Friday, February 7, 2014

Nomads Go West: Part III

Leaving California

Black-necked Stilt and Gull at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR
With Tucson less than 500 miles away, we decided to make our first stop one of our favorite places, Indio, California and Shield's Date Garden. Man, that place gets more and more popular every time we stop, but they have absolutely fabulous fresh dates in almost a dozen varieties plus fresh and dried fruits. David loves him a date shake when we stop there and I always pick up some super soft Medjools for super raw desserts (process a few pitted dates with some pecans or walnuts and serve over fresh raw fruit or mix the dates, an avocado and cocoa for a smooth, creamy chocolate pudding. OK, so I never actually got to make any of those great raw desserts since we ate them all in just a few days!) Somehow we always come away refreshed and ready to roll on.

Instead of heading back to the I-10 super highway, we headed south along State Route 111 to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR for a little late year birding. We stopped at four different stops along 111. The first three yielded only Eared Grebes as additions to the year list, but after a 1/4 mile walk at the fourth spot we hit birdy pay dirt: Snowy Plover, Bonaparte's Gull, and Least Sandpiper. These put me at 262 species for the year...just 3 shy of beating the 2007 record and still 3 days left in the year.

Sandpiper sp. Western? Least?
A typical multi-species pond scene at the Salton Sea
We had to cut off one final stop at the refuge because we were just running out of time. It was almost 4 p.m. until we hit I-8 and around 5 until we got to Yuma. We stopped off for gas, a potty break and a snack in Yuma. Apparently, there's a new In-N-Out there which, except for some really fresh french fries, holds nothing for me, but Kara loves it and was missing it, so we stopped one last time. While she and David were ordering, I stayed in the car with the Princess. I still had half of a banana left and, opening the back door to sit with her, I offered her some of it. She took one sniff, lifted her head to smell the In-N-Out burgers through the open door, and threw that banana the most disgusted look! There was no way she was eating that while there were burgers around! Lucky her, David shared his with her.


It seemed to take forever to get to Tucson. I-8 seemed like such a mistake. We didn't get into town until almost 9 p.m., but little did we know that it was actually a very fortunate choice as there was a huge accident on I-10 above Casa Grande that had traffic backed up for hours almost into Phoenix, so yay for us! We headed directly for Yoshimatsu for some veg curry noodles and house ramen. They almost didn't serve us, but let us stay and I was so thankful they did. That warm, soupy noodles was just the thing I needed.

In Tucson, we stayed at the Windmill Suites at the corner of Campbell and River. What a wonderful place! The rooms were big, bright and beautiful. It was great having just that little suggestion of a kitchen to make it more homey. We also had access to washers and dryers so we got to freshen up our clothes. I'm sure our Tucson friends and family were thankful for that!

The next day, Sunday, I walked Sabino Canyon with some of my friends who I miss terribly. There was water under the bridges and we walked up to the 2 mile mark and turned around mainly due to the fact that everyone's stomach was growling. Of course, we went to the Eclectic Cafe. Oh yes! Beans and tortillas for breakfast - how I miss Tucson! It always feels like going home. After over two weeks on the road, it was good just to be able to want to go somewhere and NOT have to set the danged GPS!
There was water in Sabino Creek!

Sabino Canyon is always even lovelier with friends!
Sandra and Shoko were waaaayyyy ahead of us!

Jonas and I made it 2 miles up

Sunday afternoon and evening David and I spent with his mom (while Kara nursed a sinus infection that she caught from her sister). She made us rice and beans and taught me her secret recipe for Adobe salad dressing (yummers!). We also had chocolates and a fabulous cream cake that David's brother made (non-vegan I'm sure, but delicious anyway). We were so stuffed we couldn't move. While David visited his brother, I showed David's mom all our pictures from Puerto Rico earlier this year and then when he came back, David had a ball taking pictures on my iPhone of all his baby pictures (haha! Here's my revenge for all the space he used):

Our lil' Jibaro
Gotta love that little denim bell bottom jumpsuit! 

Not much has changed!

Monday we left the hotel early to chase down some birds Tucson-style. We headed straight for Tubac to find the Sinaloa Wren which would have been not only a year bird, but a lifer as well. We hiked in and then suck around for about an hour or so, but the bird was a no-show. We did see some other good birds while we were there: Chihuahuan Raven; Bewick's Wren; Bridled Titmouse; and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Yes, those four put me over the top of my 2007 year bird list by 2 species. :) If only I had felt better to celebrate, but I thought I was starting to get Kat/Kara's sinus thing. I was sneezing like crazy and I felt like a well-wrung dishrag, so while David visiting more with his mom and brother, Kara and I took naps and ate some Ramen noodle soup that we made in the rice cooker. Wahhhhh! I didn't want to be sick :(


Cactus Wren
Gila woodpecker

Ladderback Woodpecker

Bewick's Wren (dang!) 
Hermit Thrush

Dark-eyed Juncos 

Our buddy, the Black Phoebe, waiting with us for the Sinoloa Wren
Amazing, on Tuesday, I woke up feeling like I was never sick which was a good thing because I had a long-anticipated run planned with my my friends. We had the walkingest run ever at Julington Creek trail with just one minor casualty. Our dear ever-competitive, Princess "I always have to be the leader" Whipple-Cheng pulled over to cut Todd off and get her leash wrapped around his legs tripping him to the ground resulting in a nasty case of road rash for Todd :( Still feeling bad about that one!

New Year's Eve Day "run" with a few friends
Todd had a run-in with Princess and end up falling for her. OUCH! 
Afterward, we headed over to Tania's Dos Mundos for some real tortillas!

New year's eve was quiet for us. we met our good friends Len and Carloyn at Guadalajara Grill at Mountain and Prince. I was really delighted to see their new vegan options! It was hard to choose, but I ended up having the Portobella Fiesta (Large portobello mushrooms stuffed with red bell peppers, zucchini, onions and diced tomatoes, served with black beans and white rice veracruzano). Len picked the serenade, the title of which escapes me know). We left early and headed back to the hotel before the roads got too crazy. Besides we had an early start the next day. Homeward bound...

Portobello Fiesta

Carolyn and Len enjoying the serenade

1 comment:

  1. Haha, don't feel bad about Todd's knee!! Though even to this day, Evie will often point to his knee and say, "Daddy, owie." LOL!! It's all healed up and I think he was secretly happy to have a battle wound from running. Also, I think that first baby pic of David looks kinda like my baby pic!! Miss you bunches.