Since we only have about 2 weeks left before we leave, we thought it was time to 'sight-see' the things we want to see.
hoped that by now things would start to open up a bit (regarding
covid-closures) but it appears that's not going to happen anytime soon,
so we better get to it!
Also, it's getting warmer by the day at the
moment and soon the day-time temperatures will be too high to be
comfortable for hiking or any other activity.
So, we decided to drive the 30 miles up into the hills to the east of us, for a visit to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
forgot completely that it was Spring-break this week, so it was a
little busier than normal at the entrance (within limits due to
corona-restricions off course), but once inside everybody dispersed and
we barely saw other people on the trail.
a little higher in elevation than we are down here on the valley-floor,
and unfortunately that meant that the cacti weren't in bloom yet. We've
been told it will be quite spectacular in about a month from now. Oh
1 1/2 mile main trail leads you through most of the park, with little
side trails that show separate areas like cactus gardens or several
specific desert-plant displays. Like I said, there wasn't much blooming yet, but we found a few ..
The surrounding Superstitious Mountains lend a beautiful backdrop for the gardens.
This little lake is fed by underground springs and gives a much needed reprieve from the heat and drought of the (high) desert.And a welcome waterhole for waterfowl coming through the area like this (female) Ruddy Duck:
And as everywhere around here, the Saguaros are plentiful, as well as the Prickly Pears and Creosote bushes. These weird stiff upright plants in the picture below, we'd never seen before though:They're Boojum Trees and are related to the Ocotillo. They have their own little 'grove' here in the park.The whole place is a haven for all kind of birds, we saw a lot of Cardinals ..
It's hard not to see that bright red of the males!
were buzzing around many of the plants, but were also
steeling sips from the many feeders that were hanging all through the
Somewhere along the way we sat down in a shady spot near a
small waterfall for coffee we had brought with us, and the last two
pieces of apricot cobbler. (Note to self, 'time to bake again!')
in all, we spent a couple of very nice hours here and we're glad we
went, it was very much worth the visit (and the rather steep entrance
fee of $15).
Afterwards we continued our
drive into the mountains, because we had one more item on our 'to-see'
list that day. A visit to the Tonto National Monument.
After a traffic delay
of 30 minutes (overturned hay-truck) during which we ate the sandwiches
we had brought with us (Boy, were we prepared or not? We even brought
water, something we always forget), we scaled the summit and drove down
into what is called the Tonto Basin, part of the Sonora Desert.
After about 20 miles you come to the town of Roosevelt on the shores of Roosevelt Lake, and after following the lake's west shore to the north for about 6 miles you'll reach the entrance to the monument.
In the steep bluffs surrounding the basin, native people called the Salado build two prehistoric cliff dwellings (a 'lower' and a 'higher' one) around the 1300s, and lived there for about 200 years.
the (adobe) buildings were build under the cliff's overhang they survived
hundreds of years, most of what is now lost was caused by looters and
of Covid, only a couple of people were allowed to walk up the 1/2 mile
trail to the lower dwelling each 10 minutes or so, so we had a little wait, but eventually we
made it up, and were pretty much the only ones there for a little while.
second, higher dwelling, by the way, which is a 3 hr hike, is only accessible
with a guide and the small group fills up quickly. Most of the time it
is booked months in advance and this last year it didn't take place at
all, compliments of 'the virus'.
We were very impressed with this one
though, and seeing the short video at the visitor center afterwards we
were amazed to learn how well these people lived in harmony with the
rather harsh environment they had to deal with.
I mean, even as a cactus life is not easy here, so if there's a rock in your way, you just have to make your way around it!
on the road, we drove north for a couple of miles, passing the marina a
mobile home park, an RV park and a restaurant/grocery store..
... until we reached the Roosevelt Lake Bridge, which is the longest two-lane, single-span, steel-arch bridge in North America. It spans 1,080 feet!
we took a left, passed the Roosevelt Dam, and intended to take the
I-88, a small winding mountain road that would circle us back west to
Apache junction and the 60 south.
Unfortunately, the road was closed! No clue why? Rock-slide? Road washed away?
Oh well, we just drove the same road back, no sweat. It always look different coming from the other side anyway!
So. Been there, done that. Checked the box.
than that there's not much to tell. Doug and Brenda left once again.
This time we won't see them over here anymore until we're all back in
Oregon.Oven-baked salmon, with asparagus, a salad and wild rice. Accompanied by some excellent red wine of course! Success!
I managed to take one picture of their visit this time (yahoo!), when we cooked dinner together one evening:
let's not forget desert, Apricot Cobbler with almonds, from the apricots
I picked from our lonesome tree in Idaho last year! Man, it was