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A Patagonia Escape

A little over a week ago Betty and I loaded up the RV and our dog, Bailey, and headed to the southern Arizona area around Patagonia. About 3 hours from our home, it is the perfect spot for a 4 day getaway. Patagonia Lake State Park is about 10 minutes south of the small (920 residents) town, and 20 minutes north of the border with Mexico. 

Yes, there is already a wall there. It runs right through the middle of Nogales, dividing the town into American and Mexican communities. Border patrol check points are common on the major roads in and out of the area. Seeing a white and green Border Patrol truck perched on a ridge line is par for the course.

The American side is lined with massive warehouses, trucks coming and going at all hours with produce and products bound for one side of the border or the other. I imagine a tightening of the border or a change in NAFTA would hit this part of the state pretty hard.

But, all that politics aside, we came to relax, give Bailey the chance to explore a new area chock full of smells and sights, and step off the merry-go-round for awhile. Long walks around the large lake were accompanied by the sounds of hundreds of birds tweeting from dawn until dusk. Saturday morning we took a pontoon boat tour while a guide told us about the history of the lake and the wild plants we were seeing all around us. This part of Arizona is a major birding destination, so information on what was flying over our heads was an added bonus.

We slept late, read a lot, watched downloaded Netflix shows since Internet doesn't exist, and enjoyed a few dinners in town. With only 4 restaurants to choose from, Patagonia is not a foodie destination. Actually, one of those eating spots is not open Sunday evenings, so choices are quite limited. Arizona wine country is only 25 minutes away though, with some additional dining and wine tasting options in nearby towns.

The town has an active local theater organization with its own dedicated performance venue. Plays, art films, and exhibitions are common. Opened for only a few months. a brand-new Opera House is now part of community life, too. Based on the entertainment model of old western opera house entertainment,  this 80 seat building features local and regional music as well as dance performances. On one of the days we were in town a trio from the Tucson Symphony held a concert in the Opera House; it was sold out for the night time show.

The last time we were in Patagonia was probably 4 years ago. Frankly, Betty and I were a bit disappointed in the changes we noted in town. Two restaurants and a large antique business are gone. The town's coffee shop and ice cream parlor locks its doors at 4pm. Everything had a bit more run-down feel. Tourist traffic was light, though birders were in evidence, obvious with their long lens cameras and binoculars. 

On the plus side, we loved the State Park. It was obviously spring break for the kids in the area. Hundreds took advantage of the time off to come with their families to enjoy the sandy beach, boating and kayaking options, and sitting around camp fires each evening. With overnight lows near freezing, those blazing logs added needed warmth and delicious smells to the night air. Since many of the campers were in tents, the fires were restarted early each morning to help defrost the adventurers.

I will leave you with some pictures, and a teaser: Betty and I reached an important decision about our future vacation plans. I will share those thoughts in a future post.

The break is over and spring time activities are in full swing. But, thank you, Patagonia Lake State Park for a memorable time!


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