Friday, February 21, 2014

We Saw It!

Nearly 4 years ago, we spent a few days parked at Patagonia Lake State Park in southern Arizona. When we went for a hike, we encountered people who asked "Have you seen it?" and said "We know where you're going. The word is out." We never saw "it" that spring. But yesterday we returned to Patagonia to go birding and we did see "it." It is an elegant trogon, a tropical bird that visits Patagonia during mating season.

In 2010, I wrote a blog post about birding and described it as "boring" and said we wouldn't be doing it often. Since then, we spent 3 months volunteering at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas and have developed a greater interest in birds and birding. That is why we traveled to Rio Rico this week.

We saw quite a few birds as we walked through the wooded area next to Patagonia Lake. There was a vermillion flycatcher.

a gray flycatcher

a great egret--always beautiful

This may be a hermit thrush.

I don't know what this little bird is.

I thought this bird was a northern mockingbird, but they are gray, not brown. So, unless the color came out wrong in the photo, I don't know what this is.

We also saw northern shovelers, green-winged teals and mallard ducks.

Tuesday, on our way south, we stopped at Madera Canyon just south of Green Valley. It is supposed to be an excellent birding area. We probably came at the wrong time of day (after lunch) so the only birds we saw were western scrub jays. We also saw some mule deer. There were four of them browsing in the canyon forest.

All in all, we had a fun time birding this week. It isn't boring, especially when you see new birds.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'm Amazed

As I begin to write this blog post, the counter in the right hand column of the blog shows it has been viewed 100,061 since the counter was installed. I'm not sure when that was. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I believe it was in September and maybe in 2009. I know I began blogging in May 2006.

But over 100,000 views! I can't imagine that. My college degree was in journalism and I have been writing for school papers since junior high, for church newsletters and newspapers since the mid-1970s, and for a few general circulation newspapers in the 1960s. But I am amazed and humbled that people have come to read the blog posts more than 100,000 times. I started the blog so family and friends would know what we were doing as we traveled in our RV. But that is only a few people. The blog is listed on, so most of the RVers who read it found me from there.

If you look at the other statistical information gadgets in the right column, on the ClustrMaps visitor map you will learn that 41,000+ views have come from people in the United States since that was installed in December 2010. The other 4,000+ views since then came from other countries. The Flag Counter was installed in April 2011. I don't really understand how that one works. It shows 167 flags collected from 104 countries. What countries have more than one flag?

When I look at the ClustrMaps visitor map, I see that the blog was viewed 36 times in the 24 hours ending early this morning. Unless I see that those folks are in Colorado or Arizona, I have no idea who they are. Someone in Mountain View, California, is a frequent reader. But I don't think I know them. More amazing are the foreign countries listed with that map or by the flag counter: 21 views from China, 9 from Romania and 5 from the Ukraine. The newest country to visit, according to Flag Counter, was El Salvador on Feb. 6. Someone from Croatia and someone from Botswana have read the blog.

Who are you? How do you find the blog? And who is reading this post? Why do you read my blog? What are you most interested in? I would love to hear from you. Please comment and help me to understand how and why the blog has been viewed more than 100,000 times.

Some early Arizona history

Southern Arizona was once part of New Spain and the Spanish culture and Catholic faith were spread by Catholic priests. Tuesday we visited Tumacacori National Historical Park. The first Catholic mission was established in 1691 by Fr. Eusebio Kino. Construction on the church that is featured at the historical park began in 1820.

This is the carved entry door.

Some of the interior decorations are still visible.

The mission priests taught new farming methods to the Pima Indians. These pots show where they kept seeds from the harvest for the comming year's plantings.

We saw some granding stones.

This is the kind of shelters they would have used in the farm fields.  The fence and ramada are made from ocotilla branches.

And here is what remains of a water trough as part the irrigation system.

They are developing an orchard, using seeds from trees that existed in the mission days. Look at the rocks hanging from this tree. It shows the historic methods of shaping the pruned trees.

Some local residents were demonstrating how they make corn and flour tortillas. It was interesting to see how tender and light their hand-made tortillas were. We were able to sample them, served with beans and salsa.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

We're Out of There

At least for three days. We have been sitting still for so long, it was time to go on the road. And it is a good way to celebrate John's birthday. We packed a suitcase, locked up the trailer and drove south to Rio Rico, Arizona. We are in a resort 17 km north of Nogales. For some reason, I-19 south of I-10 is measured in kilometers. Our resort/motel is very attractively decorated.

We passed the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac on the way down here.

We spent most of today exploring the small town of Tubac. We resisted the clothing, jewelry and decorative items, but we enjoyed looking at everything and had a very good lunch at the DeAnza Restaurant. This is the building that houses the restaurant.

And here are our enchilada and burrito.

Here are some scenes in the town and of the shops.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Woodcarving Extraordinare

John has been carving figures of people, walking sticks and relief carvings of animals for years. Recently, we have been making intarsia pieces out of wood. So it was a no-brainer to attend the 25th annual Western Woodcarving Show and Sale this weekend in Mesa. It was a very popular event. Look at all these people.

We saw many great pieces. There were walking sticks.

And small folk figures.

Other carvings were more like sculptures.

Birds and other wildlife are popular subjects.

It is sometimes difficult to tell which kestrel is live and which is a carving. There was a wildlife group there with several live birds.

If you look really close as the following picture, you will see that the piece was carved by John and Carol. But we are not that John and Carol.

Wood burning--or pyrography--is another type of woodwork displayed at the show.

There was hand-made furniture.

Several classes of box making. Would you believe, this one was made by a novice?

This bowl and pitcher received a best of show ribbon in the advanced class of "turnings, segmented." (I think that means it is made of segmented wood and turned or shaped on a lathe.) Isn't it beautiful? It was made by a Canadian who spends his winters about three sites down the road from us. Vern made the new drawers in our kitchen, as well.