Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting to know the terrain

Monday, March 13, 2017

My location: Las Cienegas National Conservation Area near Sonoita, Arizona

Last night’s moon was a bust for seeing it rise over the Whetstone Mountains.  It was completely dark when it came up and my camera would not pick up the mountains.  So, all you get is a moon shot.


However, as the sun was setting, I did get a great shot of the sun rays hitting the Whetstone Mountains to my East.


My first thought this morning was to just sit around and enjoy the beautiful scenery here at the RV.   Didn’t eat dinner last night, so was starving this morning.  Had bacon and eggs and the whole thing that goes with it.  Filled myself up.

Here’s the moon setting over the northern section of the Santa Rita Mountains to my West.


Just can’t stop taking photos of the beautiful Whetstone Mountains to my East.


About noon, I couldn’t stand lying in the lounger anymore.  It is such a beautiful day, I have to do something.  There is a long stand of Cottonwood trees to my South near the Empire Ranch about a mile away.  Nothing but prairie grass and Ironwood trees between me and them.  Time for a walk.


Along the way, I saw several more burrow colonies.  Looked up on the Internet this morning and found that Black tailed prairie dogs have been re-introduced to this area.  Haven’t seen any, but that’s what they say.


As we were walking, we followed animal trails through the grass and into the Ironwood trees.  There is a small pond back in there.  Probably used for the ranch cattle at one time.  Yuma was on the other side of the pond and I called him to come along. 

He thought he could just run across that pond and before he knew it, he was swimming for his life back to shore.  It was deeper than he thought.  I was so shocked and yelling for him to go back, I didn’t get a picture.  What a loss!  It would have been priceless to get a picture of the shocked look on his face.


Yuma guiding me through the Ironwood trees.


He cautiously approaches a blind.  He’s not sure what it is.  No one home, thank goodness.


We dropped down into a creek area the Cottonwood trees followed.  There was a well worn path going along the creek bed, so we followed it through the tree canopy.



Another blind, but a tree blind this time.



The creek was very small, but it was running and clear.  There were frogs in it.


As we exited into a parking lot, I found we had been walking in Empire Gulch, a bird sanctuary, located just behind the Empire Ranch.  The creek is named Cienegas Creek.


At the edge of the parking lot is the huge old Cottonwood tree.  The stories it could tell!


Before heading back to camp, I just couldn’t resist walking around the outside of the historic Empire Ranch.




As we walked up the dusty dirt road toward camp I took one more photo of that old Cottonwood.  You can see the tops of the Empire Ranch to the right of it.

Be sure to click on pictures to enlarge.  I found that if you just turn the zoom to 125% on the Microsoft Edge browser, it made everything larger; the words and the pictures.  Click on the three dots at the top right of the browser and you will see Zoom.


Didn’t mention yesterday, but the Empire Mountains are directly North of my RV.  There are mountains everywhere you look.


Ended up walking five miles.  That’s a lot for planning to just sit at home and lay in the lounge chair all day.

At 3 o’clock, Yuma and I drove up Oak Canyon Road to see what was there.  Sure enough there is a huge Oak tree further down the road from where we are. 

I remember crawling up the limbs of old southern oak trees when I was a kid growing up in South Georgia.  They would be in the middle of a farmer’s field.  Just a huge tree with a jungle beneath it and nothing but farm field around it.  Glad they didn’t just cut them down to make more farmland.


See you later.


  1. Such a beautiful area you're in, now. The old trees and mountains are awesome. Do they have tours of Empire Ranch? I love all the astronomical photos. The moon shots and sunrays are gorgeous. I could live in that amazing area.

    1. Thanks Dolly. They have a video of the ranch and you walk through on your own. It would be a neat place to live.

  2. You should take the time to explore the empire ranch, a self guided tour that is free and I am sure sure Yums could come along with you, amazing history there.

    1. I'll be sure to do that before leaving the area. Nice looking ranch.

  3. OMG !!! That photo of the setting sun's rays on the Whetstone Mountains - truly SPECTACULAR - one of your best shots ever ! 🍀🌻🍀🌺

    1. Thank you Moonfly. It is beautiful here. And the weather is great for long walks and I love that the ground is level. Good on my feet.

  4. Your jeep in the last phot is parked exactly where I was camped when I was just there in Las Cienegas NCA! Hailey loved climbing those trees. I also wondered what those burrow colonies were, but never saw any action around them. The prairie dogs I did see had regular type holes on flat bare ground, but I don't think they were the black tailed variety. Yes those mountains are spectacular with the afternoon sun on them.

    1. I think you're right Ivan. The pictures I saw showed them in holes on flat ground. Although some of the burrows look like there has been activity, most seem to be vacant.

      Now, you, Al and I have been on the exact same site. Word does get around of beautiful sites. Heard coyotes howling last night with the windows open.

  5. You've got some beautiful scenery right now! I love, love, love the Cottonwood trees and the big oak tree! And your moon pictures are some of my favorites too! I can't believe Yuma fell into the creek! Had he ever been swimming before? I'm glad he made it back to shore! Man, i bet he was suprised! :) Enjoy your day! I love you!

    1. Thanks Sarah. Yuma has never been in water since I have had him. Luckily, dogs instinctively know how to dog paddle and he did well. Just hated not getting a picture of the event. There are some big trees around and I'm going to walk to many of them while I'm here.

  6. Could you maybe carry a big stick or something? This time of year, the snakes like the tall grasses and downed trees.

    1. Thanks, Emjay. I have been wondering about snakes around here. Thought maybe, since this is fairly high up I wouldn't have a problem yet. I did carry a walking stick for the first time yesterday. Being fairly level around here, I don't need my hands to climb rocks, so I have a free hand now.

  7. I had seen those Oak trees to the Northwest and had intended on walking over there to see them but never made it. We did touch on the Empire Gulch behind that newer house at the Empire ranch and could see that it looked like a good place for a hike. Good that you and Yuma did the walk with photos along the way showing how nice that area is. I'm wondering if they have closed off the main Empire Ranch house for structural repairs yet. Said they were going to do that during the month of March.

    1. I saw a couple of men working on the barn, but no one at the house. I walked through but just quickly. No one working in there.

      Ivan told me he stayed right where I parked my Jeep next to the Oak tree in this post.