Our next stop was Benson, in the Southern Arizona desert, not too far from Tucson and also near lots of great places to explore. We stayed in the Saguaro SKP park, an Escapee Co-op, where we stayed a couple of years ago. It’s a very nice park, and as a bonus our friends Paul and Nina were staying there as well.
The park has a first-come first-served policy, but it has an overflow area where RVers can stay while they wait for a full hookup site. We lucked out and got the one spot in the overflow area that had full hookup. Which was great since it was starting to get hot and we needed to run the A/C.
We had to wait two nights for our regular campsite, and when it was time to move and Hector turned on the engine in Island Girl, the dashboard lights and gauges went haywire. We were able to move to our campsite without any problem, but now we had another mechanical issue to tackle.
Meanwhile, we got together several times with Nina and Paul. They were getting a major upgrade to their solar panels and electrical systems and were going to stay in the park for several more days along with Paul’s dad Armando and stepmother, Ana.
We knew they were going to head north and east next and we would likely not see them again in at least a year if not more. So it was great to catch up with them one last time before their grand tour.
Nina and Paul introduced us to their friends Jill and Tom, and Marvin from Precision RV who was installing their new systems, and his wife Ellen. We had a lovely get together with new friends.
Jill then invited us to join a small group in an outing to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area. This is an “important bird area” and a major roost site for sandhill cranes. Hector was in sunrise mode again, so Hector, Angel and I actually drove out on our own ahead of the group so that we could be there by sunrise.
But we missed sunrise by about ten minutes and many of the sandhill cranes had flown out to feed. There were a few left and the light was still quite beautiful so Hector captured some nice photos of the remaining birds.
The rest of the group was going to join us in the late morning just prior to the anticipated return of the sandhill cranes, so we also had a chance to take several walks on the trails.
That is when we spotted a Northern harrier, and then another one.
We have not seen many Northern harriers, so Hector was quite excited about photographing them. And we got some very close views as one and then the other hovered and hunted in the field.
By this point Angel was pretty hot so we returned to the parking area so she could rest for a bit and cool off. And the rest of our group arrived: Jill, Tom, Armando, Ana and Ellen.
Everyone walked over to the viewing area to watch the cranes begin to return to the water.
We saw qute a few other birds in the Wildlife Area, including a lesser yellowlegs, a Western Meadowlark, and an American Avocet, Northern Shovelers and other ducks and Ross geese.
And we were all fascinated by the sandhill cranes flying back from the fields in droves.Thousands of them filled the sky as far as you could see.
After a while we had lunch at the picnic area and Jill and her group headed back. Hector and I stayed behind for a bit, then headed back the long way. Quite the spectacle.
We stopped at Bisbee, a funky little town that we visited for the first time last year. Bisbee is built atop hills and is full of twisting turns and narrow streets. It also has lots of interesting murals, cute shops and restaurants.
As we drove through the town, we spotted a really cool “Hillary mobile”. We chased it down and met up with the owner, Gretchen, the founder of the Paint Your Town non-profit.
Hillary rode with Gretchen in the Hillary mobile the last time that she ran for president.
We also stopped in what is left of Lowell, once a sizable mining town but now just a few abandoned buildings with lots of vintage stuff scattered about. Including quite a few vintage cars parked along the street.
Hector loves old buildings and cars so he explored the “town” and discovered Star Chevrolet, a spot where a group of people make metal art and restore old signs.
We continued our drive back to Benson and made a quick stop in Tombstone, site of the “OK Corral”.
Even though it is considered a tourist trap, our visit last year was quite fun.
We had planned to cut our visit short to take Island Girl to the shop to have the electrical issue worked on. Then Paul and Armando offered to come over to try to help figure out the cause of the problem.
Electrical gremlins can be really hard to solve but after testing a bunch of things and crawling all around they figured it out! It was a loose connection under the dash and they fixed it. Yay! So nice to have smart friends.
Then it was time to say bon voyage to our friends and head to Tucson.
Wishing safe travels to all.