Retracing Our Steps
19 Jan 2012
|When we were here almost five years ago, we drove over to Tubac to meet our friends from New Jersey, Eric and Christine and their son Brian, for lunch while they were visiting their property in Tucson. The drive to Tubac was fun and interesting and seeing them again was definitely a highlight. However, the drive back in our Mini Cooper through the mountains was NOT fun.
When the road we turned off on turned into a dirt road, we should have listened to those inner voices “turn around” – but, nope, we didn’t! Not only were we in the wrong type of vehicle for this trek, but we didn’t have any good maps of the dirt roads through the mountains, and we quickly found out that our GPS also didn’t have these roads available. The Mini slipped, slid over the rocks and sandy surfaces and low-profile tires definitely weren’t made for these roads.
As we drove along we encountered a massive bull with humongous horns that kept pawing his hoof in the dirt as we approached (oh, did I mention our Mini was RED?) and swung his head at us as we scurried past him! We finally stopped to put the convertible top up and that’s when Jerry realized we had a flat tire! That was special – NOT! So, now with a “donut” tire on we finally found a sign telling us we had 39 miles to Sierra Vista – and still on dirt roads. Lists of the comedy of errors go on and on for this “adventure”, but suffice it to say – we made it back around 9:00 p.m. that evening; worn and weary!
So, when we decided to come back to Sierra Vista now that we are full time RVers, one of the first things Jerry said he wanted to do was tackle that mountain road again – hence our travels today to “retrace our steps” and that’s exactly what we did today. We drove through the area called the Mountain Empire that is comprised of grasslands and creek beds on the eastern side of the Santa Rita range. There’s an average elevation between 4,000 to 5,000 feet and an average annual rainfall of 20 inches making the area cooler than Tucson and the landscape is unlike any other in Arizona. The towns are tiny, but serve as popular tourist spots. The town of Patagonia, the largest town in the area with the population of about 800 people was built in 1900. The yellow train depot is located in the center of town, there are several unique shops and a Stage Stop Motel.
Our next stop was at the Telles Grotto Shrine. This is a small pull-off area just southwest of Patagonia. A shrine was built into the face of the mountain. The shrine was built in the 1940s by the Telles family, whose matriarch vowed she would construct and keep up the shrine if her five boys returned safely from World War II. They did, and the shrine is still in use today. We proceeded to Nogales and onto I-19. This is the only interstate in the United States that shows all distances are in kilometers.
We stopped at the Tumacacori National Historic Park founded by Padre Kino in 1691 as the Mission San Jose de Tumacacori. This is a 310-acre national park complete with the mission and its grounds, an old graveyard, an orchard, a re-created Piman shelter, a museum telling the history of the mission and Pimeria Alta and a gift shop. Tubac and Tumacacori are two villages along the Santa Cruz that are steeped n the history of the Spanish adventures in Pimeria Alta. Padre Kino, established both the mission we were visiting along with one in Tubac located three miles north. The Piman village became a mission farm and ranch. By the 1730s, Spanish colonists arrived from the south to farm and ranch the fertile river valley. In 1751 the violent Piman revolt convinced the Spanish crown to establish the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac, which was founded the next year.
In 1860 silver strikes nearby briefly made Tubac the largest town in the Arizona Territory. It eventually fell into obscurity, but was discovered again as an artist’s colony during the second half of the 20th century, and today its many galleries and shops are a draw for tourists and locals alike. In February the town hosts the Tubac Festival of the Arts attended by thousands.
However, our destination today was to have lunch at the Tubac Inn where we met Eric, Christine and Brian in April, 2007. After our delightful lunch, we found the sculpture I wanted to see in the K. Newby Gallery and Sculpture Garden. We left after finding it and walking through the garden and started our return trip to Apache Flats RV Park here on Fort Huachuca through the mountains.
Needless to say – being in the Jeep with large tires, a newer GPS that worked and armed with better maps, our return trip was a piece of cake. We never saw our bull buddy, but we didn’t miss him either! We arrived back at Apache Flats and it was still daylight with us both commenting we were so lucky we didn’t have the donut get a flat or any of the other three low-profile tires for that matter, phew! So, now Jerry has successfully retraced our steps!
Till the next time. . .