Arizona 2003

Diary of Linda and my trip to Arizona in May 2003

4/30/03 Left at 8:00 a.m. for a Desert Star Party in Arizona. The California Laguna & Cuyamaco Mountains were green and in full bloom. The desert in west Arizona was also still green and very scenic. The temperature was perfect in high 70’s. I stopped about 4:00 p.m. in Casa Grande and stayed at a very nice RV park which had full amenities. I watched 3 NBA playoff games snacking the entire time and then went to bed at 11:00 p.m.

5/1/03 Got up late and had grape nut cereal and bananas for breakfast. Drove to Arizona City with the Trailer and loaded up with propane gas for $1.60 per gallon. In San Diego it is $2.60 per gallon. Arrived at Kartchner Caverns SP at noon and checked in. The cost was $22 per night. Checked in with the Chart Markers Star Party people. The camp ground was very modern and scenic. I met some other guys from Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. I and my 83 year old camping neighbor set up our telescopes in a tied off designated area. You needed to wear your issued ID badge to enter. Someone watched the telescopes at all times. At 6:30 p.m. we all got together at a very nice Ramada where a Whipple head astronomer gave a very interesting presentation about the construction of the Whipple Observatory. Another Tucson Club astronomer gave a very nice Power Point presentation about the life of stars. Many door prizes were then given away. I won a ticket for the ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM. At 8:00 p.m. most people went to the telescopes for observing. The sky was dark, but the viewing was only a 4 or 5. The organizers provided power outlets, security, red sidewalk guide lights, and free coffee & cocoa all night long. It was quite cold so I went to bed at 11:00 p.m.

5/2/03 Got up, showered and went to the Cavern entrance for the 1 hour 15 minute cave tour. It was a very impressive tour and well worth the $14 ticket. I rested for 2-3 hours and then went to see the astronomy vender displays. They fed us free pizza for dinner. I won another door prize. This time is was beautiful gem stone necklace with a solar system theme. The value was approximately $85. Hopefully SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED will like as much as I. I watched the astronomers set up their big scopes in deference to the lectures. One guy from Sacramento California had a 36” Dobson with computerized go to and tracking. The seeing was again poor, but I still had a great time until 12 midnight this night. The comradely exchange of sharing common hobby is a wonderful thing. One guy on Thursday night was world renown physicist from Belgium. I will definitely attend more star parties in the future.

5/3/03 Slept late until 10:00 a.m. Made toast and fried eggs for breakfast. Relaxed, watched TV, and conversed with other astronomers until 4:00 p.m. Dan Crosscree from Spokane fixed my broken polarizing filter for me. I plan on using it for moon and planet viewing. Bought two eye piece cases from one of the venders for $4. At 5:00 p.m. the lectures and used book sales began. The first lecture was by an amateur super nova hunter who is in the top 10 people in the world for finding new super nova’s. The second speaker was the Tucson local TV weather man who happens to be an amateur astronomy. Naturally he talked about meteorology on a layman’s level. He was very informative and entertaining. Next came more door prizes which were donated by the venders. I amazingly won my 3rd door prize a variable star software program. The weather was cold and very cloudy so most people packed up their scopes. My neighbor Dan Crosscree had 4” long refractor set up at his campground which we tried to view through, but the wind made it too unstable. We brought out our binoculars and was able to get some good views of the Omega Centaury globular cluster and M51 the Duck Cluster before going to bed.

5/4/03 Got up about 8:30 a.m. and talked with several of the campers until 10:30 a.m. Most of the people who live in the Tucson area seem to be very liberal democrats. All of the people from the Pacific Northwest seemed to be Russ lovers. The weather naturally after the star party is over has become warm with crystal clear visibility. After watching the NBA playoff games I drove to Fort Huachuca and then to Garden Canyon area for birding. Some birders from Tucson were there and help me find the elusive somewhat rare Elegant Trogon. I was a beautiful bird. Returned to camp ground just before dark and baked a Thai Chicken pizza for dinner.

5/5/03 Got up at 5:30 a.m. and got the 5th wheel ready for departure. I then drove south to Sierra Vista where I had breakfast at a Denny’s the least of evils that I could find. This is a new growing area apparently supported by the Ft. Huachuca Army base near by. I then drove 12 miles south to Ramsey Canyon Nature Preserve famous for good birding. The canyon was beautifully green with a large variety of trees and a small creek running through it. I teamed up for an 1-1/2 hours with two European English birders from Scotland. They were very good birders and I got perhaps 10 new life birds. Left at noon and had a nice lunch at the Outside Inn Restaurant in Sierra Vista. Drove back to Kartchner Cavern campground to pick up the 5th wheel and then drove to Tucson. I stayed at Western RV near the ARIONZA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM and the WEST SAGUARO NP. Expensive at $31 per night, but the pool and gym facilities were first class. Got set up and then did the Jacuzzi which felt great. I then watched two NBA playoff games. San Antonio beat LA yah yah yah.

5/6/03 Got up at 8:00 a.m. and took a Jacuzzi at the gym. Had cereal with banana’s and coffee for breakfast. Finally washed the dishes for the first time on the trip. Then I drove to ARIONZA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM and entered with my free ticket. The place is really phenomenal. All the physical pens, caves, and structure is man made in the lush desert terrain, kind of similar to the wild animal park but yet quite different. All of the animals are only those endemic to the area such as; mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, javelina, big horn sheep, and birds in the aviary. Met a fellow birder from the east coast who I walked with for two hours. After that I drove through Saguaro NP WEST and then came home for another Jacuzzi in the gym. Went out to an Italian Restaurant for dinner having egg plant parmesan and peach cobbler for dessert.

5/7/03 Got up a 5:45 a.m. and drove to Green Valley to meet birders John & Peggy Smith who I met 2 months previous in San Diego. They picked me up in Green Valley and we drove to Madera Canyon a world famous birding hot spot. I saw lots of new birds including an Elegant Trogon. The Canyon at high elevation was beautifully located in a National Forest. There were bed and breakfast houses where people from all over the world were lodging. Walked about 2 miles up the canyon on a trail along a steep, dry, & wet creek bed. Apparently the water and wide variety of trees including pine trees attracted the birds. Left this area about noon for Patagonia area. Had a nice Mexican lunch at a local restaurant. A famous road stop on hwy 82 and Sonoita Creek was visited and then we went to the private residence of Mrs. Paton which was located on the edge of Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve. She must have had 100 feeders on the property with chairs and sun roofs for the birders comfort. The quantity and variety of birds was phenomenal. The hummingbirds were particularly numerous and fun to watch. A small donation was requested to help pay for bird feed. Approximately 15 to 20 birders seemed to be present at all times. A famous woman author and authority on hummingbirds was present. The woman Mrs. Paton was apparently 90 years old and enjoyed having all the people come to see her and the huge collection of birds that congregated on her property. After this stop we went back to the rest stop once more and then drove back to Green Valley. Peggy and John Smith were fun people and so kind to drive me to these wonderful spots. Birders are really a great lot of human beings.

5/8/03 Got up at 7:30 a.m., took a Jacuzzi, packed up, had breakfast, and was on the road heading north to San Diego by 8:30 a.m. The weather was cold and cloudy, my Audio Book “Homecoming for Murder” was good, so I decided to drive all the way back to San Diego in one day. Arrived home at 6:30 p.m. and unpacked the 5th wheel.

Last updated on February 6, 2019