Heading south from Apache Junction/Mesa area was a short distance but wise decision. Weather was beautiful and our first stay in the Tucson area was at Catalina State Park in the Coronado National Forest. This desert state park was beautifully sitting in the foothills. There were wonderful hiking trails that we explored and we were able to ride our bikes to a trailhead, take a great hike through Mesquite trees, cactus and up and down hills before a bike ride back to the campground. Joe took many great pictures but he got some great bird pictures either right through our windows or just sitting outside our door. We had several birds that were nesting in the Mesquite trees around us. We enjoyed watching a Gila Woodpecker going in and out of a hole in the tree behind us. Sometimes she would just sit with her head out the hole protecting her nest. Joe got a great shot of a Vermillion Flycatcher sitting on her nest. You couldn’t miss her beauty. She was a brilliant red but she wore a black mask to protect her identity. Beautiful bird! We also were surrounded by hummingbirds with a momma hummingbird on her nest right outside our door. With the beauty of the mountains and the desert we also had the fun and beauty of the birds. And I can’t forget we were entertained during the daylight hours by the many, many ground squirrels. They were a hoot to watch but we also made sure everything was closed up because they were not afraid of people and we liked watching them but didn’t want to take any with us.
Sadly we could only get into this state park for three nights and we couldn’t get into another state park until the following Sunday so we decided to stay at the Tucson KOA/Lazy Days Resort. This was one of the nicest KOAs we have stayed at and unlike most KOAs the price was reasonable. Each site had a cement slab with a table and four chairs on it. Also each site had grapefruit trees on each side of it and the trees were in bloom so each time you walked out the door or sat outside you had this fantastic smell. But Lily would tell you the best part about this park was they had a very large off leash dog park. Lily loved it!
Someone told us we had to see the San Xavier del Boc Mission. The mission was a few miles outside of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. The area was very depressed. The mission church itself was large and very ornate in the inside almost to the point of being overwhelmingly ornate. It is always enjoyable to visit something that is as old as this building. It was completed in 1797 by the Franciscans and is still used today for masses. Outside of the church in the parking lot were several Native Americans selling foods in tents. It was too hot for us to try anything.
We also had an experience in a grocery store. So what could be so interesting that I’d have to include it in our blog? Joe and I needed a few things at Home Depot and we needed to get groceries. Across the street from the Home Depot was a grocery store called Food City. As we travel we like to check out different grocery stores so we thought what the heck. A lot of cars in the parking lot, big store, let’s try it. We walked in and we were greeted by Latin music and a large display of the Blessed Virgin. As we entered the produce department I knew we hadn’t been in a store like this before (the Blessed Virgin display should have been our first clue). There was produce I’ve never seen before, didn’t know how to pronounce it, and wouldn’t have known what to do with. There was a huge bin of brown sugar. Now in my eyes brown sugar comes in 2lb bags not big chunks. On the top shelves in almost every row sat statues. Large, small and everything in between. Most of them were religious. And candles everywhere for sale. Again most of them were religious. Ok, so we realized as we started our shopping we were being eyed because I think we were the only ones speaking English. We decided to embrace the experience and check out the store. It was a lot of fun just because there were so many things we had never seen before. The other thing we noticed was there was no rhyme or reason for the stores layout. But as we checked out the woman behind the countered thanked us for shopping at the store and I think she actually meant it.
Off we go to our next adventure a little farther south to another Arizona State Park. We are looking forward to it as always.