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Here We are at Kartchner Caverns, AZ

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Wow! It is hard to believe that it is the 1st of April already and the last time I added to this blog was in November 2011! As they say time flies when you’re having fun and we have definitely been having fun. The full-timing and volunteering life style is really awesome. A lot has happened since my last blog entry. We really enjoyed our stay at Goliad State Park as the staff and the park itself is so great. Christmas time at the old mission is so special. The mission is lit with lights and different silhouettes are placed in front of lights to cast unique shadows on the mission walls at night. Lights, garland, and bows decorate the inside of the chapel and it looked so pretty. It is truly a magical time at the mission. We stayed at Goliad State Park right through to the 1st of the New Year and left for Bentsen/Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas. It was hard to leave all our friends at Goliad to head south to the Rio Grande Valley, but new adventures awaited us there.

Bentsen/Rio Grande Valley State Park is one of the worlds best birding centers. It is not unusual to see 60, 70, or more bird species in a single day there. Birding being one of our hobbies we couldn’t wait to start at the park and get out birding. Two of my favorite birds there are the Green Jay and the Great Kiskadee both being very pretty birds and having unique personalities. Many of the bird species there are only seen in that area of Texas and very rarely travel much farther north. The are several ox bow lakes that attract many shore birds as well and three species of kingfishers can be seen there on any given day if you are lucky. The park is truly a birder’s paradise! People travel from all over the United States and many different countries just to see the birds there. One bird in particular, the Black Vented Oriole, had birders coming in from all over as it is rarely seen north of Mexico or Central America. Unfortunately the Oriole disappeared suddenly after being a daily visitor at the park for almost a month. We saw lots of border patrol there at the park as they used the park as a staging area on a daily basis. One can really appreciate how hard the border patrol personnel work by living at the park. We really loved this park and the staff here is awesome and very knowledgeable on birds, butterflies, etc. We really learned a lot there and enjoyed our two month stay immensely. It seemed we just barely arrived there and it was time to leave again.

We left Bentsen on the 1st of March and we did not have to be at Kartchner Caverns until the 15th of March so we decided to do some sightseeing on our way across to the caverns. So we headed off to Davis Mountain State Park near Fort Davis, Texas which is another really great park up in the mountains with really awesome views. However, before getting to Davis Mountain we stopped at Fredericksburg, Texas. A must see at Fredericksburg is the WWII Pacific War Museum. It takes about a full day to see all the museum has to offer and it is well worth the time spent. After touring the museum one really leaves with a greater appreciation for the “Greatest Generation” and all the sacrifices they made to preserve the freedoms we enjoy everyday.

We stayed an extra day in the Fredericksburg area as the winds in the Davis Mountain area were really high and gusting to 60 mph. Due to the high wind delay we arrived at Davis Mountain State Park a day late but with still 7 days to explore the area. The park is high up in the hills and there is lots of wildlife roaming throughout the park. We had several mule deer stroll through our campsite and also a group of 10 Javelina. One does not want to leave any coolers out as the Javelina is more than happy to help themselves to your food as one of the campers found out. We had a great time hiking the hills and visiting the local sites. We especially liked Fort Davis which is an old cavalry fort where the Buffalo soldiers stayed. The history of the fort is quite impressive and we really enjoyed touring the fort. Another great place to visit in the area is the McDonald Observatory. The observatory sits high up on a mountain and has five very large telescopes, the largest being the 107” telescope. They give daily tours of the observatory and they also have night programs where they have several smaller telescopes to view the night sky. What really makes it so amazing is the sky there is so dark which no real light pollution. Being an amateur astronomer I was in my glory to say the least. The weather turned really cold at the end of our stay there and it spit snow there one night and got down to 28 F so it was really chilly and then some. We felt sorry for the people in tents there as they must have really frozen and the park was full with spring vacationers many in tents.

We arrive here at Kartchner Caverns on the 15th of March as scheduled. This place is pretty amazing and our campsite is really nice. We are up on a mountain side and we can see what seems like forever. There are mountains surrounding us with a large expanse of plains to the east before more mountains. At night we can see the lights from Bensen and Tombstone and it is quite pretty. On of our duties here is to tail the tours into the caves which is really fun and exciting. The caves themselves are something else with lots of stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, columns, etc. We have just stated to explore this park and the local area, however, what we have seen so far we really like. What is really nice there is an Army base not too far away and being retired military we get to used all their facilities. So with this I will end part one of this blog as we have more excitement to tell you all about in my next installment which I should be adding next week.

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