We thoroughly enjoyed our camping trip in Chiracahua National Monument and the valley between the Chiracahua and the Dragoon Mountains. The drive was gorgeous, including the trek along I-10 south of Tucson, particularly when we entered the Texas Canyon and got to stare at gorgeous rock formations crowding around the highway and beyond. Exploring the Dragoons and Chiracahuas and the valley between was just amazing. The biggest cities in the valley are Willcox and Douglas, and labeling either "city" is a bit generous. Most of the valley is rural desert grasslands, small towns dotting the state roads the run the length and width. Douglas, the little we saw of it from the car while driving longer to let Drewbie extend his nap, has a fascinating historic downtown district that really needs to be restored. We saw the Mexican flag waving about a half mile or so in the distance, the closest Mark's even been to that country.
I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time we wandered through that valley. We even found the perfect writing retreat. Now's not a great time to be thinking of extravagant vacations just for writing, but Mark and I are already devising ways to set aside time and money so I can spend a weekend at the Sunglow Ranch and write my fool head off. It might take us a year, but we'll get me there. I think I'll probably set up some sort of savings so I can make that retreat an annual thing. Just wait till you see the pictures we took.
We're already planning another camping trip to the area as we didn't have enough time (and didn't know the grade of the hike) to explore Cochise Stronghold more than having a quick lunch in the campgrounds. Plus, Tombstone is just on the other side of the Dragoons and there's a number of other sites and trails in that valley, so we might need several more trips as the Drew Monster grows up and can handle more hiking.
Drew is already an excellent hiker and climber, though. Mark and I realized as we watched him scramble up rocks (while Mark remained close by and had a firm grip on the Elmo tether) that we need to get in better shape if we're going to keep up with El Boyo Diablo in the future. The Drew Monster mostly had a good time, although he had several hissy fits as if to remind us that, yes, he is indeed less than a month away from turning two. He was pretty excited to be in his own sleeping bag on his own mat this time instead of the travel crib we used before.
It was a great trip. So much to see and marvel at in that valley. Mark and I have now been to the southeast and northwest corners of the state, and explored a decent amount of the central corridor. And we know there's still a ton more we've missed. We're already planning another camping trip near Lake Havasu in a couple of months, and we've got another camping excursion over to Canyon de Chelly in the works for next spring. Arizona truly is the best state in the Union.