Kartchner Caverns State Park

Thursday, March 22, 2018 – Location: Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona

This morning, I rose with the sun and took Yuma for his last walk down the hill into the valley.  We had a quick breakfast and packed up to leave this beautiful place.


Going to be a hot one today.  Breaking a record in Tucson at 91 degrees and we will get to 84 here.  It was overcast to start the day, so I was able to get done with preparing for departure before it got hot.

While I was pumping up one of the tires, I turned on the generator and as I was standing by the driver’s side door, I happened to look down at the door.  The sun was lighting up the little cubby holes in the door and what did I see??  My Wilson Verizon internet booster was inside the first cubby hole.  Being black it was hard to see.  I have no idea who would put it there or why!  Couldn’t have been me!!!


Didn’t have far to go today.  Forty-five miles to be exact.  Just on the other side of the beautiful Whetstone Mountains.  We were rolling at 9:30 and stopped in Sonoita to fill or propane tank.  Probably could get it cheaper down the road, but this was convenient.

Then we turned onto hwy 82 and headed east toward Whetstone.  Went right through the valley between the Whetstone Mountains and the Mustang Mountains.  Only twenty miles.


Turned left on hwy 90 and went north for ten miles and turned into the State Park. right at 11 o’clock.   I parked in the RV parking area and went to the visitor center to see if I could camp for the night and get a ticket to tour the caverns.


East side of the Whetstone Mountains.


I was surprised with how crowded this place is.  The RV campground was full but the lady said I could stay in the overflow parking lot for $15.  I asked if that included the dump station, water and the the shower rooms and she said yes. 

Fantastic, got a place to stay for half off.  With dumps costing $10, I figure I’m staying for $5.    They could only get me a ticket for 4:20 in the afternoon; the last tour.  Perfect again.  I’m in no hurry and this will give Yuma and me a chance to scout out the area with a hike.

We did the Foothills Trail, a three mile loop hike around the hills that the caverns are under.  Didn’t fall into the caverns.  By the time I got done with the hike, it was 86 degrees and hot.   With all the previous walking, my Fitbit says I walked 11,866 steps at 5.62 miles.  I’m dead tired and I still have to walk the cavern.





There were 20 of us for the last tour of the Rotunda Room.  These caverns are pristine and had many formations.  I would highly recommend spending the $23 to take a tour.  Takes a little over an hour for the tour.  They would not let anyone take a camera inside so nothing but memories.

Thank goodness, I had two hours to soak and rest my feet and legs before it was time for the tour.  Just looked at my Fitbit and it says 14,833 steps at 6.70 miles.  No wonder I hurt all over.

Setting up my Dish so I can watch the Gonzaga-Florida State game.  Then some dinner, finish my blog and off to bed.  Been a tough day.

See you later.

Just hanging around camp

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 – Location: Las Cienegas NCA near Sonoita, Arizona

This morning I awoke to mild temperatures.  No heater needed this morning.  Supposed to get to 78 degrees today with plenty of sunshine, so it will be a nice day.

This will be my last day here in the grasslands so I decided to just lay around all day and enjoy the beauty of this area.  Of course, Yuma demanded a few hikes around the area during the day.  He can only lay around so long before he gets bored and wants to explore and sniff around.

Just some pictures I took on a walk along the horse and cow trail near our site.




Pulled together some of the mountains surrounding this valley.

Mustang Mountains


Whetstone Mountains


Empire Mountains


Santa Rita Mountains


Heading for home for the last night here.  I’ve had a great time in this area and will miss it.


Time for Survivor.  See you later.

Ride through the Empire Ranch grasslands

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 – Spring – Location: Las Cienegas NCA near Sonoita, Arizona

This morning started out a little cool at 41 degrees, but quickly warmed to the 50s by 9 o’clock.  Plenty of sunshine and no wind means a beautiful day is in store for us.  Took our normal walk this morning and had a hearty breakfast to start our day.

Don’t have anything planned, so I laid around on the lounger till Yuma couldn’t stand it anymore and wanted to go for a ride.  I’ve driven many of the roads around the Empire Ranch, but had never driven the road through the North Canyon.  Unfortunately, I only have a quarter tank of gas so will have to be careful how far we go.

This working ranch is huge.  You can drive many miles and the only thing you’ll see are cows.  The road was in very good condition and was enjoyable to drive.  Wish I had more gas.

Most of the roads I travel end with just a horse trail at the end.  However, this road kept moving towards the northeast like it was going into the Whetstone Mountains or north towards I-10, 20 miles to the north.


I made the mistake of going down a steep hill towards what I thought was another road in the valley below.  Got down the hill okay in 4-wheel drive, but when I got to the bottom, I found the road was actually a sandy wash.  Very sandy and no tire tracks. 

Yuma and I walked for a distance each way and didn’t see any roads ahead.  So, made the decision to go back up the hill. This time in low 4-wheel drive.  Don’t like going up steep inclines, but the Jeep did great and I had no problems. 

The road is the one going downhill to the left in the picture below.


I found when I got to the bottom, there was a water collector down there and this road was used to get down to it.  You can see the wash at the bottom.  Looked like a road to me.




The road to the left is a pipeline road.  Not the road I want to follow.


As you can see in the pictures, this grassland is huge and chances are you will not see anyone and I didn’t.  As we kept moving further from our site and we fell below the quarter tank mark, I started getting nervous.  Have no idea where this road leads and for once I followed my instincts and turned around and went back the way we came.

Got home around one o’clock and I was making lunch when I heard a different sound coming from the horse camp about a mile to the east.  Looked outside and what did I see?  A powered paraglider taking off.



Flew around the area for about a half hour and then landed.  Beautiful day for flying!  Wouldn’t catch me doing that, but fun to watch.

Around 5:30, while I was working on my blog, I saw a horse going by the MH with two dogs.  Stepped outside and one of the dogs came up and sniffed Yuma. 


The man and I talked for a few minutes.  Love the garb he was wearing.


While we were talking, a second rider popped up around the RV.  His wife.  Off they went.  Such a beautiful day for a horse ride. 

He said his dogs were friendly, but I was nervous.  They were big and there were two of them.  Yuma handled it well and reluctantly, they left.





See you later.

Walk along Empire Creek through the Cottonwoods

Monday, March 19, 2018 – Location: Las Cienegas NCA near Sonoita, Arizona

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Last night the temperature dropped to 34 degrees.  At 3 A.M. I turned on the Wave heater so the RV would remain warm.  Around 7 o’clock Yuma and I got up to a bright sun and no wind.  Took our normal walk.  Actually felt nice, although the temperature was only 39.


It wasn’t long after breakfast before the sun felt so good, I just had to lay in the lounge chair and soak it up.


Looking at the weather forecast for this area, I decided I would stick around a few more days.  70s and 80s forecast for the rest of the week.  With that decision made, I knew I had to run into Sonoita to pick up some groceries.  I’m out of some vital food.

Around 12:30, Yuma and I hopped in the Jeep for the 10 mile run into town.  Made a quick stop at the Dollar General and then we drove around and took a few pictures of Sonoita again.  Not really a town.  Actually, just buildings along either side of the highways.


A local.  I don’t feel so bad for the way I’m dressed now.


Should stop at the Realty office and see if they have any 100 acre ranches for sale under $100,000. 



Wasn’t long before we were back at our site.  Should have fixed lunch, but I forgot.  Instead, Yuma and I made a run up to the Cottonwoods at Empire Creek.  Driving up the road, I couldn’t resist taking another picture of the Mustang Mountains across the valley.


This area is called Empire Gulch and has a path going along and through the creek.  It is a favorite place for bird watchers.


Yuma just loved the trail.  He took off and was running a hundred miles an hour up and down the trail showing off!  Hard to get a picture he was going so fast.  A creek and Yuma running fast.  I should have known there would be trouble.

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It was sad to see so much fire damage.  Many of the large cottonwoods were dead.  I could see fire damage everywhere I looked.  Fortunately, there are many still alive to carry on future growth.


Interesting.  The creek just went underground at this spot.

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Heard a lot of birds, but this Vermillion Flycatcher was the only one that would let me take a picture.


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The creek side of the newer old Empire Ranch house.


One of many huge Cottonwoods that had to be cut down.


On the way back to the Jeep, Yuma went wild again, but this time he ran through the creek several times.  He was one muddy and wet dog!


Is Yuma having fun or what!!


Here he is looking miserable.  I yelled at him and his feelings are hurt.  Also, he knows he is going to get a bath.  Doesn’t like baths.


Yuma got his bath and now he is nice and clean.   Got lots of pets and love, so he is one happy and clean dog now.  Now I need a bath.

See you later.