Archive for September, 2013

New Year’s Eve Get Away

September 30th, 2013 by Mike Hug

The New Year’s Eve Get Away is at Down By The River B and B

Snacks Picture

New Years Eve we provide a variety of snacks for our guests to enjoy

Every year Down By The River has hosted a New Year’s Eve Get Away celebration. Prior to the last two years the celebration was offered as a special on our website and we invited guests who stayed  at the B and B on that evening to attend. It was sort of an extra something we did with our guests as a thank you. The evening has always been memorable. Our New Year’s Eve party has it’s origins back to the 1980s when we lived in Phoenix. We invited friends and neighbors over to ring in the New Year. After we opened Down By The River B and B, we decided to continue the celebration at the b and b. We also invite our old friends from Phoenix down to the b and b.

The celebration gets underway at about 8:30. Down By The River provides different finger foods and hors d’ouevres for our guests to snack on during the evening. Guests are asked to bring their own beverages for their enjoyment. We have music playing in the background and there is always the pool table for those who wish to demonstrate their expertise. We do have a new twist this year that involves some entertainment but I won’t tell you about that because it is a surprise. (We had some guests demonstrate this during their stay and it was a real hit.) We thought it would be a good ground breaker for the guests to get to know each other. At midnight we watch the ball drop at Times Square on TV, naturally tape delayed. As the ball drops, we toast in the New Year at Down By The River with some sparkling wine that we provide from an Arizona Winery. Noel Candle Picture

Down By The River B and B invites you to consider this event. There is no need to drive home after the party since you already have the room for the night and as always we do provide a fine breakfast for you to enjoy on New Years Day. There are a few restrictions that are in place because of the costs that we incur for this event (we do not charge more than our normal rate) and because we have a limited number of rooms. We will keep a wait list in case of cancellation.

There are a few rooms already booked so make your reservation now so that you will be able to be At The River for the New Year’s Eve Get Away!

San Pedro River Birding

September 26th, 2013 by Mike Hug

The Migration is starting and the San Pedro River Birding is getting better.

6 Hummingbirds at Southeast Arizona Lodgiing pictureIn Southeastern AZ, the San Pedro River birding will be really good as the migration south is starting and should reach it’s peak in another couple of weeks. The hummingbirds that have been around all year are at the feeders a lot. They are putting on fat so that they will be able to make the migratory trip south without stopping. We do have some that stay around into November but most leave the San Pedro River by the end of October. This is also the time where the bats are out and we have to take the feeders down or all the feeders will be empty by morning. We have a friend on Facebook that has actually photographed the bats at the feeders.

San Pedro River Birding picture of a Vermillion Flycatcher

I was able to get 3 shots of the Vermillion Flycatcher through a screen. Some of the bluriness is caused by the screen but it isn’t too bad.

Our resident Phoebe will probably stay again this year but I don’t know where she finds food. She eats insects on the fly and it is fascinating to watch her swoop and turn when she is after one. The gold finches will also be at the feeders over the winter as the finches, sparrows and doves. One of the favorites of San Pedro River Birding that will leave is the bright colored Vermillion Flycatchers that have brightened up the trees at our B and B this year. I finally got a couple of good shots of the female a couple of days ago. The Northern Cardinals, Scarlett Tanager and the Summer Tanager that we see frequently will also be heading to warmer climes.

Sand Hill Cranes Returning Picture

After 20 minutes the cranes are still arriving at The Draw.

There will still be good San Pedro River birding as we will be getting new resident birds over the winter. These birds like Arizona in the winter just like our guest do that hail from the Midwest. The Sandhill Cranes and the Snow Geese take up residency here in Southeaster Arizona. Wings Over Willcox celebrates the birds with a week long event for birding enthusiasts. So make your plans and take a loot to Down By The River as your San Pedro River Birding B and B. We will take good care of you.

Cochise County Events In October

September 20th, 2013 by Mike Hug

Southeastern AZ B and B is centrally located to Cochise County events

Boothill picture

The Heldorado Days celebration, a Cochise County Event, is held on the weekend near the date of the historical Gunfight at the OK Corral.

There are many Cochise County events that happen during October. We have already mentioned some in our earlier blog on Tombstone events in October. These Old West events include The Vendetta Ride, Helldorado Days and the Cowboy Action Shooting State Championships. During Heldorado Days there are many people that dress up for the event. But there are other Cochise County events that are close to Down By The River B and B, “The Lodging Hub of Cochise County.

Both Willcox and Bisbee will be holding Wine Festivals. The Bisbee Wine Festival will be held on the 6th of October, only a few weeks away. This event takes place from 4 to 7 PM at the City Park in downtown Old Bisbee and features wine from all over the world, including Arizona wines. There will be food to go with the tastings from many of Bisbee’s restaurants, including Café Roka. If we are in Bisbee for the evening, Café Roka is the one outstanding restaurant Angie and I love to go to. The cost of the festival is $45.

Wine Booth Pictures

The Willcox Wine Festival booths of Arizona Stronghold, Kief Joshua and Gallifant were represented at the last festival.

Willcox Fall Wine Festival will be held in Railroad Park on the 19th and 20th from 11 AM to 5 PM. This is on the same weekend as Helldorado Days making Down By The River a perfect Lodging Choice to be able to make both events. The festival has 16 wineries participating and will also feature live music both days. The cost is $15 and you get 8 tastings and a commemorative glass. There is also food available at the festival but we like to walk across the street to Rodney’s for catfish sandwiches. Rodney’s is a little hole in the wall shop but he does serve good catfish.

Other Cochise County events in Willcox include Rex Allen Days on the 4th through the 6th. Rex hailed from Willcox and was among the first singing cowboy movie stars. We have had many guests from the UK that come specifically to go to the Rex Allen Museum. The Museum is on Railroad Avenue and the Marty Robbins Museum is also close by. Sierra Vista will have the Art in the Park on the 5th and 6th and then the weekend after that they have a rock and mineral show.

Tombstone stage picture

The Tombstone stage ride give a historic tour of the town and is similar to the ones used on the Butterfield Stage Road.

Then last but not least is Benson Butterfield Days which will be held on the 12th and 13th. This celebrates the Butterfield Stage line that ran from St. Louis to San Francisco carrying mail and passengers. In conjunction with the Butterfield days events is a Rodeo at the Arena. Fireworks are scheduled for the Saturday evening.

So as you can see, it will be a busy time if you want to see all of the Cochise County events. The events are spread to all the corners of Cochise County. And of course Down By The River B and B is the perfect lodging location in Cochise County. That is why we are known as the “Lodging Hub of Cochise County. So check us out and see why our guests think we are the perfect choice for a getaway.

Parker Canyon Lake

September 14th, 2013 by Mike Hug

Parker Canyon Lake – our back road adventure trip.

Road to Parker Canyon Lake picture

The road to Parker Canyon Lake from Coronado National Memorial is an unpaved road.

Parker Canyon Lake is just 15 miles west of the Overlook at Coronado National Memorial or a little over 70 miles from Down By The River B and B. The distance is not very far in freeway terms. When you go “boondocking” down the Arizona back roads, it will take you more time but can be quite an adventure. While growing up my dad used to take us out into the desert on unpaved back roads to explore what was out there. He called it “boondocking” and he would have agreed that the road to Parker Canyon Lake was right up there with his type of trip. Our guests have told us that they think Down By The River is off the beaten path but if they were to travel on Forest Road 61 from Coronado National Memorial they would know what off the beaten track really is.

Parker Canyon Lake Road Picture

There was a location on the road to Parker Canyon Lake that appeared to be a turtle head and neck outstretched. Quite appropriate for the desert..

After our trip to Coronado National Memorial, Angie and I had a choice to make about our return back to the b and b. We decided to head for Parker Canyon Lake and then back via Arizona 83, through Elgin and the Sonoita Wine Country. You can read about our visit on Coronado National Memorial from our last blog. We started down the west side of the pass and headed toward the Canelo Hills and the San Rafael Valley. This valley is home to the Vega Ranch which was a Spanish Land Grant. The ranch is southeast of Patagonia and Barb and I had been there one time before. The Santa Cruz River headwaters start in the San Rafael Valley and meanders south into Mexico before returning back north into the US and through Tucson.

Stream picture

During the monsoon times there are many streams and creeks that flow out of the Huachuca Mountains.

The road we traveled was dirt but well maintained. There were notices on the road to watch for flooding as we drove along. During monsoon season it is always a good idea to watch where you travel and not cross fast flowing water at washes. As we traveled along we were skirting the southern and western side of the Huachuca Mountains. This is cattle country and you will find many cattle guards on the road. We crossed side canyons and at times came to rough sections of the road but not bad enough to cause problems. We took our time and enjoyed the scenery. We stopped at different times to check out the views and things of interest. One interesting stop was a rock jutting out of the side of the mountain. I though it looked a little like a tortoise head and neck stretching out from the shell.

As we traveled we had to navigate over streams that crossed the road. One stream was at the junction of forest road 488. We decide to stop because of the amount of water running under the bridge. There were pools that were waist deep. As we walked on up the river we notice a lot of red flowers along the stream. These brilliant red flowers turned out to be Cardinal Flowers. After our short break we started off again. To our surprise, we could see a ranch from the top of the hill as we dropped into the canyon. The ranch was nestled on one side of a creek that flowed out of the Huachuca Mountains. The ranch was definitely off the beaten track and they need to travel about 40 miles to find the nearest grocery store. At the bottom of the canyon, we finally did come to one stream that gave us pause. The stream was flowing when we reached it. The water didn’t appear deep but there were some larger rocks that had washed down onto the roadway. We took our time maneuvering around the rocks and had no problems with the stream.  It wasn’t too long before we were stopping at Arizona 83.  83 runs from Parker Canyon Lake through Sonoita and over the Santa Rita Mountains to Interstate 10 near Vail. We found that the 15 mile trip didn’t require us to have a high ground clearance or a 4 wheel drive vehicle. However we also drove during the dry part of the day. It took us about an hour and a half to do the 15 miles but we also did stop and walked around photograph what we found on the road.

View of Parker Canyon Lake

Parker Canyon Lake overview with the San Raphael Valley in the distance.

Parker Canyon Lake is a man-made lake about 5 miles north of the Mexican Border. It is at about 5400 feet elevation and covers about 130 acres. The lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout, bass and catfish. Boat rentals are available and there are boat ramps for those that want to bring a boat.  Fishing requires a license but that can be purchased at the concession shop. The Oak forest is great for birders. We watched the Barn Swallows as the maneuvered into their nests at the concession store. Bald Eagles and Osprey are also found in the area.

After we finished our wandering around the lake, we had something to quench our thirst and headed back to Down By The River B and B. The 160 mile loop trip took us about 6 hours from when we left until we got home but with all the stops and photographs we took it was a very pleasant day.  If we had gone to Bisbee it would have been about 40 miles shorter but it would not have been as adventurous. “Boondocking” is some much more fun.

Parker Canyon Lake Boating picture

Boating is allowed on Parker Canyon Lake and people were taking advantage to the great conditions for sailing.

Coronado National Memorial

September 8th, 2013 by Mike Hug

Coronado National Memorial – a short day trip visit.

Coronado National Momorial Map

The map is courtesy of the National Parks Brochure for Coronado National Memorial.

Coronado National Memorial sign

The entrance to the Coronado National Memorial is a photogenic setting.

Coronado National Memorial is located on the Mexican Border. It is south of Sierra Vista where Arizona Route 92 veers away from the Huachuca Mountains and heads east to Bisbee. Close to the Coronado National Memorial’s location is the route traversed by Francisco Coronado when he was sent to find the fabled cities of Cibola or the Lost Cities of Gold. He was following the orders of The Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico) Antonio Mendoza to mount an expedition to find these cities. A Fray, Marco De Niza was sent along because he had reported seeing these cities. The expedition failed in finding the cities but the members of the expedition did record what the land and the inhabitants were like from Northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and on to present day Kansas. The Grand Canyon was first seen by Europeans on this expedition when part of the group ventured to the Northwest. If you want to read an interesting book, find the one Douglas Preston wrote titled “The Lost Cities of Gold”.

Coronado Expedition Piture

Paintings that document The Coronado Expedition are placed in the Coronado National Memorial Visitor Center and give a description of the event.

The Coronado National Memorial sits at the southern end of the Huachuca Mountains and it is one of the unique locations in the United State.  It is a crossroad of diversity with the Rocky Mountains ending, the Sierra Madre Mountains beginning, and where the Chihuahuan and the Sonoran Deserts meet. There are many plants and animals that can be found in the park. This is one of the few areas in the US where you can find the Lucifer Hummingbird. Coatimundi can be seen in the park along with Javelina. Bird watchers enjoy the Huachuca Mountains and these sky islands are home to many birds that are seen nowhere else in the US. The visitor center is about half way into the park on East Montezuma Canyon Road. It has items for purchase and has good information on the Memorial and surrounding area. There are paintings on display depicting Coronado and the expedition. It is well worth the stop.

Border Patch Butterfly

The Border Patch Butterfly is one of many species found in Coronado National Memorial.

Hiking along with nature watching are the main things to do in the park. There are trails in the park with two starting at the Visitor Center. One hike heads north to Coronado Cave from the Visitor Center on a trail that is ¾ of a mile in length and gains about 500 feet in elevation. This is a limestone cave with some formations. You will need flashlights and it requires a permit to enter. The second trail is Joe’s Canyon Trail and it is about 3 miles long and rises 1600 feet in elevation. This trail ends on the Coronado Peak trail. Near the 2 mile point on the Joe’s Canyon Trail is the junction of the Yaqui Trail. This trail goes south to the border and marker pole 102. These poles weigh about 700 pounds and they were placed by the government in the 1890s to designate the border. The poles start near El Paso and head west. Poles 100, 101 and 102 are located inside the Coronado National Memorial. From Montezuma Pass Overlook there is The Coronado Peak Trail of almost a half a mile in length. The peak is 6864 feet in elevation and gives you a great panoramic view of the San Pedro and San Raphael Valleys. The Arizona Trail starts in the Coronado National Memorial at border Pole 102. It heads north out of the Memorial over the Huachuca Mountains for 800 miles until it stops at the Utah border north of the Grand Canyon.

Firecracker Bush flowers

Many different flower varieties can be found throughout the Coronado National Memorial grounds. These flowers are from the Firecracker bush.

For this trip, Angie and I decided that we would hike the Coronado Peak trail. The road to Montezuma Pass turns to dirt about 1 mile after leaving the visitor center. It is narrow but in good repair and a normal automobile will not have a problem navigating the road. There are places to pull off to see items of interest. With all the rains this monsoon season, there were a lot of flowers blooming on both sides of the road. The Century plants were in the process of blooming and some of the stocks were 15 feet tall. With all the rains we have had in the mountains, the vegetation was very lush. When you reach the top of the pass, you can park and there are tables if you want picnic. We started the hike to the top and it was a pretty steady climb with a 300 foot rise in elevation from the parking lot. We had lots of opportunities to take pictures and we made the best of it. Coronado Peak is less than a mile from the border. At the top of the mountain, you can see into Mexico at least 70 miles and to the foothills of the Sierra Madres and the copper mine at Cananea 30 miles away. To the west we could see Baboquivari Peak over 80 miles away. The peak is sacred to the O’odham Native Americans. The views were wonderful with deep blue sky.

Montezuma Overlook Picture

The view from Montezuma Pass overlook is toward the San Pedro River Valley. The River is defined with the tree line. The border fence is the dark straight line that runs east and west.

As we got back to the car we found that we had only traveled 59 miles from Down By The River B and B. Our b and b is perfect hub location for the guest that wants to take short day trips to many sites throughout Cochise County. After the hike, we discussed our options. It was starting to get a little too warm to start another hike. The Yaqui trail was a 2 mile hike one way down to the border and we didn’t feel we had enough water for that. We decided that we would drive a loop trip back to the b and b instead of returning straight

On Top of Coronado Peak in the Coronado National Memorial.

Mike on Coronado Peak with the backdrop of Mexico behind him to the southeast.. Some of he peaks are over 70 miles away.

home. There are 2 choices we considered. One is to go to Bisbee, prowl the shops and get something to eat later. The second option was to continue west on the Montezuma Canyon Road, stopping at Parker Canyon Lake. From there we would travel on to Sonoita. Since neither of us had been to Parker Canyon Lake, we decided to take the dirt road and see what it was like. When we were young my dad took us out on back roads, he would tell us that we were going “Boondocking”. We knew it would be an adventure since you never knew what you would find or where we were going.   We will tell you about our “Boondocking” adventure to Parker Canyon Lake in our next blog.

On Top of Coronado Peak in the Coronado National Memorial.

From the top of Coronado National Memorial looking to the Southwest into Mexico.

Southeastern Arizona Stargazing

September 3rd, 2013 by Mike Hug

Southeastern Arizona Stargazing Will Improve Soon.

Planet Alignment Picture

At the end of May the three planets aligned at sunset.

Southeastern Arizona stargazing will soon be back as the monsoons will be ending and the night skies will be clear. With the end of the monsoons, the view of the Milky Way will be unobstructed by clouds and directly overhead in all its glory. The late summer and Autumn constellations are full of nebulas for the Arizona stargazing astronomer to see. We have many options for the amateur or avid astronomer who wants to view planets or objects in the night sky while being guests at Down By The River B and B . One option is to bring your own telescope; some of our guests have done exactly that. Another option is to use the Dobsonian telescope that is available to our guests here at Down By The River. Another option is to make a reservation at San Pedro Valley Observatory in Benson. If you want to do some night photography like David did at our b and b, then you can set up your camera and tripod and give that a whirl. David has a website  where he posts his blogs and pictures. He does some outstanding things with a camera and a telescope. I am hoping to take some of the lessons he taught me and try my hand at this type of photography in the coming months.

References for Southeastern Arizona Stargazing

Dobsonian Telescope picture

Our Stargazing B and B has a 13″ mirror Dobsonian Telescope

There are numerous online sites that are good references for stargazing. One is Star Date which will give you information on planets, constellations and events during the year. I did find one interesting site on line which is a YouTube video that compares the size of many of the planets and stars. This video is from 2009 and is a little out of date since larger stars have been discovered but it is interesting to view. It is amazing just how big things are and how small we are in comparison.

Viewing the Arizona Night Sky

In September, Venus, Mars and Jupiter will all be morning stars. I took a photograph of the alignment in June. Saturn will be setting early in the evenings and Uranus will be up all night. Uranus is the hard one to spot. You need a telescope and there are no good reference points at this time to help sight the planet. I have seen Uranus and Neptune before but not with a Dobsonian Telescope. I was lucky because these two planets were close to a brighter reference point at the time. February 8 to 10 will be the best time to see Uranus, since it will be close to Venus. The best time to view Neptune is now but with monsoon clouds the chances of clear skies may not be good. Also there is not a good reference to help spot the planet.

San Pedro Valley Observatory

Arizona stargazing picture of Saturn

Saturn to the naked eye doesn’t have much color through a telescope.

I wrote a blog about the San Pedro Valley Observatory. It was originally a B and B called Skywatcher’s Inn and then changed to Astronomer’s Inn. It no longer is a B and B but we do work with the observatory and give discounts to people that go to the SPVO for Arizona stargazing. Angie got her first real chance of Arizona stargazing on her birthday. The astronomers are very knowledgeable and gave us a great experience. At the end we saw Saturn and we left with a picture of Saturn and its rings. Angie had never seen that before and moons too!

As a special, we will give a 10% discount for a one night stay to guests that have a one night reservation at the observatory. If they have reservations for 2 or more nights at the observatory we give a 15% discount on each additional night, This is all subject to confirmation of the SPVO reservation.

If you want to view the stars and see what Arizona Stargazing is all about, take some time and head for our San Pedro River B and B for a night of fun. Down By The River is out in the country and it has dark night skies. Leave the lights of Tucson and Phoenix behind and see what it is like to see the Milky Way in all its glory while staying in comfort at Down By The River B and B.

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