Friday, April 8, 2016

usbackroads destination-Coronado National Memorial, Arizona

 usbackroads destination-Coronado National Memorial and Coronado National Forest, Arizona

On the Arizona state highway map around Sierra Vista there is a odd National Park Service unit called the Coronado National Memorial.  It was a cool, windy day in Benson and there was loose talk about visiting a German restaurant in Sierra Vista for pastries.  So I looked on the map and searched for a "southern" destination around Sierra Vista.

There it  was the Coronado National Memorial.  There was also a part of the Coronado National Forest in the area for Snowpatch and Bugaboo to experience the freedom of the hills.

I was curious about how the Memorial came to be so the first question at the visitor center from me was "why are you here". The answer was quite simple.  A rancher couple died and in their will left the land to the National Park Service. The Park Service does not know if Coronado was in the memorial area.  There are NO artifacts from his expedition. It did prompt the Park Service to try and establish a National Park in the area but that effort failed:

Now Coronada and his expedition was pretty impressive.  You can read the facts about the expedition here: It is worth reading.

The American west is known for its "youth", but if you read the link you will notice Coronado's expedition took place in 1540. Now remember your American history??  The Pilgrims showed up in 1620. Coronado was a "northbird" EIGHTY years BEFORE the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

The area is rather ordinary as the picture above illustrates. The Memorial does have a very nice, but small visitor center.  Actually, it is the perfect size for a visitor center.  Worth the stop.

We drove the road up to the pass and the junction with the Coronado National Forest.  It was raining and snowing so we decided to turn around at the pass. This is the view from up in the pass area.

At the pass in the snowstorm I did notice the NPS had pavement while the FS had dirt. In truth, the road to the pass is dirt also on the NPS side, it is just the parking area that is paved.

And it was snowing. Pretty hard. Go all the way to the Mexican border to sit in a snowstorm!! As always, when traveling in the disputed territories of the southwest these folks are always around. I am sure they really enjoyed the weather this day.

The Memorial has a cave a short 1/2 hike from the trailhead. I would do the hike.  Be sure to bring a flashlight.  No make that one for each person and a couple of spares.  It is very rare that the NPS trusts the public enough to let them wander on their own on the public's land.  I am sure in a few years, there will be a fee and a uniform to make sure you walk between the lines and be quiet.

Our problem was the blatant species discrimination that is practiced on NPS managed land. Yes, a couple members of our family are never welcomed on NPS trails and barely tolerated inside the NPS managed land.

The cave will have to wait for another day. So we headed for the freedom of the National Forests.  Both Bugaboo and Snowpatch got excited as soon as we turned off the highway and started in on the dirt road inside the National Forest managed lands. Snowpatch was so excited that he promptly wandered off to explore HIS PUBLIC LANDS. You will notice that Bugaboo is wearing his good citizenship collar, but Snowpatch was not. He did reappear after about ten minutes with a scratch or bite!

The National Forests are pretty cool.  The roads and facilities are a bit more "raw" than on NPS managed lands, but you can actually hike, bike, camp, without big brother looking over your shoulder. The scenery was actually nicer than the Memorial.

This part of the National Forest is just north of the road as your heading back into Sierra Vista.  It is not signed at all. But looking on a map you can see where the National Forest managed land meets the road.  Take that road.

The end of the road is the trailhead for the Miller Peak Wilderness.  Lots of trails in the Wilderness.

As we were heading back into Sierra Vista we were treated to sights one only sees on America's southern border. Yeah, these guys were in Key West, Florida last year. Years ago, I thought they were up in the air and run by the Border Patrol. Nope, they are there to protect us from a missile attack from Mexico!! Here is the scoop on the blimp:

Sierra Vista is host to Fort Huachuca. Worth visiting. The Fort deals with military intelligence. I tried to visit their museum, but there was a sign saying that the museum was closed to the public due to a military meeting. I didn't believe the sign and opened the door and 100 of America's finest turned to look at me.  Oops, I guess the sign was right.

The folks in the military do know authentic foreign food.  And there lots of restaurants in Sierra Vista.  A couple of years ago we went to a real Korean restaurant. The food....well, a friend that served a couple of years in Korea stated "great people, horrible food verging on inedible". I concur.

So German food. Well, I am not a fan. But never say never and hold your fire until after eating. We stopped and ate at the German Cafe. Pretty good food. Well worth the stop. Those TripAdvisor reviews are not wrong. We heard good things also about the Breadbasket. for German food.

Let me see. Fort Huachuca is a army military intelligence base. There are lots of great foreign restaurants in town. I would bet that there are also some great life stories. The world, first came to Sierra Vista in 1540. Explore the restaurants in town. Hmm, maybe one of these days there will be a Ukrainian restaurant in town.  Hey, Wenatchee has one and that story is interesting.

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