Monday, March 19, 2018

Back At The Hideout ......

The REAL story ...... In April of 1887 there really was a holdup of the 20-passenger train near Pantano.  You've probably heard of it.  Wells Fargo Messenger Charles Smith barricaded himself behind the locked doors of the express car.

The bandits were having none of that, so they forced the engineer to carry heavy explosives back to the car and threaten to blow everything up, including Charles.  He opened the door.  The bad guys uncoupled the engine along with a few cars and steamed off towards Tucson, leaving the passengers stranded.

Once they found all the money, they jumped off, put the engine in reverse and sent it steaming back into the desert.  They got away with some cash, but most of it was still sitting in the express car stove where Charles had stashed it.

Caving can be dark and dangerous, especially when it comes to finding your way out.  I truly can't imagine those bandits skinnying through tiny holes trying to escape the underground.  Solomon Lick just used his miners lamp to find the witch and followed her big nose to the cave entrance.
On August 10, 1887 ... same train, same robbers, same Charles Smith, only this time they booby trapped the rails with dynamite and sent the engine flying off the track onto it's side.  Charles refused to open the doors again, so they blew it open and beat him up until he opened the safe.
The Sheriff, Yuma Indian trackers, the calvary and even Wyatt Earp tracked them to the cave, but the bandits were long gone with the loot, having escaped in a gully washer rain storm.
As to all the money that was stolen from the trains, Wells Fargo remained tight lipped, not wanting to really let anyone know, since it might cause their customers to lose faith.  

So is there gold still buried in Colossal Cave?  Probably not.  Solomon Lick only found bat guano.  In 1905 he built a tunnel 82 feet long and set in rails as he extricated every bit of guano he could find.  They say it made great makeup since it had good sticking qualities.  Seven carloads later, it was gone and the cave abandoned.
In 1935 with the New Deal for unemployment, the Civilian Conservation Corps was established.  I'm not sure what kind of "pull" the owners had, but a headquarters was set up at La Posta Quemada Ranch and they went to work on the cave.  

Living in tents, the First Company 858 worked in the cave and built the Army barracks that the Second Company lived in.  The Second Company built the rock building that surrounds the cave entrance.  It is interesting to note that their diet consisted almost exclusively of beans, as reported in their Newsletter they printed entitled The Cave Man.

Speaking of which, this is the first MAN CAVE.  In the summers when it was so terribly hot, the local ranchers would congregate here on the floor of the cave where they played poker day after day.  Even with 118 degrees outside, the cave remained a pleasant 70 degrees.
Looking for an interesting place to get married?  How about up these stairs to the Altar.  Yes you really can!!
I think while the CCC guys worked, they also played a little.  There are several instances of holes in the rock that don't exactly look like Mother Nature's handiwork, including this face that I truly didn't see until I checked the pictures.  I was just taking images of the holes in the rock.
What they DID do is build all the walkways and steps throughout the cave.  Not highly trained, you will find them to be quite uneven in places.  Grab the handrail whenever possible.  When I asked how they got all this rock and concrete INTO the cave, the answer was shown to us.  This is the bottom of a building located half inside the cave and half out.
All the rock and concrete came down through this elevator shaft to the bottom of the cave.  These guys really worked hard for their beans, because it was all carried in a wheelbarrow and hand set.
The bad news was that when done, it was time for the war to break out.  Anyone who had signed on the dotted line to work with the CCC was instantly conscripted into the Army, where they probably had to eat even MORE beans.

So if you're out and about in the Tucson area, check out Colossal Cave, if only for the bandit and robbery history.  With no other way to make money around here in the old days, there was lots of stealing going on.  Maybe you'll even be the lucky one to spot the hidden gold in the cave.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Train Robbers!!

If you are looking for a caving partner, I am NOT the one.  I've suffered from claustrophobia ever since I was a kid and crawled into our Church's drainage pipe while it was under construction.  It was not a good thing.  Still, I'm fascinated by what lies under ground, and so a trip to Colossal Cave southeast of Tucson was in order.  Little did I know the history I would find.
This is actually a 2400 acre park including the historic La Posta Quemada Ranch where you can ride horses, picnic and maybe even eat a chuck wagon dinner.  Now listed on the National Historic Register, I think it is privately owned, but don't quote me on that.  
Discovered by Soloman Lick in 1879, the inside temperatures, unlike most caves, remain at 70 degrees.  Leave your coat at home.  The source of water that melted the limestone creating this cavern, disappeared eons ago, making it a DRY cave.  Solomon looks like he was a "jaunty" kind of guy.   
The views from atop the hill are amazing.  Definitely go EARLY in the morning and make reservations if there are more than one of you.  Parking is at a premium since this is also surrounded by hiking trails.  Yes, the road is terrible, but it's good driving practice to see if you can miss all the potholes.
Let me just say it's DARK in there.  Yes, there is a lighted pathway, but the lights are only every 30-40 feet.  Bring a flashlight, which I did not.  
I think the tour lasts about an hour and I saw something about 363 steps.  Unfortunately, there is no wheelchair access, and in fact you should be in kinda sorta good shape.  
The local Hohokam and Apache tribes used the cave until around 1450 AD.  You can still see the smoke on the ceiling just beyond the entrance.
In 1884 four bandits held up a mail train near the tiny town of Pantano.  They absconded with $72,000 in gold and currency.  Nice haul, right?  With Sheriff Bob Leatherwood in hot pursuit, they found and took refuge in this cave thinking they were safe for sure.
Unfortunately for them, the Sheriff was a good tracker and followed them right to the door.  He decided, as any good Sheriff worth his salt, to starve them out.  After all, they had no water or food with them, just $72,000 worth of treasure.  
Not willing to die without spending their loot, the bandits were able to find a way out by watching the breeze blow their match flame, or so they say.  Two weeks later, the Sheriff, still sitting outside the cave, got notice the men were living it up in Wilcox, bragging about how they got out the back door.
The Sheriff hightailed it over to Wilcox where he shot three of the four, sending the last guy Phil Carver to prison.  Then he commenced to searching the cave for the money.  They found the campfire, some clothes and even the back entrance, but never did see any of the cash.
Eighteen years later when Carver got out of the Yuma Prison, he headed straight for the cave, sidestepping the Sheriff, and supposedly left several empty mail bags as he rode off into the night.  That's a really good story, right?  But it may not be exactly right.
True, in 1887 there was a train holdup with lots of explosives, but the bandits didn't get away with all the money.  It seems many bandits used the Mountain Springs Ranch (La Posta Quemada) as their headquarters during their stealing years.  There were many more holdups, but I'll tell you about them tomorrow.  Otherwise, you'll be reading this at 10:00 tonight!!

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Happy St. Patrick's Day!!  I hope you get your green on so you don't get pinched today.  Where in the world did all that come from?  It has a lot to do with politics and leprechauns.

The history of wearing green is connected to a series of revolutions that took place in Ireland in opposition to the English Crown.  We understand that, right?  Interestingly enough, BEFORE the revolution, light blue was the color of Ireland and St. Patrick.

Chicago would have to spend less money dying it's river BLUE instead of GREEN if that was still the case.  To make it even more confusing, if you were Catholic, you wore green.  If you were protestant, you wore orange.  It seems they couldn't decide on the color of revolution, but in general, green meant independence.
Going back even further, the REAL reason you wear green is because it makes you invisible to leprechauns.  You weren't aware of that??  If you do NOT wear green, they will be able to see you and thereafter, PINCH you just as a reminder they are there.  In my younger days, I didn't mind getting pinched at ALL!!
When I was working for a living, our County offices had a St. Patrick's Day luncheon.  No green beer, but they did have green punch.  I thought how funny it would be to have a huge bowl of green potato salad.  I worked all night and made my best version, throwing in a few drops of green food coloring into the mayonnaise dressing.  It was gorgeous if I do say so myself.  I thought THIS is going to be fun!  

Not so much fun after all.  Even though I KNEW it was regular potato salad, my brain couldn't get past the green color.  It kept expecting a different flavor.  I wasn't the only one either.  It seems no one could get past the vibrant green color so no one ate it.  I was stuck with green salad for about seven days that I had to eat with my eyes closed.  I'm pretty sure the last of it was buried in the cemetery.
So wear green of some kind or other so you are invisible and have a little green beer along with some corned beef and cabbage.  Let's help the Irish celebrate their independence!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Take A Hike and Company

This is my big beautiful back yard.  I don't often hike through it since there are no trails other than game trails, which are pretty much on the small side for me.  Trying to clear a trail from here to there can be rather prickly.  It's just not going to happen without WAY too many cactus needle sticks.
It did allow me to get a little closer to the trains.  When I heard this one coming, I tried to get up close and personal, but the spikes on these small scrub trees are over an inch long.  OUCH!!
I found lots of animal tracks, including coyote and javelinas ... and I found many very healthy fishhook cactus.  Perfect for Indian sewing needles, these babies are stiff as a board and SHARP!
With all the rain lately, many have begun to bloom.
The ocotillo are leafing out magnificently, all of which are causing me sneezing fits every morning.  Didn't they used to send people to the dry desert to get RID of allergies?
Not the best of images, but this beautiful hummer sat in this tree for several minutes posing for me.  He was VERY far away, but even so, his plumage totally stood out.  They all look black until you see them in the sunshine.
An hour or so later, it looked like this with more rain clouds coming in.  
That's when the Westerfields came to see my new place.  Full timers for many years now, Barbara and Tom are the ones who took me under their wing as we drove to Maine and back.  As usual, I was too busy talking to take pictures, so here's one of Barbara and I in Albuquerque.  Unfortunately, all my other pictures are on the other computer at home.  :-(
They brought some great smoked salmon snacks and I picked up a pizza, which we took to the Chance house.  Time flies when you're having fun and in no time I had to leave.  The puppies haven't been quite up to par, meaning I really didn't want to clean my couch AGAIN!!  Yeah, that was a mess!!

Our beautiful weather has chilled down again, with clouds and rain in the forecast.  I think I'll spend the day watching movies Barbara brought for me and snuggle with the puppies.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Here Kitty Kitty!!

I've always lived out in the country where critters abound, but with the influx of refugees from around the world, my little California piece of heaven was completely cleaned of animals.  The people arriving were never taught that private property is private.  They hunted and fished animals into non-existence.

You can't blame them, it's how they survived in their country and no one bothered to tell them different when they came here.  Where we once saw packs of coyotes every day, now there are none.  Where we watched in awe the red fox and her babies, now there are none.  In Arizona, it's a different story.

If you look around, you would never think there were critters here.  You've seen the coyote butt, now look at what came to visit two days ago.  Here kitty kitty!!  I'm always tuned to movement near my back yard, no matter how slight.  Look what I found standing in the brush at the edge of my fence.  Can you see her?
I quickly grabbed my camera and slowly moved towards the glass door.  Not wanting to scare her off, I shot these through the glass.  Isn't she a beauty?  This is Mrs. Bobcat who raises her kittens in the big wash behind my house.
Dan saw her first last month when he was outside during the floor construction.  He called Patty, but Kitty was gone in a flash.
Always vigilant, she almost stopped for an instant before heading on up the hill looking for lunch.  Not the best pictures, since it all took place in about ten seconds.  I'm very happy to see her in such good shape.  Maybe she will even stop by with her babies one day.
I always thank the Lord for letting me see his amazing critters, and what better way to end the day than with another gorgeous sunset!!
Yesterday, we drove to Phoenix to see the Golden Goose.  Miss Patty said it wasn't that far, but I'm sure ten more minutes on that road would have landed us in the biggest city in Arizona.  That's tomorrow's story because today I having more company!!  How can I be so lucky!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Buffet Hunting

The mornings here just amaze me.  It's been slightly cloudy the past couple of days making for some crazy beautiful sunrises.  The clouds get caught on the mountain tops as they head Northeast, reflecting the sun in the most fabulous colors.
The sunrises aren't just pink on one side ... they are pink in a 360 degree circle around you.  What a great way to start the day!
One day last week, Miss Patty and I headed out to check on Tom's furniture store.  Loaded up with thrift store boxes to donate, there wasn't a lot of room in the back of my Jeep.  The first store looked more like a warehouse in a not-so-great neighborhood.  Once we finally found the entrance door and went inside however, it was a walk back in time.  

They not only had some great 40's and 50's furniture, they had some nice antiques.  I picked up one small game table ... the top spins around and opens up into a four-player card table.  That's when we found out they had an even bigger store not far from where we were going.  

Talk about HUGE and full to the brim with many antiques, but MUCH more expensive than the other store.  We walked every square inch and found nothing.  HOWEVER ... next door we spotted lots of Arizona/Mexican furniture parked on the sidewalk.  Well what the heck, lets take a look.

I loved everything in the store, but when I saw this buffet, the winning bell rang loudly!  Although I loved it and Miss Patty thought it was perfect, I walked out empty handed.  It was more expensive than I wanted and I would have to find someone to haul it for me.

Back home with my little table unloaded, I lasted about two hours before I had the tape measure out and the Jeep seats flat.  There was room to spare.
Okay then .... I drove all the way back in rush hour traffic (it took me an hour) to find it NOT sold yet.  The gal lifted it up on a dolly and in two seconds we had it in the Jeep.  Luckily I was able to maneuver it OUT of the Jeep, but had to ask Mr. Chance to come help me move it in the house.  This thing is HEAVY and solid as a rock.
That's the end of the furniture buying.  If you want to sit in the living room, it will have to be on the floor.  However if you want to come and play poker, there's lots of table space.

I finished up the Paris quilt and took this terrible picture.  It really is black and white, but the incandescent lighting turned it tan.  It's also straight ... I just couldn't reach far enough up to fix it.  I'm pretty happy with the borders ... it's the first time I've ever made mitered corners, which I don't ever want to do again!
Friends Barbara and Tom Westerfield just arrived in town for a couple of days, so we're going to get together for some laughs and some kitty love from Pansy.  I can't wait!!

By the way, I got fuel at Frys gas station yesterday, using my "points" from buying groceries and paid $2.03 a gallon.  Take THAT, California!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

YIKES! Puppies For Lunch!!

You know how I love my two adopted kids Cooper and Jessie!  They have me well trained, which means I sometimes get pretty exasperated with them.  In and out, in and out, twelve or thirteen times a day since Miss Jessie has become an old lady and Cooper is a BOY, meaning he's got to go umpteen times a day.

That being said, I would NEVER put them in any danger.  In fact, I go out of my way to be sure they are always safe, especially in the land of coyotes and bobcats.  You never thought there were carnivore type critters in the desert this close to civilization?  Me either, especially since there are so many houses around.  Although I haven't spotted them this trip, I knew they were there.
This is NOT Miss Jessie, but she did look exactly like his when she was younger.  You can see how the brown has turned to white all around her face.
Try as I might to keep her safe, she has always been in trouble one way or another.  First it was getting stomped by my horse when she jumped up and attacked his nose, then it was when a big rose thorn tore through her flesh as she was chasing a kitty.  Here it was surgery for tumors.
This picture was taken during one of her healed-up periods.  No bandages.  So when it comes to letting them out in my back yard every day in Arizona, I'm always on guard.  I scan the back yard before letting them out EVERY SINGLE TIME. 
EXCEPT ... isn't there always an exception? ... yesterday when I came home, I knew they had to go out immediately.  I ran to the door and opened it without the usual scanning.  As I looked up, not ten feet from my two foot tall block wall was the biggest coyote I've ever seen.

YIKES!!!!  Jessie come .. COME .. COME HERE NOW!!!  They couldn't see the coyote, but he sure could see them.  I was torn between running outside and protecting the kids and grabbing my camera for a shot.  

I finally got the kids (who were looking at me like I was crazy) back inside the house and grabbed my camera just as he turned and sauntered off through the brush.  RATS!!!  I missed probably the best picture EVER, but thankfully my puppies are all good.  He really didn't seem the least bit interested.

When the coyote was out of sight, I tried to usher the puppies back outside, but they declined.  Now they think something is out there to get them.  They would be right.  I'll be a little more vigilant from now on.
I spent the afternoon making peanut butter cookies ... not my usual recipe so there weren't near as many as I require ... and doing that awful chore of cleaning.
Look what I finally accomplished!  Handles on the drawers and cupboards in my bathroom.  How cool is that to be able to open a drawer straight and even.  I didn't pinch my fingers or pull it off the track.  Nancy is a happy camper!!  Only 28 more handles to go in the kitchen.
My plan for today ... well actually I have no plan.  Maybe it's time to clean the RV since I'll be heading back the other direction in a couple of weeks, or maybe it's time to do the dreaded laundry task or better yet ..... it's time to find another quilt project!!