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Category Archives: Arizona

The last big highlight of our Arizona road trip was Casa Grande. This imposing structure was first seen by a white man in 1694. A community of ancient Sonoran Desert people had lived and farmed the region up until about 1450 and then abandoned the place for unknown reasons. They developed an extensive network of canals to water their crops including corn, beans, squash, tobacco and cotton among others. They were also skilled pottery artists. One enormous pot that was recovered from the ruins intact was more than two feet in diameter and it is on display in the visitor center. Sadly there is no written language and no record of why they left.

The roof over the big building was constructed in 1932 in order to prevent further decay of the ruins. Some restoration attempts were made however little has changed since the 1940’s.

The Chiricahua National Monument is one of those place I have been hoping to visit for some time now. And now that I’ve been there, I really want to return. During our road trip through Arizona this month, it had the best birding and by far, the best rocks. Walking on the trails through Echo Canyon I could imagine footsteps of long dead natives and Europeans alike. It is a great place to get lost.

From Bisbee we drove to Sierra Vista and a lovely musical evening with Jennifer and Judy’s friends. The next morning after a hearty breakfast we headed to Ramsey Canyon, a Nature Conservancy Preserve. Ramsey Canyon is known far and wide for its excellent birding. But not in December. It is a lovely landscape with some interesting human history as well. Just downstream from the TNC property is the Arizona Folklore Preserve, a place where Notable Exceptions (Jennifer and Judy) have performed several times. We made a short stop there to admire the grounds.

Ramsey Canyon has a wonderful mix of deciduous and evergreen trees and succulents too. Some like ponderosa pine and Douglas fir were familiar to us. Others like an unusual madronne and sycamores were new to me.

Have you been to Bisbee, Arizona? It’s a fun little town built into steep canyon walls in the southeast corner of the state. Just downstream from Bisbee is an active open pit copper mine. Mining is what brought the white people to Bisbee and there is a great museum that tells many of the mining stories.

Bisbee is full of old brick buildings. Like many towns from that era, it suffered from structure fires and so most of it was rebuilt with brick and stone. There are lots of little shops and restaurants and lots of good music and visual art too. A person could spend days poking around in Bisbee.

The Lunatic Fringe Luthiery

Gretchen Baer car art

Here is the road trip worthy song that Jennifer and Judy performed when we visited the Luthiery:



The magnificent saguaro is an amazing plant. They stand straight without any branches or arms until they are 70 or 80 years old! The provide food for people and wildlife. Birds create cavities in them for nesting and roosting. Even after they die, they stand for a long time, continuing to provide wildlife habitat. And there are many more kinds of cacti in and around the park. The big succulents bloom in the summer while wildflowers bloom much earlier in the year. This is a place to return to time and time again.

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