Last month we finally broke down and bought a popup camper. I have no idea why we waited this long.
We’ve had a rather warm winter in Southern Arizona so we planned to break in the camper the weekend after Christmas. The day of our trip a cold front came into town – highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. We were really looking forward to getting out of town so we decided to continue with the trip. We took a space heater, extra blankets and practically every warm piece of clothing we own.
We stayed in the RV park at the Triangle T Guest Ranch in Dragoon, AZ, which is in Texas Canyon. When I told people we were going to Texas Canyon I often got a puzzled look. It’s about an hour east of Tucson on I-10 and the area is covered in huge boulders. It’s not very long and you may miss it if you are not paying attention, but it’s super cool. The Triangle T is located among the boulders and was paradise for the kids. They spent hours climbing up and down the rocks. We really enjoyed camping here and will definitely be back.
We went camping with my in-laws and were in sites 7 & 8. The two best spots in the place, in my opinion. Particularly if you are camping with someone else. There was a picnic table and fire pit in-between the sites and there was plenty of open space. The popup is in site 8 and the motorhome is in site 7. The rest of the sites were a combination of pull-thru and back-in sites and were a little closer together.
I went to the top of one of the rocks once and it was really an incredible view. It would be a great place to watch the sunset.
An ariel view of our campsite.
We even took a family selfie.
Sandhill cranes winter in the Sulphur Springs Valley due to the shallow wetlands and abundant nearby crops. This area is very close to where were staying so we decided to take a day trip to do a little birding. As we were driving towards one of the three wildlife viewing areas we saw a huge flock of sandhill cranes fly out of a field and right over our car. I took some pictures out of the window but we did not think to stop. Looking back, we should have pulled over. We’re new to this birding thing.
Our first stop was the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. There is no signage on the road and we drove by it the first time. I am actually thankful we missed the turn because we likely would not have seen the cranes had we not missed the turn. Pay attention to the mileage listed on the website directions for this area. Once you are in the parking area you’ll see this sign.
There is a nice easy trail in the area that we walked. You could definitely take children but you are walking in dirt and a stroller may have a little trouble. Also, there is a barbed wire fence around the area and I don’t think a stroller would fit through the opening. Be prepared to lift it over the fence.
We did not see any wildlife but it was very peaceful walk.
Since we did not see any cranes at Willcox Playa we drove to the Apache Station viewing area. Here is a link to an area map that highlights the best places to view the cranes.
It’s called Apache Station because it’s right next to the Apache Station power plant. There is a viewing platform and several binoculars to look through.
At first we thought these were sandhill cranes but think they may be ducks. They landed just as we were walking up and we left before they did. We tried to wait it out but the wind picked up and it was cold.
We really enjoyed birding and will likely take a day trip to this area again soon.
For Christmas we were given a ladder ball set and the kids love it. It’s not something I would have purchased but I highly recommend it now. We spent hours playing.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it was really cold. I can now check Camp in Freezing Weather off my bucket list. We had planned to stay the entire weekend but left after dinner last night because I just could not take sleeping in the cold another night. When we woke up yesterday morning it was 21 with a windchill of 18. I think our space heater was even cold. It was much nicer in the afternoon when the sun was shining but really cold weather is brutal.
When we woke up Saturday morning my car was covered in frost and it looked so neat.
We also got to see water freeze. Had I known it was going to happen I would have recorded a video of it. I had two gallon jugs of water in my car that stayed in there over night. They were not frozen when I took them out of the car but 60 seconds after they were placed on the frozen picnic table the water was frozen. We all stood there in amazement wondering if we actually just saw that happen. The ice started at the top of the jug and the grew to the bottom. One of the coolest (literally and figuratively) things I’ve ever seen.
Even though our trip was short we accomplished quite a lot: broke in our camper, saw hundreds of sandhill cranes, climbed huge rocks, spent time with family, learned what it is like to camp in crazy cold weather (and learned we don’t want to do it again), watched water freeze, and most importantly, made memories that we will cherish forever. Don’t forget to get outdoors, my friends. I promise you will not regret it.