There is so much to do and see here in the wilds of southern New Mexico! Dexter and I started our day slowly with an easy morning walk around the campground. There is a nice 1.24 mile loop around the property that is a great way to start the day. We stopped off at the bird aviary and the koi pond where Dexter found plenty to keep his sniffer active! The landscape and rocks here are just as beautiful as those I've been seeing all around New Mexico and I enjoyed the diversity of color and texture of these jewels of the desert. It's hard not to pick up every pretty rock I see bring them back to the camper!
After lunch, Dexter and I jumped in the truck to explore the area a bit. We drove a short 7 miles down the road to the Chiricauhua Art Gallery in the town of Rodeo, NM. There I met Jenny Thomas, a local landscape photographer who showed me around this beautiful gallery which offers the work of a wide variety of local artists. This non-profit co-op gallery is housed in a building that was once a saloon and a church. It is said that "the Gallery has progressed from booze, to the bible, to the brush"! Revenue from the sale of artwork in this gallery serves the local community through workshops, exhibits, and scholarships. It was delightful to spend some time appreciating the local talent!
Next door to the gallery was a cute resale shop where I stopped in and enjoyed a lovely conversation with the owner and a charming local couple. They advised me to drive on to the Chiricahua Mountain's Cave Creek Canyon and the town of Portal. Cave Creek Canyon and the surrounding area is a birding paradise. An astounding variety of birds inhabit this region. Dexter and I headed up into the mountains and began the trek across the Chiricahua Wilderness. There is a road that goes up and over the Chiricahua Mountains to the National Monument. I decided to drive part way up today just to get a lay of the land as part of this road is unpaved and the trip over the mountain will take close to 2 hours. We stopped at the Portal Store and Grocery on the way and when I took Dexter out of the truck he began to bark wildly. I looked across the parking lot and saw that there was a javelina foraging across the road! I just had time to snap a quick pic with my cell phone before Dexter's fierce barks scared him away. It's a good thing I have my protector with me! Look closely at this photo and you'll see him standing along the rock wall.
We continued up the road and as we approached the entrance to the Coronado National Forest we were greeted with this beautiful view.
I drove as far as the Visitor's Center where I stopped to get some detailed area info. There I met Steve Wolfe, a nature photographer, who provided me with excellent information, trail maps and suggestions for hikes. He graciously posed beside this stunning photo he took in December of an Elegant Trogen. Wowza!
Steve also has a blog if you are interested in seeing more of his work. You can find him here: www.faranuf.blogspot.com
A few other items on display at this Visitor's Center caught my eye:
The view outside the Visitor's Center was breathtaking. I was mesmerized by the moon rising through the trees. I'm looking forward to the Jan 31, 2018 Full Moon which will be a Super Moon (a perigee full moon where the moon is closest to earth in its elliptical orbit appearing larger than usual), a Blue Moon (the second full moon in a calendar month), and a Blood Moon (a lunar eclipse where the moon will be bathed in a red glow).
The afternoon was growing late and Dexter was getting hungry so I decided we had done enough scouting for one day. Tomorrow I will strike out to explore some of the trails in this beautiful canyon.
On my evening walk, I chanced upon Mr. Jack Rabbit again. These creatures are so large and prehistoric looking. They are twice as big as Dexter! I got a long shot of him tonight where he is pretty well camouflaged and another one of his backside. I will need to stake out a spot and wait for him if I want to get a good shot. He can disappear in a flash!