On the short drive from Huachuac City, AZ to Patagonia just before Sonoita, AZ I heard a very loud noise. It sounded as though something had hit my roof. While in Mission, TX I had a new air conditioner cover installed as my old one had a hole in it. So my first thought was the cover was not installed well and had come off. I slowed down immediately, but there was no place to pull off for several minutes. I eventually got off the road and did not see anything at first – the air conditioner cover was in place. Then I noticed some wires on the roof that were not hooked to anything. I stuck my head out the emergency hatch and saw that I was missing a solar panel. Yep, one of my solar panels had blown off. It was windy that day, but not as bad as I have been in. I believe the gust were up to 35 mph and I was driving about 55.
After getting to the campground (only another 15 minutes or so), I quickly set up and then drove back to see if I could find the panel. I missed it at first, but on the way back spotted it about 6 or 7 feet off the road.
I was very lucky that nobody was around me at the time and that it didn’t hit my car that I tow. The panel doesn’t look too bad in the above picture, but it was bent slightly and was cracked all over. After looking back on the roof again, I think I know what happened. It appears that one of the screws had come out of one of the brackets. (I don’t know if you really call it a screw, they are basically large screws with a handle that you can screw in by hand – I’m calling them screws) Three of the brackets were ripped off the roof and were still attached to the above panel. But one of the brackets was still on the roof. On my trip to Huachuac City, AZ I had to drive past some construction and for 2 – 3 miles I was on the rumble strips quite a bit. I am thinking that maybe the screw was loose and riding over the rumble strips was so rough it made the screw come out. Then several days later when there was a strong enough wind gust it blew off. Again this is a guess. Below is where the panel was, you can see the one bracket and the area were one of the other brackets was.
Unfortunately, when this panel blew off it blew into the other panel and broke it. It was still working slightly, but I ended up having it removed (when I got to Tucson) as it was so fractured that some of the glass was coming off. So now that I am headed to Utah where I planned on dry camping (no hookups), I have no solar panels. Since I don’t dry camp as much as I thought I would, I am debating what I am going to do.
I didn’t let this stop me from doing what I wanted to do in Patagonia. One of my trips was to Patagonia State Park. I hiked several miles while there. I had hoped to see the Elegant Trogan while there, but apparently he took the weekend off! I did see several other birds, including a Wilson’s Warbler-
I liked his little black cap! One of the rangers had warned me that I might see cows on the trail. On my first hike ( I did the trail 3 times), all I saw were cow pies. But on the second trip a cow decided to block the trail. After that I saw quite a few cows and bulls.
I met several birders and enjoyed talking and walking with one couple for a while. I turned around at one point and thought this was funny.
There were several birders looking all around and they were all missing the red Vermillion Flycatcher that is in between the 2 people on the cut tree limb in the middle of the picture. The lady on the left eventually saw him. But I have learned these are common around here, so they might have been ignoring them. I still really liked them and saw a couple today while hiking! On my last hike there, I learned that a mountain line was spotted just off the trail about an hour after I got off the trail the previous day. He was eating a cow and the people that I talked to had gotten several pictures of it.
I also went to Patton’s, a local house known for all of the birds. Currently the house is vacant and for sale, but volunteers still keep the feeders full. Apparently when the people lived there they enjoyed having bird watchers come into their yard and watch the birds. They set up a tent and chairs for all visitors.
There were quite a few birds, including several types of hummingbirds. I was told that in a few weeks there would be a lot of hummingbirds there. Some of the hummers I saw -
Broad Billed Hummingbirds -
Violet Crowned Hummingbird -
Black Chinned Hummingbird -
There were other birds, but the hummingbirds were what interested me the most.
In addition to birding and hiking, I wanted to see some of the ghost towns in the area. I stayed at Patagonia RV Park as the state park was full. Just down the road from my campground were several ghost towns, in this case old mining towns. While driving there I saw this warning sign--
I was a little hesitant about continuing on, but I decided to drive on and if I didn’t like the looks of things I would stay in my car and turn around. I was particularly interested in the cemetery at Harshaw. I had heard it was interesting. When I got there, I saw 2 other tourists so I got out and looked around. There were many graves with dates from the late 1800’s up to 1950’s. It was an interesting cemetery on a hillside.
I didn’t go to the other towns as I was told the road got a bit rough and they recommended a 4-wheel drive.
From here, I went to Tucson. I had an appointment in Tucson on the day I arrived to have them remove the one solar panel, check out the roof and do something with the loose cable that was left when the panel blew off. After the appointment I headed to Catalina State Park where I currently am. I will blog about this later after I leave Tucson next Monday.