March 8, 2017 - Warm in Gila Bend AZ

Yesterday in Patagonia we experienced quite a temperature swing.  28 degrees at dawn and 78 degrees at 3 p.m.  Layers do work, but the hike we took up a canyon started out freezing despite that. 

Spring has begun to appear in southern Arizona.  I know many of my readers have been basking in a warm February in the Northeast.  Snow lovers will have to wait until next winter, I guess.  We will be warm now for another week until we drop into San Diego.  We’re hoping the snow stops before we climb out of the center of northern California early next month.  Seems to snow, stop, and snow some more up there. 

Today, we sort of drove into spring in the plains southwest of Phoenix.  Lupine, poppy, ocotillo, and various shrubs are in bloom.  It is too early for the buds to burst on the saguaro trees.  Always exciting to see the last plant.  One knows he is not in Pennsylvania anymore.

Two days ago we saw a first mixed flock of “neo-tropical” migrant birds in a blossoming willow tree along the Sonoita Creek near Nogales AZ across from the town of Nogales Mexico.  There are rumors of more cross-border movement in California.  Tomorrow we will look for it here.

As we moved north today we finally had to pass through a BP check point.  The agent took one look at us and waved us through.  I had of course taken off my sun glasses, had both hands on the wheel, and had opened the window to smile at him.  He just waved, didn’t even ask me the standard question, “all aboard U.S. citizens.  His decision was correct.  We really did not have a dozen illegals hiding in the rig.

In Patagonia we enjoyed the hospitality of friends who moved there from our part of Pennsylvania.  Always good to see familiar faces on a long voyage, even if we have been on the road only three weeks so far.  Our next reunions will be in San Diego where there may be a small family reunion next week.  Fun.

Have enjoyed many birds.  I’m hoping our list will be to 200 varieties before we reach the Pacific coast.  It was at 184 at last check.  No large animals so far, just a daily coyote and often white-tailed deer.  That is routine in the west.  Reports of jaguar in Arizona tickled our interest.  I would rather not meet one on the trail though.  

Tomorrow we will explore the Saguaro National Monument, a BLM property near here.  Look for the Gila Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker, two cactus specialists never seen east of the Mississippi.  Don’t know if we will venture into Phoenix town.  We will have to contend with more than enough traffic when we reach San Diego. 

On the border we find Mexicans coming into Arizona to buy food, clothing, and gasoline and Americans going into Mexico to buy dentistry and drugs.  This says as much as anything about where there are problems in each country’s economy.  The Mexicans are really pissed that the government increased the price of gas to about three dollars.  A couple of decades ago the government nationalized oil and said it would give it cheap to Mexicans and stiff the gringos.  Now the country has to buy oil from us and add on their taxes when the sell the gas.  We paid $2.01 in Nogales AZ. 

Meanwhile, our friends are slipping into Nogales Mexico for health care.  Anne and I are each paying some $5,740 for supposedly subsidized Medicare health insurance.  How can one afford to get sick after paying that much for insurance?  I don’t see the costs going down until the government gets out of the health care business.  Once upon a time folks managed to buy descent health care with no help from the government.  I believe the care was better too even if the technology was inferior.  Not sure we can afford the better technology.  But we seem to have no choice.

Wish us well in cactus country.

sounds like a great trip!

Have fun. It's time to make Anne's Irish soda bread and add some green to the batter! xoxo 

We did.