Monday, March 15, 2021

More Time with Friends in Arizona

 Not surprisingly considering how many retired folks there are in Arizona, we have a number of friends who now spend some or all of the year there. Marsha Stone and Rick Green live in Prescott when they aren't on their boat. And our neighbors in Shrewsbury Dick and Donna Swartz spend the winters in Marana, just southwest of Tucson. Bob and Lesa DeFeyter used to divide their time between North Conway, NH, and Green Valley but recently sold the former. After this year living full-time here, they are looking for a second home to avoid the too hot summers. 

Dick, Scott, and Donna enjoy Cocktail Hour on the back porch

We spent a few days first with Dick and Donna. Their home is a little compound with a guest house and several useful outbuildings.  I particularly loved that they have two porches, front, and back.  I enjoyed sitting with them in the mornings in the early sunshine in front with our coffee and we all settled in the back for cocktails and the sunset. Donna designed a wonderful full day of sightseeing. They drove us first to Saguaro National Park where we saw our second crested saguaro (very rare) and found the beautiful Visitor's Center closed but worth seeing for itself. Then we drove over the Gates Pass, a twisty narrow road but really gorgeous. There is a big parking area at the crest with a number of trails leading off on both sides. We didn't have time then for more than a short but very steep hike up to take some photos. I'd love to come back sometime for a longer hike. The Pass was begun by Thomas Gates in 1883 in search of a shortcut through the Tucson Mountains. It was considered highly dangerous with 58 wrecks between 1996 and 2001, but has since been improved. 

Lesa, Bob, and Scott dig into the Margaritas and Guacamole at Tumacacori

Next, we visited San Xavior Mission (covered in another blog entry) followed by a lunch outside at the Karichimaka Mexican Restaurant. On the drive back we went through another pass - Rattlesnake Pass! They are common around this area and Dick showed us the skin of one he shot in the backyard (only because it was hissing at some guests). That evening Donna made a wonderful steak dinner. It was hard for us to leave the next day! We'll be back there for sure.

But we had made plans with old friends Bob & Lesa. Bob reserved a campsite at Madera Canyon State Park, just south of Green Valley. What a beautiful place! We went out that evening for more Mexican food, this time inside, imagine! All four of us have had our shots and feel more comfortable now. Arizona allows inside dining now, although at a little less than full capacity. The next morning Bob joined us for a great hike near our campsite. He is a volunteer at the Park and very knowledgeable. 

That afternoon all four of us drove down to Tubac. The Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Juan Batista de Anza was its most famous resident. What a guy he was! He set forth from here in 1774 with 3 padres, 20 soldiers, 11 servants, 35 mules, 65 cattle, and 140 horses. They made it all the way to San Francisco. On his second expedition in 1775, he led a much larger group, including many colonists. He is considered one of the founding fathers of Spanish California and was Governor of the Province of New Mexico. The small church of St. Ann was very charming and sits on top of the ruins of the first church built there in 1767. It is fairly modern, built-in 1929. The rest of the small town is a mixture of residences and tons of shops. It's considered an artists colony and there are many galleries, gift shops, and lots of jewelry. I'm not much of a shopper but ended up making several purchases. 

We moved on next down to the Mission Church at Tumacacori, but that is covered in a separate post. Bob expressed his concern about our spending another night up at Madera Canyon as the weather report indicated possible snow or rain. But we intrepid travelers were too lazy to relocate.  Well, we woke up to several inches of snow and more falling! It was very beautiful but a little frightening to contemplate the trip down the winding steep road. But we had places to go and reservations to keep - so after cleaning off our truck, we made our way very slowly down without problems. Our next stop - Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and Campground.

The visitor's center at Saguaro National Park was
very modern and quite beautiful.

We never seem to get tired of Saguaros!

That's Heather scrambling up the steep
slope at Gates Pass

The view down from the Pass

And of the trails on the far side

And down to the parking area

Dick and Donna, our neighbors and friends in
Shrewsbury, Vermont

Sunset from their back porch

Donna's beautifully set table for dinner

Our campsite at Madera Canyon State Park on
our first day there.

The famous crested Saguaro
Bob & Scott on the trail at Madera Canyon. There
were a series of bridges as we climbed up into the 
canyon crisscrossing the sometimes present
Looking up into the hills
The elegant trogon loves these berries and bird
watchers come here to see them.
The trail was paved in the very beginning to allow people in wheelchairs access to the views. 
The trail started at the bottom of the canyon and
most of our views were of the lower hills. I 
didn't get any of the higher peaks, the highest
of which is over 9,000 feet!
Bob and Lesa have a lovely home in Green
Valley. This is a view of their backyard
from the covered porch. You can see the
mountains in the distance.
The charming interior of St. Ann's Church in 
The many shops and galleries were often
tucked into older buildings.
Lesa and Bob DeFeyter
The view from our campsite the last morning.
Just after I took these photos it started to snow
At the bottom of the canyon road, we took this photo of the Santa Catalina Mountains that are
just north of Tucson, covered in snow.

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