Wednesday, February 12, 2014


There were a couple of things we wanted to do in Arizona, but first on our list was a stop at Chiricahua National Monument.  We didn't know what to expect, but I had found the place in our atlas and soon after it was recommended by folks we met in one of the state parks in New Mexico, so off we went.
The official brochure tells you what to look out for in the park.  Five minutes in we were stopped taking pictures of a coatimundi, and an hour later we were watching the acorn woodpeckers fly around our campsite, so it seems the folks putting together the pamphlet knew their stuff.  We stayed the night at the campground and then headed back up to the top of the road for some hiking the next morning.
With me being out of shape and having to carry Madeline I set my sights on a realistic half hour hike to an area they call "the grotto", which turned out to be a pretty easy hike and an interesting place to visit.  The rocks were eroded away to form a series of arches big enough to walk through.  The whole park is filled with spectacular examples of eroded rock, unfortunately it is all closed to rock climbing.  After our hike we spent a bit of time at the park visitors center and then headed off to Tucson.
Our friends Thayer and Cindy live on the outskirts of Tucson, and their house has slowly evolved over the years into one of the most peaceful, relaxing homes I've had the pleasure of visiting.  Even Madeline seemed to love the place, and warmed to Thayer and Cindy more than we have seen at many of the other stops on our trip.  We had a very nice visit, learning a lot about the business they run out of their home, sharing a lot of good meals, and generally just relaxing for a bit.  We got a taste of the wildlife that surrounds them, seeing javalina, quail, hummingbirds, hawks, a roadrunner, a coyote, and various other bird species, all either on or within about ten feet of the front porch.  After a week we had enough of the seventy and eighty degree weather and headed north for Flagstaff where we could hope to find snow again.
Flagstaff was another stop where we were checking out the possibility of settling.  I had always heard good things about the town but had never spent much time there.  We took a  bit of time exploring the desert area to the south, and then spent a day in town just getting a feel for the place.  The town is located at a high enough elevation that it doesn't share the overwhelming heat found in most other Arizona cities, it gets a fair amount of snow in the winter, and is surrounded by high peaks providing good wilderness recreation potential.  We both came away liking the area, the fact that it has both a Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins doesn't hurt either.
After getting our fill of the natural beauty of the area, we thought it would be silly to be so close and not pay a visit to good old Las Vegas, so off we went in search of a whole different southwest experience.

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