Sonoita, Arizona

Trip Start Mar 26, 2008
Trip End Dec 07, 2008

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Where I stayed
The Walkers Ranch

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, April 17, 2008

"On the road again..."  Now this was definitely feeling like a road trip.  The roads to Arizona were loooong and many of them very straight.  Chris drove the whole way and spent a bit of time just changing lanes for a change of scene.  We really enjoyed the scenery on this drive, quite diverse from huge bouldered hills to white sand desert.  It was facinating to drive along the border of Mexico and see all of the border patrol vehicles.  We headed through Tucson and had some dinner there, before discovering our first Walmart.  What a store!   Leaving Tucson later than planned we raced the fading sun to try and reach the Ranch before dark and managed to pull in as the sun went down.  Even in the fading light we could tell that the Walker ranch was really something special.  We came into the main house and were truely astounded to find one of the most facinating pieces of architecture I have ever seen.  I fell for this place straight away.  Jody showed us our rooms, truly beautiful in every way.  There is also a great attic room which typically all of the kids were keen to sleep in.  Age won out and Samantha is up there.  We all enjoyed a great nights sleep and the next morning had a bit of an explore.  There are cows and sheep, horses and chickens, a swimming pool, spa, sauna and fitness room, with raquet ball court complete with basketball hoop.  Could this be more like our perfect home!  Chris Cass and I headed into town, Patagonia and went to a great Organic shop there as well as having some lunch in a great little cafe, what a neat small town. On the way home a border control check point stopped us and asked for our travel documents.  We showed our drivers licenses and explained we were staying nearby and had left our passports at home.  He explained we needed to carry our travel documents everywhere with us and if we didn't we could be arrested on the spot.  OOOPS.  Very nice guy though and he was polite but firm, not too scarey but a lesson learnt. 

While we have been at Jody and Teds' ranch we have really made the most of the opportunity to relax in a really amazing setting.  It is an absolute contrast to New Zealand, really dry and at this time of the year brown, but it is none the less a stunningly beautiful landscape.  We have had plenty of down time here, Jody and Ted have the biggest video and DVD collection I have ever seen and the kids have loved that.  We all have read books and enjoyted the hammock overlooking the ranch.  The evenings have been surreal, beautiful sunsets, cool breeze and often the sight and sound of Ted and others roping calves in the arena.  With a gym and racquetball court as well as pool spa and sauna, we have had endless things to do.  

We have had our share of activity too.  We went and visited Tombstone, and saw the sites of this historic cowboy town.  We also went to Bisbee and went on a mine tour, which took us on a train into an underground mine (freezing)  Facinating to hear how these mines were operated.  We all left with a hearty appreciation of day light and no inclination to become a miner.  We took the opportunity to give the car a wash on the way home as you can tell from the earlier photos we had some pretty serious road kill on our windscreen!

We also hosted a large local fundraising evening at the Ranch while we were here, 200 people a great band and choir and great entertainment in the arena. The kids helped with parking cars in the paddocks and Samantha helped people negotiate the cow grate on the way out.  It was a neatr evening, some really lovely people and a very successful fundraiser.

One day we headed for Karchner Caverns and had a really interesting tour of two of the rooms that were open.  The biggest room closed at the beginning fo the month for the bats to breed, but we saw some magnificent live staligmites and stalagtites, columns and soda straws and many more, what a magnificent geography lesson!  The story of these caverns is facinating and I would recommend googling them to learn more.

Jody also took us for a morning to Nogales in Mexico only about 35 miles from the ranch.  Really cute town with so much shopping and haggling it was a real eye opener for the kids.  Our last night is an opportunity to help out hosting the local Chamber of Commerce, these people sure know how to stay busy.  

Our experience here has been amazing, we have met some lovely down to earth and kind people who are so genuine.  Jody and Ted are really great people and it has been such an opportunity us all to experience their home and way of life.  They work really hard and are so happy to share their life with others.  We enjoyed some really nice meals out in this area, but also some fabulous homecooked meals as well as the company of family and friends.  Arizona rocks! 

Tomorrow we head for Chandler, just outside Phoenix for a few days.  Back to the city life.
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tomandgayle on

On the Road -- Arizona
You guys are really getting around! Walker Ranch looks fantastic -- is this like a dude ranch, or were you able to arrange a hospitality home exchange? This is an area we'll have to visit some time. How was the weather in April? Keep on truckin'!
Tom and Gayle

chicagomarie on

Thanks for adding me to the blog - it'll be great to read along as you get closer and closer to Chicago.

I'm not sure if you'll have time between Sonoita and your next stop, but I have recommendations for Tucson if you plan on spending some time there.

My brother and father live in Tucson and can be of help should you need any - let me know if you want their phone numbers.

In Tucson:

The Desert Museum is a must see! You will learn so much about the desert and it's vast variety of flora and fauna. There are species of cacti that exist only in the Sonora Desert - and the kids can see mountain lions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, etc.

Sabino Canyon is also a great place to see an amazing desert environment. You can take a tram up into the canyon while hearing a guided tour, then get off and hike. The Canyon is a higher altitude and will be cooler than the rest of the valley floor.

My favorite Mexican restaurant is El Minuto, near the Tucson Community Center. Mi Nidito is also excellent.

Old Tucson is a goofy but fun movie set/ghost town where many, many old westerns were filmed. Now it has shoot-outs and other silly things that the kids might like.

If you have time go to the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch for a weekend brunch. Set as far east into the mountains as you can go, it's a fantastic dude ranch.

Will you be staying in Phoenix? If so, grab lunch at the Biltmore Hotel which is simply fabulous for architecture, history and service.

If you go to Sedona get one of the jeep tours - well worth it. Sedona has become a bit touristy, but the jeep tours will take you up into the red rock and give you fabulous views. There's great shopping to be done in Sedona.

As you can tell, I'm very proud of my home state and love to show it off! Please, let me know if you want any tips or suggestions, or if you need any help. My brother lives in Mesa, east of Phoenix, and can also be of help should you need it.

Happy and safe travels!

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