SOUTHWEST



 As you can see below, the road to Portal over the Chiricahua mountains was a bit rough but my RAV4 had no problems.  In some areas, it was interesting to see large numbers of trees with blackened bark from previous wildfires coming back to life with new growth.

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After I checked in at the Portal Peak Lodge, I went for a walk into ‘town’ – one short street with the library, post office and several houses. The welcoming committee was there having a drink at a very large puddle. These javelinas are part of a larger herd of about 20 individuals that live in the area.

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One of the houses in town is owned by friends of the group and we were invited to visit their yard where they have multiple bird feeders and a large number of feathered visitors.

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Happy Hour was as sumptuose as usual and gave us time to share our experinces of the day.

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After we had our fill of goodies, you may notice that there is not an inch of empty space on the table, we went to dinner, and then on to our search for critters of the night. The drive was not very productive this year.

To be continued . . .

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After more than 6 years of living in Tucson, I finally got around to doing something I had wanted to do since I got here – explore the Southwest.

The idea for this excursion came about as the annual ASDM Friday Docents and Friends trip to Portal, AZ was scheduled, so I thought why not extend the trip a bit more. Since I was already going to the SE corner of Arizona, I decided to go North from there.

I left Tucson early on Monday, and instead of driving to Portal with the group, I struck out on my own and attempted to visit Fort Bowie National Historic Site and actually visited the Chiricahua National Monument.

The trip to Fort Bowie was a disappointment because I could not find the road in!!! One is supposed to park at the trailhead (did that) and hike a 3 mile loop that would take you to various historically interesting places (did not do that). Since I was alone, basically in the middle of nowhere, and the only living things I saw on the way in were a couple of cows, a raven and a couple of unidentified raptors, I decided that hiking alone was not a good idea – just in case.

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I looked for the ADA accessible road (at my age, I am entitled to use that road) that takes you to the Visitor Center, but I could not find it. Also since it was Monday, and the VC is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, I could not call them (even if I had a cell phone signal) and get directions.  I decided to call it a day and head on to the Chiricahua National Monument.

I drove south on SR186 with the Dos Cabezas mountain range and eventually the Chiricahuas on my left, and open grassland to my right. Magnificent scenery! 

Chiricahua National Monument is a fee-free park and right next to the former fee booth at the entrance is a very small and charming old cemetery.

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The drive to the Visitor Center was lovely, but my goodness, the drive to the Masaai Point, even in the rain was incredibly beautiful and impressive. I had seen pictures of this area before, but none of them did it justice, don’t even know if it is possible to capture how incredible the stone formations are. No pictures – it was raining! 

The view from Massai point is quite sensational. I had a picnic in my car waiting out the rain and watching a thunder and lightning show south of my location. After the rain, I managed to get some images.

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When I left the Monument, I headed south then east over the Chiracahuas on the mountain road to Portal.  The road was a bit rough, but passable.  My trusty RAV-4 had no problems fording streams and bumping along in order to reach Portal in time for our famous Happy Hour at the Portal Lodge with my friends.

To be continued . . .

(ps – no matter how artistically I arrange the images in the draft, they have a mind of their own and rearrange themselves when the blog is published)