The town of Arivaca is home to free range cattle and people. The people are hippies who bailed out of wherever they were in the 1970s and ‘80s or before and are still there. The Cienga Nature trail is on the east edge of the town and runs through a wetland in the desert. It always holds something spectacular. All kinds of birds and wildlife hang out here. It’s very popular with birders. Some of the birds I know their names and most I don’t. This time it was a male pyrrhuloxia (that looks kind of like a large red bird) in breeding plumage, that stole the show. I didn’t have the opportunity to get a close-up photo, but the red color of the bird was on fire from a distance. A cropped version is here for you to see and enjoy. I went back the next morning hoping to get the job done, but never saw one again, but I sure nailed an in-flight Red Tailed Hawk!
The spectacular, unusual, what most people never see in a life time, that’s what I want in my photos. If you ever read my articles before, you know they are not the mundane listing of tourist attractions most travel articles include. My articles are my experiences mostly in those nowhere-places at the end of dirt roads where almost nobody goes. Plus, I saw a colorful sparrow hawk. This part of the country south west of Tucson, Ariz., was very dry. The marshy wetland was almost completely dry. Here there was no el Niño like on the east coast. Usually there are several varieties of hummingbirds. This year all I saw were several around the library’s feeder.
After searching for the fiery red guy I walked into the town. The only place that serves food regularly is a carry-out in a covered wagon that the locals call the Chuck Wagon; there a lady cooks up delicious texmex food. I was hungry, but she may be more independent than me. She was closed on Saturday! Somebody at the town’s only bar had told me the previous evening that the town was having a chili cook-off on Saturday, so I went across the street where it was. I’ve never had chili for breakfast, but after sampling eight entries I was full. All were very tasty, but there was not one that was spicy hot and I didn’t see an array of a dozen types of hot sauce like our local Mexican Restaurants display and people douse whatever they’re served if not for any other reason, because it’s the thing to do. I have little use for jalapeño peppers or hot sauce. They overpower the flavor of the food. No thanks.
This is New Mexico, less than 20 miles from Mexico, and there’re plenty of jalapeños around. Some cooks of the entrées said they used them in their ingredient mix, but they didn’t overdo it like they do in the northeast and Ocean City. Here’s a rundown of the chilies I had for breakfast (I rated the hot spiciness as 1- the least and 5- too hot for me to eat): entry #1 - the major ingredient was turkey & spice rating 2; #2 - black bean & ground beef & spice rating 0; #3 - pork sausage & chicken broth & spice rating 1; #4 - sweet & spice rating 0; #5 - 3 types of hot peppers spice & rating 0; #6 - almost all meat & spice rating 1; #7 - smokey flavor & spice rating 2; and #8 - salty meat spice & rating 1. That was 8 four oz. portions of chili or 32 oz., all of which had beans and all tasted good to me. I was full!!! I didn’t eat for the rest of the day. I did have several cold ones, though!
As I walked back to my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck) in the early afternoon, I decided rather than waiting for HH and another walk around the nature trail, I’d drive to my next destination, Organ Pipes Cactus National Monument about 200 miles away. It was Saturday, so I knew their campgrounds would be full. I’d seen RVs sitting off the road near there over the last several years, so I thought I’d check that location out; if they had parked there overnight; why not me? I found it’s a Bureau of Lands Management Camp Ground with no fees, few rules, find a place and park for as long as you want, no water or restrooms, and lots of birds and oodles of space. My kind of place! It’s just outside the boundary of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge to the west and about 5 miles north of O.P.C.N.M. I hung out there for the evening watching the birds, enjoyed the 80+degrees sunshine, the flowering Palo Verde trees, and took several short walks.
The next morning I went to a place I’ve been many times where I’ve seen flocks of hummingbirds. It’s a short walk from O.P.C.N.M.’s Alamo Canyon camp ground. I’ve camped there many times, too. I made the walk, but I found the stream that cascaded down the mountain into the canyon and attracted the hummingbirds was so dry it was hard to know where it had been! I enjoyed the cactus forest, resident Organ Pipe Cacti, and decided to head for a sports bar to watch the beginning rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Yuma, Ariz., have a burger, and wash it down with several cold ones. As I left I told myself I need to spend several days at the B.L.M. campground next time I’m here. The area is people-less, the road through the sandy desert is almost impassible, and holds a lot of promise for me. It’s probably safe in the day time, but at night it’s a popular illicit drug trafficking area from Mexico. I don’t want any unpleasant encounters, but next time I’ll be there when the sun shines.
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