A few weeks ago I set out on my second birding adventure sponsored by the Desert Botanical Garden. Once again, I headed southeast, toward and past Tucson, to Tubac, Arizona. And, once again, I had a great time!
I’ve always enjoyed road trips, and I’m learning that I still enjoy them, even though I’m traveling alone. I like that I can leave when I want, take my time, sing along with the radio, and stop where and when I want. For instance, I knew I would arrive well before our 3 p.m. meeting time at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa. So, when I noticed a sign for the Saguaro National Park, I thought “Why not?” I exited, stopped long enough to make sure the SNP wasn’t too far from the exit, and then headed to the Park. (PS: one of the great things about getting old is the National Park Service Senior Pass!) I only had an hour, but it was enough time to take a short drive, eat a picnic lunch, and whet my appetite for a longer visit sometime.
It was only an hour from the Park to the resort, and it was a lovely drive surrounded by mountains. And the resort was worth the drive! It’s a beautiful setting in the valley; if I played golf, I would be quite distracted by the views. In fact, our first birding was done right there at the resort. We walked around for about an hour and I was astounded by how many birds we spotted. (When I say we, I mean Carlos and Lynn, our guides. Not so much bird-spotting by me.) It was a great start to our adventure.
The Tubac Golf Resort has a nice restaurant, the Stables, and that is where we were to meet to have dinner together. I went to my pleasant room and relaxed a bit. Carlos had suggested that folks could meet up at the bar a bit before our 6:30 dinner if they wanted to enjoy drinks together. So, I got there around 6:25 and discovered that I was way behind everyone else. They were well into their adult beverages. And, they had “kindly” saved me the genuine saddle seat. Hmmm….I’m a bit too old for that! A few minutes later, the last member of our group arrived, and sat on the only other seat…another saddle. Side note: the next evening, she and I were the first to arrive, and we claimed bar stools!
After a very enjoyable dinner, good food and great company, Carlos said he would see us all at breakfast at 6:00 AM. Wait, what? Was that in the brochure? Yes. I forgot that birders are early risers…you know, like the birds.
The following morning we traveled to several wonderful places for viewing birds of all kinds. Since most of the migratory birds have already started to head for cooler climes, we saw mostly native Arizona birds. One of our guides is not only an expert on birds; she also seems to know every plant in that part of the state. As we walked, she pointed out many wild flowers, some of which had been artificially introduced and are problematic. This was very interesting to me, as I’m trying to learn about both the flora and the fauna of the southwest.
And, speaking of learning, we also toured several missions on this trip, Mission San Jose de Tumacacori and Mission San Xavier del Bac. Both are managed by the National Park Service, and the tour guide at Tumacacori was probably the best I’ve ever encountered. She brought the history of the mission alive for us.
On our last morning, after another early start, we drove to Madera Canyon, a beautiful place to walk and observe nature. As I was enjoying the morning, I realized why I like these birding trips so much. I like to walk, but sometimes hiking frustrates me, because I have to pay so much attention to the trail that I can’t enjoy what’s around me. And, hikers want to cover some ground. On the other hand, birders stroll, because you’re never going to see birds if you don’t occasionally stop and just look around. So, it’s not about how far you walk, but about how much you see. I like that. And, I’m finding that birders, both serious and not-so-serious, are simply fun to spend time with. They’re generous, intelligent, nature-loving individuals.
As I drove back to my home in Chandler, I vowed that I would travel to the Tubac area again. The golf resort is a great place to stay. And since we didn’t have time to visit Tubac Village, which includes lots of local art galleries and other fun places to shop, I definitely want to see that sometime. I would enjoy another walk on the trails of Madera Canyon. And I know I need to spend more time in Saguaro National Park.
Southeast Arizona is, indeed, a beautiful place to visit.