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Archive for the ‘Tucson Points of Interest’ Category

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. — Photo by Pat Bean

Painted Redstart -- Wikimedia Photo

Painted Redstart — Wikimedia Photo

“Solitary converse with nature; for thence are ejaculated sweet and dreadful words never uttered in libraries. Ah! the spring days, the summer dawns, and October woods!” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Desert Oasis – And a Red-Faced Warbler         

If numbers counted, the painted redstart was the bird of the day when my 16-year-old grandson, JJ, and I hiked Ramsey Canyon this past weekend. But in my book, the bird of the day was the one in which I got a brief glimpse, just long enough to see its striking face before it resumed flittering high among the thick leafy branches of a half-dozen tall trees.

It was a red-faced warbler, and a lifer for me, the 708th bird species I have seen. While I watched it, and another, flitting about for at least 10 minutes, that one glimpse as it settled briefly on a tree limb that was in the open, was the only one in which I could identify it.

Warbler, red-faced. I saw one up Ramsey Canyon

Red-faced warbler. — Wikimedia photo

The warblers were flying with about a half-dozen redstarts, and it was impossible for me to tell which was which when they were moving. Both birds are similar in size, although the redstart is slightly larger. The two species are rarely seen outside of Southeast Arizona or Southwest New Mexico when they migrate up from Mexico and South America for the spring and summer.

I saw my first painted redstart, back in 2006, in Zion National Park, which is located in Southern Utah.

This day, in Arizona’s Ramsey Canyon, these beautiful redstarts, with their black bodies, red bellies and distinctive white wing bars, were just about everywhere along the creek-side hike. It wasn’t until the trail reached the top of the main trail, where it looped across Ramsey Creek before heading back down to the trailhead, that I saw the warblers.

My grandson and I joined a half-dozen other birders on the lookout for them after someone noted they had spotted a red-faced warbler. Thankfully, I had my binoculars focused on the branch when the only one I could identify landed briefly.

What a treat.

My grandson, however, was more excited about seeing four white-tailed deer as we hiked, and the fantastic giant trees that grew beside the creek, which laughed and gurgled its way over rocks and down small waterfalls as it made its way down the canyon.

These things excited me, too. The red-faced warbler was just the chocolate syrup on rich French vanilla ice cream, which is always good enough to eat without any topping.

            Bean Pat: A Totem Town http://tinyurl.com/nn6gqxj A great armchair travel blog. I’ve been to this town, and loved it, too.

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These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. -- Photo by Pat Bean

These two trees captured my attention along the Arivaca Cienega Trail because they so accurately represent the circle of life. — Photo by Pat Bean

I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup. ~Wendell Berry

Birdy Backroad Heaven

I woke up restless the other morning, and solved it by reviving a weekend morning tradition from back when I was putting in 50-hour work weeks. I packed a picnic lunch, gathered up my canine companion, Pepper, and we took off looking for a backroad and hoping it took us someplace where we could be away from the crowds and in one of Mother Nature’s wondrous landscapes.

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Not the best picture, but in person it was magnificent. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found my backroad off Interstate 19 near Arizona’s border with Mexico. It led to the small town of Arivaca 23 miles away. I passed a Border Patrol stop near the interstate, but was waved on and told I only had to stop on the way back.

Speed limit on the narrow, twisting and bumpy back lane was mostly 45 mph, but it wasn’t often I was able to go that fast. But traffic, except for a couple of pickup trucks and a half-dozen motorcyclists traveling together, was non-existent. It was exactly what I had been hoping to find.

I didn't have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I didn’t have to search hard to find this abode of Mother Nature. This sign set right beside the road just east of Arivaca. — Photo by Pat Bean

I found myself singing “On the Road Again.” I couldn’t belt it out with the grace of Willie Nelson but, it was good enough to put me in a yippy-I-got-away-from-the-world mood, especially when I had to dodge a greater roadrunner dashing across the road.

Just outside downtown Arivaca, which sits on the edge of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Pepper and I stopped at the refuge’s Arivaca Cienega site, which is a designated Audubon Important Birding Area. Thankfully, leashed pets were allowed on the trail, which cut through what was clearly a marsh during the desert area’s monsoon season. Cienega, in fact, translates as swamp. Birds twittered all around us, and among others I identified song sparrows, cardinals, Bell’s vireos and western kingbirds. A deer watched us a minute or two as we rounded a bend in the trail before scampering out of sight.

I didn’t think my morning, which was cooled by a light breeze still fresh from the desert night, could have been any more perfect. Then a pair of red-tailed hawks circled overhead and it did.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Luckenbach Loop http://tinyurl.com/n9cgt9v One of my favorite bloggers also enjoys a backroad trip.

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“The world is but a canvas to our imagination.” – Henry David Thoreau

The old cemetery at Tumacacori National Park south of  Tucson. Drawing by Pat Bean

The old cemetery at Tumacacori National Park south of Tucson. Drawing by Pat Bean

A Sketchy Morning

I recently joined the Sketchbook Artistry Guild and went on my first outing, which took place at Tumacacori National Park south of Tucson. It was the first time I had sketched outdoors in about 10 years. It was a glorious, beautiful day and a win-win-win for this non-wandering wanderer, who is always eager for new sights, learning something new and meeting new people.

The church at Tumacacori. -- Drawing by Pat Bean

The church at Tumacacori. — Drawing by Pat Bean

The ruins of the once Jesuit mission to bring Christianity to the O’odham Indians, who were often at war with the Apaches also located in Southern Arizona, spoke to me of a past riddled with men too sure they were right in their beliefs, hardships, struggles, community and survival. How little we have changed.

So I focused on the sketching possibilities of the ruins with its roofless bell tower, and the trees that created an artful composition in a small graveyard – and tried to capture their memories on paper. I sketched on sight, and then went home and added watercolor to the paintings.

Afterwards, eight of us went to Wisdom’s, a delightful restaurant with huge chicken statues in front, for lunch. The fish tacos I ate were yummy, and the table conversation delightful. What a great way to spend a day.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Prairie flameleaf sumac http://tinyurl.com/mlbqfrc Great blog about flowers.

 

 

 

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fall leaves

Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me — I am happy.” — Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

Point of Interest for a Non-Wandering Wanderer           

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. — Photo by Pat Bean

  Ramsey Canyon, south of Tucson, is one of North America’s hottest birding spots – but not in November. In November, it is just a delightful place for a hike and a delicious feast for the eyes.

My son Lewis and I got to the  Nature Conservancy visitor center early, and paid our $6 to gain access to the canyon. The first two amazing things I noticed different from the usual Sonoran Desert landscape was water in the form of a spring-fed stream bubbling down the canyon — and trees, lots of tall, stately giants, and broad-branched monarchs that made me want to clamber up into their arms.

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis said it was the trees, which Tucson lacked, that kept me oohing and ahhing almost continually.

But we have trees in Tucson, I said.

“Not like these, or this many,” he replied

He was right. While my apartment complex does have a few, out-of-habitat and bedraggled evergreens, and a few black olive trees, most of the ones I see around Tucson are short mesquites and leafless, green-trunked palo verdes. .

Growing tall and regal between Ramsey’s Canyon walls were maples and sycamores. The towering and mottled-white limbs of the sycamores were enchanting, as were the autumn leaves of the maple trees, sights I don’t normally see in Tucson proper.

Located in the Huachuca Mountains, the canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty, its diversity of plants, and the birds that visit it in the spring and summer. The one other time I visited it, about eight years ago on an April day, I went for the birds – and was not disappointed. While I only saw a few birds this trip, I was still not disappointed.

Painted redstart.

Painted redstart.

The Ramsey Canyon hike is only a mile up and back, although hikers can add some length to the trail by continuing on to the top of a ridge, which Lewis did. I chose to hike back down canyon slowly, taking time to breathe in Mother Nature’s beauty and to take some photographs.

As I crossed a bridge near a splash and play area, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of painted redstarts. I felt that Lewis, also an avid birder, would be put out that he hadn’t seen them. Thankfully the bird wouldn’t be a lifer for him. And when I told him about the redstart, he was too happy he had seen an Arizona woodpecker, which was a lifer, to envy my sighting.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat A Window into the Woods http://tinyurl.com/k2wrq5a Now that my son, Lewis, is back home in Texas, these are birds he can see every day.

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“The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with bass notes, or dark lake with the treble.” – Wassily Kandinsky

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. -- Photo by Pat Bean

We watched what looked like was going to be a dud of a sunset. Even when the sun slipped below the horizon, the sky barely glowed yellow. And then suddenly, as if someone finally remembered to turn on the painted gels, the sunset sky exceeded even our expectations. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “I’m an old-fashioned guy … I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake or something.” – Johnny Depp

Point of Interest

            I consider my trip last week – in which my friend Jean and I and our two loveable dogs, Pepper and Dusty, camped overnight beside Theodore Roosevelt Lake — as part of my current lifestyle as a non-wandering wanderer.

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

Roosevelt Lake Bridge is the longest two-lane, single span, steel arch bridge in North America. — Photo by Pat Bean

I intend not to be one of those people I met during my travels who never saw the landscape marvels or points of interest in their own backyards.

And since Roosevelt Lake is only a leisurely three-hour, scenic drive from Tucson, I figured it close enough to at least be situated in the South 40 of my rented estate.

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color.  -- Photo by Pat Bean

The western sky about 10 minutes before it burst into color. — Photo by Pat Bean

The lake, located north of Globe alongside Highway 188, was created when the Theodore Roosevelt Dam was erected on the Salt River in 1911.

With a length of 22 miles, a maximum width of two miles, and a maximum depth of almost 350 feet, the lake is Arizona’s largest. That is if you don’t count Lake Mead which sits partially in Nevada and Lake Powell which sits partially in Utah.

One of the best parts of spending the night at a campground is the opportunity to watch the sun go down, and then to sit around a campfire. Somehow tales are taller, and the world’s problems more solvable when you’re dodging smoke by continually moving your lawn chair a bit to the right or left.

Better yet, when the wind’s blowing the smoke away from you, as it was surprisingly doing for us this night as we sat around the fire with the dogs at our feet.

Sometimes life is just damn good.

Jean and I, and I suspect Pepper and Dusty, too, are already looking forward to our next campout. I hope it’s soon.

Bean Pat: A Mixed Bag http://tinyurl.com/padl2g3 When you find yourself in a hole.

 

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“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Isaac Newton

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? -- Photo by Pat Bean

First came the tail. Is that like walking up the down staircase? — Photo by Pat Bean

Hometown Point of Interest

When I’m traveling, I research the cities I will pass through along the way. I find this type of advance preparation both fun and educational, especially since  Internet sites like Wikipedia, Trip Advisor and Roadside America, make it an easy task.

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake's belly. -- Photo  by Pat Bean

Pepper staring down at the traffic passing below as we travel through the snake’s belly. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve also found many sight-seeing ideas by using simple key words, like  “Things to do” in Lake Jackson, Texas (the Sea Center), or Camden, Arkansas (Poison Spring State Park), or Hot Springs, South Dakota (The Mammoth Site). Well you get the idea.

So why not apply this same philosophy to my current non-wandering lifestyle, I asked myself? So I did. And I discovered over a hundred (I don’t exaggerate) places of interest within a few miles of my Mount Lemmon foothills’ apartment.

One of these was Rattlesnake Bridge, which Pepper and I took a walk across yesterday morning. I learned of its existence on Roadside America’s web site.

We entered the 280 foot long bridge through its tail, where motion sensors set off an eerie rattling sound that had Pepper looking for the source.

The unique bridge crossed six lanes of traffic on Broadway Boulevard before the snake  spit us out through its head, which sits near a small landscaped park and walking trail. Pepper and I followed the trail for a while before backtracking to Cayenne, our ruby-red vehicle.

The snake's head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

The snake’s head, which we entered to retrace out steps back to the tail. == Photo by Pat Bean

According to Roadside America, the concept for the bridge came from Tucson artist Simon Donovan in 1997. The bridge was then completed in 2002, using public art funding.

Pepper and I had the bridge to ourselves when we walked across it at about 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. It was a delightful way to start our day.

Bean Pat: Travels and Trifles http://tinyurl.com/mqmwtad Dreamy!

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

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