And on Tuesday after my brother had flown back to Los Angeles and work, my mother, aunt and I set off to southeastern Arizona for our three-day mini trip in the middle of our vacation.
This was taken at the parking lot of Kartchner Caverns looking west at the Whetstone Mountains. If you remember the first picture I posted of our trip was of the Dragoon Mountains, those would be directly behind me to the east (but 20 miles away). The leafless trees are mesquite and the green spiky plant is some type of agave. People are always surprised that the desert isn't just sand and tumbleweeds, but full of all sorts of interesting plants and grasses. Also, this part of Arizona is almost 7,000 feet above sea level which creates an entirely different ecosystem than that of Phoenix or Tucson or even around the Grand Canyon.
I wish I could have taken pictures inside Kartchner Caverns (click on the link to read all about the cave's history), but it is a living cave (unlike Mammoth and Carlsbad, our two biggest and dead caverns) and they are very cautious about bringing anything inside that could damage the environment. They limit the number of people who can tour, have airlocks protecting the interior and lecture you about not touching anything other than the hand railing.
Here is a photo from the park's website of the Big Room where we toured:
|© Arizona State Parks|
The cave was discovered by two college students the same year I first came to Sierra Vista to live (Sierra Vista is about 20 miles south). I must have driven by them while they were exploring this cave numerous times since Arizona Highway 90 where the park is located is the only way to Interstate 10. At that time AZ 90 was just a two-lane highway with just a gas station at the interchange. Today it is four-lane with motels, campgrounds and other touristy stuff.
When I would come back from being in Tucson or Phoenix for a weekend, I would crank up the 8-track (yes, it was that long ago) and head back to the wide open spaces of Cochise County, keeping an eye out for the police speed trap in Huachuca City, a couple miles before home. I forgot once and ended up with a speeding ticket, my contribution to Huachuca City's coffers.