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PATAGONIA LAKE STATE PARK (AZ) - WEEK 1



Since we've already disclosed all the "unique" locations we explored on our travel day today, all that's left to do is share our campsite photos.

Without any further adieu, here they are!

Can you spot the lake in this photo?
Trust me, there's a 90' deep and 265 acre lake down there.

It's one of the busiest, and therefore hardest, Arizona State Parks to score a campsite in...

...but we reserved our site a year ago and landed a prime waterfront site with an incredible view.

Once again we have "THE" site in the park and not just "A" site.
As a bonus for signing up so early, we have a full two weeks here to enjoy this campsite.



TUESDAY - This morning we're headed over to visit the Tumacácori National Historical Park located some 29-miles north of our campsite.

The park is the site of a small Jesuit Catholic Church used from 1757 to 1767. Then a larger Fransican Catholic Church was constructed between 1800 and 1824 and was placed right next door to the older church.

All that's left of the original church is the foundation and a few short walls, but the newer church has slowly been under preservation and restoration efforts since the early 1900s.


Like so many other locations across the southwest, this is a place were the Spanish colonization efforts were to transform an original O’odham Indian village into a New Spain style village, complete with new food, language, clothing, agriculture, and most importantly a new religion.

Now, hundreds of years later, I'd say their efforts were largely unsuccessful. The O’odham Nation descendants are still here in Arizona, practicing and teaching their own beliefs, ceremonies, language and traditions.


TUMACÁCORI
NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK


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The newer Fransican church as seen through the portico of the Visitor Center.
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Here are the two churches side by side.
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A lot of repairs have been made to the church since 1912, but there is still a lot to do.
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An artist rendering of what the church nave would has looked like.
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Here's what the nave looked like today.
No pews were ever used here, people knelt or stood during services.
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Above the arched entrance way is where the choir sang from a balcony.
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Some of the original artistry still remains on the walls of the sanctuary.
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The sanctuary was located under the big white dome.
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This foundation marks the location of an earlier building.
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Here is all that's left of the older church.
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The only remaining residential unit in the compound.
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The porch roof is made of ocotillo trunks.
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Inside shows how the roof was supported. It was constantly in need of maintenance.


After our sightseeing was complete it was time to get to a few overdue chores.

First up was lunch at Chipolte's, I know that's twice in less than a month, but we used to eat there once a week when still living in South Florida.

Next up I dropped Tricia off at the laundromat with our 2½-weeks worth of dirty laundry.

While Tricia was busy with the laundry I drove over to the Chase Bank in town and withdrew $100 cash to replace our pocket money.

Next up was a trip to Walmart to fill one of our 3-gallon water bottles.

Lastly was a trip to the Tractor Supply Store to refill one of our 30-lb propane tanks.

Conveniently, all of my chores were located within one mile of the laundromat, so I was back just in time to see our clothes headed for the dryers.


With all the chores taken care of it was time to drive the 15-miles back to the campsite.



THURSDAY - After taking yesterday off it was time to get out and take in another sightseeing trip.

First up, you guessed it, time for breakfast. Using Google and Yelp we always manage to find a good place to eat.

Gathering Grounds was the perfect place for a home cooked breakfast.

On the left Tricia enjoyed her Everything Bagel with bacon, egg and cheese.
While I sampled the Biscuit and Gravy Breakfast with Potatoes and Scrambled Eggs.


After breakfast we drove two blocks down the street to the Post Office where we picked up our mail which I had sent here last week.

Breakfast and the Post Office were both in the small town of Patagonia (pop. 804), but our sightseeing outing begins in the next town down the road in Sonoita (pop. 803) at the intersection of AZ-82 and AZ-83.


We took Arizona State Route 83 south and were very soon leaving the town of Sonoita behind and entering the boundaries of the Coronado National Forest.

Today's sightseeing loop will be just over 150-miles long, with 28-miles of that being on gravel roads at 15MPH.


CORONADO NATIONAL FOREST
AND
CORONADO NATIONAL MEMORIAL


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We soon found ourselves driving through the Canelo Hills region.
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After the town of Canelo, AZ-83 goes up on to a ridgeline with some fantastic views.
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Soon we found ourselves at the Lakeview Campground.
Next to the campground was a marina, complete with all kinds of boat rentals.
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Just passed the campground the pavement ends and the gravel road begins.
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This Sotol bloom will have bright yellow flowers in early May.
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The Agave plant will bloom only once at the end it's 25-30 year lifespan.
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There's still plenty of gravel road to travel so we'll keep moving.
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This snow-capped mountain is on the other side of THE WALL in Mexico.
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This is where we leave the Coronado Forest and enter the Coronado National Memorial.
It also happens to be at the highest elevation we will travel today.
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This is the view westward, back towards the Coronado National Forest we just left behind.
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You can see a portion of the gravel road we traveled in this photo.
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Looking eastward down into the Montezuma Canyon in the National Memorial.
The long straight diagonal line in this photo is THE WALL between Mexico and the U.S.
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We will have to negotiate a few switchbacks before we reach
the Coronado National Memorial Visitor Center down at the bottom.
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Just before the Visitor Center we see a welcome sight,
double yellow lines on a paved asphalt roadway.


After checking out the Visitor Center at the Coronado National Memorial we had reached the halfway point of our route for today. We can't go any further south without our passports so we started heading north.

Our next sightseeing stop is the McDonald's in the neaby town of Sierra Vista. This location in particular is famous for something unique to McDonald's in 1975.


If you were paying attention to the details in the two photos above you've likely noticed what made this McDonald's famous.

If you read the details of the sign in the first photo you'll know this location was the first McDonald's Drive-Thru Window. The operator of this franchise had a problem and the solution was simple, punch a hole in the outer wall and install a drive through window.

The problem were the rules on military decorum which prevented military officers from the nearby Fort Huachuca from being seen in public while wearing their duty uniform. This made a sit-down lunch impossible for the officers and at the time McDonald's was trying to present the impression of a "diner style" atmosphere and not a fast food restaurant.

With the addition of the drive through window on January 24, 1975 the military officers were now able to drive up, order their food and be on their way with no one the wiser, except maybe the cashier at the window.

The original McDonald's building has long ago been torn down and replaced with the brand new updated look, but it still occupies the same location and maintains the same address.


In the second photo I'll admit the clue isn't nearly as apparent. If you look closely at the lower left pocket of Ronald McDonald's jumpsuit you'll see the perforations of the speaker and microphone holes that was used as the intercom system of the original drive through lane.

This fiberglass statue was saved, then restored and it can now be seen in the lobby of the current McDonald's. It's rumored the original drive through window itself can be seen at the Henry F. Hauser Museum, a museum of local Sierra Vista history in town.


Our last stop on today's tour is to visit the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, a Bureau of Land Management property with two "official" free campgrounds. The first was the smaller 3-site Road Canyon Camp Area which is 3-miles down a gravel road from the AZ-82 highway. The larger second 8-site campground, Cieneguita Camp Area, was only about 1-mile from the pavement and 4-miles from AZ-83 highway.

Both locations were fully occupied this Thursday afternoon, meaning the are both popular locations to camp.



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