Tucson Bound

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
We left Albuquerque on October 14 and traveled to Tucson. About 90 minutes south of Albuquerque and near the city of Socorro we stopped at the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and spent time driving the site as well as enjoying the many marsh habitat viewing areas. During the winter this area is known for being a migration region for thousands of sandhill cranes and various species of geese and ducks. A few cranes had been spotted here days before we stopped in, but we didn’t see them. During mid-November each year this place is packed not only with cranes, but with crane enthusiasts for the Festival of Cranes. The rest of the year this refuge is a major resting point for a variety of migrating birds and wildlife.

The Rio Grande at one time flooded the region annually. After dams were built, the once grand river shrunk to the size of a stream causing the marshes to dry up. This meant food supplies dried up and wildlife including all the migratory birds disappeared. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps began working to restore the floodplains and established the national refuge. Seasonal wetlands are now managed and re-create the types of habitats needed for year-round and migratory wildlife by using a system of gates and ditches to move water from the river through fields, marshes, and ponds and back to the river which mimics natural flooding.

This was one of those places we just happened to stop into. We make it a point to travel with more time and not be in a hurry to get from point A to point B. It was very quiet and serene here and worth the time to slow things down a bit and enjoy the marshlands. We would definitely stop here again when we’re cruising through this part of New Mexico again.

Hatch, New Mexico
After our visit to the wildlife refuge, we just had to drive through Hatch – home of the famous Hatch chiles. Fall harvest was at its height, and it seemed a number of businesses were in the process of roasting. The whole town filled with the aroma of chiles, and bright red ristras (a string of chiles) were drying nearly everywhere we looked. Ristras are sold for decoration and are said to bring good health and good luck as well as eating enjoyment throughout the year.

Tucson, Arizona

We arrived at our first of three Tucson, Arizona locations over the next two months on October 16. We started out at an Oro Valley Airbnb in the Suffolk Hills neighborhood nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. We enjoyed time with friends, bike rides, running and walking depending on the heat of the day, farmer’s markets, and the best tamales we’ve ever had at Tucson Tamale. We once again enjoyed Ds mom, Mary Vee, who spent nearly two weeks with us the end of November. Other than D putting over 300 miles on his bike, here are a few things we experienced:

Pima Canyon Hike and a Sonoran hotdog at El Güero Canelo.
We enjoyed our hike and the views of the surrounding Tucson Valley. Then we were ready to try a Sonoran hotdog. What is a Sonoran hotdog? Well my hotdog loving friends, it’s a wiener wrapped in bacon and grilled, placed in a bolillo (special roll sealed at both ends and one side to hold the toppings (green chilies of course, then just about anything else you can think of to stuff in there). They were tasty. It’s all about the bolillo which we found we could pick up at any grocery store bakery to make our own version of a Sonoran dog.

Tucson Botanical Garden
I celebrated the birthday of my friend Rita at the lovely Tucson Botanical Gardens. It was wonderful to spend time together and stroll through 18 specialty gardens, have a fabulous lunch, and a chance for a bit of exotic butterfly magic at the Cox Butterfly Pavilion.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro NP ranges in elevation between 2,180 feet at the desert floor to 8,666 feet at Mica Mountain. This wide range of elevations allows for diverse habitats easily viewed on a drive through the park. This National Park is split in two locations east and west 33 miles apart on the outskirts of Tucson. Last December we visited the east side so this time we drove to the western location. We felt the eastern location was lacking the great stands of Saguaro one sees just driving the foothills surrounding Tucson, but the west side park is packed and looks like a cactus forest. While gazing across the desert and mountain views I am reminded that the larger Saguaro top out around 50-75 feet, are a whopping 175 to 200 years old, and it takes around 70 years to sprout an arm! Mother Nature is one patient lady.

Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum
A primarily outdoor experience covering 21 acres with over 1200 types of plants and over 300 animal species.

Thanks for joining our journey.
Stay tuned,
DaM