3/17 Cave Creek, AZ to Silver City, NM
After a swell relaxing weekend with Tara Anderson and family it was time for us to find our way to Interstate 10 and head for a new state. The next destination on the itinerary was the Gila National Forest and the Cliff Dwellings National Monument, but we had at least six hours of driving ahead of us and the Saguaros were blooming. Tuscon and the Saguaro National Park were on the way so in spite of the heat we thought we'd stop by for a lunch break (and maybe catch some prickly plants making flowers). There were lots of Saguaro in bloom near Cave Creek but few in reach for a photo op. By the time we made it to Tuscon the blooms were shrinking in the heat. We learned at the national park visitor center that the Saguaro bloom at night to be pollinated by bats and by the heat of the next day the flowers shrivel. Hmph. So we'd have to search for blooms at dusk or very early in the morning. Ah well, there were lots of other prickles with flowers.
We sat for lunch at Javelina picnic area and the critters immediately came to look for hand outs. Clearly they were used to getting hand outs. Chipmunks, squirrels, cactus wrens, and even the normally shy quail came out of the desert scrub in twilight zone numbers.
The chipmunks competed for a front row seat. No sooner would one leap into prime crumb catching position when two or even three would arrive to challenge and chase the others in circles. When one would find a spot of shade under a picnic barbecue it would lay belly down until another chipmunk would make a challenge.
The quail mostly stuck to the underbrush and kept out of sight, but occasionally they would dart in pairs across the open space between bushes chirping. mrs. a-go-go tried her best to catch the menagerie in action but the competition and jockeying for position was fast and furious. We did not contribute to the handouts. We figured there would be plenty of other folks to break the rules and no squirrel would go hungry.
Back on the road east things became a bit grim and dust storms threatened. Then out of the bright haze came the new state sign.
Our second state at last.
Originally I thought we might be able to camp at a place called scorpion camp near the cliff dwellings but after some confusing on-line info and failing to get a ranger on the phone it looked like the camp ground might be closed due to high water bridge damage on the Gila River. It was getting late when we arrived in Silver City, New Mexico so we opted for an inexpensive motel offering wi-fi. The morning drive would be two hours of winding road to get to the cliff dwellings.
We checked in at the Copper Manor half a block from highway 15 to the national forest. At the front desk Fred, more than your average mild mannered motel clerk, sang the praises of Silver City and its wild west credentials. He pointed us to a hot spring where none other than Billy the Kid soothed his saddle sores. When asked if we had been to New Mexico I said, "Only Albuquerque." Well, that would just not do. Silver City and its corner of the state was the real New Mexico for this booster. With Fred's colorful assistance we were checked in and had an OK rest (the lights outside were so bright that every hour or so we woke thinking we'd over slept until noon) to prepare for exploring the Gila Cliff Dwellings.