2011 Blog Entries
NEW YEARS DAY DINNER
Our French/Swiss Chef, Gratien Torrione, will be prearing a special New Year’s Day Dinner (Sunday, January 1st) for our guests to celebrate the New Year. Join us in Southeast Arizona for amazing winter birding, and come back to the Casa for a fabulous dinner. Reservations are required at least 5 days in advance.
THANKSGIVING WEEKEND HAWK STALK
The Sulphur Springs Valley is a winter paradise for birds of prey. Up to twenty species may be found here between November and March, including eagles, falcons, buteos, accipiters, harriers, kites and owls. SABO’s Hawk Stalk tours take you down highways and back roads in search of these magnificent predators and other species that share their habitats. Along the way, your expert naturalist guides will share their knowledge of the identification, behavior, ecology, and history of the valley’s raptors, Sandhill Cranes, sparrows, and other wintering and resident birds.
This special holiday edition departs from Casa de San Pedro Bed & Breakfast. Participants travel in a small tour bus (minivan for groups of 5 or fewer), with frequent stops for roadside birding and short walks. The group will stop for lunch in a local restaurant (separate checks). We recommend registering for this event at least 1 week in advance.
$75 per adult for members of SABO and/or guests of Casa de San Pedro, $85 for non-members; for children age 10 to 16 when accompanied by an adult: $40/members/guests, $45/non-members/non-guests . Educational handouts and transportation from Bisbee are included. Registration for Casa guests is open now (for the registration code, contact Casa); general registration opens November 12. For more information, contact SABO.
As we come to the Holiday Season many of our guests plan to join us for one of our incredible holiday dinners. Our Thanksgiving Dinner is currently sold out (but we do still have rooms available over that following weekend – so if you have to miss the dinner be sure to plan your getaway for the rest of the weekend and stay with us for a wonderful Fall weekend).
And we are currently taking reservations for both our Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners.
The Christmas Dinner features a fabulous seafood cocktail buffet (King Crab, Scallopes, Shrimp) before dinner, and the dinner features Roast Prime Rib with all the fixin’s. We include Champagne with the dinner to add to the festive event. ($35/person, with a minimum two night stay).
And our Swiss French Chef, Gratien Torrione will join us for our New Year’s Eve dinner at the Casa. Many guests have requested that we provide a New Year’s Eve dinner so that they can enjoy the best culinary experience in Southeast Arizona while they celebrate the New Year – and NOT have to drive to remote restaurants. So join us for a safe and sane way to enjoy New Year’s Eve! Call now for reservations: toll free 888 257-2050.
ART IN THE PARK
Join us for the annual Art In The Park show in Sierra Vista, Sept 30 to October 2nd. Many local artists and craftsmen display their wares – you will find a lot of fun and creative items from jewelry to wall art, pottery and fiber arts on display. The event draws many people from the local area and from far and wide – all looking for interesting and creative art at great prices – and finding just the item they wanted ! And several artists also display their artwork at Casa de San Pedro – so come and stay with us, live with the art, and perhaps take home a great painting or framed photo of your favorite bird!
SE ARIZONA RECOGNIZED AS BIRDING HOTSPOT
SE Arizona, the San Pedro River Valley, and the surrounding Sky Islands (the Santa Rita, Huachuca, Mule, Dragoon, Chirichaua Mountains and related valleys) are increasingly being recognized as one of the Nation’s best bird watching areas. Even with this year’s forest fires in these special mountains, the bird watching is vibrant and extremely active, especially in the many areas that were not affected by the fires, but even in the fire zones themselves reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com). And,as noted in a current article in the Peoia Illinois Journal Star (pjstar.com) this area is increasingly becoming one of the premier destinations for bird watchers and other naturalists. Casa de San Pedro is pleased to offer the region’s most upscale and comfortable accommodations for bird watchers who flock to the area to enjoy the search for the many birds that are residents or migrants through this important flyway.
HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER RELIEF PROGRAM
Casa de San Pedro is proud to be a cosponsor of the KAYTEE & Cedar Works (which are part of the Central Garden and Pet Company) program to distribute hummingbird feeders and nectar throughout southeast Arizona. This year’s fires in SE Arizona (the Monument Fire in the Huachucas and the Horseshoe 2 fire in the Chirichauas) destroyed important habitat needed by hummingbirds that nest here or which migrate through the area in the Fall. While many areas were untouched by the fires, the large number of hummingbirds that migrate through the area will be stressed to find adequate food sources and shelter. To bolster the hummingbirds in their migration through the area a collaborative effort with the Southeast Arizona Bird Observatory (www.sabo.org), The Cornell Lab, and many of our local birding sites, including Casa de San Pedro, will be distributing free hummingbird feeders and electrolyte enhanced nectar. Casa de San Pedro is providing storage space for the several thousand feeders that Kaytee (www.kaytee.com) will be donating to the cause. Stay with us during August and receive a free hummingbird feeder and nectar so you can join the effort to support this hummingbird rescue program.
TUCSON AUDUBON BIRD & WILDLIFE FESTIVAL AUG 17 21
The Tucson Audubon Society will be hosting a major Bird and Wildlife Festival in Tuscon August 17 to 21. See the pdf flier here: Tuscon Festival Aug 2011. Guest speakers Rick Taylor and Kenn Kauffman. Come to SE Arizona for some of the Best Birding of the Year!
UPDATE ON MARY JO BALLATOR
I had the opportunity to stop to visit Mary Jo at her home in Ash Canyon (Turkey Track Road). I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was relatively little damage to her yard from the Monument Fire. She did lose ground plantings and the trees were somewhat bare from the loss of their leaves, but several trees were already sprouting new buds. And the birds were there. Lots of them of many different types. (Actually easier to see without the foliage on the trees). And Mary Jo’s house is intact and not damaged. We are so pleased that this wonderful location and this wonderful person are safe and relatively sound. If you wish to visit Mary Jo you will need to call ahead since her neighbors have “imposed” (an illegal?) limit on the number of cars that she can receive each day, and there is a new gate on Spring Road (the private road that leads back to her home/yard). The gate is unlocked, but it looks foreboding with a PRIVATE ROAD sign. Ignore it and go visit Mary Jo. She needs our support in recovering from the fire and in fending off the abusive neighbors.
LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD VISITS THE CASA
Today, June 30, 2011 – the Southeast Arizona Bird Observatory (www.sabo.org) was banding hummingbirds at Casa de San Pedro. One of the hummers banded (out of 24) was a Lucifer hummingbird, along with a lot of Broadbills, and Black-chinned hummers. The Lucifer hummingbird is a rare bird, found mostly in Mexico, in SW Texas in inaccessible locations, and in SE Arizona in only a few locations in the mountain canyons of the Sky Islands. As we have noted this year, many of the birds visiting the San Pedro River and the Casa are usually only found in the mountain canyons and higher elevations, but this year’s dry conditions and then the Monument Fire in the Huechucas and the Horseshoe 2 fire in the Chirichauas has driven birds to new environments to seek shelter, food, water and nesting opportunities. Patrick was particularly pleased to be able to hold and release the Lucifer hummingbird after it had been weighed, evaluated, banded, given a drink – and off it went into the swarm of other hummers waiting their turns (impatiently) at the feeders.
WELCOME MONSOON RAINS!
Right on schedule our Summer Monsoon Rains seem to be starting their engines – for the past two nights we have had nice thunderheads growling their way around the area – boom, boom, boom. Not a lot of actual rain for us so far, but we can see dark skies around us and the towering thunderheads churning in their airborne tumult. The Monument Fire did get doused a bit by one thunderstorm, lessening its rage. The fire appears to be much more under control now and many of our favorite birding locations have been spared. All of our evacuees have returned home safely to very little damage – even though many homes were lost in the mountain canyons. All Spring and Summer long we have noticed that many birds normally found in the mountain canyons and upper elevations had come to the river for food, shelter, and WATER – since it has been so frightfully dry. An Elegant Trogon was spotted in the park in Bisbee yesterday – far afield from its normal nesting area – but not unusual for this year. Finding birds will be an exciting adventure into new locations, but they are still in the area – especially along the San Pedro River. Our feeders are booming with happy birds that have never before been sighted on the river. The Monument Fire was intense in some locations, but it also raced through other areas with low intensity – presaging a rapid return to vegetation, food, shelter, nesting habitat for the many birds in the area. One Forest Service expert predicted that the monsoon rains would turn his “Gia Pet Mountain” green again almost overnight.
JUNE 20 MONUMENT FIRE UPDATE
Today is a welcome relief to all of us in the San Pedro River Valley. The Monument fire that has raged over the past several days, urged on by high winds (50 – 60 mph gusts), high temperatures (low 100′s) and an amazing ZERO humidity, is now calmer with better weather. Yesterday the fire came out of the canyons and jumped over Hwy 92, burning Riccardo’s Restaurant (at the intersection of Hwy 92 and Hereford Rd) to the ground. Several homes on the east side of Hwy 92 were also lost. But again, the fire raged and spread rapidly but many homes were spared. And we have continued to learn of friends and neighbors whose homes were spared as the fires raced around them. While the fires and control burns are still happening in the canyons and higher in the Huachucas (Miller Peak, Carr Peak and some of Ramsey), everyone is far more optimistic today that the fire can be controlled and that important habitat can be saved. Meanwhile our feeders are mobbed by the many birds who have left their mountain homes and have found good food and shelter on the River and at Casa de San Pedro. And we send a BIG THANK YOU to all of our guests who have contacted us and wished us well during this nerve wracking time! We appreciate your caring and concern.
MONUMENT FIRE IN SE AZ
As of 9 PM on June 16 we are happy to report that we are safe and sound here at Casa de San Pedro. The Monument Fire has raged in the Huachuca mountains just to the west of us (7 miles) devastating several mountain canyons, and many neighborhoods in the foothills. Giant columns of smoke have risen into the air and the smell of smoke has periodically surrounded us. We are currently under an evacuation order in case the rapidly moving fire changes direction and races across the grasslands down to the river. When the fire started on Saturday, June 11, we contacted many of our friends who were in the path of the fire in the mountain canyons and we have hosted them to give them refuge from the raging fires. As of this morning, all of our evacuees were fortunate enough to have homes which had not been devistaed by the fire, while their neighborhoods and adjoining homes were in ashes. We were also very happy to learn that Mary Jo Ballator’s Ash Canyon B&B were intact and had survived the fire while many of her neighbors homes had been destroyed.
We want to thank all of the many friends and guests who have called to inquire about our safety. We are indeed safe – but we are watching the fires closely, and the truck is packed with all the last minute essentials if we have to leave quickly. We are concerned about the great number of unique habitats that may have been destroyed – both here and in the Horeseshoe 2 fire in the Chirichauas. These have been monumental fires which have raged in our overly dry environment. We know that Nature responds amazingly well to rebuild the habitats, even in this dry region. We pray for all creatures that have had to struggle for life and safety in these horrible fires.
ARIZONA VINES & WINES MAGAZINE FEATURES CASA DE SAN PEDRO
In their Summer 2011 issue, Arizona Vines and Wines Magazine features Casa de San Pedro in an article “Beat the Heat: Go Underground”. Southeast Arizona has so much to offer the Summer traveler – everything from Kartchner Caverns, the Bisbee Queen Mine Tour, great restaurants, incredible bird watching, hiking, biking – and best of all a luxury inn, Casa de San Pedro where you will be able to relax, enjoy the San Pedro River, and get to all the points of interest on your itinerary easily. An don’t forget to head out to the local wineries for some great Arizona wines too !
SIERRA VISTA U-ROCK TOURISM HALL OF FAME AWARDED
The Sierra Vista Convention and Visitor’s Bureau hosted the award ceremony for their Annual “U-Rock” Hospitality Awards on May 18, 2011. Honored with a special “Tourism Hall of Fame 2011″ award were Patrick Dome and Karl Schmitt of Casa de San Pedro. Karl and Patrick were cited as having received the unanimous vote of all the Tourism Commissioners for their exceptional service, hospitality, and continuing support for the Sierra Vista Visitors Bureau. Nominations received from many of the Casa de San Pedro’s guests provided overwhelming support for the recognition of Casa de San Pedro as one of the outstanding lodgings in the area. We thank all of our many guests who submitted nominations recognizing our ongoing focus on the highest level of hospitality and service.
JULY 16 & 17 SUMMER GASTRONOMIC GETAWAY
SUMMER GETAWAY SPECIAL (Featured in Phoneix Magazine !) – Stay with Casa de San Pedro on Saturday July 16 and Sunday July 17 for a special event: Enjoy the hospitality of Casa de San Pedro for two nights, dine at Cafe Roka in Bisbee on Saturday night, and join us as we host Cafe Roka Chef Rod Kass from Cafe Roka in Bisbee on SUNDAY, July 17 for a Wine Pairing Dinner. Rod and his wife Sally will guide you through the preparation of a great dinner and guide you through the appropriate wine pairings for each course. Every dinner at Cafe Roka is a special event. Dinner and wine with Rod and Sally at Casa de San Pedro will be even more fun and equally delicious. The price: $350 for two nights lodging, the Saturday Dinner at Cafe Roka for two, and the Wine Pairing Dinner for two. A great deal and a great weekend of wonderful meals and great hospitality. (Tax and tips extra, dinner at Cafe Roka includes the 4 course dinner (soup, salad, sherbet, and your entrees) but alcoholic beverages and dessert or appetizers are extra. The Wine Pairing Dinner includes the wines that will be sampled and extra bottles can be purchased separately.)
SPRINGTIME HIKE ON THE SAN PEDRO RIVER
A hiking group from Phoenix came to Casa de San Pedro in April 2011 to hike the San Pedro River. A Picasa slide show of their trek is at the following link:
Stunning views of the river, our mountains and of the Casa itself. Thanks to Larry Zuiker and the AZHIKRS (www.azhikrs.org) for their visit and for allowing us to share their visit with you!
SIERRA VISTA ANNUAL U-ROCK HOSPITALITY AWARDS
The Sierra Vista Visitor Center sponsors an annual Hospitality Award Program each April. Visitors are encouraged to nominate individuals or establishments that have provided exceptional service, providing a warm welcome, assisting with community information and directions, and encouraging visitors to enjoy Sierra Vista’s many activities and attractions.
Nominations are welcomed for establishments and/or individuals in restaurants, B&Bs, visitor centers or nature guides that you feel have provided exceptional and welcoming hospitality.
You can nominate your favorite establishments or individuals by going to the Sierra Vista Visitor Center web site at: www.visitSierraVista.gov or www.SierraVistaAZ.gov. Nominations must be received by April 30, 2011.
Winners will be announced at the annual “U Rock” event on May 18, 2011
AMERIND AMERICAN INDIAN MUSEUM POTTERY WORKSHOP
The Amerind Foundation Museum in Dragoon Arizona is offering a pottery workshop by award-winning Hopi-Tewa potter June 4-8. Participants will make and fire 2-3 pots from clay brought from Hopi. Stories of her life, culture and experiences as a Hopi woman potter will be discussed. Enrollment is limited. Participants can stay in the Fulton Seminar House and material fees and meals are included. Call for more detailed information 520.586.3666 or go to www.amerind.org
HUMMINGBIRD BANDING AT CASA DE SAN PEDRO!
Join Sheri Williamson (author of the Peterson Guide to Hummingbirds of North America for humming bird banding at Casa de San Pedro this Spring.
Starting Friday, April 1st, Sheri will bring her mist nets and set them up in our back yard to collect hummingbirds to band. You will be able to assist Sheri as she handles the tiny birds and attaches tracking bands to them.
Other Dates: FRI, Apr 8, SAT, Apr 16 , FRI, Apr 22, FRI, Apr 29, FRI, May 6, SAT, May 14, FRI, May 20, FRI, May 27, and FRI, Jun 3 (4:00 – 6:00 PM all dates)
SPRING MIGRATION IS IN FULL COLOR!
The 2011 Spring Migration is booming forward with great weather, early arrivals, and a conversion from our drab winter “sparrows” to colorful orioles (mobs of them), hummingbirds flashing colorful gorgets, Lazuli Buntings all blue, and the return of our “logo bird” the Vermilion Flycatcher. Warblers are already here in good numbers, the season is progressing rapidly under warm clear skies. Tired of winter? Come on down and join the flocks of migrating birds as they also enjoy a pleasant Southeast Arizona Springtime! NOTE: We still have a few rooms available for those of you who book late – so don’t hesitate any longer – book your reservation today!
APRIL COOKING CLASS MENU
On Saturday April 30, Casa de San Pedro will host our final Spring cooking class, featuring French Chef Gratien Torrione. The menu will be one of Graiten’s classic dinners (and my personal favorite!). Cooking Class participants will learn to prepare this incredibly satisfying dinner, and other guests get to share in the fruits of their labors YUM ! Join us for a fabulous dinner, great fun and good friends.
Appetizer: Chicken Pate with Red Onion Marmelade and Pickles
The Main Course: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a Mushroom Sauce (Outstanding!), French Green Beans with Shallots and Parsley, and au Bouillon Potatoes.
Dessert: Tatin Pineapple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Dinner only $38 per person plus tax and gratuity. Cooking Class: $50 per person, plus tax and gratuity.
MARCH 2011 COOKING CLASS A CLASSIC!
On Saturday, March 26, our visiting SwissFrench chef, Gratien Torrione, will prepare one of the most famous French dishes. This is precisely the fabulous dish that was the hallmark of one of the greatest French chefs of all time. You will learn to prepare, and enjoy dining with our other guests. The Menu:
- Starter: Tarte à l’oignon
- (an Onion Tart)
- The Main Course: Pot-au-feu de saumon et Saint-Jacques au romarin
- (A Salmon and Scallops Stew with vegetables in a saffron broth)
- Dessert: Soufflé au chocolat
- (Chocolate soufflé)
Remember to bring your own wine – perhaps a nice white burgundy.
Reservations: (888) 257-2050
Cost per person: Cooking Class $50, Just the Dinner $ 35 (plus tax and tip)
FEBRUARY 2011 COOKING CLASS
February 26: Early Spring Feast
Join our Swiss/French Chef, Gratien Torione for a fun filled cooking class on Saturday, February 26. The menu:
- Beef Croustillant (Crisp) with Mint, Pine Nuts and Cinnamon
- Honey and Asian Sauce Marinated Pork Tenderloin
- Parsnip Julienne and Oyster Mushrooms
- Chocolate Napoleon with Orange Peel
- Bring your own wine. Cooking class will be $50 per person, Dinner only, $35 per person (plus tax and gratuity).
ROMANTIC VALENTINES DAY DINNER
Join Casa de San Pedro for a romantic Valentines Day weekend getaway. Chef Gratien Torrione will be featured serving a romantic reds themed dinner on Saturday Feb 12. The Menu: Start your Valentines Dinner with a dramatic Red/White appetizer: Beets and Ginger Panacotta. The Main Course features Coq au Vin, Fettuccine, and Glazed Carrots. Followed by a tempting Dessert of a decadent Chocolate Ganache with a Pink Meringue. Bring your own wine or champagne to celebrate the event! $37.75 per person *(tip included) plus tax .
Treat your partner to the the most romantic inn in Arizona and a great dinner prepared by our Swiss/French chef. Minimum 2 night stay required. Call for reservations toll free at 888 257-2050.
BEST IN THE SOUTHWEST AWARD!
Casa de San Pedro is the proud recipient of the Bedandbreakfast.com 2010-2011 Best in the Southwest Award. The award is based on the many outstanding reviews posted on Bedandbreakfast.com by our guests. We thank our guests for their support and for taking the time and effort to recommend us to their friends, families, and to the many people who look for lodging on Bedandbreakfast.com.
PLAN YOUR SPRING MIGRATION TOUR NOW!
Now is the time to plan your visit to Arizona for the Spring Migration – many species of birds will be moving from their winter hideaways back to northern climes beginning in March. Our overwintering Sandhill Cranes depart for points north by about March 15, and that kicks off the flood of migrating species that will excite bird watchers through the rest of the Spring (March, April and May). This is a very busy time for bird watching in SE Arizona – so if you plan to join the fun it would be wise to make your reservations for rooms (at Casa de San Pedro of course !), bird guides, etc. Our weather should be beautiful, warm (but not hot) and sunny throughout the Spring. Call for reservations now at 888 257-2050!