We took a few days to drive down to our campsite for most of the “cold” season. First to Missoula, MT and then to American Falls, ID and then a couple of days in Ely, NV. From Ely, we took a day trip to Great Basin National Park.

Within an hour we were at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. We were early for our tour, so we were wandering around and happened to sit down beside a young woman who looked familiar. It was Marysa who we had last seen in August when she was visiting her parents in Cranbrook. We had recommended that she try to see the caves since she would be travelling right by them on her way to Colorado. We had both booked the same tour on-line by coincidence. It was such a surprise to see her there that we asked a nearby tourist to take our photo together.Cave_entrance_Marysa

The cave tour was worthwhile. Our tour guide, although a bit quirky, had interesting stories and facts about the caves. The caves are artificially lit, but still quite dim.

Lehman-Cave

The next day we drove to Kingman, AZ, and in one more day we were in the Tucson area. We booked a site at Picacho Peak State Park for two nights, so we had time to reconnoiter the route to our the site we had leased near Saguaro National Park (West). Here’s a photo of our first night at Picacho Peak S.P.

Picacho-campsite

This is a view towards the Santa Catalina Mountains and Highway 10.

Picacho_Saguaro

This one is looking towards the ridge of Picacho Peak in the morning.

Picacho-morning

Both mornings we were there, we got up at sunrise (around 6 am) and went for a birding walk. It would get too hot to be comfortable walking by 8. Here’s a photo of a Say’s phoebe in a Palo verde tree.

saph

Here are some views of our spot for the season. We’ve leased the site from the homeowner who also lives on the property. We’ve enjoyed beautiful sunsets most evenings.

Campsite_sunset

This is the view looking east. The sandy area in front of our unit is surrounded by trees.

Campsite_sunset3

Parts of the yard are still wild; here’s a view of a Prickly pear cactus with fruit.

Cactus_prickly_pear

There is also Chainfruit cholla on the property.

Chainfruit-Cholla

We’ve had a chance to see a bit of Tucson. After we stopped in at the Visitors Centre, we went to a park close by for a short walk. There were a number of these beautiful bushes in bloom. We found out they are Red Bird-of-Paradise (caesalpinia pulcherrima), in the legume family.

Tucson-flowers

Our site is about ten minutes from the Red Hills Visitor Center for Saguaro National Park (West). One day we viewed the displays, took the short nature walk and listened to very informative talk about the life cycle of the Saguaro.

Wendy_SNP

Another day, we drove across town and up a winding road to the top of Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon actually has a ski hill! It has a limited season but it has a chairlift and about a dozen short runs. There are campgrounds and picnic sites all the way up the road as well as many hiking trailheads. We chose to hike from the upper most parking area. There were sections near the top that were reminiscent of a forest in Canada. It was cool enough to hike with a long-sleeved shirt. (Locals were wearing fleece jackets, however.)

Wendy_trees

Here’s a view looking west over Tucson and the craggy ridge of Mount Lemmon. We didn’t get a photo, but we were able to see several Yellow-eyed juncos, a bird that has a very limited range in the United States.

Wendy_Mt_Lemmon

We’ve seen plenty of birds already, and Doug has several good photos that we’ll include in our next blog.

3 thoughts on “Down to Arizona

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