Earlier in the month, we rode our bikes down the very hilly road to the entrance to Patagonia Lake State Park (see photo above), but did not go in. This Wednesday, we drove down to the park from town and paid the $10/car fee to enter. The forecast was for a very windy day, so riding our bikes there would not have been fun and might have been dangerous with the wind gusts. And frankly, I couldn't face hills like this again!
While not a good day for cycling, it was a fine day for checking out the park and escaping at least some of the wind on the long Sonoita Creek birding trail hidden among the green trees.
Upon arriving at the park, we headed directly for the Sonoita Creek Trail, knowing that the birds would be most active in the morning. We could check out the lake later. When we first started out, the trail was busy with other birders, but once we got farther down the trail, it thinned out, and we saw very few other people.
At the beginning of the trail, we were at the eastern edge of the lake and got to see some ducks and shorebirds.
After checking out the shorebirds, we made our way on down the trail. The riparian environment near the creek was absolutely gorgeous -- green and lush. I couldn't get over how different it was from the typical southern Arizona Sonoran desert landscape. Since it is now migration season, there were many birds singing in the trees. This was no fitness hike as we had to stop many times to check out birds.
Right before we turned around to head back on the trail, we came to the most fun creek crossing. I made it across in both directions with no wet feet!
We did see quite a few birds on our hike, but we'll save those for a later blog post on Patagonia birds to keep this one to a reasonable length.
After coming back on the trail, we walked around looking at the rest of the park. Patagonia Lake is a 265-acre man-made lake. It would be a great place to kayak or canoe since only low-power motorboats are allowed (and no jet-skis -- yay!) The lake is also very popular for fishing. There are two campgrounds that were pretty full, though the folks in RVs were faring much better than those in tents on this blustery day. We saw a couple of tents that were just about to take flight with the migrating birds! Wish we'd snapped a photo....
There's a highly arched pedestrian bridge over part of the lake. Perhaps they built it so high to let small sailboats pass under (just a guess). Walking across this bridge was a good workout with the steep slope on each side. On the other side of the bridge is a day-use picnic area.
I took the shot below from the top of the bridge. The folks in the canoe were really fighting the wind but finally got the boat back to shore. I don't think I would have been out there paddling today!
Despite the wind, we had a great day visiting the park. We hope to come back for another visit one day!
When walking down to visit the Nature Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve for birdwatching twice during our time here in Patagonia, AZ, we passed a Nature Conservancy hiking trail outside the gates of the preserve. Although there is a fee to enter the gated part of the preserve, this 3.8-mile loop, named after Arizona naturalist Geoffrey Platts, is free to hike. So, after our week's pass to the preserve expired, we knew we'd have to head down to hike this trail.
We measured the distance of the road down to the trailhead from where we're staying in town, and it's 2.3 miles round-trip. So by walking there and back, we'd end up with a nice 6.1 mile hike.
Before arriving at the trail, we saw a couple of mule deer in the trees right by the side of Blue Heaven Road. Barry managed to get a photo of one checking us out before they scampered away.
The Platts trail is moderate in difficulty with a few short climbs and some loose scree and talus when going up and down the ridge. We wished we'd brought our hiking poles for a bit of assistance, especially when picking our way downhill on the rocky terrain, which can get slippery.
Although we'd hoped to do some bird-watching, the trail climbs up into a barer, more desert-like area, so birds were few and far between. We saw many more birds while walking on Blue Haven Road with its varied trees and shrubs on the way to and from the trail.
Birds may have been lacking, but views certainly were not. Once we'd climbed up high on the ridge, we could see the beautiful Patagonia mountains on all sides. We also had great views looking down on the town of Patagonia, and see the tops of the huge cottonwoods that are now completely leafed out in spring green all over the valley. Stunning!
We had the trail almost to ourselves. There was a solo photographer up high on the ridge, and we passed a group of four hikers doing the loop in the opposite direction, but that was it. If you're in the Patagonia area, don't miss this beautiful hike!
I wanted to visit Tubac, Arizona simply by virtue of reviews I'd read about the amazing moles and other Mexican specialties at a restaurant called Elvira's. I didn't know too much about the town, other than the fact that it wasn't too long a drive for a day trip from Patagonia, where we're staying for the month.
From a brochure in the house where we're staying, I learned more. Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish Presidio (fort) and now hosts working artists, art programs, and seasonal exhibits. Sculptures, paintings, metal art, and ceramics are displayed everywhere, and there's also a historic museum and state park right in town.
So, last Friday we headed over to eat lunch and stroll the colorful streets of Tubac. It's definitely a touristy town, but I can forgive it that since it's such a visual treat. Like Patagonia, Tubac is attractively situated, surrounded by mountains and high desert vistas. And there is colorful and unique art everywhere you look. Definitely a feast for the eyes!
After driving all over the small town streets looking for Elvira's as it was already "late lunch" time, we decided to park in one of the many small parking areas and walk around to continue our search. Seems like we saw everything besides Elvira's, but at least it was nice to look at, even as our bellies growled.
Eventually we ran across one of the tourist map boards located strategically around town and determined where the restaurant was. We hoofed it over there as quickly as possible and got a table outside. It was beautiful inside but very dark and packed with people. On such a beautiful day, we always prefer to eat outdoors, and we had their patio almost to ourselves.
This place is a definite splurge -- lunch menu prices were quite a bit higher than I'd expected, but we've mostly been eating simple, inexpensive meals at our "home" for the month and very few restaurant meals, so we didn't mind spending a bit more on a special lunch.
Barry adores mole, so I was glad he was able to try one of their five wonderful mole choices over chicken breast. He went with the traditional Mole Negro, made with no less than 34 ingredients. But they all sounded amazing -- they need to add a "mole sampler" to their menu!
I absolutely loved what I ordered, the Quesadillas Poblanas. They were limey and covered with fresh cilantro, which I adore, and just the right amount of heat in the salsa verde and cheese-chile-corn filling.
The desserts sounded so amazing we just had to split one -- yes, we were splurging today! We got the "Caribbean Treat", described on the menu as "Flamed bananas with Captain Morgan rum butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, over vanilla ice cream and walnuts. It was as decadent and delicious as it sounds and looks. And just in case you're wondering, I would have licked the bowl if I'd been at home...and if Barry hadn't beaten me to it!
After rolling out of the restaurant, we spent awhile wandering around and looking at all the cool art around town. Fortunately, since we're already traveling with as much as we can carry, we weren't too tempted to buy anything. If we had a yard to decorate, the colorful items for sale would have been much more difficult to resist.
There were a lot of incredible art pieces around town, but I think this one was my favorite. I can't imagine why!
After walking around for awhile, my feet were getting blisters (not used to wearing sandals any more!) And we were ready to hit the road. But where was our car? We had been in such a hurry to get to the restaurant that we just didn't pay close attention to which of the many small gravel parking areas we'd parked in -- and there were a lot of white CR-Vs (and similar vehicles) parked around town.
Finally I had to sit down and wait until Barry found the car because my feet were really hurting. Shortly thereafter, he spied it, and we were able to make our way home. Note to self: Always pay attention to where you park. D'oh!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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