Saturday, January 31, 2015

Where Else But In The Desert!!

Looks like I'm in the desert, right??  Well I am, but this is a slightly different kind of desert.  This is a desert nursery called B & B Cactus Farm.  I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to cactus ... probably because I was raised in the high desert ... but I just LOVE the stuff, so Patty took me to her favorite vendor.
Your first sight is of this gorgeous cactus garden, for which they have won many awards.  They give tours if you are interested, explaining the various plants and trees.  I want one of EVERYTHING!!
We wandered through the large outside section of plants that have been hardened off, getting stuck here and there with needles when we got a little too close!!  It didn't take me long to pick up my first purchase before we headed to the inside buildings.  So much about cactus that I never knew!!!  The specimens here are spectacular, to say the least!!  This building had many planted in large pots that I would love to purchase, but unfortunately, they are too large for the RV.  I thought about it, but I seriously can't fit anything else in the bays!!
Further down the line are all these beauties!!  There's more cactus here than I even knew existed!!  Many of these are ones my black thumb has decimated in the past, but my plan is to gather every single piece of information I can about growing them so they will survive!!  I'm on a mission!!
Someone said yesterday that the cactus I posted looked like a fishhook.  Yes indeed it was, I found out today.  Not this one though ... this is a beautiful type of aloe I think, recently in full bloom.
I've heard of "Desert Rose", but thought it was a person.  This amazing Desert Rose is NOT for sale, but was spectacular with many pink roses blooming at the end of each stick branch.  
In the back, there were more Desert Roses blooming with variegated flowers.  No leaves, just branches and flowers!!  
After talking to one of the owners for probably 20 minutes gathering information on how to keep these babies alive, I picked these three.  The big triple cactus is a Golden Barrel, hardened off in the outdoor lot.   The other two are too hard to pronounce, but here's something interesting about keeping cactus alive.  See the green tag?  Other than the name, it's on that side of the plant specifically to tell you which direction to keep it facing.  If you accidentally turn it around, too much light or sun on THAT side can kill it.  Who knew that important tidbit of information??  Maybe that's why I've killed so many!!  With a bag of cactus mix WAY too big, Patty and I headed home in another downpour!
It took two tries to repot these two babies.  The blue lip around the pot is deceiving ... it's NOT a lip, so when I picked it up, I dropped the entire thing on the ground (only a couple of inches) and everything tumbled out.  It took another 15 minutes just to replace everything, including every tiny rock I had picked up from the driveway to cover the soil.  I have no explanation for the baby rattlesnake ... it just seemed perfect for the pot!!
Eventually, I'll repot this barrel cactus in the blue pot.  Since it's used to the outside, I placed it on the ground beside my door.  When the downpour started again, I got soaked placing it underneath a slide so it didn't drown.  There's a trick to watering them also.  In two to three weeks I will stick a small stick down into the soil and leave it for 5-6 minutes.  When you pull it out, if it's damp ... no water.  If the stick is dry you can water it.  I'll let you know how they fair .... keep your fingers crossed!!
It rained steady all afternoon ... again ... and puddles started to gather outside when I received a flood warning on my phone.  It won't affect us since we are at the top of the hill, but people downstream better watch out!!  
AND it rained all last night!!  It's expected to keep up until late Sunday night.  Hmmmm maybe we should call Patty and Dan's son Mark and ask him to bring the boat over!!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Who Said It Never Rains In The Desert???

I'm floored!!  Never in my wildest dreams did I think it rained in the desert like it has the past 12 hours.  Wet stuff has been pouring down constantly since last night, enough that you need a good raincoat or you will get soaked!!  This should make the surrounding cactus VERY happy!!  My puppies, not so much!!  Cooper could care less, but Jessie refuses to get her feet wet!!

Patty and I made a quick trip back to Tubac yesterday to exchange one mirror and pick up another small flower pot.  While in the store, we heard someone talking about the "other" pottery store.  We couldn't pass an opportunity to check out something different, so off we drove to Old Tubac to find La Paloma.  What a treasure this part of town is!
They are not exactly kid friendly, but who can blame them.  I imagine they have swept lots of dollars up off the floor from broken pottery, many items of which are VERY expensive!!
The pieces were a little more pricey, but many were much more intricate in design.  Lots of items are from Peru, rather than Mexico.  We oohed and aahed over everything outside before going inside to view the "good stuff".
There were lots of interesting creations I've never seen before ... scenes with dozens of clay figures like this one.  It's a large tall box with Heaven depicted at the top and Hell at the bottom.  EEK!!!  I was afraid to ask!  There were many shelves loaded with clay figures, I suppose so you could made your own vignette.  
These tiles depicted a scene with Dia De Los Muertos, the holiday in Mexico where family and friends gather to remember and pray for their family members who have passed on.  
These skeleton figures are becoming quite popular in the U.S. to represent the dead in a playful way.  I have to say they DO have an attraction for someone like me that loves Halloween.  They even have a wedding cake topper, very reasonably priced, if you're in the market!!
Old Tubac has several adobe buildings, most in disrepair.  It looks like they have been rented out for businesses for years without the maintenance required to keep them up.
I hope the owners do everything they can to maintain this amazing history.  With all the rain we've had the last 12 hours, I'm surprised they are standing at all.
Back home, we played "now you see him, now you don't", as a cute not-so-little cottontail played at the side of the driveway.  He's on the left ... can you spot him??
As we slowly drove by, Patty rolled her window down so I could get a better picture.  Isn't he just cuddly???  Jessie hit the end of her lease yesterday in a brush pile, and I now suspect this is what she saw ... I of course saw nothing!!!
I think it's going to be a lazy TV-watching kind of day, since the rain is supposed to continue for several days ... DAYS??  It rains in the desert for days???  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Deputy Sheriff John Heath ... LYNCHED!!!

I imagine many people will think I'm weird, but I LOVE to explore old cemeteries.  The history you find there is downright fascinating!!  I bet you can guess where I went yesterday ... Boothill Cemetery ... TOMBSTONE ... Cochise County Arizona.  Now THIS is my kind of town.  

Patty and I took off for Benson Arizona first, to the Escapees Saguaro Co-Op Park to meet with RV friends Lynn and Dave Cross who are staying there.  We have run into them over the years from Washington State almost to the Mexico border.  With a lot on our plate for the day, we couldn't stay too long, but had a great visit and got caught up on everyone's travels.  I know I've said this before, but RV people sure are nice ... and Lynn gave Patty the scoop on what to see in Tombstone!

We hit the cemetery first as we entered town on Hwy 90.  There is a $3.00 "donation" that comes with a descriptive list of the graves, along with descriptions of the circumstances of death, as much as they could get from family and friends of the deceased and City and County records.
Emmett Nunnelley at one time owned the Bird Cage Theatre.  He came here from Indiana where he owned a steel factory, and donated all the metal crosses that were present in the early 1940's.  Later, the City Council thought the graveyard should be returned to it's historic look, so those crosses were replaced with wooden ones.  Emmett did a lot of work at this cemetery, identifying graves and keeping the grounds presentable, and his request to be buried here was approved.
Even though painted many times over, the paint on this wooden fence didn't last ... but the wood still hangs in there in the dry desert air.  Perfect for photography!!!  Interestingly enough, many of the deaths here were from suicide, including strychnine and arsenic.  Wowee!!   One dancehall girl was stabbed in a fight over a man!  Some were killed in fights over mine claims,  Mrs. Stump died from an overdose of chloroform given to her by the doctor and some were accidental, like falling off a wagon and getting their skull crushed!!  YIKES!!
George, poor soul, innocently bought a stolen horse.  Before he could prove his innocence, he was hung ... by mistake!!  A cowboy buried here was killed in a stampede and Frank Leslie shot Mr. Killeen, then married his widow, so I think we know what THAT was about!!!
Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a .44, no Les, no More.  He was a Wells Fargo agent who got in a dispute over a package.  There are two or three who died from the fumes of charcoal burning in an enclosed room ... beware RV'ers!!!
This is an interesting one ... John Heath was an underpaid Deputy Sheriff who planned to rob a General Store holding $7,000 for a mining company in Bisbee Arizona with five cohorts in 1883.  They botched the job pretty well and ended up killing several bystanders, including a pregnant lady.  They were finally caught and ratted out John Heath, who was captured in Tombstone.  It didn't take long for the lynch mob to show up from Bisbee and John Heath was no more!!
His five cohorts, including Tex Howard, were the first men hanged in Tombstone and all five are buried here!!  
There are some children here too ... two brothers drowned, one trying to save the other, babies died from diphtheria and other maladies, the Kansas Kid, real name unknown, was killed in a cattle stampede and one small boy died from drinking poison mine water.  
These two cowboys, buried in the same grave, were drowned crossing a river.
Then we came to the most famous, or infamous, depending on whose side you are on.  Here lies Billy Clanton, along with Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury, MURDERED on the streets of Tombstone, the tragic result of the O.K. Corral battle with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday!!  No one knows who shot first, but I get the distinct impression that everything thinks Wyatt Earp was the bad guy!!  
Billy's father, Newman Haynes, better known as Old Man Clanton, later killed by Wyatt for murdering his brother Morgan, after petition by son Ike, was moved to this cemetery.  When Ike was later killed, his family tried to move him here too, but was refused by the City of Tombstone.
Frank Bowles, one of only two grave sites that have a fence around it, was thrown off his horse when it became frightened, resulting in Frank's rifle firing accidentally into his knee.  He lay in camp for several weeks before his friends took him to the doctor, but it was too late for Frank!!
Finally leaving Boothill, we headed into town.  There are actors everywhere, this one behind the stop sign giving a tour of the Old Courthouse.  It's definitely a beautiful structure, with a metal spiral staircase at the back corner, leading to the ground.  An escape route for the Judge, I'm sure!!
The main street is maybe four blocks long, with stagecoach rides and shootouts!!  As you can see from the empty street, there wasn't much going on today, nor were there very many tourists!!  I'm not sure how many of the buildings are truly authentic, but I'm glad they are keeping it alive!!  There is a very nice looking RV park right down town, within walking distance to where I'm standing.  Come on folks, lets support the Old West and visit Tombstone!!!
Patty and I stopped in Big Nose Kate's Saloon for a sandwich.  It's a long story about Kate and Doc Holliday, but basically, she was originally from Hungary.  She ran away from her foster home and became a "sporting woman", better known as a prostitute, when she met up with Doc.  They spent many years together and apart before meeting up with Wyatt Earp and his brothers in Tombstone.
Now a saloon named for her, this actually used to be a huge hotel lobby, with rooms above and a restaurant to the left.  The bar was originally downstairs in the basement, accessible by going outside, down a few doors and down the stairs.  It was mostly destroyed by fire, when in the 70's the owners decided to remodel what was left into the Big Nose Kate Saloon, bringing the backbar up from downstairs.  The basement now holds a gift shop of sorts.  By the way, we had a Rueben sandwich ... one of the best I've ever had!!!  
Out on the street, Sporting Girls harass the tourists, making for a good time for all.   
These two babies were showing a little wear and tear from their daily stagecoach jaunt around town.  Apparently the stagecoach driver doesn't realize the damage this gear does, but then maybe he just doesn't care.  You KNOW I'm all about the horses and mules!!
Finally at the end of town, we ran into the Bird Cage Theatre.  The gentlemen and ladies, attended Schieffelen Opera House while the cowboys and miners went to the Bird Cage, known as the wildest and wickedest place in the West, right behind the Barbary Coast.  We didn't go inside as we were running a little late and still had places to go!!
On our way out, this weird guy was dancing around, jingling and snapping to his own beat.  I took his picture and gave him a dollar.  Anyone who does this for a living, deserves a few coins!!
We finally got to the O.K. Corral, owned by John Montgomery.  It's another "pay here" site, so we passed on this one, thinking we might go around back for a picture, but that wasn't happening.  It's basically closed off!!
Some day I'll come back and explore more of this great Old West town!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Second Big Scoop Of The Week!!!

This time you ARE right ... it's all about the ice cream ... homemade that is, creamy, cold, sweet and delicious, full of candy to boot!!!

Back to their normal routine, Dan left for La Mesa RV in Tucson to drive RV's around, delivering them to various locations, while Patty got a haircut and a check-up.  Doctor says she's still breathing!!!  I took the puppies on a couple of long walks, checking out the coyote tracks ... and boy are there lots to see!!  The howling began early in the morning before sunlight, so I snuck outside trying for a picture, but they were just too shy.

The quail were at the feeding station en masse, but most flew away as we got close.  Cute little guys!!!
It was then that I spotted the snake!!!  YIKES!!!  Okay, it's not a snake, but a piece of rubber coiled up in the shadows of a tree.  It took my telephoto lens to identify this as NOT being a yellow striped black mamba.
Now to the important stuff .....  last night after dinner Patty and I figured we needed more ice cream since Dan has a dentist appointment tomorrow.  As I began to set things up, the coyote howling began again, this time in earnest!!  A group outside the subdivision began to howl, with answering barks coming from the hill below us.  Being serenaded by coyotes is my kind of music!!!
I forgot to bring my recipe book with me, so we used Patty's ... except it only filled a quarter of my large container.  I've never made such a small amount before, so I was hoping it would work.  Yes, it IS NOISY!!!  VERY NOISY in fact ... for the entire 40 minutes it took to freeze in my kitchen sink!!
The ice cream is coffee, requiring lots of chopped heath bar pieces.  Once it was frozen, I stirred these in and let Dan have a taste test.  It passed!!!  YAY!!  Homemade ice cream for dessert!!
I haven't mentioned the trains in awhile because they have been few and far between.  The crew has been working on the tracks the last few days, slowing traffic considerably.  Until last night, that is.  They must be done with work, because trains rolled throughout the night ... I heard all of them!!!  In fact, one is passing as I type!!  Love them when I'm awake ... not so much when I'm trying to sleep!!  Maybe a nap is in order ... except today we head out to Tombstone, so it will have to wait!! 

Don't you just love these desert sunsets??

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Scoop Of The Week!!!

Not ice cream, although you know that's ALWAYS on my must-have list!  This reporter got the scoop on the Chance RV shade cover fiasco!!  For those who read Mr. Dan Chance's blog, he detailed the construction of his garage and shade cover after moving to the Tucson area.  Unfortunately, his desire to continue the blog at 5:00 am every morning waned, and we were all left hanging, not knowing if the shade cover was ever completed!!

IT WAS!!  Not only did I see it in person, I've been parked by it for the last few days, and am happy to report it is STILL standing, even with the daily Vail gale!!  I interviewed Mr. Chance, who told the following crazy story.  He ordered the approximately $5,000 cover with a $500 down payment.  Delivery appointments were cancelled and rescheduled 7 or 8 times, most without even a phone call to say they wouldn't be arriving.  At long last they showed up and began to put it together, using Dan's ladders and with Dan using the backhoe to hoist them up high enough to get the job done.  When they burned out their own drill, they even borrowed Dans until he finally said no way Jose ... you guys get your own tools ... and by the way, when you return with tools, be sure and bring the rest of the missing panels for the siding.

The construction crew tried to get payment in full, but Dan wasn't having any of it.  He finally agreed to pay $1000, but refused the final payment until the job was complete!!  Smart guy that Dan Chance because the crew never returned.  He had to finish bolting the structure down himself, as well as find more panels and complete the job on his own.

So how long do you think it took the company to figure out they had a job they needed to finish???  Eight months ... yup eight!!!  Apparently a nice gal who was a new employee had been going through stacks of old paperwork and called to set up an appointment.  I won't repeat the words that came out of Dan's mouth.  The young lady said she was new to the job, and this wasn't the first time she had heard that.  That ended the conversation pretty quickly.  The company has not been heard from since and it's been about four months.

I know everyone would like the company name, including me!  I could use an inexpensive RV cover, but honestly, this reporter doesn't think it's worth the hassle!!  Buyer BEWARE or buyer be ready to argue and stand your ground!!  The Chance family is enjoying their new RV cover!!
Since I've been parked at the Chance RV Park, I haven't ventured very far out into the desert, but yesterday was the day Patty and I went for a hike.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love the desert??  How could you not love views like this!!  They've gotten quite a bit of rain this winter and at this elevation, things are happily growing like crazy.  
They say the jumping cholla will just jump out and stick you, but in our 1-1/2 hour walk yesterday, it behaved very well and we were spared the joy of digging out spines.    Many of the cholla were blooming with beautiful yellow fruit.  What a treat it was to see them all so happy!!
There's some big aloe around too, this specimen was almost as tall as Patty.  I sometimes forget the "don't touch" rule of the desert, since you're sure to get stuck or bit, but the textures are so cool, I couldn't help myself!!
Barrel cactus is everywhere ... some real beauties!!  We looked for very small ones, hoping to find something to put in a small pot for my window sill, but didn't find any.  I'm not sure it's legal to dig them up anyway ... maybe there's a cactus nursery around somewhere!!
The prickly pear were everywhere, some happy and growing wildly, many sagging and on their way out.  Seems the squirrels and pack rats love to dig holes underneath.  We saw lots of evidence of pathways from one cactus to another where they run to visit great aunt Margie.
Guess I'm kind of an old tracker ... my dad taught me to track all kinds of animals when I was a kid, mostly to find the horses and cattle that had escaped during the night.  It's fun to put those skills to work when I can ... and here in the desert there was a really big party the last couple of nights!!  There were packrats, bunnies, coyotes and mostly javelinas!!  The pigs just love to chomp down on a good piece of prickly pear, and seem to come back to the same plant ... it must be a tasty one.  This specimen had old bite marks as well as this very fresh HUGE bite!!  Wowee ... I would think those spines would hurt a little!!
I did get poked in the knee while kneeling down to get this image.  Definitely be careful where you walk, as cactus are poking out of the sand at every step ... some tiny ones only two inches tall!!
Our walk finally came to an end ... it's been threatening rain all day and we didn't bring any coats.  Besides, it's time to feed the kids ... and us!!  We'll be back for more tracking in a day or two!!