Pantagonia State Park, AZ

Feb 4th- Feb 10th 2018

Sunday Feb 4th   

Time to relocate! We headed the couple of hours to our next destination at Pantagonia Lake State Park and got settled in. We walked around the park and were happy to see it was a good choice in a new area of Arizona.Pantagonia Lake 7

Monday Feb 5th, 2018                                                                                                                       

I must say AZ State Parks are pretty awesome! Pantagonia State Park has  tons of camp and RV sites, and is clean and well equipped. Evidently this is a popular bird watching area too. Little groups of bird watchers out every morning with their gear in tow. There are a record amount of campers here with their fur babies too. 

Pantagonia Lake is 252 acre lake. The marina rents all kinds of watercraft and carries bait and supplies for fishing.  JP had his pontoon boat out and on the water in no time! Its rumored that the reason fishing some of the lakes hasn’t been good is due to the large amount of birds. I guess a bunch of the planted fish go belly up from shock and then the birds eat them. The whole chain of life thing along with the water temperatures haven’t made for much catching.

Tuesday  Feb 5th, 2018

We took a short day trip into Nogales right on the Mexico border. Since we didn’t need prescriptions, pottery or jewelry we didn’t make the crossing. We did go to a museum in Nogales that was small but interesting. Absolutely no photos allowed though. The volunteer was plesant had lots of info to share . And yes! Yet another jail – they certainly were built to last!

From Nogales we made a stop in Pantagonia which had a couple of cool galleries and stores. Its so amazing how there can be such beautiful and original art everywhere we go. 


Wednesday Feb 6th, 2018                                                                                                              

We headed out to Tumacacori National Historic Park about 30 miles away. Its all about a mission that was first established in the early 1750’s. The photo of the rectangular foundation is the original church. The rest are photos from the 2nd mission church started around the 1800’s. It has been restored in some areas and the church itself was without a roof for years but still the altar area retained some of it’s color and art. The round building is the mortuary, that sits in the cemetery (which also served as a cattle corral). There was a short movie and a guided tour – it was all pretty interesting. It really is amazing that anything can survive as long as these hand built missions and churches. Handmade fire bricks and wood brought from over 30 miles away – and still here for us to see years later. 

Later we took a short hop to Tubac. We got lucky and stumbled into the the 59th Year of the Tubac Festival of the Arts. Lots of fun stuff to see! We got there a little late in the day so it wasn’t terribly busy. We strolled the booths and made our way back before dark.

Tubac Art Fairy

Thursday Feb 8th, 2018 

We got up early and headed to the Kartchner Carverns about an hour away. We couldn’t decide which tour to take so we did both and were so glad we did! The Kartchner State Park is really incredibly engineered so everyone (including wheelchair travelers and kids of all ages) can have the experience. The tour starts with trams that were purchased from the ’96 Atlanta Olympics bringing you up to the cave entrances. Inside it is really warm and super humid. There is subtle lighting inside the caverns and the tour guides have flashlights to point out the formations they are explaining. No photos are allowed at all. Partly for safety reasons and partly because light can evidently affect the caverns. 

We haven’t been to any other caves or caverns. It was really impressive! I always feel like the historic places we’ve been to felt like, if I could reach out and touch them it might feel like time travel. That was in places like the late 1800’s in Virginia City and Globe, and even farther back in time at Montezuma Castle National Monument the cliff dwelling built between 1100 -1425 AD by the Sinague people. This was different though. We weren’t just viewing the remnants of the past from afar. We were inside of a living cave from a time period that stretched back thousands and thousands of years. So, when that waterdrop fell from the speleothem overhead onto my arm – I may have been touched by water dripping down a 200,000 year old piece of the past. By the way, they even have a name for the drips that touch you on a tour. It’s the “Kiss of The Cave” and guess what? It’s rumored to be LUCKY!th

Side Note: OK so I’ve never been claustrophobic, but then again I’ve never been 250′ under a mountain in a cave. There were cement walkways,handrails, and a tour guide for just 15 of us. There were no steep stairs or crawling, scrunching, or sliding – yet my heart was going like crazy. And with no natural light, a 70 degree temperature and 99% humidity it was definitely hard to breathe. So I’m thinking I was feeling claustrophobic. JP felt it some too. It didn’t hamper the experience too much but we were both glad to breath easier and be in daylight by the end of the day!


Friday Feb 9th, 2018

We decided to take a day off! Nope not even chores. Just an R&R day. JP had wanted to go on a hike. I was less enthusiastic after having read all the cautionary signs including the numbers for poison control in case of  spider, scorpion, and rattlesnake bites. There was also instructions on what to do if you encounter someone entering the US illegally. All in all – I was good for a day of nothing special to do. 

Pantagonia Sky


Saturday Feb 10th, 2018                                                                                                                   

A beautiful but breezy day so we decided to head back to Tubac. It is after all “Where Art and History Meet.” We spent the first part of the day revisiting the booths at the Tubac Festival of Arts and window shopping at all the cool stores in town. It was kinda nice being able to browse the art from Mexico without the pressure of a vendor pressuring you with “almost free” banter. Of course the prices were  higher but since we weren’t really needing decor for Lucky it didn’t really matter. We did see some unusual and expensive art that made me want to run to a home and decorate – but the impulse passed. Not many shops allowed photos but these 2 pics will give you an idea of the type of shops in town.

I searched online for a good Mexican Restaurant in town and found Elvira’s. We stopped in because evidently folks thought the decor alone warranted the prices. Me – not so much. So we snuck in and took a peek and decided that a Mexican dinner for people who order “no cheese, no beans” at $26.00 a plate wasn’t worth the decor and moved on. It was not your ordinary Mexican Food decor that’s for sure!

Our last stop was at the Tubac Presidio State Park. Again, another Arizona State Park that was well put together and interesting. The schoolhouse was built in 1885 and is the second oldest schoolhouse in AZ. The printing press printed Arizona’s first newspaper in March 3, 1859. There is a film that shows how the newspaper was made. The printing press is still completely functional! The other 2 photos are: a vestibule cape or cloak from 1690 and a statue of St Francis Xavier created prior to 1767 of wood planks, and linen over gesso. It makes me wonder what will be left behind of the baby boomers in another 250 years. Virtual tours I’m guessing?

Even though we skipped the hike on Friday we managed to get in 5.3 miles just cruising the art and history of Tubac on foot today. The drive back to camp for our last night here was – absolutely stunning!

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