The plan on Monday afternoon was a quick run to the bank and then turn the opposite direction and head to Papa's Diner for lunch. I first saw a photo of this diner during my research last winter in Indiana. I like to click the 'images' link when doing an internet search.
I had missed the hours for lunch so I thought the diner might be a little less crowded in the early afternoon. I was happy to see a cars in the parking lot, a good sign there is good food, and I was happy that it wasn't that busy as I stepped inside. I was thinking just the basics, a cheeseburger, fries and a milk shake.
A surprise was inside this menu. This wasn't just a burger and fries diner, this had multiple pages for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. I still steered my way to the page full of different burger combinations and with the help of the waitress I was able to find a 'normal' cheeseburger, but hold the mayo. Something caught my eye in the lower right corner of the next page ... chili.
Yes it's near 90°, it's summer time but in my book there is always time for chili ... especially when one is labeled "the hottest". I ordered a small cup of chili not knowing just how big the burger was going to be nor the portion size of french fries. Near the end I could barely finished the burger and fries. The chili was just as hot as I wanted, the kind that takes your breath away and you can feel sweat below your eyes. Perfect flavor.
Either I didn't read the small print or did not notice but a piece great tasting garlic bread was included with the cup of chili. I forgot to tell them to hold the lettuce, so as I peeled that off the top finding a large plain beef burger with a lot of cracked black pepper (just the way I like it) ... I lifted it up to see an amazing amount of melted cheese. Not sliced America cheese but shredded Cheddar cheese. Perfect.
I never like taking photos inside a restaurant where people are sitting. So the corner seat across from me and behind me was the only inside photo I took. The food was FANTASTIC and as I was at the cash register paying my bill I joking mentioned with that 3-meal menu I might have to start going there for all my meals and stop buying groceries. She didn't even laugh, didn't think it was a bad idea as she replied "see that guy over there? he does that ... doesn't buy groceries and eats here for all his meals."
I will be eat at Papa's Diner a LOT !!!
There was nothing planned after that trip to Papa's Diner. I figured that would be my blog post of the day, my first or a few food reviews. I guess I have done some in the past on this blog. Every time I drive east on Hwy 90 heading to Bisbee or Tombstone I always tell myself I need to stop and check out the San Pedro River House. Finally yesterday as I headed back to town thinking I was going to buy some things at the store, I made a right turn instead and headed out of town.
It's easy access off and onto the highway. It is not that far from the highway, not nearly as far as the photo makes it to be. Even at this point of the drive I had no intentions of taking a hike. I thought I'd look around the house, check out what was near the house and take a few photos. But at times things with me can change within an instant. Just like heading out this way instead of going to the store for some things I needed to buy.
As soon as I parked the car I saw one of the biggest tree trunks that I can remember. I stepped back as far as I could so I could fit the tree in the photo but this was the best I could do and still get a close up photo of the trunk size, my main reason for getting a photo. Off to the left was an old stone structure.
I could see on the different displays there were a lot of hiking trails branching off from the house area. It was hot, I was not wearing my ballcap nor did I bring any water with me ... so taking a hike on those trails seemed out of the question.
As I opened the door to the house I could see it had almost everything a tourist would need or even someone like me that came unprepared to take any kind of hikes. It had all kinds of maps and one page cards with information. Besides protein bars, water, t-shirts, ball caps, and sun hiking hats for sale, there was a vault of information sitting behind the counter, the house host. Although I saw they had guided hikes listed out front along with bird watching times ... she asked me if I was interested in taking a hike down by the river.
I told her I stopped by on kind of a impulse trip, didn't have a hat and didn't bring any water with me to take a hike. She replied that she could fix that. Instead of trying to sell me a brand new Sun Tripper Cap, she said if I did not mind the stain I could use the 'defective cap' she had in back. The stain she spoke of was about the size of a ball point pen. Hardly noticeable. She also had a fridge full of free water if I wanted some.
She handed me the cap, and a one page trail guide. As she was in back getting the sun tripper cap this t-shirt caught my eye. With concerns from out of state friends almost certain the hounds and I are not safe from all the rattlesnakes that MUST BE living here ... I saw something I would buy on the way back. A nice addition to my t-shirt collection. I live in t-shirts.
I had a short walk towards the river and once I made a right hand turn to head south, those large tall cottonwood trees would supply me with enough shade, the rest of the 1-2 mile walk was out of the sunshine. I wasn't more than 50' into my walk when I knew I really liked this area and the loaned cap I was wearing ... a good idea to come out here.
Someone will have to tell me what this is called. I have read about them but as usual I cannot remember it's name. I WAS going to keep a keen eye out for snakes or spiders. That seems to be the norm anymore, while still enjoying the scenery around me and above me.
Last week when I thought of coming out to the San Pedro River, I was just wanting to see how much water it had running from the south toward the Gila River up north. Surely the monsoons had added some water to the dry river bed I saw weeks ago as I crossed the San Pedro River on Hwy 90.
This was my first check point to see what if anything was flowing from the south. The host reminded me after my hike that this area is at higher elevation than Tucson and the river starts about 150 miles inside Mexico in the mountains.
That's a nice wide path but it would change later. Signs near the parking lot said that mountain bikes and Bloodhounds or Basset Hounds were allowed as long as they were on a leash and 'under control'. I saw signs up ahead though that told me it was probably not best to bring Stella out for a walk later on. She stood there staring back at me as I walked as slow as I could to get a better photo of her. She bolted off into the brush the closer I got.
There must have been a 20° drop in temperature in the shade. With a gentle breeze it was perfect weather to be taking a hike at 2:30pm.
Nice shade along the way.
Although the trail was well marked, there were other trails that branched off that could put you on a much longer hike than planned. It will be another hike on another day for that. I'll bring water and a small pack with me.
I noticed the water was really muddy but I didn't think anything of it until after the hike when the host asked me if the water was muddy. Obviously from her question, dirty water is not the normal scene.
Looking through the tall brush and seeing the mountains ... how many people in the USA would think this is in Arizona?
Surveying the ground around the trail as I walked, glancing to my left I thought this mud had some interesting designs in it. Remember that I am a complete novice in hiking. I have camped before but not a lot of hiking. Mostly riding bicycles are main past activity. Any guesses what caused that interesting design in the mud?
As I walked I noticed the skies were getting cloudy with those dark rain clouds. WeatherBug said there was a 0% chance of rain yesterday. What I have learned in the short time I have lived in this area, those forecast don't mean squat during the monsoons. A bright sunny day can change quickly as the afternoon progresses. I kept on going and wasn't concerned about rain.
The host was not sure about the trail but warned me that parts of it might be muddy or even washed out enough that I could not get through. I had seen parts of the trail pretty muddy on my way out but was always able to take the higher ground to get around them. I saw a lot of fresh dog prints and a few tire prints from mountain bikes ... so I continued on.
Since I was not intending on hiking yesterday, not only did not I not bring any water with me, I did not bring the only hiking stick I own. I may need two of them like greg mentioned on Sunday nights post. The small bank full of grass was the only way to get past this section on the trail. I did not see where anyone else had attempted to pass this section because there were no signs of grass that had been mashed down by people walking. I thought I had found a away to pass by this section of mud.
Within a split second my feet came out from under me, sliding in the mud and I was down but was able to catch myself before falling completely in the mud. The sole on those shoes are the exact same as any hiking boot. It is the same material but obviously not as thick. I bought those shoes before I moved to use as my every day shoes. They can be submerged in water like they were on Saturday's bike ride in the rain or walking through a flowing river bed.
After not finding any way to get around that section of muddy land I had no choice but to turn around and head back. I was about a mile away from the San Pedro House, where I started.
Here are some of the muddy sections I and others had a way to walk around on higher ground.
Some walked through the mud earlier.
When I heard some thunder, I thought "you have to be kidding me" ... rain today ??? To the north it was looking like rain, toward the SW at the mountains it was bright and sunny. I maintained my same pace, no hurry ... just enjoying the trail and the skies above me.
It is so nice to be living so close to hiking areas where you do not hear any kind of sound except all the different birds.
This gave me hope that I would say dry, as if it made any difference with mud on my leg, the back of my forearm and other knee.
Yet when I turned to look to my right it's raining to the north and across the highway. I had plenty of time to get back to the car. The closer I got to the house I began thinking I would go ahead and buy this hat I was loaned. While I walked under the cottonwood trees in the shade I still had a lot of sweat building up on the inside of the bill of the cap. It was really 'defective' now and could not be sold.
While I left the hat at the counter with the host, I went in the back room and pulled that rattlesnake t-shirt off the rack. I was in luck, they were on sale for $15. The Sun Tripper Cap ??? She gave me a 50% discount so I walked out the house with a $12 cap that is adjustable, comfortable, a longer bill to keep the sunshine out of your eyes and built to be worn on hikes or for those that bird watch.
I will say for those readers that want to visit the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area or hike/bike their trails ... all you need is water ... they have all the maps you need for free right.
It was a great 2 mile hike and I will definitely be going back to hike the other trails they have ... I'll come prepared next time.
Another great day on Monday here in the Wild West.