To Key Largo

Today I left Everglades City early and headed east on the Tamiami Trail. As usual, I noodled around, arriving at Clyde Butcher’s gallery around 10:15.

First, a few of the sights along the way.


Smallest post office in the US.


A sign we don’t see in Arizona!


Another anhinga drying its wings.


A bird I don’t know, but I love the way he could twist his neck.


More alligators!


Hungry bird.


First, let me say this man (Clyde Butcher) is a wonderful photographer. He uses film, shoots in black and white, and mostly photographs the Everglades area. I’ve been looking forward to a visit to his gallery for months. However, I was somewhat disappointed.

I do have to say that when I stepped inside, it was stunningly wonderful. One of his prints, about four by six, hung on the wall facing the door. Four by six. Feet, not inches. Absolutely stunning.

What was disappointing, though, was how little of his work hung in the gallery. Yes, he had many photos. But there was work by other artists and a gift shop containing t-shirts, work by others, and his books, calendars and notecards all in a small space.

Most of his photos, rather than being on the walls, were matted and in bins with price tags. I had expected more gallery and fewer bins. Though the majority of his prints were under $80 or so, prices ran to nearly $900.

A second disappointment was the nature trail behind the gallery. I’d looked forward to it but it was quite small. I could have very easily walked it in about two minutes. Also, I’d expected educational information, but none of the plants were labeled.


Another thing. As I left, I gazed over at the water fountain on the front porch. It had an “out of order” sign on it, so anyone who was thirsty had to purchase water or soda.

Finally, the parking lot bothered me. There were numerous signs telling visitors what not to do and announcing fines levied. No feeding alligators, no parking here or there, no putting trash in the gallery’s dumpster. Now, that information is good and maybe even important, but it made the place feel unwelcoming. I mention this last, but it was the first thing I noticed. To me, it seems the visitor should feel immediately welcomed rather than warned and threatened. It was very off-putting.

Bottom line, though, I loved seeing his work.

On from there, into driving rain that stopped, started, then stopped again for the next hour. South through agricultural land and more off and on rain.



Migrant workers


Sign in the field across from the workers. Too poisonous to touch, but not too poisonous for them to pick and us to eat?

Then across a few bridges to Key Largo.

Key Largo is, of course, the largest of the islands. The name “Key” actually came from the Spanish word “cayo” which means little island. The road from Key Largo to the tip of Key West is about one hundred miles long and has forty-two bridges!

Key Largo is about twenty-four miles long and is often referred to as the Dive Capital of the World because of its beautiful natural reefs (the only coral reefs in North America). In addition, there’s a huge variety of marine life and even sunken ships for divers to explore.

And more signs we don’t see in the desert.


After roaming a bit, I settled into a great lunch at the Key Largo Conch House. It was right on the highway but nestled into trees, making it almost invisible from the road.


Café Cubano, black bean-mango salad, and lobster bisque. Perfect choices all.



As I left the restaurant, I noticed a thank you award from a place called Island Dolphin Care. I asked the waitress about it and she gave me information as well as clear instructions to get there.

Out the door I went, straight to Island Dolphin Care (see a future blog posting for more about this).


After a visit with the dolphins, I settled into my motel where I had to wrestle with the internet before I could get connected. And for some reason, it will give me my email but it won’t let me send a thing.

On the plus side, the room is fine, the bed comfortable. And two doors down is a Cuban Café!

Wander … Wonder … Disaster … Restoration

A day of wander and wonder, of disaster (other people) and near disaster (me).

Kris, Karen, Linda and I spent a leisurely early morning. Later, Linda took the other two women to the airport and I headed off on my second adventure: the Everglades and the Keys.


Me with Karen, Kris, and Linda.

I noodled my way back to Everglades City (truly a town – around 400 full-time residents) and points south. On my way there I stopped in a national park and went up a few roads not on my map.


At the intersection with the highway (HWY 29) to Everglades City, there’s a visitors’ information center next to a sheriff’s department building, each accessible from both highways (41, a north-south highway that goes primarily E-W, and 29 which goes pretty much N-S), so I pulled in, got a little info, and pulled out onto 29, headed north to a birding area.

Back at the intersection, I stopped for a blinking red light as did both the woman across the highway from me heading south and the person on 41 heading west. The woman across the highway began to cross HWY 41 and BLAM!!!

The cars running along Highway 41 have a blinking yellow light, not a red light, so although the person headed west had indeed stopped – causing me and apparently the woman heading south to feel it was a four-way stop – it was actually only a stop for those heading north and south.

The woman heading south was in the eastbound lane when she got slammed into. She shot a little further forward, stopping when she was right next to me. And then her car tipped sideways onto two wheels – my direction.



My second thought was CRAP!!! SHE’S GOING TO LAND ON ME!!!

I froze. But there was nowhere I could go anyway. I was stuck there with her huge Suburban tilted at nearly a 30 degree angle. If it toppled my way, it would land on half my car – the half I sat in.

For a very, very long second or two, the Suburban just balanced on those two wheels. Then, thankfully, the car went back the other direction and landed on all fours.

Traffic immediately moved over and I hightailed it back to the sheriff’s office. No one answered when I pounded on the door, so I dialed 9-1-1. Eventually a uniformed man slugged his way to the door while I was on with the 9-1-1- operator. “Big wreck!” I shouted at him, gesturing toward the intersection. A few minutes later, from the back of the offices came a sheriff’s SUV that shot over to the wreck site.

I gave my name and phone number to the 9-1-1 dispatcher then walked over to the wreck.

The woman who was hit (and whose legal fault the accident was) seemed okay and she said she was fine, but I gave her a long hug and encouraged her to get checked out. I also gave the deputy my name and contact information. Then I got out of the way.

That’s about when all the terror hit me. I climbed shakily into my little, tiny, squishable rental and just sat until I felt I could safely maneuver. I went back to the intersection from 41 east and headed north onto 29, trying to block it all out of my mind.

And I was moderately successful due to the wonderful place I headed.

Deep, deep swampy area. Palms, and mangroves. Bay and holly. Pale, pinkish sea lavender and yellow St. John’s wort. Great blue herons with their six-foot-plus wingspan and great white ones. Egrets both snowy and great. Anhinga and ibis. All soothing to the soul after what could have been for me a serious, serious injury.






It took me three hours of wandering in car and on foot to feel I could head back past that intersection to get to my hotel. But return I did, just as the gray day turned to drizzle and the clay-sand road turned to muck.

I checked in at my motel and immediately headed further south to shoreline and sunset.


Back to my motel for a glass of wine and feelings of fragility. A deep sense of gratefulness that I had been spared. Concerns for those in the accident. I never saw the occupants (I have a vague recollection of two in the front seat) of the car that slammed into the other. Their car was totaled, I’m sure. The woman I met was young. She will heal. But what of the others?

No one from the sheriff’s department ever called me.

I had a restless night’s sleep.

Airboat Tour

Today was the day! The four of us headed out early (for us) and drove to Everglades City which is not actually a city but a small town. We went to Everglades City Ariboat Tours and spent a bunch of money each on what was (for me) a once-in-a-lifetime event: into the Everglades on an airboat.

It was downright chilly and still partly cloudy when we left, so we bundled up well. We bought our tickets and sat in the newly-emerged sun to await our tour.


Karen and Kris enjoy the sun.

Just to our right was a young woman from the Netherlands, Elsa, who was not exactly bundled up. In fact, she wore a sleeveless dress.

When it was our turn to climb aboard a boat, Josh, the airboat captain, settled us in.


Captain Josh

I realized I was warm enough now that the sun was out so I passed Elsa the jacket I’d borrowed from Karen. We all put on our headphones (airboats are noisy)


and off we went, into the mangroves.



Pelican – in a tree???

Josh told us there were four kinds of mangrove trees, two that grew in the salty to brackish water and two that were freshwater varieties. The kind we mostly saw, the ones with the long, long roots hanging into the water, was the red mangrove, a non-native species.

6-mangrove roots

  • 6a-roots

We saw some birds but were a little disappointed not to see any alligators.

It turns out it was the wrong season for alligators. They don’t like the brackish waters, so they only come to the area during the rainy season when fresh waters run off through the mangroves.

6c-Josh again

Captain Josh explains about alligators.


Our group, with Elsa.

However, Josh suggested we go up the road about ten miles and turn north. He thought we’d have success up there. We bid goodbye to Elsa (who referred to us as “the Golden Girls” and we considered tossing her overboard because of that). We headed to the alligator area.

Success indeed!



We saw perhaps eight alligators, including a big old boy that must have been ten feet long. We stood along the edge of the road about ten feet from him and took photos.

7b-big alligator

The Big Boy

Afterward we stopped to read a sign that told us how fast alligators move and to stay at least fifteen feet away. We were glad the old boy wasn’t hungry.

7c-alligator warning

8-anhinga drying

Anhinga drying its wings

After we’d had our fill of birds and beasts, we headed to lunch. With the help of Linda’s GPS, we briefly got lost but finally made our way to Camillia’s, right on the waterfront back in Everglades City.


Entrance to Camillia’s

We all had local fare – shrimp, grouper, clams. My sautéed clams were delish and the hush puppies were the best I’ve ever had. Sorry. No photos. We dove into our food and I didn’t even think of taking a picture.

Then, home for a walk on the beach on the gorgeous soft, white sands of Marco Island. I picked up a few shells (like I need any more – I bring some home every time I go to Kino). It was warm enough to walk barefoot in the water.

Home, rest and a light dinner of ice cream and wine.


Another perfect day.

Lazy Day with Girlfriends

It was a lazy day with girlfriends. Girlfriends? GIRL friends? We are all in our (late) 60s. But that is what we are and have been for many, many years. Did I mention I met Karen when we were both three years old?

Friday was a day of no plans. I’d sworn to myself I’d write a post for each day, but there is so little to say for today!

We had lunch out, wandered a few shops that were far too expensive for me, and roamed the beach a bit at sunset. I even got a nap which is something very rare for me.


A sand sculpture at the Marriott. We had lunch in one of their restaurants.

K-K-E at lunch

Kris, Karen and me – lunch at a beach restaurant.

L-E -KaA

Linda, me and Karen after (too much) lunch


Conch chowder and sweet potato fries!



And of course, there was a lot of chatting and reminiscing. A true day of memories. Sometimes one of us would mention something and the other three would laugh or jump into the story. At other times, one of us would mention something and the other three would stare at her blankly. But we found that the four of us together could come up with so many memories and stories! Far more than any one, two, or even three of us could.

The day of memories was followed by a light dinner, a glass of wine.

Now, Karen said this post was a bit boring, so I do have to add we also met a mermaid.


Linda and Kris meet the mermaid.

Tune in tomorrow – we’re taking an airboat ride!

Miami to Marco Island

I got up around seven and wandered into the cafe at my motel for cafe Cubano. What a way to start the day!

cafe Cubano

Sorry, I cannot remember her name. She was lovely!

At nine I was out front of the hotel awaiting the van back to the airport where I picked up my car.


Then back to the motel to load up and hit the road. Out the drive then to the highway. A nice person waved me right onto the street.

Then I stopped. We all stopped. Traffic was a disaster. Due to roadwork, I got stuck on the highway for fifteen or twenty minutes during which time I moved about a mile. Maybe less.

Eventually I was able to get onto a southbound road on the western edge of the airport, hoping it would take me to Florida 41, the Tamiami Trail. I sailed along for about a mile and then it curved east – back to the airport!

I scrambled off on an eastbound road which took me onto a tollway. Yikes! I was able to slide back off before having to pay a toll, but the road was one way north, away from 41.

More maneuvers and finally I was heading back south and made it to 41, turning west.

Down the road I went. It was busy, full of traffic, but eventually the road narrowed and became one lane each way. Little traffic. A canal ran along the north side, my side, and I kept my eyes open for wildlife.


Mostly it was birds: egrets, great blue herons, and many more I didn’t recognize.

I spotted people fishing all along the canal, and in some spots, photographers. I pulled over where they were and sometimes other places as well. Once I was moving along slowly and saw a flash of bright pink. I knew what it was: a roseated spoonbill.


I pulled over quickly but it was hard to get a shot. I drove a bit further and saw another area heavy with birds, plus one of the photographers I’d already run into.

I got out of the car, glanced at the canal, and there he was. A big old alligator.


He was on the other side of the canal which was maybe sixteen feet across. On my side of the canal was a steep incline about four feet high so I felt secure in stopping to get a photo of the gator.

I took one then squatted down to get a closeup of just his eyes. Through my viewfinder, I watched those eyes sink just underwater and move my direction. I, perhaps pretty wisely, chose to move along at a rapid pace and head for the birds just east of me.

I never saw the gator again though I watched awhile, hoping he’d pop up and go after a bird (sorry, birds). But alas, he didn’t show himself again.

I was starving because I hadn’t had breakfast, so I stopped in at a small restaurant operated by the Miccosukee tribe. They had dishes on their menu that don’t exist in Arizona!


West past Clyde Butcher’s gallery (which I’ll visit Monday) and a few small towns and parks and walking loops and finally to the northern entrance to Marco Island, my destination.

I reached the island and called Linda. She gave me directions to the condo and when I arrived, she, Karen, and Kris were standing alongside the road waiting for me.

And this was the purpose of the trip: reunion.


Karen, me, Linda and Kris

Four of us, childhood friends, decided to skip our high school reunion and get together here, just the four of us. We chose the spot because A) it was available, and B) one of the women owned it and we could use it for free. As in no cost! Just travel expense and food.

Did I mention this is a lovely condo with a balcony looking out over the Gulf of Mexico? I am one happy woman this evening!



And so the reunion began. Stories and laughter. Patio time and sunset. Dinner and wine.

I am one contented woman this evening.

To Miami

It was a long day, but the end was lovely.

Alfredo and I were out the door early and got me to the Tucson airport around ten after six. Long line to check in, then some sitting around waiting to board the plane. Luckily I had some burritos Alfredo had made up for me, so I was able to munch away while I waited.

Shortly after departing Tucson, there came an announcement over the PA: Is there a doctor aboard? If so, please come to the rear of the plane.

Crap. Heart attack? Stroke? Is the person okay? Then: Would we be turning around?

A little while later: The man is going to be fine. However, we’re not going to be serving snacks or drinks for awhile, just water. We’ll serve when we’re able to.

Water. Long wait. Finally, less than an hour out of Atlanta, we got drinks and snacks.

Finally, Atlanta.


As we touched down, another announcement: Please remain in your seats. We need to leave passage for the EMTs.

The man is not so fine?

A short time later: The EMTs aren’t here yet, so you may go ahead and deboard the plane.

A little while later: Please clear the aisle! The EMTs are here! They’ll be taking the patient out the back door, so as soon as they pass, you may resume deboarding.

Finally, the EMTs cleared, we deboarded, and then I dashed from terminal E to terminal B. I had no more than sat down than they announced my plane to Miami was boarding.

It was such a big plane we boarded in the center! So although I was in aisle 24, I was quite near the exit.

Less than two hours later, Miami.


In the time it took to get off the plane and get to my luggage, I heard perhaps a dozen different languages. Everyone I spoke to had an accent, from the familiar Spanish (though the speakers were not Mexican) to lilting Jamaican, to guttural European tongues, perhaps German or Hungarian.

Got luggage. Called for the shuttle to Days Inn. Waited. Waited some more. Waited even more. Then a little more.

Eventually, the shuttle came and the drive apologized profusely for being so late. Traffic, he told me. And it was so.

We left the airport and hit near gridlock. I knew I didn’t like cities!

But the driver persevered, and within fifteen minutes I was checking in at Days Inn.


Claimed my room, changed my clothes (I was HOT in the sweater I’d put on in Tucson!!), and headed out for something to eat.

I found a little Honduran restaurant just two blocks away where I order a Honduran beer by the name of Salva Vida. Roughly translated, it means “saves lives.”

A lifesaver, for sure, after a long day.

I ordered a sort of Honduran taco grande – a big taco. A thick flour tortilla stuffed with carne (beef), white cheese, and crema which is a sort of thin sour cream type thing. It was called a baleada. The young Honduran waitress was delighted that I liked it.


This humongous “appetizer” cost only $4.50 and I got absolutely stuffed.

So, a good ending (baleada and beer) after a long day. Couldn’t be better.

A Walk in the Desert

It was an overcast day, slightly cool. Not a good one for hanging on the beach. So Alfredo and I  decided to head out east of town into the desert to see what we could find.

Mostly, we found plants. This is an area of many cardones but few saguaros, though the locals often call the cardón a saguaro. I wanted to get up close to the giants. This ancient one is maybe thirty feet tall.


I loved how its base had a kind of grotto.


Natural, as in perhaps a lightning strike? Or did an animal, perhaps even a human animal, carve it out for some reason?

The old ones have a thick brown base and are surrounded by a network of roots.   roots

When they, die, they look like this.

dead cardon

There were also cholla, but a different kind than we have in Southeastern Arizona.


When they die, they look like this.

dead cholla

There were a number of ocotillo.  A US nickname for them is the devil’s walking stick.


They don’t look like anything special until spring when are topped with beautiful orange-red blossoms. In summer, and spring and fall if there is rain, they leaf out and look beautiful.

Here as in Arizona, people cut one limb, let the cut end scab over, and then plant it. Do that repeatedly and you get a living fence.


See? A few leaves, though I can’t imagine how it got enough water to leaf out.

green ocotillo

There were even some interesting small plants. Wildlowers on the last day of December!

flower2 This little one was only about an inch tall.

Alfredo wandered down the road and I was roaming a different area looking for more flowers when a truck came down this road out in the middle of nowhere. The driver spotted my car, then spotted me, and stopped to see if I was okay. I told him I was taking photos of flowers, and I think he must have believed I was a bit nuts.


However, after a few minutes of conversation in which we disclosed he raised goats at a little ranch back up the road, Alfredo and I were soon invited to follow him to his ranchito to meet the mamas and new babies.

Pascual had a piece about 100 meters by 100 meters totally fenced in ocotillo.

One lone dog guarded the goats. Pascual led us to the pen of mommies and babies explaining that the males were loose in the desert, guarded by six very brave and fierce dogs.

goat momMom is grabbing some lunch, while a youngster tries in vain to sunbathe.

goat sunbathing

The youngest are about ten days old and the ones slightly larger are about a month old.

Pascual also has one pig who complained bitterly about not having enough food, though being a pig, my guess is he’s almost never satisfied. He was quite a well-rounded pig.

Pascual also has a small garden going. Watermelon, squash, and a few fruit trees lined the western edge of his property. Quite a project since he has to haul all the water to the ranchito as he lives in town.


As we chatted with Pascual, several trucks went by loaded with firewood. Preparations for outdoor barbacoas tonight, New Year’s Eve.

Clearly Pascual is  ready for a small fiesta here, too.

 chairs for party

But not tonight. Like us, Pascual will be spending New Year’s Eve in town.

Happy New Year everyone!

Fiesta de la Piñata – Piñata Party

The first time I met Martha, I was a bit stunned.

I mean, it’s not every day I meet a young, vibrant Mexican woman in a full hijab.

Martha, born and raised in the fishing village of Bahia Kino, was searching for something deeper in her life and looked to religion. She found what she wanted in the Muslim faith.

She studied the Koran online and learned passable Arabic. She began to going to Hermosillo to pray in the mosque rather than to shop for clothes.

But there she was, office manager, the first time I entered the office at Islandia Marina in Kino Viejo, smiling and welcoming me in English.

Over the years, we became friends and I saw her meet Mohamed, a Moroccan man who spoke Spanish. She married Mohamed, and had a beautiful baby, Ryan Mohamed, who is now almost three. Martha continues her job as office manager and Mohamed has found a job in town.

My partner and I are in Kino through the holidays and Martha invited us to her parents’ home last night for a piñata party for the kids. “Five o’clock” she said.

In typical Mexican fashion, we arrived around 6:30 to find the festivities not quite yet underway. Martha told us the party was going to be a bit low key since right across the street a family was holding a wake and they didn’t want the party to interfere. Still, the stuffed piñata hung from the tree.

And it was not just a piñata party. We soon learned there would be a complete barbacoa, a sort of Mexican barbecue in which very thin slices of meat are grilled over wood, usually mesquite, then chopped and stuffed into fresh, warm tortillas.

There were five small children in attendance, and about seven teen and pre-teen girls, all ages eleven to seventeen, who were great hams and jumped in front of my camera at every opportunity.


Margarita, Martha and Alfredo were okay with photos, too.


Soon, however, the fire was lit – after a quick dash to Margarita’s house for charcoal lighter.

Margarita lit the fire.      margarita+fire

It was well guarded.      guarding fire

And the fire was used for a quick warmup.     warming hands

But it was finally about ready for the meat.     fire

Martha filled the tea kettle so people could have tea or coffee.

martha+water      The women retired to the kitchen to prepare salsa and guacamole toppings.

making salsa.

The meat, however, is the man’s domain.

meat prep    grill prep

grill meat

Two of Mohamed’s Moroccan friends from Hermosillo came to the party. They are both graduate students at the university. Abraham, Mohamed’s childhood friend, studies Spanish and is currently polishing his thesis and studying for his final exams which are coming up in February.                                                                             Abraham    Abraham speaks five languages including his native berber dialect. Aris is studying linguistics and is far more comfortable with Chomsky’s theories than I am (try it sometime if you want to be totally confounded).

Abraham and Aris arrived and immediately retired,with Mohamed, for evening prayers, then rejoined the small crowd in the front yard.

As the fire settled into coals, it was time for the piñata. The little children were lined up by size, smallest first.

blindfold  Aris  Aris   stood on a chair and Martha’s father  roof   hopped up on a four-foot-tall block wall, onto a shed, then up on his neighbor’s roof.

He and Aris would hold the piñata, pulling it up, down and sideways while the blindfolded children swung at it with a long stick.

hit pinata    Each child got several swings, and finally it was the eleven-year-old who smashed through the piñata, spilling candies, little plastic toys, and nuts onto the ground.

The candies and toys and even a few of the nuts were scooped up by the children.

The dogs polished off the leftover nuts.  dog

There were uses for parts of the opened piñata. hat

Finally, all the meat was grilled and chopped, and the condiments were set outside on a small table.condiments Notice the girls inserting them into even this photo.

Martha skillfully created soft tacos of frijoles (mashed pinto beans often with a bit of cheese) and chopped barbacoa.  make taco

The other women carried plate after plate to the adult males. Then I was served, then the boys and girls and then the women served themselves.

We continued with stories and laughter for the next forty-five minutes or so. Then we saw the family gathered around the Christmas tree inside, forming a large arc around it. All were there, from toddlers through grandparents, holding hands. That is when we quietly left.


At 7:40 am yesterday I headed north to Bisbee to meet friends for an outing to Cascabel. In our usually arid climate, I was surprised I had to do things to my car because of the dew.


When I got to Cinda’s, she had to deal with dew too since she was the day’s driver.

Cinda dew

We headed up High Road to pick up Debra, then off we went.

View into
View into Mexico from High Road, Bisbee. It was extremely overcast or you’d see Mexico.

Why would the three of us drive nearly two hours to Cascabel? After all, Wikipedia calls it a ghost town. But that would be a surprise to Lisa, a Cascabel firefighter who says there are probably between 125 and maybe 250 residents, depending on the season (some flee the hot summers).

Cascabel has a delightful little holiday community fair each year. Cinda and I have gone several times, but this was Debra’s first visit.

Tombstone signOut of Bisbee we went, then through the town of Tombstone (the Town Too Tough to Die).

Immediately out of town, traffic came to a stop. Lights flashed up ahead and we feared there’d been a horrible accident.


Nope. Just a few horse-drawn wagons carrying folks from Kansas. We never learned the reason why they were plodding down a 65 mph highway causing all kinds of backups.  Kansas

A few miles later and we got to the Customs checkpoint (yes, we were 25 miles from the border of Mexico, but apparently Customs folks don’t read maps well).


Through St. David, Benson, and Pomerene, then north on Cascabel Road where we encountered several interesting sights and many interesting signs.

sign2  and sign3  and sign4 and even sign5 and even  sign1 this!

And finally this. sign-encouraging

The last five miles of Cascabel Road were dirt, and Cinda’s blue dolphin guided us well.  dirt road

We parked amid old mesquite trees and wandered up the road to the little fair.

parking   But first things first.  toilets

We spent the next several hours wandering the twenty-five or so booths.

booths and booths2 and

Jill and Lura of Brookmoore Creations.
Jill and Lura of Brookmoore Creations.
DJ of Benson and his beautiful mesquite creations.
DJ of Benson and his beautiful mesquite creations.
Martha is a potter with Cascabel Clayworks. She apprenticed 24 years ago and returns yearly for the festival.
Martha is a potter with Cascabel Clayworks. She apprenticed 24 years ago and returns yearly for the festival.

And having some great soup – the kitchen offered seven or eight kinds and also had hamburgers.

The kitchen kitchen and grill hamburger grill and us having lunch!  lunch

And visiting inside the first house constructed in Cascabel community when it was revived in 1970.

The main house (Barbara's) has a skylight with this fab parachute beneath it!
The main house (Barbara’s) has a skylight with this fab parachute beneath it!

Bottles are a part of the house’s eastern wall. It was hard getting photos because so many people stood in front of them taking pictures!

bottlewall1        and           bottlewall2

And a walk through the (currently) dry San Pedro River.

river cliffs and river gold, the fallen leaves  river gold of the cottonwood tree. And the sun desperately trying to come out.  river wall sun

The canyon walls of the river are about twelve feet high. riverr 2 And in a good rainy season like we had this last summer, the waters roar through the normally dry wash that deep and even spill over the banks.

In fact, this summer the river tickled the underbellies of several bridges, and roads had to be shut down.

We chatted briefly with Barbara Clark who moved to Cascabel in 1970 (she began the revival) and started Cascabel Clayworks where many potters have worked and apprenticed over the years. She says this is the thirty-fourth winter festival.

Barbara Clark who moved to the area in 1970 and began creating pottery. Thank you Barbara!
Barbara Clark who moved to the area in 1970 and began creating pottery. Thank you Barbara!

We also met Ivan who came here and built this house in 1974. He offers tours of his insanely wonderful art-filled house for $1 (self guided).

Ivan Ivan and his house. house

We finally left, climbing into Cinda’s car and looking forward to a blast of heat. The gray day had grown cooler and cooler.

Back twenty-six miles or so to Benson. Next stop: Singing Winds Bookstore. You have to know where it is. Heck, you have to even know it exists. There’s no sign on the road. You have to be halfway up the long, long driveway before there’s a sign, and there’s no sign in front of the store itself which looks like a house, just a small notice on the fence that it’s open, and when you go through the gate, then you see the sign.

bok The sign reads thus:

Singing Wind Bookshop

Headquarters for books about the Southwest

The stuff of dreams make up books

Please ring bell for service

There’s also a big sign by the door warning customers not to let the cat out.

Book browsing (and purchasing) completed, we headed back to Benson for some Mexican food.1

As we sat down to eat, the sun finally emerged. The forecast would have been more accurate if it had said barely sunny instead of partly cloudy.

After dinner, an hour’s drive home watching the sky slip from blues an grays to yellows and pinks. We three (even Cinda, the driver) craned our heads every which way watching the colors change, noticing a partial rainbow in the distance, and watching the setting sun glance off the mountains to the east.

Trust me, I wanted many more photos of the sunset. Please be content with the three below. First a view to the south,

sunset1   then east    unset3east

and finally to the west.    sunset2 west

Oddly Grateful

Today I read a blog called oddly grateful in which a blogger started a list of things he (she?) was grateful and then tagged another blogger to continue the list. I wasn’t tagged to continue the list, but I absolutely loved reading it. It also inspired me to create my own list. Here goes.

1. Good decaf. Yes, I know that is offensive to some who say there is no such thing as good decaf. But there is. And because I can no longer drink coffee due to a strange  heart thing I have going, I gotta say I’m oddly grateful for the good decaf I have found. Thank you, Seth! Um, I do sneak some real stuff now and again. Sorry Dr. Gonzalez.

2. Living just a few blocks from Mexico. If you love to travel to Mexico, you understand this. If you don’t love it, come for a visit and I will take you there, and you will love it. Some things that make this location particularly wonderful are the sound of the train a few blocks south (in Mexico), hearing the Sunday anuncios (announcements)  (from Mexico), and developing an odd liking for the Customs guys who work at our port of entry. And I think they have an odd liking for me, too. Oh, and my affordable dentist (in Mexico).

3. The peacocks that roam the neighborhood.

4. The burros about eight blocks away that I can hear in the mornings, sometimes along with coyote calls.

5. My roommate Debbie and her wonderful doggie Nellie because they take care of my house and my wonderful doggie Chloe when I am gone. And Debbie has turquoise hair that I love.

6. Chloe.

7. The cranes at Whitewater Draw who are back for the winter!

8. Summer, because that’s when the sun gets up as early as I do. And because of the monsoons. And because it’s not cold like it is here today.

9. Islandia Marina in Bahia Kino. In Mexico, of course (see #2). Where I am headed on Wednesday!

10. My book groups and the women in them.

11. My women friends, who overlap with my book groups (see #10 above). Without them, there are times I would not have made it.

12. My boyfriend Alfredo who has the most zany sense of humor and makes a mean taco. He also does dishes and vacuums.

13. Cool mornings by my fire pit.

14. Moonrise.

15. Sunset.

16. Wine on summer evenings with Lori and David and sometimes Alfredo (see #12) watching the sunset (see #15), sometimes seeing moonrise (see # 14), hearing the burros (see #4), or mornings with them enjoying my decaf (see#1). Chloe (see #6) often joins us. And all of this is very, very close to Mexico (see #2). (Mexico! Where I am headed on Wednesday!) 

17. My camera, which feels oddly left out of this post, and my computer, which feels well loved right now.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Thank you Ann Koplow for your fabulous post this morning on your wonderful blog, The Years(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. You inspire me daily!

What are you grateful for?

wonderful blog, The Years(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally. You inspire me daily!

What are you grateful for?