Our next national park stop was Saguaro. Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections, West – Tucson Mountain District and East – Rincon Mountain District. We visited both districts that afternoon, taking drives through as much of both as we could. It would be great to come back and spend more time hiking in cooler months, but we made the most of the time we had. We did take a short walk up to see some rock art from the Hohokam Indians. The petroglyphs we saw were very distinct and vibrant on the faces of the rocks. The saguaros themselves are incredibly impressive, with their vast resources and arching arms. I kept searching for the Elf and Screech owls that make their nests in the cacti, to no avail.
The next morning found us at Le Cave’s Donuts in Tucson. Le Cave’s sells “vegetable donuts”, which apparently means they are vegan. An old donut shop, when we arrived before opening, a line had formed out the door. We were able to eat several different donuts, including chocolate frosted and mango creme. One of our favorite things to eat is donuts, so we were very, very happy to find Le Cave’s. Donuts actually became a theme on this vacation, much to our enjoyment!
Then we took a quite desolate drive to Chiricahua National Monument. Chiricahua turned out to be one of our favorite stops on our trip. It is out of the way, but well worth the extra miles. We weren’t sure what to expect, even though the park website promises “a wonderland of rocks”. Chiricahua is a truly spectacular place. Formed on a volcanic range, now inactive, pinnacles of balanced rocks stretch out across valleys that seem to be devoid of life. But upon closer inspection, we took a short hike on the Echo Canyon Trail, there are tons of animals, plants, and birds making a home here. It is a very peaceful place, bird calls echoing through the canyons and lizards sunning themselvs on the rocks. We couldn’t seem to get enough of the views and the cooler temperatures out among the mountains. We explored as much as we had time to do so, before heading on to our next stop. We’d both love to come back and do some more hiking in this area.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site, a short drive down a dirt road, was our next stop for the day. Upon arrival, all we could see from the parking lot was a sign and bathrooms. We wandered over to the sign only to discover these words, “Trail to Fort Bowie 1.5 miles walk”. Though some would be discouraged by this, we were delighted. Fort Bowie does provide an alternate route for disabled travelers but for the masses, the only way to access the park is to walk. Edward Abbey would approve. We hiked through several ruins and a cemetery before reaching Fort Bowie, learning about the Butterfield Overland Mail Route while following the old military road built by the soldiers who lived at the fort. Many confrontations between the settlers and the Apaches took place in the area. Fort Bowie itself is not much more than ruins, but we enjoyed a nice conversation with the ranger at the visitors center while examining the artifacts in the small museum they have set up. The fort was apparently a piece of civilization out in the wild, full of modern comforts one would not expect. Our hike back was just as pleasant as the one in, and we again discussed how nice it was to have a site only accessible by foot.
That evening found us in Tombstone. Obsessed with westerns as a kid, Anthony loved walking the streets and reading about the history of the town. We arrived later in the day and missed seeing some of the more touristy shows, but we did have a chance to tour the Bird Cage Theatre. Because it was shut up for so many years, then reopened as a museum, many of the original decorations and artifacts remain. It was fun to wander through the museum and see all the random objects, photos, and artwork remaining in the theatre.
Dinnertime found us in Bisbee, Arizona at Poco, a vegan Mexican restaurant. Though several miles out of our way, we were really happy we visited Poco. The food was excellent, beautifully presented and amazingly fresh. All vegan, the menu has several burrito, quesadilla, and taco options. Bisbee itself is a really cute town, nestled in the foothills, with homes literally clinging to the sides of the hills over the main streets. It’d be nice if we found it sooner and spent more time wandering through the streets.
To be continued…