April 2, 2017

A Patagonia Escape


A little over a week ago Betty and I loaded up the RV and our dog, Bailey, and headed to the southern Arizona area around Patagonia. About 3 hours from our home, it is the perfect spot for a 4 day getaway. Patagonia Lake State Park is about 10 minutes south of the small (920 residents) town, and 20 minutes north of the border with Mexico. 



Yes, there is already a wall there. It runs right through the middle of Nogales, dividing the town into American and Mexican communities. Border patrol check points are common on the major roads in and out of the area. Seeing a white and green Border Patrol truck perched on a ridge line is par for the course.

The American side is lined with massive warehouses, trucks coming and going at all hours with produce and products bound for one side of the border or the other. I imagine a tightening of the border or a change in NAFTA would hit this part of the state pretty hard.

But, all that politics aside, we came to relax, give Bailey the chance to explore a new area chock full of smells and sights, and step off the merry-go-round for awhile. Long walks around the large lake were accompanied by the sounds of hundreds of birds tweeting from dawn until dusk. Saturday morning we took a pontoon boat tour while a guide told us about the history of the lake and the wild plants we were seeing all around us. This part of Arizona is a major birding destination, so information on what was flying over our heads was an added bonus.

We slept late, read a lot, watched downloaded Netflix shows since Internet doesn't exist, and enjoyed a few dinners in town. With only 4 restaurants to choose from, Patagonia is not a foodie destination. Actually, one of those eating spots is not open Sunday evenings, so choices are quite limited. Arizona wine country is only 25 minutes away though, with some additional dining and wine tasting options in nearby towns.


The town has an active local theater organization with its own dedicated performance venue. Plays, art films, and exhibitions are common. Opened for only a few months. a brand-new Opera House is now part of community life, too. Based on the entertainment model of old western opera house entertainment,  this 80 seat building features local and regional music as well as dance performances. On one of the days we were in town a trio from the Tucson Symphony held a concert in the Opera House; it was sold out for the night time show.

The last time we were in Patagonia was probably 4 years ago. Frankly, Betty and I were a bit disappointed in the changes we noted in town. Two restaurants and a large antique business are gone. The town's coffee shop and ice cream parlor locks its doors at 4pm. Everything had a bit more run-down feel. Tourist traffic was light, though birders were in evidence, obvious with their long lens cameras and binoculars. 


On the plus side, we loved the State Park. It was obviously spring break for the kids in the area. Hundreds took advantage of the time off to come with their families to enjoy the sandy beach, boating and kayaking options, and sitting around camp fires each evening. With overnight lows near freezing, those blazing logs added needed warmth and delicious smells to the night air. Since many of the campers were in tents, the fires were restarted early each morning to help defrost the adventurers.

I will leave you with some pictures, and a teaser: Betty and I reached an important decision about our future vacation plans. I will share those thoughts in a future post.






















The break is over and spring time activities are in full swing. But, thank you, Patagonia Lake State Park for a memorable time!



17 comments:

  1. I'm guessing your new vacation plans do not involve returning to Patagonia; nevertheless, looks like you had a good weekend.

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    1. Actually, they will involve a more major shift that will require leaving behind an old friend. How's that for cryptic?

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  2. I'm guessing that you might be ready for a cruise!

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  3. It's always refreshing to take in a change of venue. Cape May is a big birder area, too. We see lots of them around our house...birds and birders.
    b

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    1. We are lucky that our neighborhood attracts a lot of various birds that sing and tweet every morning and late afternoon. It is a pleasant way to wake up.

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  4. The state park is beautiful...and a road trip is always fun. The towns look a little tired, but a lot of little towns in this country do. The border wall is interesting...

    My last two jobs involved companies (including mine) that had production over the El Paso border in Juarez. The logistics of visiting the facilities were challenging, as you had to be driven from your TX hotel over the border, enter the factory gates which closed behind you, and remain on site all day until someone drove you back over the border at day's end. Meals were catered in, including those for employees, because the drug wars were raging until a few years ago. Not sure how the situation stands now, since I'm not longer with them. One of my biggest customers had a moratorium on their employees visiting that plant. That said, I never had to visit and was grateful. Nogales looks less fraught.
    Hope

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    1. The American side of Nogales is a major distribution hub for produce and products from Mexico. The Mexican side is mainly restaurants, shops, and much cheaper dentist and doctor offices. The drug and kidnapping problems of other parts of Mexico have not impacted Nogales (yet).

      I had a client in El Paso for a few years. I got as far as the pedestrian bridge that links downtown El Paso wkith Juarez but never ventured across. It never seemed to be worth the risk, even then.

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  5. Lovely photos. I didn't know such a place existed in southern Arizona!

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    1. This is the first time we have stayed at this particular State Park. It was quite an enjoyable experience.

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  6. It's been years since we took a trip to Patagonia..maybe time for another one! The next few months are pretty busy so perhaps in the Fall. I am joining the Desert River Audubon society branch that meets here in Gilbert and does a lot at the Riparian Water Park as well as has day trips all over the state to see beautiful birds and nature places. I believe Patagonia is a big birding destination as you mention! Will want to hear all about your new plans!! We've changed up or travel plans quite a bit as retirement marches on... But airbnb is a big part of it and makes road trips exceedingly affordable! Of course the occasional cruise is a nice luxury once in a while and we get good deals on vacationtogo.com.With that online company,once you call, you get your own "go to " person who you can contact with all concerns..Have done many cruises with them!

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    1. I was thinking back to my days of constant travel for my business. Everything was handled by a local travel agent who booked everything, printed out the tickets, got my seats.Today that industry barely exist since doing it online is much faster and more efficient.

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    2. When we first started making paychecks and could travel a little, we had a travel agent in Tempe who booked everything for us! I miss those days!!!! Now, to get the best rates and deals I think you have to do it yourself, but I do miss that "ease" of just going to pick up our tickets!! And the bottle of wine Carol and Don (our agents) used to make sure we had waiting at our destination.Ahhh--the "old days.."

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    3. For our Alaskan cruise last year we used a travel agent based in Portland. He was a friend of a friend who got us a good deal with some extras, including a bottle of wine for one of our fancier dinners on board.

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  7. Did a day trip to Patagonia when I was assigned to fort huachuca. Great place (of what I remember. Alchohol was involved). :-)

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  8. Looks lucky. I need to head out to the park, even for a day trip, before it gets to hot.

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