Monday, May 26, 2008

Good Bye Bypass

We went to a party in Cascabel last weekend to celebrate the defeat of the incredibly stupid idea of building an I-10 bypass through the San Pedro River Valley. The San Pedro is the only undammed river left in the Southwest, and it is a magnet for birders from all over the world. Not too many years ago, it flowed freely and was lined with magnificent cottonwood trees. Thanks to the burgeoning development upstream in Sierra Vista and the immunity from environmental concerns enjoyed by Ft Huachuca, the river is dry and most likely doomed. Putting another nail in its coffin by building an interstate bypass through here is an idea that could only originate in the evil mind of a developer or a politician.

Cascabel is a magical little community of gentle folks living simply. It's about 90 minutes east of Tucson, and 20 miles north of Benson. Tucson friends of ours recently bought some land along the river. They had two nasty old trailers and a considerable amount of junk hauled away. They built a sweet little 8' by 12' shed with a corrogated metal roof for their home away from home and they have a composting toilet. The well has been cleaned out, but its water is too rusty to drink. We parked our VW camper among their mesquites and had a delightful getaway.

The locals tell us that sightings of vermillion flycatchers, western tanagers and hooded orioles are routine. We still got a thrill every time we saw a brilliant flash of fiery feathers zoom by us at close range.

After the sun went down, we heard an owl or some sort of night bird barking nearby. It wasn't the who who kind of owl.

As we were leaving our camp site to go to the party, we encountered a pink coachwhip snake asleep in our friends' driveway. He was about two feet long, and had bands across his back, with a very slender, solid pink tail. We wanted a photo, but didn't want to wake him with the camera flash. We didn't think he would be able to bite us because the evening had cooled off, but if a coachwhip does bite, he bites repeatedly, so we didn't want to harass him. By the time we got up in the morning, he had slithered away.

The party was down the road at Barbara Clark's Cascabel Clay Works. Her home is a completely enchanting work of art, made out of found parts. It seems to have grown organically out of the ground, and my first thought on seeing it was "hobbit house".

Wayback Machine provided the entertainment and our pal Gary Mackender sat in on the drums and cookware. I wasn't going to tell you that Gary forgot to bring his cymbals and he had to raid Barbara's kitchen for some pots that he clamped to his cymbal stands. Since Gary fesses up in his blog, I guess it's okay to show you his unique drum kit. The pots actually sounded pretty good.

You can go experience Cascabel the first weekend in December when Cascabel Clay Works hosts their annual winter crafts fair. Candles, leather goods, tie dye clothing, food and of course Barbara's clay creations will be for sale. Wayback Machine will probably play, and there will be peace and love, like in the old days.

Why fences are bad. This poor guy can't figure out how to join his family on the other side of the fence.

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