Arizona 2019

Greetings from sunny Arizona.


Denny and Annie having lunch in front of our casita.2019-02-02 13.45.32

It hasn’t been quite so sunny and warm for a few days but now it’s warming up again and should be in the high 60’s-low 70’s for the next week.

We’ve been here a little over a week now. Let me tell you about the place we are staying. You could call it a kind of farm as there are goats, chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys along with a few dogs and cats.

There are 5 casitas on the property some of which seem to be a work in progress. The insides are very nice while the outsides lack in glamour.

We were supplied with both chicken and duck eggs on arrival. The owner also makes beautiful wooden furniture, cutting boards, lazy susans, etc out of mesquite with inlaid turquoise and sometimes river rocks.

2019-02-07 15.34.35

She has a gallery in Tubac. Tubac is an arts community with lots of galleries and restaurants. We are just south of it in Tumacacori. We are situated on a road that we have birded on many times and surprisingly although the road has lots of birds they don’t seem to make their way to our casita where we have put up bird feeders. We hope they will eventually discover us. We are also right around the corner from the Anza trail along the Santa Cruz river which flows north from Mexico.

2019-02-02 15.05.29

Also next to us is the Tumacacori Mission which is a National Historic site. We are about 20 minutes south of Green Valley where we usually stay and about the same distance north of Nogales, Mexico. The WiFi is pretty slow here although our neighbor told us of a spot by the pool that seems to work well. We’ll check that out so I can send out this blog. That didn’t work so I’m now at the library.

We got here on a Friday and spent a lot of time stocking our kitchen and getting organized. On Sunday we watched the Superbowl with our friend Lillian which was great to see the Pats win again. On Tuesday we went on our regular Tubac bird walk. It was a bit chilly and cloudy so not a lot of people came but it was nice to reconnect with some old friends and visit with them after at the deli.

Wednesday was the start of the Tubac Arts Festival but it was very cold so we didn’t bother. It runs through the weekend. The streets are lined with vendors of food and art and it’s fun to walk around. We had to go to Green Valley for a few things and it gradually warmed up and the sun came out so we decided to make a quick trip to Madera Canyon. A White-throated Thrush has been reported there. It is a first for Arizona and although we had seen one a few years ago in Panama this would be a first for the US. So we were fortunate to run into other birders who told us where to look and we got good looks at it. Then we went up the canyon to where the Elegant Trogon had been seen. No luck there and it started to snow and sleet so we gave up on that one.

The next day was a little warmer so we spent the afternoon in Tubac checking out all the artwork. Didn’t buy anything though.

There is supposed to be a group who play pickleball in Tubac so on Friday morning we went over there to check it out and no one was playing. We decided instead to take a picnic lunch up to Madera Canyon because it was such a beautiful day finally. This time we started at Kubo which is the last B & B near the top of the canyon drive. It’s always been one of our favorite places in Madera and Cora, the owner, keeps all the feeders well stocked. It even has IBA standing (Important Bird Area). There were lots of Bridled Titmice, some Mexican Jays, Acorn Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, both Dark-eyed and Yellow-eyed Juncos and even a Magnificent Hummingbird.

Then we moved down to Santa Rita where the Turkeys were out with the Lesser Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, more Acorn Woodpeckers, an Arizona Woodpecker, a House Wren, Bewick Wren and a Blue-throated Hummingbird. Walking down to the Madera picnic grounds we found a Painted Redstart and a Red-naped Sapsucker. Still no Trogon at the picnic grounds but we ran into a birder who knew where to find a Whiskered Screech Owl down the trail. We followed him down to it and Denny got some pictures. It is hard to understand how anyone discovered it as it blends in so well with the tree it is on. Unless it is pointed out to you you’d probably never see it. We were fortunate to have it shown to us. See if you can find it in the picture.

whiskered screech

While I was walking along a trail by myself I came within 6 feet of this girl and she didn’t seem to care.  It was a great way to top off a beautiful day.


Our neighbors in the casita are from Montana and they brought their 2 dogs. They go out walking on the Anza trail every morning and invited me to join them.


We go about 3 miles. It’s beautiful along the river. This could become a daily habit.

That’s it for now. Will check in again soon.


Happy New Year 2019

new year

Leila, Tessa, Sam, Tionna, Nancy, Denny, David and Cindy

Here we are on New Year’s Day at David’s house.  It was probably the only time in the 2 weeks we were there that all of us were together but we had lots of fun with all .  We arrived very late on Dec. 23rd in Seattle and met David at a motel nearby.  Leila and Tessa were asleep.  Leila wasn’t feeling great as she had her tonsils out 2 days before but we were glad that she could make it for the long ride from Olympia.  The next morning after a nice breakfast we dropped Tessa off in Bellingham at the band bus that was taking her to Spokane to get a flight to San Antonio.  She is a freshman at WSU and a member of the marching band and they were going to the Alamo Bowl.  It was a great experience for her but for some reason the school thought it a good idea to be there over Christmas even though they didn’t play until the 28th.  They did win which was exciting for them and Tessa got to see some new places such as Riverwalk and the Alamo.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch we had a lovely Christmas eve dinner at David’s with the rest of us.


Being in Washington in the winter means you see a lot of rain but there were days when it was only cloudy so we could do some things outdoors.  We went one day to Maclane Creek which is a great example of Pacific rainforest  with lots of mossy trees and water with lots of ducks.

As we approached it there were some tall trees along the creek with 28 Bald Eagles in them!  We found out on our walk why they were there–the salmon had spawned and the shores were filled with dead salmon.

We also had a nice walk around Capital lake with lots more ducks.  Around here we may see a Bufflehead or a pair but out there we saw at least 50 on the lake.

On New Year’s day we went with David and Cindy to Nisqually NWR.  It was a nice day by Washington standards and was quite busy with people even though the visitor’s center was closed because of the shut down.  Lots of birds including Bushtits, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Sparrow, some shore birds, lots of eagles, a Kestrel and even a Snipe.  We also saw a few deer.

On our 54th Anniversary Leila, David and Cindy took us out to a fabulous dinner at Anthony’s.  They are famous for their seafood and quite deservedly so.  They also gave us a box of amazing chocolates:


We had lunch one day with Oscar and Barbara Soule who are long time friends.  Oscar went to high school with Denny and taught for years at Evergreen College.  In fact David had him as a teacher when he went there.  His father was my father’s partner and he delivered me and David.  Barbara was a year ahead of me, in my brother’s class in high school so you can see we’ve known each other for quite a while.  It was nice to see them.

My friend Beth Watrous has a daughter who lives near there and she was able to join Denny and me for lunch one day.  It was really fun to see her and catch up with what she is doing out there.

lunch with naomi

Once Tessa was back, while the male half of the family was watching the football games I went with the girls to the Puget Sound Estuarium.  It was a small museum but apparently has a lot of programs outside and does a lot of education.


Tessa, Leila, Tionna (Sam’s girlfriend)

We are back home until Feb. 1st when we leave for warmer climes in Arizona.  We will be there until March 20th and I’m sure we’ll send more from there.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year.


Nancy & Denny

Europe with 2 Granddaughters part 4

The next day walked along the Quai

to the beautiful Musee d’Orsay with their wonderful collection of pre to post impressionists. It is housed in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900.

We walked along the Quai some more

before making our way up to Montmartre. We did a little walking tour going up and stopped to view the Moulin Rouge (sorry no picture), the cafe de 2 Moulins, the place where Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo and the square with all the artists selling their work and trying to get you to sit for a portrait and lots of interesting graffiti on the way.

We had lunch up there and toured Sacre Coeur and got great views of the city from above.

We got to take the funicular railroad down the steepest part of the slope back.


We stopped at a chocolate shop on the way home that had a model of Notre Dame in chocolate and other goodies.


Our final day we visited Versailles.  Versailles is an incredible monument to opulence! One can easily see why there was a revolution.

Our train there even had interior designs like the palace.  There were of course long lines to get in and you’ll notice the reconstruction on the front with the faux scaffold cover.

We spent the day there and after touring the main palace

walked through the huge acres of gardens

to the pool where Louis would be entertained by watching war exercises and then to the Trianon where Marie Antoinette had her own retreat complete with gardens, farms, hamlet and orangerie (orange orchard).

Marie Antoinette’s bed and the King’s pool room

The Gazebo and pond

Grand Lac and Farm

Louis XIV had his own orangerie near the palace. He was the first to grow oranges in France. The girls took us out for our final dinner in Paris. It was a an amazing trip and we are so grateful to have been able to show our granddaughters many of the highlights of London and Paris. They were so appreciative and interested in all the history and beauty that they made it that much more special.

Nancy & Denny

Europe with 2 Granddaughters, Part 3–Paris

Our Airbnb in Paris was larger than London and a whole lot quieter.

Our neighborhood and our building

It did have a problem however, which was that we didn’t have hot water! It was fortunately quite warm outside so taking cold showers wasn’t too awful. We did complain but were told that the hot water was controlled by the whole building and we should wait a bit as it was probably being used a lot. We waited 6 days and it didn’t change. The owner was the only rude French person we met on the trip. He just didn’t seem to care about being a good host. It didn’t keep us from having a great time though.

Our first full day in Paris we started out walking to the metro when we saw a street market which we immediately stopped at and bought food for dinner and breakfast and snacks. Then after putting it in the apartment we set out again in route to the Eiffel Tower getting off at the Trocadero.


Walked all around that and down to an equestrian jumping contest. It seemed to be a very big event and the girls who are both equestrians (Tessa was on the high school eq team and Leila will probably do that, too), were quite impressed with how high and wide they were jumping. They’d never seen that caliber of jumping.


We then walked along the left bank past the beautiful Pont Alexander III,

the Grande Palais and Petit Palais

grand p with g's

and up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.

arc d t

We did stop for lunch at a nice cafe for the girls to have their Nutella crepes and they said they would try escargot if I had it so of course I did.  And they did. (!)

Did a little souvenir shopping, too.


A beautiful day and introduction to Paris.

The next day was Tessa’s birthday and a Sunday so our stop at the Place Vendome

where all the fancy jewelry stores are unfortunately didn’t have all their jewels in the windows. The obelisk in the middle is a tribute to Napoleon with all his battles around it. We walked by the Opera

then through the Tuileries,

past the Louvre

where the girls pretended to be one of the statues.

Then we walked to the river

and the Ile de la Cite to see Notre Dame

then to the Pompidou Centre

where we enjoyed the outside sculpture. We continued through the Marais (which was originally the Jewish Quarter of Paris) with stops at gardens

and the Picasso museum.

Guernica, flowers, and Picasso-designed jungle gym (!)

There is a great restaurant around the corner from our apartment where we went for a fabulous dinner to celebrate Tessa’s birthday. It was highlighted by Coconut Shrimp with a peanut sauce, Rosemary Lamb that was so tender you didn’t need a knife and Filet Mignon with a sauce au poivre.

Then for dessert Tessa had profiteroles, and we shared a flour-less chocolate cake that was filled with a gooey fudge. All way too rich but delicious.

Each morning I would get up earlier than the rest and go down to the patisserie around the corner to get our fresh croissants. Not a bad way to start the day!


We started the next day at the Place de la Concorde. Unfortunately there was a lot of construction or reconstruction going on in Paris so some of the beautiful squares we remember were filled with scaffolds, fences and trucks.

They did try to minimize the effect by covering much of their scaffolding with faux pictures of what the original wall or building should look like some of which were in previous pictures.

We moved on to L’Orangerie where Monet’s Water Lily paintings covered the walls. We were very sorry not to be able to take the girls to Giverny to Monet’s house and the lily ponds but there just wasn’t enough time. They’ll just have to go back.

L’Orangerie is at one end of the Tuileries in the Parc Champs de Mars so we got to walk through the gardens again past the fountains and statues and stop for a picnic lunch before going through the Louvre.

It was incredibly crowded at the Louvre and there were lines everywhere.

l crowd

In front of the Mona Lisa it was so packed it felt like we were sardines.


(Photo credit: Leila)

We did get to see quite a bit, though,  including some amazing ceilings.

And some great statues including the Winged Victory and Venus de Milo.

We wouldn’t recommend visiting Paris in the summer as the lines everywhere were rather ridiculous. After we left the Louvre we walked along the Seine to Saint Chapelle to see the gorgeous stained glass windows

and then to the Luxembourg gardens

where they have the fountain with model boat races. One expected to see Stuart Little piloting one of them. It was almost 5 and Leila kept bugging me to climb the Eiffel Tower so I finally gave in and went with her while Denny and Tessa went back to the apartment. We didn’t realize, when we told them to wait for us for dinner, how long we’d have to wait in line. It took 50 minutes to get our tickets to go up. We got tickets to walk up the stairs thinking we could take the elevator from the second story up to the top as recommended by our guidebook. It turned out after walking up 669 steps


to the second floor there was a huge line for the elevator and we didn’t have the right tickets. It was also 7:00 by then so we took pictures, enjoyed the view

and headed back down the stair for home. It was almost 8:00 when we got there and Denny and Tessa had been waiting for us. (We planned that wrong). We picked up a pizza for us all.


Europe with 2 Granddaughters, part 2


The next morning we set out at what we thought was early —9:30 for an 11:00 changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. We were sadly mistaken as there was already a huge crowd around the yard but we were able to find a place where we could watch the procession in and hear the music that was played. Since there were so many people we didn’t see Christopher Robin or Alice.

Afterwards we walked around St. James Park and gardens which were lovely.

Rose-ringed Parakeet, Mute Swans

Then we walked through the Palace gate


to Hyde Park to the Wellington Arch then Marble Arch

Wellington Arch, gate and statue

and eventually found our way to the British Museum.

It is so huge that we were only able to see a part of it but what we saw was fascinating. There was a piece of the Rosetta Stone

7:5 Brit m rose stone

and lots of really old statues from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.

There was a docent who let us hold a hand ax that was 35,000 years old.

7:5 Brit. Mus hand ax 35,000 y.o.

We also went through exhibits from all parts of Africa with amazing masks and sculptures.

It’s really quite a wonderful museum that one could spend days walking through.

Sadly, this was our last day in London.

We went to Kings Cross the next morning for our trip on the Eurostar through the chunnel to Paris, stopping in the station at platform 9 3/4 for the girls to get their pictures taken with their Harry Potter scarves on.

7:6 king X

The Eurostar was not a great experience however.

We had tickets together which we had purchased back in January. However, the day we left there was a fire on the earlier train so it didn’t run and all those people were trying to get on our train. When we went through the ticket taker the girls got their tickets and seats and Denny and I got marked as having no seats. There were hundreds of us in the same boat. We were told we’d have to wait for those with seats to board first and they would see what seats to put us in. They assured us that everyone would get on. So the girls got on and we waited while they called names and handed out seats. I kept trying to get their attention so that they would know we couldn’t leave our 2 granddaughters on alone but no one would acknowledge me. Finally after giving out many tickets (none to us) they announced that those who didn’t have seats would have to take the next train. After a great deal of panic and a lot of yelling and screaming we finally got someone to let us on. They gave me a seat in coach 1 and Denny in coach 8 and the girls were in coach 15 but they didn’t know if we were on the train or not. Finally after we got going I was able to make my way up to coach 15 to see 2 much-relieved girls. As I passed Denny it looked like there were empty seats near him so the girls took their bags back to coach 8 to sit with him. When we got there the conductor was telling Denny he didn’t have a seat and the girls had to go back to theirs. Denny almost had to sit on his luggage along with a few others in between cars but one of the servicemen in the dining car found him a place and even gave him some complimentary cokes.

We finally arrived in Paris about 2 hours late where we made our way on the metro to our Airbnb in the 16th Arrondissement.  And no one told us to “mind the gap”! (at least not in English).

Europe with 2 Granddaughters, part 1

This is a big year for our granddaughter Tessa. She graduated from high school and turned 18. She starts college, Washington State University, in the honors program in August. To celebrate all this we wanted to do something special for her so we asked her where we could take her and she responded, London. Then her 14 year old sister spoke up to point out that by the time 4 years passes we might not be able to take her anywhere, being maybe too old? Unfortunately she had a point so we decided to take her along and add where she wanted to go—Paris!

On June 30th we set off from Boston on Iceland Air for London. Arriving the next morning with almost no sleep we were in no shape to do much so once we settled into our Airbnb we took a walk about the area.  ..

7:2 our neighborhood

We were situated just south of central London right next to a bus stop that could connect us to everywhere we wanted to go. It wasn’t a great neighborhood but not unsafe. Its main problem being noise but as one of the other folks staying there said “what do you expect, you’re in London!” We were there when England won their world cup game and there was nowhere that night that was quiet!


After a good night’s sleep we set out to see the sights. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey where we spent about 4 hours touring the abbey.


We had audio guides which we were happy to see that the girls listened to all of being fascinated by the history. Denny’s favorite part was poet’s corner, which I also liked but even more liked Stephen Hawkings marker (next to Sir Isaac Newton) which said “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking” along with a mathematical equation.  Not sure what the girls liked best but they were very impressed with how old some of the markers were. When we left there we walked around Parliament Square


Mandela, Gandhi, Millicent Fawcett (suffragette), Lloyd George, Churchill

and across Westminster bridge


and along the Thames.    Lamppost (with locks), Tessa and Leila


Big Ben, War Memorial, New Scotland Yard and Royal Lamppost

Then we walked through a bit of St. James Park where we saw lots of avian life on the river.



Greylag Goose, Grey Heron, Common Pochard

7:2 Thames with Eye

We found a boat that would take us along the Thames to the Tower of London and back to the Royal Observatory so the next day we started out early on the boat. The boatman told us all the things we passed along the way including where Helen Mirren lived, where Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cape for the queen, a pub  Charles Dickens frequented and wrote about, where pirates were tortured by tying them down on the edge of the Thames at low tide and watching them drown as the water came up. Sounded pretty cruel. He also pointed out different buildings and bridges along the way

7:3 London Bridge

including London Bridge




St. John’s Wharf, the Shard, Cleopatra’s Needle


Helen Mirren’s house, Oliver’s Wharf

We got out at the Tower Bridge and went for a tour of the Tower of London.

7:3 tower bridge plaque




I think we spent about 5 hours here, first with our Yeoman guide giving us a great and entertaining overview, during which we went


into many of the towers to see torture chambers, where Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned,


and where Mary, Queen of Scots and Ann Boleyn were kept. We also saw where the Tower Ravens were kept and the area where the be-headings of the more royal people occurred. Most of the public be-headings happened on Tower Hill.

7:3 Execution site

There were numerous sculptures of the animals that they used to keep there.



We got back on the boat and went the other direction to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich where we saw the Cutty Sark.

7:3 cutty Sark

She was for a long time the fastest ship around until the steamships came along. We walked through the Naval Academy and up a steep hill to the observatory.


This is the source of Greenwich Mean Time and the historic Prime Meridian where east meets west.

7:3 Greenwich mean time

We saw the giant telescope they use and some of the many time pieces.


We got back for one of that last boats back to the dock. Really fun day.

The next day we took a train for about an hour’s trip through the countryside to visit Windsor Castle.


This is quite an impressive castle with over 900 rooms.


Of course there were some birds there:  Magpie, Mallard and Jackdaw


The castle and grounds:

7:4 Windsor pano


We could only tour the chapel, the state apartments and the Queen’s doll house. Through a bit of confusion we lost one another while going through the chapel and I thought the girls had moved ahead so went that way and Denny went back and found them then couldn’t find me. I finally ran into them coming into the State apartments as I was coming out. Sadly, it was too late for them to see the doll’s house which I looked for them in and ended up being the only one who got to see it. We couldn’t take pictures so they had to settle for seeing the pictures of it on line.



Back to the cold

We rode the bus back to Nogales, Mexico, then crossed the border and picked up a rental car and got a really lousy motel in Nogales, AZ.  Fortunately it was only for one night!  We were in time to meet our friends Judy and Don at Wisdoms for dinner.  If you’re ever near Tubac, AZ,  check it out.  They are famous for their fruit burros (burritos) and the rest of their food is great, too.  Had a great visit with Judy and Don to boot.

Next morning we went to Tubac for the regular Tuesday morning bird walk and to see all our friends from that area.  I guess most all of them were there, too, as 45 people showed up and we only found 43 birds! It was still fun to see everyone.  Sue Emerson had Sally Hills visiting, both from back home and we went out to lunch with them after the walk.  Then we ran a few errands and went up to Tucson where we had a nice Airbnb reserved for our time in Tucson.

We hadn’t gotten much sleep the last few days so we were beat and Wednesday was a day to do laundry and shop and recoup.  We did end up at Ft. Lowell Park for a walk to see some birds but basically crashed early.  Ft. Lowell is a city park that has a pond where they have some domestic Peking ducks mixing with the wild ones.  You can see the evidence of their promiscuity in the strange colors on the Mallards in particular.

pond ft lowell

The next day we went back to the Green Valley area (the rental wasn’t that far away) to have a picnic at Madera Canyon–one of our favorite places.

Judy and her friend Carol who was visiting met us there.  The birding was kind of slow but we did get nice looks at Red-naped Sapsucker and Rufous Hummingbird and 29 other birds.  After a beautiful day we went back to Judy and Don’s house for dinner and root beer floats!  They are from Iowa but moved permanently to Green Valley two years ago.  Their house is on a golf course with a patio facing it.  With lots of feeders around they have great birding in their backyard.  We saw 21 birds just sitting there having appetizers.

The next day we spent in Tucson going to Agua Caliente Park and picnicking at Saguaro East National Park. “Agua Caliente, literally meaning hot water, is a unique 101-acre park that features a perennial warm spring and pond that is home to an exceptionally rich mix of plants and animals. Agua Caliente Park has a long and interesting history with evidence of human habitation dating back about 5,500 years. In 1873, a ranch and health resort was developed to promote the curative properties of the warm springs.”  There were lots of ducks and turtles on the water and nice birds in the trees.  Our picnic at Saguaro East was somewhat bereft of birds as we only saw 6 while we were there.  Still a lovely place to picnic and have a hike.

The weekend was all Tucson Festival of Books and it was fabulous.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this event it happens at U of A and they take over the whole campus. There are hundreds of authors and other exhibits.  If you follow the above link you can get a sense of what is offered.  They usually have over 100,000 people attending it. We were fortunate to get into quite a few of our first choices.  We started off with a program on Memoir with Amy Tan and Mary Karr.


They were great together, each one trying to one up the other with whose mother was worse!  If you’ve read their books you’ll understand why.  After this panel we grabbed some lunch and went to get in line for the next presentation.  We were early enough to get there in time to see almost half of the panel which was with 3 sports writers — Scott Simon, who just wrote a book on the Cubs winning the pennant, Leigh Montville and Erica Westly. Next came a mystery panel with J. A. Jance, T. Jefferson Parker, and James Rollins.



These 3 authors had an interesting discussion which included the point that none of them likes to outline.  They were quite adamant about it.  In the next panel of 2 mystery writers, Sophie Hannah (who has been conscripted by the Christie family to write more Agatha Christie books)  and Craig Johnson (author of the Longmire series),

craig johnson

both talked about how they couldn’t imagine how anyone could write a mystery without an outline.  In fact Hannah (who is British) said that when authors say they start out with a few characters and let them take them where they will it was a bit “twee”! It was all entertaining and gave us new ideas for books to read.

After the day’s presentations were over there was a free concert of the Rock Bottom Remainders.


This is a rock band made up of authors that changes depending on who happens to be nearby for an event.  This time it included: Dave Barry, Sam Barry, Amy Tan, Mary Karr, Ridley Pearson, Mitch Album, Alan Zweibel, Scott Turow and a few more we didn’t catch the names of.  They are really fun and do a lot of fun things; Amy Tan dresses up in leather, boots and a whip and sings “These Boots are Made for Walking”; Scott Turow wore at least 3 different wigs, one Rasta, one Elvis and one looked like a head of tinsel when he sang “Wild Thing”.  Dave Barry wrote a song about being in love with a proofreader who would never be caught saying “between you and I” and Mary Karr did her ‘slut’ song about the ‘me too’ movement. All very fun.

Sunday we only saw 2 presentations but they were good ones.  First was Billy Collins and Juan Felipe Herrera who were both poet laureates of the US.

Herrera and Collins

We found Collins somewhat disappointing as we had heard him many times on Prairie Home Companion and Fresh Air and really enjoyed him but he didn’t seem like he was really into the presentation.  Herrera on the other hand was terrific and very enthusiastic.  In the afternoon we saw a solo presentation from Scott Simon.


He is such a charming man and so compassionate I love to hear him talk.  If you haven’t tuned into Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR to hear him and his morning essay you are missing a treat.  He always brings along his lovely French wife and his 2 adopted Chinese daughters and this time their dog, Daisy.  He also brought his cousin Pam Simon who worked for Gabby Gifford when she was shot.  Scott and his wife are friends of Gabby and her husband also and he teared up talking about it.  His presentation was a sweet way to finish off the festival.

The next day we volunteered to help organize and clean up the thousands of signs that were taken down, throwing out those that were damaged or dated and entering the others in a data base for next year.

Our last day in AZ we went on another Tubac bird walk.  This time there were 34 birders and we found only 32 birds.  It’s migration time for Common Black Hawk and Zone-tailed Hawk so we spent some time at the Hawk watch site and saw a bunch of them.  Then we went out to lunch with some more friends at a lovely restaurant in Amado called Firefly. We sat on the porch overlooking a beautiful pond and garden and view of the Santa Rita Mountains. It got up to 85 degrees that day.

Next day we left the beautiful weather and sunshine and came back to Massachusetts where it was cold and snowing when we arrived.  It isn’t springtime here yet but it’s coming.  Next weekend we’re off to Stamford, CT, for another fun weekend of helping with judging at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

Until our next adventure,


Nancy & Denny








Last weeks in Rocky Point

We leave for Arizona tomorrow so I wanted to wrap up our time here.  The weather got somewhat warmer and definitely sunnier but not what you’d call hot until 2 days ago.  It’s still cool in the mornings and evenings but during the day we get to 70.  The unfortunate thing about the weather is that we never did get to go on the boat to Bird Island.  We did a lot of other things and when it wasn’t so great out I got to paint.  I started a series of warblers (along with one Kestrel).

American Kestrel, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow Warblers

Black throated Gray Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler

While looking through the options for birding hot spots we found a water treatment plant here that we took a taxi to see.  Raul, our rental owner, called it the “stinky place” which it only partly was but there were lots of birds there.

Loggerhead Shrike, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Bonaparte’s Gull

The citizens of Rocky Point don’t seem to care much about litter and many tend to just dump their trash wherever they are.  The water treatment was no exception.

The next day Raul and his wife Erica asked us to join them for a ride around the area that we hadn’t seen yet.  We drove to Hermosa Beach

hermosa beach

and up above the Malecon past some of the more posh resorts and then out to Cholla Bay which is way out on the end of a peninsula.

Cholla Bay doesn’t have much more than a few restaurants and a bar and since it is far from town and basic shopping it has a limited population.  There are some really beautiful homes and quite a few not too great but is really a beautiful spot.

One of the things we went by on our travels was the golf course which we noticed had a few ponds with birds on them so the next day we got on our bikes and rode over there.  As we walked through the desert next to the golf course we spotted a Coyote.  There were a few birds there and on the pond which were new for the trip– Orange-crowned Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, and Bufflehead.

The next day we went on the Estuary trip with CEDO. It was chilly and windy so we weren’t able to get in the water and do the tide pools but it was an interesting place with an Oyster farm run by women.

There were some nice birds there including Curve-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, American Oystercatcher, another Bufflehead and a Red-breasted Merganser.

Alejandra, our guide, said she was once again going the next afternoon to the tidal pools and we were welcome to join her.  So after taking a long walk over to Rodeo Drive where all the artisan shops are we went back down to the tidal pools.  The people who said they were coming didn’t show but there was a couple there who were writing an article about CEDO for the Mexican version of Lonely Planet who did come.  This time we got pictures of some of the more interesting things there:

We have gotten into taking very long walks to different parts of Puerto Penasco and 2 days ago we decided to walk to one of the beaches that we had stopped at with Raul.  We ended up walking about 9 kilometers stopping a few times for a cold drink.  The following are pictures we took along the way.

As we approached our casita we could see smoke from a huge fire in the distance.  We never found out what that was.

This is our neighborhood, a combination of very nice houses and a lot of empty lots and half-finished or half-destroyed houses and lots of very noisy dogs.

Yesterday we took our last trip to the Malecon walking most of the way.  We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant on the sea wall.


view from the restaurant

Heerman’s Gull, Red-breasted Merganser


At 4:00 the parade was supposed to start downtown for Carnaval so we decided to go watch it.  We got to a place on the street by a park where people were lined up to see the parade at about 4:30 but the parade was very slow in coming and it was at least 5:30 before they got to us.  Each group had to stop and perform a number at every corner.  Anyway, when it did come it was fun to watch.

It has been fun here but would have been better if we had a car.  We are not in a neighborhood that has lent to meeting our neighbors so it’s somewhat lonesome but tomorrow we go to Nogales and will have dinner with friends from Green Valley.  On Tuesday we will bird with our old bird group from Tubac and see lots of folks we know again.  Then we go to Tucson until the 14th.  The weather is getting a lot warmer which is very nice.  Hope that trend continues when we go home.

Mexico II

After the last post our weather changed.  It got cloudy, windy and cooler (low to mid 60’s).  We even had what passes for rain around here which isn’t much.  The wind stopped us from riding our bikes but we either walked or taxied instead.

We visited a place called CEDO – Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans.   They gave a talk about what they do and had an exhibit of different creatures from the ocean including a skeleton of a juvenile Fin Whale.

Nancy and Fin Whale, view from CEDO, Cholla Cactus on the trail around CEDO

 They also offer a few expeditions.  We signed up for two of those –  Exploring tidal pools and visiting an estuary.

On our drive down to CEDO we discovered a whole street that had artisan shops on it.  This was in biking distance so on a fairly decent and partly sunny day we visited it and wandered through the shops.

Shop lined streets, Giraffe, Interesting moth

Lots of murals in this area

Last Thursday the owner of our rental, Raul, offered to take us to El Pinacate for the day. He brought his 23 year old son, Eric, with him.

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve
The 714,566 hectare site comprises two distinct parts: the dormant volcanic Pinacate Shield of black and red lava flows and desert pavements to the east, and, in the west, the Gran Altar Desert with its ever changing and varied sand dunes that can reach a height of 200 metres. This landscape of dramatic contrast notably features linear, star and dome dunes as well as several arid granite massifs, some as high as 650 metres. The dunes emerge like islands from the sea of sand and harbor distinct and highly diverse plant and wildlife communities, including endemic freshwater fish species and the endemic Sonoran Pronghorn, which is only to be found in northwestern Sonora and in southwestern Arizona (USA). Ten enormous, deep and almost perfectly circular craters, believed to have been formed by a combination of eruptions and collapses, also contribute to the dramatic beauty of the site whose exceptional combination of features is of great scientific interest. The site is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

This was a fascinating place.  We were immediately greeted by a Golden Eagle that seems to have become somewhat of a pet as he is always around.

Golden Eagle

We got to walk around three different craters – Elegante, Tecolote, and Colorado.  Elegante is the largest with a diameter of about a mile and is about 800 ft. deep.

Colorado is less than half that diameter and only 328 ft. deep. There is a very primitive campground at Tecolote which is the smallest of the three craters.  We climbed around on the rocks to get good views of the area.  The first picture below is looking down at the campground where you see a few cars.  The second picture shows Eric at the top of rock and the third is of Denny next to some cactus and a Palo Verde.

The landscapes were beautiful with all the lava around.

Colorado is a tuff formation made of clay and volcanic ash has a reddish color, hence its name.

There was a new visitor’s center that we visited that had very informative exhibits and a movie.  It was a great day despite the spitting rain and chill. Here is the view from the visitor’s center.

view from vc

The next morning we went on the Tidal Pools exploration with CEDO.  We discovered all kinds of creatures that we never would have found on our own or known what they were.  We saw Brittle Starfish, Sea Stars, Volcanic Sponge, Fiery Worms, a bunch of different Anemones, some fish including Bleni, Turban Snails and other snails, Turkey wing Clams and lots of shore birds.  Unfortunately we didn’t bring our cameras for fear of getting them wet so we didn’t get pictures but yesterday we rode our bikes down there and took some pictures. The weather has gotten better- sunnier and a little warmer but we haven’t gotten back to the 70’s yet.  As long as the sun is out and it’s in the 60’s we’re happy.

Beach, tide pools and incoming tide

Cheerios Anemone, Sand Anemone, Coral

Snowy Egret, Ring-billed Gull, Semi-palmated Plover

We have 2 more weeks here and have plans for the estuary visit on the 27th and are still trying to arrange a trip to Bird Island.  More later.


Puerto Peñasco

This winter we are spending a little over a month in Puerto Peñasco or Rocky Point, Mexico.  We got here Feb. 1st and are staying at an Airbnb casita.  It is not too far from grocery shopping but a bit of a distance from the Malecon (seawall) and lots of other touristy places.  We do not have a car but after a few days we decided to buy a couple of used bikes from a place that said they would buy them back when we leave.  Unfortunately the streets right around us are sand and don’t make riding easy but once we get to the paved street we can do it.  Neither of us are big bikers so it’s a bit of a challenge to ride in Mexican traffic so we’re into taking taxis now for some places we go.  We are considering renting a car but so far haven’t found anything that isn’t totally outrageous price wise.  We probably should have done it on-line before we left but we thought we could walk everywhere.  Oh well, maybe something will turn up.  In the meantime we are biking locally, walking or taking taxis.

We’ve been to the Malecon twice and enjoyed walking along the seawall, watching the many birds there and enjoying some great food.

There are a few boat rides we’re looking into that we hope to do before we leave.  One is a sunset cruise and the other is a trip to Isla San Jorge or the Bird Islands. That latter is an all day trip so we’re trying to figure how to get down to the dock by 6:30 am.

Today we went to an area called the Reef which is a beach just west of all the fancy resorts and condos.  Had a great walk long the beach and got to see a bunch of shorebirds we haven’t seen yet.

Then we have a wonderful meal on the beach at a restaurant called Wrecked at the Reef.


We certainly can’t complain about the weather here.  It has been in the mid to upper 70’s most days with lots of sun and down to low 50’s at night.  We’re here until the 5th of March and would love for anyone to come down and hang out with us (especially if you have a car. “-))