Sparrow. Bob, Kathy and I drove over the rough roads into the Gulch and hiked up the canyon looking for this elusive bird. We may have seen one but were not sure enough to count it.
On our final day in Patagonia we drove up the San Rafael Valley and into the high plains. One would not expect to see such extensive grasslands in southern Arizona. It is so isolated here the mail is delivered by air. LOL
That evening we had dinner on the veranda at the Spirit Tree Inn where Bob and Kathy were staying. The Inn get's its name from the one hundred and seventy year old Cottonwood tree that grows in the front yard of the Inn. In the picture below you can just barley see Josie, Kathy and Bob on the bottom left of the tree. Tom, the owner of the Inn, says that it is the 6th largest cottonwood in the USA. The spirit of the tree seemed to take over Josie and Kathy, or it just could have been the Sangria. Later Tom called in the Elf Owl that lives in a telephone pole on the property for us to see. A great ending to a busy day.
The third stop of our trip was Sierra Vista, Arizona. This area is also a birding Mecca, with a half dozen canyons coming down the Eastern Side of the Huachuca Mountains, that attract many birds from south of the border and act as a flyway for the Spring migration. We birded Huachuca Canyon on Fort Huachuca and found the elusive Elegant Trogon and Northern Pygmy Owl. We visited the Hummingbird feeders at Beatty's Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon and were able to find 5 different species of Hummingbirds. While in Sierra Vista Josie was delighted to find a Yogurt Bar named after her.
We then moved east one last time, to the town of Portal, Arizona. Portal is just a few miles from the New Mexico border and sits at the foot of eastern side of the Chiricahua Mountains. It is just one more of the famous birding spots in Southeast Arizona. We birded the mountain highlands and also checked out the feeders at many of the local homes. Portal has only one store that also contains the only restaurant and hotel. You have to drive 40 miles round trip just to get gas. If you are even in this part of Arizona you should go into Cave Creek Canyon for the scenery, as you can see below its very majestic. Anytime you are this close to the Mexican border you see signs warning you of smuggling and illegal immigration. We saw two young men sitting on the side of a high mountain dirt road and just kept going. Best not to stop. The RV Park we stayed in had two guard geese that were very unfriendly. The owner of the park told us to carry a broom with us the first time we went out and if they charged us to shoo them away with it. Josie showed them who was boss the first day there and they never bothered us again. Being in the middle of no where has one great advantage. At night we could see thousands of stars that are just not visible in the cities Josie and I sat back in our zero gravity chairs and used Google Sky Map to identify the planets, stars and constellations.
Our 16 days in Southeast Arizona with Bob and Kathy seemed to fly by and we were sad to say good by We always have a great time with them, they are such dear friends.
Our last week in El Mirage was a busy one. My cousin Mike came into town from Montana to help his friend paint his home. Then our good friends Bob and Kathy Loomis came in from Virginia Beach. Mike and I were able to get out for a couple rounds of golf with his friends from Montana between days of painting. We also were able to get in a Coyotes hockey game and a Royals Spring Training game.
Early one morning we trekked out into the desert to track down the elusive LeConte's Thrasher. Thanks to Mike's eagle eye we were able to find a life bird for him as well as Bob and Kathy.
Bob and I were able to see 2 Royals games. Josie took Bob and Kathy to the horse races. On that day they also had camel and ostrich races. A good time was had by all.
Spring is in full bloom here in the Valley of the Sun, with all the cacti and trees blooming.
Beside the birds, other desert creatures are also out looking for mates.
We left Pueblo El Mirage on March 31st. We had a great six months there and had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories with great new friends. We are now in Southeast Arizona with Bob and Kathy hoping to find a lot of good birds and make even more memories.