Tucson – April 2023 – Roasting Agave

April is the time of year for roasting agave for a multiple of purposes. The photo below shows a field of them not yet ready for harvest at the Mission Garden where we attending an event to highlight the long history of roasting agave.

The harvesting involves pulling the entire plant and cutting off the leaves.

Once you have the hearts separated from the leaves all of the pieces are placed into a pit, covered with layers of agave pieces, burlap and finally dirt and roasted for 48 hours. The burlap keeps the agave clean while it roasts.

We arrived not long before it was time to open the pit. This person decided to test how warm the ground felt.

Time to open it up!

There were multiple layers of agave plants, along with burlap and other coverings. First to come out were the leaves.

The roasting gives the leaves a distinctive smell and taste.

Once the leaves were removed it revealed the layer of burlap overtop the hearts in the bottom of the pit.

At last, the roasted agave hearts.

While a variety of products, both alcoholic and non alcoholic, can be made from the hearts, you can chew the pieces for a somewhat sweet taste.

In addition to food and drink products, some people use the agave stalks to make amazing art pieces, including this fiddle.

Agave has a long history in this part of the world, providing food, sweets and drink from the time of the Hohokam.

Kalispell, Montana – April 2023 – Road Trip

A flight to Kalispell, Montana was quickly followed up with a 3 1/2 hour road trip down to Helena, taking Montana Highway 83 along Swan Lake.

There is debate if the lake is named after actual swans or an early resident whose sir name happened to be Swan.

The mountains are also known as the Swan Range.

Due to some quirky laws there are a plethora of small casinos throughout the state, seemingly always attached to a gas station.

This particular one has a lot of bull, and a little dinosaur.

The return trip provided this excellent view of MacDonald Pass

Much of Montana looks like this, cows and small mountains, backed by larger mountains.

The route north on U.S. 93 provided these great views of the Mission Mountains.

The road up the west side of Flathead Lake was scenic, bringing this round trip to an end back in Kalispell.

Time to ride on out of here.

Bisbee, Arizona – April 2023 – A Colorful Town

The town of Bisbee is well known as an artist’s center, and the houses, stairways and artwork show it.

We went on what turned out to be a personal walking tour with Boyd Nicoll on the streets and stairways along the hills above the main street.

Boyd is a long time resident and photographer of Bisbee, as well as a leader of the local museum. His knowledge of the town added to the visual impact.

Cochise County, Arizona – April 2023 – Cochise Stronghold

What was hoped to be a hike in the mountains at Cochise Stronghold turned out to be a bust because one of the washes had too much water for a safe crossing.

A side trip through a campground that had in previous years had a wildfire showed that nature can make a stunning comeback, with the spring grass bright green with evidence of the previous wildfire still evident.

As we were leaving the area we came across this beautiful setting with some white tail deer frolicking in the tall grasses. Sometimes busts turn out to be winners!

One of my personal favorite photos in a long time, sheer luck with the timing and setting.

Tucson – April 2022 – Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park is one of the most popular hiking locales in all of Southern Arizona. The scenery is spectacular.

A few wildflowers are still in bloom.

Saguaros can live over 150 years, but even when they reach their end, they are impressive, and provide habitat for wildlife.

The Canyon Loop Trail starts out by making your way across a wide wash where you will get your feet a bit wet.

After climbing out of the wash you make your way back towards the mountains for a mile or so, passing a variety of scenic landscapes.

Eventually you make the turn and start heading back, with most of the return route through the washes.

And if you are a beagle the perfect ending is a quick dip in the cool water of the creek.

Tucson – April 2023 – Variety of Mt Lemmon

A beautiful Sunday was the perfect time for a ride up Mt Lemmon.

First stop was Rose Lake, a reservoir high enough in elevation (7000′) that it is in a Ponderosa Pine forest.

A view from Windy Point. Even though it is only about 1000′ in elevation lower than Rose Lake, the look is very different.

Once you drop down below 4000′ you see the Saguaro and Brittle Bushes in bloom.

Elgin, Arizona – April 2023 – Flying Leap Vineyards

The area around Willcox, Elgin and Sonoita Arizona have a climate and soil conditions similar to California and Argentina, as they are over 5000′ in elevation resulting is ‘not as hot’ a climate. As a result there are more than 15 wineries in Sonoita and Elgin alone, and another 14 in Willcox.

We stopped by the Flying Leap Vineyard near Elgin for some tasting and a tour. While it is too early for the grapes to be growing, it is still a picturesque setting.

Not only does Flying Leap make wine, they also make spirits, and the nice people at Flying Leap showed me around.

The facility has separate tasing rooms for the spirits and the wines.

You are more than welcome to wander around the facility.

They are very dog friendly!

While there are many tasting rooms in the area, a stop at Flying Leap is highly recommended.

Superior, Arizona – April 2023 – Spring Bloom at the Arboretum

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the oldest and largest arboretum in Arizona, covering almost 400 acres. A picture perfect, 75 degree Sunday in April was a great chance to check out the spring blooms.

A Texas Mountain Laurel (according to Google Images – which educate me each time I do a posting like this)

An unusual pairing, a barrel cactus and daisies.

The blooms of an aloe plant.

An Organ Pipe cactus

A Yucca in bloom.

The Clevenger House was built in the early 1900s, using the canyon as one of the walls for the house.

The Palm Grove

A mountain aloe

It is amazing what can grow on the rocks of a cliff, with as little rainfall as this area gets.

We ended our tour with this hummingbird doing it’s thing.