Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Saguaro Escapee Co-op Park


When we left Kartchner Caverns State Park we went to the Saguaro Escapee Co-op Park near Benson, Arizona to try it out and to prepare for or trip to Oregon. After a week  we decided to extend our stay for a few days, because the park and the weather were both so nice. Then when we had plan to leave, there were two storms coming to California over the next few days with high winds and snow down to 4,000 feet. We had two passes to cross greater than 4,000 feet so we decided to stay put through another weekend. 

Somehow neither one of us took a picture of the lot we were renting. Since this is a Co-op there are very definite guidelines about landscaping and what can be built on a lot. We saw a very wide range of landscaping and “casitas”.  Some casitas are little more than a small shed to store your patio chairs in. Others include: patios, balconies, washers and dryers, bathrooms, showers, even kitchens. The style of the casitas vary immensely. The casitas below are not typical, but do show how much difference there is in casitas style.

A really charming casita in the park, very Southwestern design

A really charming casita, very Southwestern design.

Here's a a unique you live in a barn?

Here's a a unique barn casita.

A few pictures of some of the unique landscaping.

Miniature Train set that runs from the front yard out to the back

Miniature Train set that runs from the front yard out to the back

Here he comes...

This one only runs around the front yard.

The site we were renting had no casita and was only landscaped with gravel and a few cactus.

Easter Cactus opened more flowers

Easter Cactus opened.

During our stay at the Saguaro Escapee Co-op Park we got back into our 10,000 steps a day walking, I read and Kathy got back to her beading.

Our decision to wait while the storms moved across California proved to be a excellent one. We had great weather and no WIND during our trip! The first 600 miles of our journey to Oregon is almost all desert and best travelled without the wind.

We stopped over in Mariposa, California for a few days to visit with Kathy’s parents and two of her three sisters. We next made a brief stop in Napa, California. Ninety degrees in April!! Much hotter than normal. We continued our journey north and found the cool of the coast in Fortuna, California.

While in Fortuna we visited the Eel River Brewery that is only a block and a half from the RV Park. We also visited the local Bear River Casino, for lunch and of course to try a slot machine or two on our way out. Kathy got lucky and managed to win enough to pay for lunch and my losses. Next we visited Ferndale, California known for its well preserved Victorian buildings. Ferndale is also known as the town in the 1995 movie Outbreak. Staring Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kartchner Caverns Wrap-up

IMG_7579Grant the Tram Driver.

WOW! Where did March go??? This will be yet another attempt to get the blog up to date.

At the end of February about half of the Volunteers in our  Lower Volunteer Village moved out. Mostly because their time was up and a few due to medical emergencies that came up. We were happy to extend our time at Kartchner Caverns State Park to fill in for volunteers that had to leave early. A batch of new Volunteers arrived to begin their time here at Kartchner Caverns. So the Volunteer Villages were once again full and we had a bunch of new names to remember. Several were returnees from previous years at Kartchner Caverns.

One semi-emergency that did arise was with the February departs we were short about 6 Tram Drivers. I was given a quick tram driving lesson and became a Tram Driver. It would end up being my regularly schedule weekend job for all of March with a few weekdays thrown in as well.

IMG_7580 This pictures gives you an idea of how long the Tram actually is.

Tram driving is a great job when the weather is nice. You get to be outside with a great view as you come from the Discovery Center to the Cavern entrance and back. There are also some nice breaks too, so a little reading or bird watching. However, when the weather is bad it is a very cold and wet job. Fortunately most of the weather this winter has been very nice but, in March we had very strange weather. We have had high winds, followed by days in the 80s and then followed by SNOW, then followed by more wind and then more days in the 80s.

The snow this month was much greater than in February. Depending on who you hear from, it was between half an inch to a inch. It started snowing on Sunday night and continued through most of Monday. Tuesday began at 26 degrees and the snow stayed on the ground all day. Three days later we were back into the 80s.

On the day with the most snow I had been assigned to the Visitor Desk inside of the Discovery Center. So, I got to watch the snow fall from the inside. Kathy worked the cave tours that day and got to go into the nice warm cave, then come out to snow coming down! Very pretty by the way!


The snow on the steps of our trailer.


Snow on our truck.



Snow at our site.

March was as busy as we had been told to expect. All Cavern Tours and Campsites were sold out most days. On some days they were completely sold out a days in advance.

As our time at Kartchner Caverns State Park comes to an end, we have to say that Kartchner Caverns are spectacular and absolutely the best preserved caverns you could ever hope to visit. Add it to your Bucket List! We never tired of being in the caverns and saw something new every time we went on a tour. We are looking forward to returning to Kartchner Caverns State Park in the fall as volunteers.

Here in Arizona at the end of March it is as if someone fired a starter’s gun and all of the Snowbirds or Winter Visitors start to head north. This, of course, includes many of the volunteers. About 75% of all the volunteers leave within a week or two of April 1st. That includes us. We are starting our slow migration north to return to the Oregon Coast Lighthouses for the summer.

Birding Notes:

Spring migration has come slowly to southeast Arizona, but we did see a few migrants: Turkey Vulture, Gray Flycatcher, Tree Swallow, and Barn Swallow. We talked to a couple of people that had seen Broad-billed and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, but we never saw a single humming bird.