A Hundred Hunters (And A Few Birds) – Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
I left you in the last post with visions of golden grasslands and romantically deserted views. Ah yes, it was indeed just so…until it was not. We were lounging in our spectacular spot over a quiet cup of early morning coffee when the wheels started rolling down the road. First one, then three, then more…”What the…??” These are the times where the strength of your boondocking etiquette comes to the test…when you’ve already settled into an ideal site and your peace gets interrupted in ways you didn’t expect. So, what do you do?
“What’s all the commotion?” I asked a guy rolling down the road
“Oh, we have a big group of women javelina hunters coming this week-end” he responded with a friendly smile
“Err, I see….how big a group we talking here?” I asked, suddenly feeling a tad nervous
“About a hundred or so” stated the man, rather deadpan I thought
“A HUNDRED????!!!! Really??? Here???” I managed to squeek “Oh S..T!”
And no, he was not joking. Moments later a generator starting rumbling and porta-potties rolled down the road. Argh!! This was not the scene we expected and there was no way we were going to change it. So, following tip #7 we did the only other possible thing we could do…raised our jacks and moved. Yeah, these things happen in the boonies, even in the most remote of spots and when they do you just gotta go with the flow. We drove a few miles down, found another sweet spot and settled in. New view, new site…nearly as gorgeous as the first, and totally quiet. Ahhhh….!
But WHERE is all this happening, for goodness sake!! Our remote little hideaway is in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in the far south of Arizona. It’s a unique 118,000-acre natural habitat of semi-desert grasslands stretching from the base of the sacred Baboquivari mountains to the border of Mexico. Poised at ~4,000 feet it sits high above the desert floor and supports over 330 species of birds and animals. It’s also around 10 miles from the sleepy little town of Arivaca, a mostly week-end destination of only ~700 inhabitants. This was the set of our lovers week-end…and once the hundred hunters were left to themselves it ended up exactly as planned.
In our new spot we settled down to a warm & relaxing few days. In sharp contrast to the blast-freeze happening up north, southern Arizona is currently having a heat-wave with some of the hottest temps on record for the season. We reached a toasty 85°F (=29°C) in our little spot…and this compared to SNOW that we saw this same week last year just 60 miles north in Tuscon! The forecasted heat wave was the whole reason we moved to higher elevation, mainly to get a few degrees cooler (and of course to bask in romantic soup). Even the flip-flop barometer isn’t perfect all the time, and being flexible is just one of the keys to a happy journey. True for RVing…true for life, eh?
But before I digress into philosophical babble, let me introduce you to this little corner of paradise. Apart from the gorgeous grasslands, which I’ve already aptly described, the surroundings here have several interesting attractions:
Southern Arizona is a hotbed of riparian zones. These sources of seasonal water create unique little biomes that, in turn, attract the birds. We’ve visited some of the spots in SE Arizona before, but have never explored the Arivaca area. Turns out there are two excellent, partially shaded and very easy trails on both sides of town where you can let your binoculars go wild. The Arivaca-Cienega Trail and Arivaca Creek Trail, both pooch-friendly with options to go on longer hikes for those so inclined. We conquered both of these allowing display of my extensive birding experience (which run along the lines of “Oh look, a tweety bird…how pretty”), and indulging a bit of mystery too (a rather intriguing abandoned ranch). Quite the cool spots, even if you aren’t as accomplished a birder as myself 🙂
The sleepy little town of Arivaca hides quite a few gems for it’s diminutive size. A quick walk around town will pass by the Mercantile, the artists Co-Op, the local bar and an outdoor Mexican food-stand. We hit the cute farmers market on Saturday where we picked up the most fabulous tamales ($7 for 1/2 dozen -> honestly don’t pass these up if you see them) and then motored on over to the local Gadson Coffee Co for a rather excellent mocha with a shaded view of the valley. The perfect little getaway for a week-end outing.
Back-Roads & Outings
Buenos Aires Refuge boasts a cute little visitors center (although it never seemed to be open when we went) as well as masses of miles of back-road trails including the 10-mile Pronghorn Drive scenic loop. For those looking for a little more adventure the 25-mile Ruby Road Drive takes you on scenic back-roads from Arivaca to just north of Nogales, with the option for a stop at the local ghost town….ooooooh! We didn’t make this latter one, but I have it tucked in our back-pocket for a return trip.
And the hundred hunters? Well, our new spot is well protected from the onslaught and we’ve heard nary a peep from the many rifled women, despite being just a few miles away. Apart from a few outings to town and a couple of short hikes we’ve passed our romantic week-end lounging peacefully at our site, soaking in the neon sunsets and meditating in perfect harmony with nature’s grasslands. We’re planning a few more days before we head on to parts unknown. By that time the hunters should be gone, week-end warriors back at work and the boonies should, once again, belong to us.