Category Archives: Wildlife Photography

On Vacation in Arizona

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Lost Dutchman State Park backs up to the Superstition Mountains just east of Phoenix AZ

Lost Dutchman State Park backs up to the Superstition Mountains just east of Phoenix AZ

For the last 3 weeks we’ve been traveling throughout Arizona with our best friends Jeff and Lisa. They own the Inn at Stockbridge and came to Arizona to escape the snow and cold back in Massachusetts. They’re not RV’ers (yet) so they booked lodging close to where we reserved campsites.

First Stop: Tucson, AZ.

For the first leg on our joint venture, Cindy and I spent 5 nights at Catalina State Park in Oro Valley. Oro Valley is an upscale suburb just north of Tucson and home to multiple golf resorts, restaurants and ritzy shopping centers. Most of our time was spent just hanging out with our friends but we did manage to take a drive down to Bisbee AZ. Bisbee is an old mining town near the Mexican border with lots of restaurants, inns and art galleries. There’s also a nice RV park within walking distance of town making this a probable destination for a future trip.

Bisbee was a highly prosperous gold, silver and copper mining town from the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s.

Bisbee was a highly prosperous gold, silver and copper mining town from the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s.

On the way to Bisbee, we drove through the streets of Tombstone and saw lots of cowboys, gunfighters and saloon girls. It’s a little touristy for our tastes but this would be a great place to visit with kids.

Later that afternoon, we headed back to Tucson via Tumacacori AZ to eat dinner at a Mexican restaurant recommended by my sister called Wisdom’s Cafe. Despite our arriving early on a weeknight, the place was packed. Tumacacori must be a popular retirement community since we were by far the youngest people there. The meal was worth the effort and after two margaritas I was seeing double. It’s a good thing I wasn’t driving.

Next Up: Apache Junction, AZ

I’ve always read good things about Lost Dutchman State Park and after finally camping here, it’s easy to see why. It’s located at the foot of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction just east of Phoenix.

Saguaro Cactus, purple mountains and beautiful sunsets make Lost Dutchman State Park a “must see” destination.

Saguaro Cactus, purple mountains and beautiful sunsets make Lost Dutchman State Park a “must see” destination.

There’s miles of trails and wonderful views in all directions. We saw lots of new birds to add to our list. I put up a hummingbird feeder and within minutes, we had hummers all around. I set up my camera under the shade of our awning and took some pics during the cocktail hour. Who said wildlife photography has to be hard?

Photographing humming birds is pretty simple…just put up a feeder and snap away as the birds back away from the feeder. You’ll notice a pattern to their behavior which makes it’s easy to anticipate where they’ll be.

Photographing humming birds is pretty simple…just put up a feeder and snap away as the birds back away from the feeder. You’ll notice a pattern to their behavior which makes it’s easy to anticipate where they’ll be.

This Curve-billed Thrasher is unique to the southwest and was a frequent visitor to our campsite.

This Curve-billed Thrasher is unique to the southwest and was a frequent visitor to our campsite.

Gambel’s Quail are also unique to the southwest and are very similar to the California Quail. This guy and his mate would make their way around our campsite most evenings.

Gambel’s Quail are also unique to the southwest and are very similar to the California Quail. This guy and his mate would make their way around our campsite most evenings.

The Apache Trail is an old stagecoach road that runs through the Superstition Mountains. It always been on my “must-do” list and we spent the better part of a day making the 120 loop drive. About 20 miles of the route is a poorly maintained dirt road and with sheer drop offs and no guard rails, it’s not intended for the faint of heart. When we finally arrived to where the pavement resumes, my suggestion that we return the way we came was met with a chorus of boos from my 3 passengers.

The Roosevelt Dam is located at the end of the unpaved portion of the Apache Trail.

The Roosevelt Dam is located at the end of the unpaved portion of the Apache Trail.

View to the north from one of the many trails in the Lost Dutchman State Park.

View to the north from one of the many trails in the Lost Dutchman State Park.

Leg 3: Sedona, AZ

Before our 3 week trip began, all of us were looking forward to visiting Sedona the most. Sedona is gorgeous and if you’ve never been there, you must go. As we traveled around Arizona over the course of our 3 weeks, we had many conversations on what it would be like to live in or near each of the places we visited. With its resort-like atmosphere and hoards of tourists, Sedona fell to the bottom of our list of desirable places to live.

I, along with hundreds of other photographers at the Airport’s scenic overlook, attempted to capture an iconic image of the red cliffs of Sedona. Supposedly, just after the sun sets, the cliffs glow as if on fire but low clouds in the western sky prevented this from occurring on this particular evening.

I, along with hundreds of other photographers at the Airport’s scenic overlook, attempted to capture an iconic image of the red cliffs of Sedona. Supposedly, just after the sun sets, the cliffs glow as if on fire but low clouds in the western sky prevented this from occurring on this particular evening.

Even though all of us had been to the Grand Canyon, we decided to see it again since it’s so close. We arrived in time for lunch at the historic El Tovar Lodge. T&E spent the afternoon, against their wishes, at the Park’s kennels located nearby. Even though it was a weekday with school in session, the place was packed. Cindy and I are looking forward to seeing the much-less-visited north rim at some point in the future.

Midday view of the Grand Canyon. It’s impossible to describe just how vast and huge the Grand Canyon is and photographs can often be disappointing. Placing a person in your photo adds perspective which can help in capturing the Canyon’s grandeur.

Midday view of the Grand Canyon. It’s impossible to describe just how vast and huge the Grand Canyon is and photographs can often be disappointing. Placing a person in your photo adds perspective which can help in capturing the Canyon’s grandeur.

Despite the crowds, lunch was excellent. Afterwards we retrieved T&E for a trip up the canyon to witness sunset without the crowds.

Snow was present during our mid-March visit to the Grand Canyon.

Snow was present during our mid-March visit to the Grand Canyon.

We arrived about an hour before sunset which gave me plenty of time to set up for a time lapse sunset video of the Grand Canyon. Toward the end of the video, you’ll see the magical glow that occurs shortly after the sun sets.

Final leg: Prescott, AZ

We arrived in Prescott on an overcast and misty afternoon. The Points of Rock RV Park has lots of permanent residents which can give an RV park a run-down feel. The weather combined with the drive through the campground gave us a poor first impression of Prescott. However, as the week wore on, our impressions of both the RV park and Prescott changed for the better. Prescott is a very homey town with everything you’d want and need. Our campsite had a great view and a surprisingly wonderful trail that overlooks Watson Lake.

A trail leading from Points of Rock RV Park provides a wonderful view of Watson Lake.

A trail leading from Points of Rock RV Park provides a fantastic view of Watson Lake.

Jeff and Lisa head home.

It was great fun having our friends visit for the past 3 weeks. Cindy and I broke from our normal routine which made the last 3 weeks seem like a vacation to us as well. While Lisa and Jeff fly home to run their Inn, Cindy and I will be heading back to New Mexico then up to Colorado as the weather warms.

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