please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version & highlighted text are links to additional information
Part six of our winter adventure
Are We Snowbirds?
My cousin Keith - aka The Big Guy - and his wife, Kathleen, escape Seattle winters by seasonally relocating to their second home near Green Valley, Arizona. Keith grew up with my older brothers. I got the pleasure of getting to know Keith later in life. A shared bond of love for untrammeled wilderness and fly casting to wild trout brought us together.
We arrived at their place early afternoon on Sunday and dove right into the ritual of getting caught up, and we did a mighty fine job of it. Later that evening Kathleen introduced us to a new word game. The game became a perfect shared event before heading off to bed, and we were wise enough to always stop on a high note after solving a particularly difficult puzzle. It never bodes well to go to bed feeling dumb. Drop off to sleep feeling smart.
The next morning The Big Guy, The Lady, and I drove up to Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains to hike. This is a very popular area, but on this weekday, it was relatively uncrowded.
The massive alluvial fan below Madera Canyon runs down to Green Valley.
The route of Madera Canyon Creek is marked by Sycamores - now gray leafless crowns in winter.
A pleasant hiking trail follows the small creek. A bent tree with its branches turned skyward tempted the Lady to climb.
We learned about soapberries.
And we very much enjoyed Keith's company.
We saw several Coues Deer, a small subspecies of the whitetail deer.
The open granite along the stream carry much evidence of ancient use.
We stopped at a gift shop up the canyon, a favorite spot for birders because the owners maintain several feeders. Here's a Bridled Titmouse.
Mexican Jays were abundant and loud.
The colorful avian character was the Acorn Woodpecker.
Far too many turkeys survived Thanksgiving. The gobblers moved in and took over.
These two need to be identified.
The same goes for this bunch.
Since there was a stump placed below it, it appeared one hummingbird feeder was set up to be used by a coatimundi. On cue, the curious creature moved out of the shadows and went to work guzzling the sugar water.
We spent the next day, again with Keith, at the magnificent Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum located to the west of Tucson. This was recommended by so many of our friends we had to go. We will now add our voices to refrain. If you are close to Tucson, spend a day at the Desert Museum.
After three wonderful nights with our cousins, we said our goodbyes in the morning and thanked them so much for their wonderful hospitality. It was time to turn toward home. We had been watching the weather. It had not snowed at all at home during our travels.
"Well, if it hasn't snowed at home," I concluded. "We not officially snowbirds."
Stay tuned for the upcoming final chapter of our big winter adventure saga.