Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 9, 2015 Coronado National Memorial & San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area

While planning things to do on this trip, I found this National Memorial park on the border with Mexico. It commemorates Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's expedition into America in the 1500's. But there wasn't much to do here except explore a cave. So I asked Kennedy if he was interested in driving for two hours to explore a cave...he said yes. I've never been caving so here we are...

...at Coronado National Memorial.

That dark line through the middle of this picture is the fence between the United States of America and Mexico.

We picked up extra flashlights at a hardware store in Tucson because the cave is pitch black once you leave the entrance. So we begin our short hike up the mountain to Coronado Cave.

It looks like wildfire spread through this area in the not too distant past.

Here's Kennedy at the entrance to the cave...

...I climbed down into the cave first...

...then Kennedy came down. Here's what you need to know about the cave. It really is pitch black once you leave the entrance, Our flashlights only lit up what was right in front of us. I had a head lamp and a flashlight, Kennedy had a small flashlight and a bigger floodlight type flashlight. The other thing you need to know about this cave is the floor has several inches of dust that gets kicked up just by walking through it. It was hard to breathe at times on our way back out. While in the cave, we were the only ones there. I'll admit that it was a little bit creepy...okay scary might be a better word. That said...this was one of the coolest things I have ever done.

We had to light up areas in order to get any kind of pictures...

...and to see where the hell we were going.

We walked down this opening to a small opening to another room in this cave. We decided not to go further because it required sliding on our stomach through the five inches of dust into an area that we would only be able to crawl through it.

So we hiked further into the main cave.

The rangers told us this cave was considered dead due to years of vandalism. So there are no longer any formations growing in here. But some formations were still intact.

At the far end of the cave was a small opening letting sunlight in.

Kennedy checking out a side path in the cave.

Somewhere near this, I saw a single round green reflection along the wall in my spotlight...then it was two green eyes...moving towards me...Kennedy was on the left and shone a side light that revealed what looked like a house cat walking toward me. Then it turned around and had a huge raccoon like tail much longer than it's body. It ran back where it came from and we never saw it again. Kennedy correctly identified it as a ringtail immediately. He bought a couple of books to identify plants and animals at a visitor center on this trip and actually read them. I was so proud of him.

We spent about an hour and a half in the cave. Like I said before, it was worth the drive down here to explore the cave.

The entrance is about 30 feet above the cave floor.

Looking back into the cave while climbing out.

After spelunking, we drove up to Montezuma Pass to check out the views.

There is that fence that again. It was pretty cool to stand there and look into another country.

We drove over to Bisbee for lunch. I circled back to check out this Lowell Americana Project.

This town is trying to preserve a street as a living museum to 1950's Americana.

After Bisbee, we drove to the San Pedro House in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. I am continuing my efforts to hike in different areas of the desert. This afternoon we will hike along a river...not a dry river wash...a real river with flowing water. 

We hiked across desert brush to huge cottonwood trees along the river.

This tent worm or bag worm sacks were in a lot of the trees along the river.

This is what washes down stream during the monsoon season.

 We decided to relax on a downed tree trunk along the river and I saw this right away.
I kept hoping that Kennedy realized why I thought this was a great way to spend a day. I am not sure I would have realized it at his age...but I do at my age as I get ready for my dirt nap...spending time relaxing outdoors is my favorite way to spend a day.

We played "Pooh Sticks" in the river. If you aren't familiar with the game, then you aren't as big a fan of Winnie The Pooh as I am...and that's your loss.

Things I saw on our hike...small bamboo like grass...


...Green Kingfisher Pond, which is an old quarry.

I originally thought this was an egret...

...but now I think it is a blue heron...anyone know for sure?

Back on the grounds of the San Pedro House.

One of the greatest trees I have ever seen...

...I heard it might be 130 years old...

...I had to hug it.

So after hiking all day, Kennedy & I headed into Mexico to enjoy a few cold ones...

...and a couple of hot ones. If you want to know how our night went...rent the movie.

Kennedy got a lap dance from this stripper. He can't wait to go back to Mexico. I guess I am finally the cool uncle after a day like this.