A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 4: King of Cowboys, Casa Grande Ruins, the Hohokam, and One Very Weird Fungus

(December 11-17, 2022)

December 13, 2022

This day we explored areas as far as 50 miles north of la Casita. Following the old highway between Tucson and Phoenix, we first came upon a roadside rest area and memorial to the legendary cowboy, Tom Mix, who died at this spot 83 years ago. Tom who?  Of course we had to stop and learn more about this interesting bit of history.  

Then on to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument where history dates back more than 1700 years, well before the first Spanish explorers showed up, exploring. Even Luna was permitted to wander around this cultural monument, but we may have appreciated the stories surrounding the Hohokam more than she did.  

Then to complete our tour for the day, we came upon a lonely ranch road on the way back to la Casita, where the saguaro stood tall over countless cholla, barrel cactus, iron trees and palo verde.  It was here, in the middle of “where-are-we-now?” that I peered under a creosote bush and found the weirdest puffball fungus ever.

Read on for a snapshot of our day.

Continue reading “A Festive Anniversary Week in the Sonoran Desert. Part 4: King of Cowboys, Casa Grande Ruins, the Hohokam, and One Very Weird Fungus”

Escapito #5: Public Lands Boondocking through central New Mexico

“The Felix” was loaded and ready for a fun boondocking adventure through forest and desert, ghost towns and lava flows, rainbow colored ridges and badlands.
Central New Mexico is a splendid place to explore and discover wildlife, geology and spectacular scenery.

Come on along with us for 4 days of camping fun in the Land of Enchantment.

Continue reading “Escapito #5: Public Lands Boondocking through central New Mexico”

Summer Bugs and Botany: Cochineal Dye Making

It was a rainy day in most of NM, but what a welcome relief to be getting moisture! As we hastily hiked the lower Copper Trails, we noticed the prickly pear seemed to be draped in a more-than-usual white fuzz, and it wasn’t cotton ball shaped but dripping and running down hundreds of cactus pads. Every direction we turned we found nearly every prickly pear to be covered………………….
And then we spotted hundreds of thousands of brilliant scarlet red bodies of the cochineal insect ….. exposed, naked and frantically trying to hold onto their food source, the vertical surfaces of prickly pear pads.  The rain had “melted” their protective coats of fine white wax and the green pads of the cactus looked white washed. 

Opportunity!

Continue reading “Summer Bugs and Botany: Cochineal Dye Making”

Escapito #4: Reservoir Hopping thru Georgia O’Keefe Country

On the road again with “The Felix” reservoir hopping through spectacular Georgia O’Keefe country in north-central New Mexico.

Come along and see what we discovered!

Continue reading “Escapito #4: Reservoir Hopping thru Georgia O’Keefe Country”

Escapito #3: Wildlife and Geology of Catron County

“The Felix” was back in action for another camping adventure into the wilds of New Mexico.  For a few days we enjoyed spending time at one of our favorite dry campgrounds, Datil Well. Then on one day we unhooked truck from trailer and headed further afield to explore a seldom visited area of the Cibola National Forest ….. the Sawtooth Mountains.

Come along and see what we discovered!

Continue reading “Escapito #3: Wildlife and Geology of Catron County”

Dispatches From New Mexico: Lazy R Welding



One of my favorite bumper stickers is, ”I chose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?” This reminds me a lot of what it’s like traveling about rural New Mexico. It’s always beautifully remote, ghostly quiet except for the sound of pointlessly spinning vanes of a long-abandoned windmill, and you never know what you’ll find around the next bend in the road.


So there we were navigating the back roads to Quarai …….

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Visiting Quarai, Salinas Pueblos/Missions National Monument



New Mexico is such a culturally and historically rich state. Combine this with gorgeous scenery and outrageously blue skies, and you have the perfect ingredients for fun and educational day trips.

We woke to a sunny day and decided to hit the road less travelled. Our destination was only a few hours south of home, following along an old trade route called the Salt Missions Trail. Winding rural roads took us through Spanish settlements and villages of stone and adobe, mostly old and crumbling, as we paralleled the eastern flank of the Manzanita and Manzano Mountains in central NM.

Continue reading “Visiting Quarai, Salinas Pueblos/Missions National Monument”