Snowbound in Patagonia

January 21-22, 2007

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a getting stuck.
That started in a desert town, aboard a tiny truck.
My mate is a mighty hailin' man, an old ham brave and sure.
Two passengers set out that day, for a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour.

After a week of unseasonably cold, damp weather, I was literally clawing at the door. Since it was too cold to hike or bike, we decided to go four-wheeling in Patagonia (our favorite playground). It was a beautiful drive from Meadow Valley Flat along Apache Road to Duquesne and Lochiel, and returning north through the San Rafael Valley, where we saw countless raptors.

By late afternoon, inky black clouds enveloped the Santa Ritas, but we weren't worried. Hey, this is southern Arizona!

While we were having dinner at the Velvet Elvis, it began to snow big, fat white flakes.

My apologies to my sisters in Denver and Hastings and my buddy Kathy in Seattle, who have endured such terrible storms this winter, but snow in southern Arizona is a religious experience!

Like all men with a new 4WD pickup and all the latest whiz-bangs, Dennis believes he can drive in any conditions. By the time we started the run uphill from Sonoita, Route #83 was blanketed with two inches of fresh snow over a sheet of glare ice. As the Taco Ma skated toward the ditch, I helpfully pointed out that I was the one with 27 years' experience driving on snow-covered roads.

Back in Patagonia — and still speaking to each other — we were lucky to find a B & B with an inexpensive room and two really great cats. We woke up in another world: a high-and-dry desert wrapped in several inches of thick, wet, fluffy, fresh snow!

Red Mountain (today it's White Mountain).

Another band of snow showers chops off the tops of the Santa Ritas.

Looking south of the border into a valley obscured by a thick layer of snog (snow + fog).

An old windmill near Patagonia matches the metallic color of the sky.

The Taco Ma learns to skate.

Grasslands Café in Sonoita.

Once the road salt took hold, Route 83 reopened and we returned to Tucson. It was a little disappointing to see most of the snow had already melted.

"S'allright?" "S'allright." Dennis uncovers the tender plants that spent the night under an old sheet and several inches of snow!