SKP’s For A Week, Kartchner Caverns…and Guano – Benson, AZ
We’ve finally made it south of Tucson and I have to admit I like it. Something about getting out of the “big city” (I know, my definition of city sizes has shrunk pathetically since my bustling Hong Kong days) and back into the boonies just seems to give me a sense of peace. Not only that but we’ve managed to squeeze our way as guests into the Escapee’s Co-Op here in Benson, AZ. That means we get to rent a lot like one of the locals and play at being SKP’s. The privilege includes a rather cute welcome packet and a special name -> we’re called Cactus Wren’s….at least for a week.
The stay also comes with a bit of socializing, as you would expect. We’ve already had happy hour with several of our friends, Suzy&Jerry -> bloggers we’ve followed on the road, Tom&Jil -> long-term RVers we met in Utah in 2010, and Grant&Kathy -> the lighthouse hosts we met in Oregon last year. We’ve also hosted a full Cuban dinner (Paul cooked up a storm of black beans, rice, ropa vieja and flan, topped off by Mojito’s) and we’ve even forayed out for a night “on the town”. Now Benson isn’t exactly a rockin’ place being a smallish spot of only ~5000 folks (and a fair few retirees), but it does sport a decent Mexican restaurant (Mi Casa) and a very local bar (The Arena). The latter is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place where all 8 regulars turn to gawk at you as you come in and the first words out of the young blond bartender are “you’re not from round here, are you?”. But at $3.50 for the biggest G&T you’ll ever see, how can you not love it?
And really, there’s quite a bit to see and do around here. In fact we completed our very first outing today with a short visit to nearby Kartchner Caverns. Discovered in 1974 these limestone caverns are incredibly well-preserved and contain some rather nice and unique formations including a huge 58-foot tall column, zany Helictites (think crazy brain in calcium), seductive Cave Bacon (self-explanatory), tasty-looking “Turnip” shields that look like…well…turnips, and the fossil remains of an 80,000 year old Shasta Ground Sloth. And they get bats, lots of bats, at least in summer. The bats eat, procreate and shit leaving huge mounds of Bat Guano that in turn support literally dozens of smaller organisms. Fascinating, eh?
Sadly I have no photos of this adventure since cameras are forbidden in the cave (it’s a travesty I know), but Paul and I did manage to collapse & giggle all our way home by thinking up creative ways to use the word “guano”. “Holy Guano, did I really see that?”, “That guy has Guano for brains”, “No Guano, Sherlock!”, “I’m up Guano creek without a bat”, “By jove, pray excuse me as I nip out for a quick Guano”…can you see the genuis? This is a WHOLE marketing angle that Kartchner Caverns has obviously missed out on. I mean think of the T-shirts, magnets…a guano-load of fabulous items.
Oh well, not all can share our demented sense of humor. So in the meantime I leave you with shots of the lovely desert around the SKP park. Perhaps my guano-brain will get back to normal by tomorrow.
NOTE/ For those interested in staying closer to “the action”, Kartchner Caverns State Park has a very nice paw-friendly on-site RV campground with pleasant views of the surrounding mountains plus hiking trails. We would certainly stay there.