Monday, February 29, 2016

Take A Hike!!!

If there's one thing I love,  whether in the desert or the mountains, it's hiking.  When I learned there were hiking trails all around the park and over the hills, I was on it like a spider on a fly.

It was supposed to be a relaxing, do laundry day, but that could wait.  I headed out early in a short sleeve running shirt I found under the bed, only to be greeted by people in heavy coats.  I must have misread the memo.
At the far end of the park, I ran into these babies ... Mr. Quail and his two wives.  These guys are just too cute!!
As I walked around the back of the construction building, I could hear birds everywhere.  They are quite vocal and obviously well fed, which doesn't surprise me.  Almost every site here has bird feeders out front.
After traversing the desert around the entire park, I headed up the mountain to the water tower.  Good thing I wore my tenny sneaks because the trail is gravel slippery.  Even though I haven't gone up much in altitude, it sure gives you a beautiful view of the valley.
You can even see the trains paralleling Hwy 10 as they snake their way East.  That's the SKP park at the bottom of the picture.  Yes you can hear the trains occasionally, but just a distant whistle blowing.
Keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes, the road turned to a narrow trail on top of the mountain ridge.  I was hoping to run into some critters, but even the birds abandoned this area.  I saw a few javelina tracks, but nothing else was breathing up there but me ... and I was sucking down the oxygen!!
The thought did cross my mind that I was going to be sore after this, but the cactus in bloom made me forget all about it.  So far it's only been a three aspirin hike!!
It appeared that you could hike all the way to Hwy 90 as I saw those houses I looked at previously, looming in the distance.  I actually found TWO trails, and was hoping to return on the second one.  Alas, even though I kept going just another 50 feet ... I never could find a way to get across the canyon.  I thought about going cross country, but the thought of lying at the bottom with a broken leg, didn't appeal to me much.

When I returned to the park, all those birds flying around caught my attention.  It's pretty hard to stalk a bird for photos.  You have to tippy toe a lot ... but I was finally able to capture several.  Of course I've no idea what they are, but they were pretty and each made a different kind of tweet.
This must have been a very good tree ... it had about 7 nests ready for eggs.  It's funny how they were all in this one tree.  It must have been the best condo in the area.
Many of the birds were easy to find due to their coloring!  This one wasn't the least bit afraid and stood his ground.
Back closer to the park, I could see the wash that takes flood water away had lots of tracks in it.  Since there were no clouds in the sky anywhere around, I walked along trying to figure out what made the tracks .... javelinas, dogs, humans?
What I found were bunnies ..... LOTS of bunnies!!  I followed a couple to their holes, with several just running ahead and then out into the desert.  Finally one stopped long enough for a portrait.  Six in total ... cutest little white tails ever!!
Just behind my rig was a tree full of birds.  I could hear them, but it was very hard to SEE them.  I finally caught this guy through the branches.  Once I looked closely, I found five close by in the same bush.  
Okay .... last bird picture.  This was a beauty, just calling to his girlfriend like crazy.  Apparently she wasn't all that interested ......
I spent the rest of the day doing laundry and seizing up on the couch.  Ever so often I would get up and stretch, in an effort to relieve some of the pain!!  Pizza for dinner help a little bit too!!

With a couple more aspirin under my belt, I'm headed to Bisbee this morning.  It's over an hour's drive, but there's a quilt store, not to mention the Copper Mine.  I hear it's an artsy town, but I've truly run out of room in my rig.  Hmmmm, I do still have the back seat of my car available.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

These Boots Are Made For Walking!!

Have you seen this before??  Maybe looks like the Earp Brothers at the "Corral"???  I happen to be very familiar with these guys, as they make some of the fanciest boots in the West.  Actually I was looking for T-shirts .... really, I was!!  It's hot here during the day and all I brought was long sleeve shirts.  "You aren't from around here, are you?  It's WINTER you know!"  Okay then, I guess I'll just have to look at the boots!!
I did a little more than look, I admit.  When I saw these on the shelf, I was sure they were not my size ... but they were.  I was sure they weren't tall enough ... but they were.  I was sure they wouldn't be comfortable ... but they were!!  What more could a girl ask for??  Now THESE are MY kind of walking boots!!!
Back at the rig still scrounging for T-shirts, I checked out the SKP Co-Op park.  Unlike many Escapees parks in California, this one in Benson draws people from all over the United States .... Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas ... I see lots of different license plates, as well as many from Canada.  This isn't a laid back group at all .... they are going and doing continuously!!  Their schedule of every day events fills an entire page, not to mention the special dinners and entertainment they provide.

So when Lynn and Dave Cross suggested I purchase a ticket for the Fish Fry dinner, I was right on board.  Almost everything around here is done by volunteers, including the dinners.  I have to say it was DELICIOUS!!  Sorry I forgot to take a picture, so I did the next best thing ... I took a picture of the cook!!
Here's the great way this SKP park works ... probably 90% of the work is done by those same volunteers.  They do an amazing job of landscaping the entire park and are presently installing a beautiful water fountain up by the clubhouse.  They recycle, have yard sales and all kind of money making propositions, which they then use to maintain the park, keeping their maintenance fees very low.  Believe me, they do an amazing job!

Once dinner was over, Lynn escorted me around to several of her friends places to see their casitas.  Most every site has one, but they are all totally different, even though all are only 288 square feet.  The rows in this park are set on different levels up the mountainside, so everyone has a great view of the mountains at sunset.  This is actually the sunset in the EAST before the real sunset in the WEST.
Yesterday, Kartchner Caverns was on my list, but when I checked in, I found you are not allowed anything but your car keys in your pocket.  No photography AT ALL, and they were booked, so I cruised on down to Sierra Vista.  Fort Huachuca Army Base lives there, along with a quilt shop I was interested in seeing.  When I arrived, there was still snow on the mountains.  
I have to say this area doesn't suit me.  It gives me a feeling of isolation, of being WAY too close to the border as evidenced by the helicopter and six Border Patrol trucks hauling people off to jail, and I know you'll think this is weird, but there's no cactus.  That's right, just scrub trees.  No beautiful barrel cactus or saguaros or cholla.  If I'm going to live in the desert, I want to see cactus!!

I finally found the Squirrel's Nest ... not to say that quilters are squirrels ... but I could have nested here for quite a while.  This place has all MY kind of material, although a little pricey.
Wouldn't you know I forgot to bring the two pieces I already purchased for a quilt with an Australian feel, but that didn't keep me from snatching up these.  I know better ... don't buy without a pattern in mind, or at least know how much you need ... but this kind of thing isn't available where I come from.  I'll figure out something later!!
As I walked out the door, I felt someone looking down on me ... YIKES!!  The BIRDS!!!!  I thought it was a good time to get out of town, so I walked around the pole and jumped in my Jeep as quick as I could!!
I saw several subdivisions on my way to Sierra Vista, so thought I would check them out on my way home.  They all had huge rocks along the driveway.  I've no idea what it is, maybe someone can help me out here.  
The views of the valley below were pretty spectacular, but the houses ... well they were just plain old houses, all too close together for my taste.  It looked like sales weren't doing very well.  These subdivisions were huge, with less than a quarter of it having houses actually built.  One beautifully gated facility had no houses at all.  Makes me wonder if they went bankrupt.  There are definitely some amazing sites however.  But see??  No cactus!!  
It's the elevation I'm sure.  I would be giving up cactus for cooler weather.  Definitely beautiful, but too isolated for a single gal.  It's a 40 minute drive to anything!!!  
Today is relaxing laundry day as I gear up for next week.  I found the Rex Allen Museum in Willcox Arizona (one of my cowboy heros in my MUCH younger days) and I haven't yet been to Bisbee.  It's going to be a busy week!!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Wildest, Wickedest Place In The West!!

Who wouldn't want to check out the place touted as the wildest, wickedest place in the West?  That's why this particular theatre became so VERY popular in the late 1800's.  Opened in 1881, it was originally intended to be a respectable place like the Hutchisons had seen in San Francisco.  They even had Ladies Night, but that didn't seem to bring in the expected riches, so they cancelled Ladies Night and brought in bawdier entertainment for the rich miners.
Just inside the door was the bar, not nearly as large as I expected.  In the bar mirror, you can see a large original oil painting of Fatima the exotic dancer, which hangs on the opposite wall.   It has six bullet holes in it.  In fact, bullet holes are all around you ... in the bar, in the ceiling and in the pictures.  I think they said something like 26 men were killed here.  Not a good place to get into an argument!!
Up the right hand side are the steps used to get to the balcony above the bar and to the cages (or cribs) hung all along the upper walls on both side.  Fourteen I think they said.  It wasn't cheap to drink and play here .... beer was 50 cents on the floor, but $1.00 in the cribs, which were rented for $25 a night!!  The stairs leading up are badly worn, in spite of the cost.
Looking at the stage, you can see the cribs on each side up top.  I'm not showing you any pictures you can't see on the internet, but I am holding back quite a few.  THIS building is really worth the $10 cost to visit!!  The walls are lined with memorabilia, from playbills to pictures to antiques.
The cribs have original artwork on the front showing acrobats swinging from the ceilings.  Those acts were discontinued when the Human Fly gal fell one day and broke her neck.  These are tiny, tiny rooms with barely enough space for a cot.  The drapes were pulled when the girls entertained their customers ....... or not!
The stage isn't near as large as I imagined and the original curtain still hangs there.  Gas lights illuminated the likes of Lillian Russell (21 when she sang here), comic singer Irene Baker, opera star Carrie Delmar and others like comedians David Waters and Will Curlew who put on bawdy shows.  The grand piano made of rosewood was shipped around the horn and placed here in 1881.  It hasn't been moved since.
The view from the stage looking out into the audience shows just how small this place really is.  It ran 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 11 years.  The Grand Central Mine hit water and eventually closed, unable to reach the ore below.  That began the downfall of Tombstone, which closed this theatre in 1892.  
Recently they have opened the basement, showing the small bar and poker tables where the games were kept going for 8 years straight.  Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday spent a lot of time in this basement.
For the "special girls" there were two cribs down below, one belonging to Sarah Josephine Marcus,  Sadie Jo to her friends and customers, who was engaged to Sheriff Behan, who didn't like her occupation.  She later became acquainted with Wyatt Earp, who spent a LOT of time in this room.  

They say Wyatt lived just a short 50 feet away with his common law wife Mattie, also a prostitute.  Mattie left with the Earps when Wyatt went into hiding after killing the Cowboys responsible for Morgan's death.  Eventually he ended up in San Francisco with Sadie Jo, leaving Mattie to her own devices.   Mattie returned to prostitution, but between being addicted to Laudanum for headaches and lack of business, she eventually overdosed on Laudanum and alcohol.
Who knows if all that is really true, but Sheriff Wyatt Earp did sign Sadie Jo's license to work in the cribs.  Everyone who wanted to be in business, had to have a City License to the tune of $7.50 or more, several of which hang in the Courthouse.
If you want an amazing walk through 1880's history, definitely stop in and count the bullet holes.  Give yourself plenty of time though ... this is a museum of excellent caliber and amazing one-of-a-kind items.  You'll want to read all about it as you walk through history, just as it was left in 1892.

Friday, February 26, 2016

T O M B S T O N E !!!!!

One of the main reasons I come this far South in Arizona is to visit Tombstone.  It was one of the last wide open frontier boom towns, sitting on the mesa above the Tough Nut Mine.  In less than seven years, it had a bowling alley, 4 churches, an ice house, two banks, three newspapers and an ice cream parlor alongside 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls and brothels, too numerous to count.

Before I drove the 22 miles however, I had to patiently wait for a parking spot at the SKP Saguaro Co-Op park in Benson.  First time visitors get to take advantage of a coupon, allowing one weeks stay for $50.  Otherwise, it runs about $20 a night.  There was an unexpected knock on my door around 9:00 ... Lynn had come to say the propane dispensary was open at a great price of $1.80 a gallon.  Right behind her was the parking crew with my notice that a spot was available!!

YAY!!!  After getting propane, I backed up the hill 80 feet or so and right onto the concrete pad.   I found out later, the owners of this site are off vacationing, so it's put in the rental pool for visitors.
As soon as the rig and puppies were set up, I was off to Tombstone!  Next to Disneyland, this is one of my all time favorites.  I think it has something to do with cowboys!!  First stop ... the Courthouse!!  For $5.00 you can walk around the entire building, checking out the Sheriff's Office and Jail addition, as well as where all the taxes were collected.  It never did say what they DID with the tax money ....
Upstairs is the Courtroom where the bad guys were sentenced to hard time.  Most were moved to the Yuma Prison, but those with only a few months time were kept downstairs.
There was one gang of men however that looked out this window at the gallows where they would end their lives in 1884 when Sheriff Jerome Ward carried out his duty.  Five members of the Heith gang ended their lives here.  The sixth, Heith himself, was broken out of jail by a vigilante group and hung from an electrical pole.  The townspeople thought he should share the fate of his gang.  
There's lots to see here, including this invitation to the hanging of the Halderman brothers in early 1900.  
The original gallows were burned down many years ago, so this replica was built in the courtyard in the same location.  That doesn't look like fun to me!!!
Among the exhibits inside is this gorgeous dress, worn by a school teacher.  I doubt this was everyday wear, but wow ... it's an amazing piece of handiwork.  More likely, the women wore something like the tan blouse.  
Ed Schieffelin is the founder of Tombstone.  He made his fortune in several silver mines, building the Schieffelin Opera House for ladies and gentlemen.  The Cowboys and riffraff  hung out at the Bird Cage Theatre.
Here's an Assay Office setup, complete with furnace to melt and test the silver.  The ore was pulverized and burned in the furnace, resulting in a small button.  That was flattened and burned again to vaporize the lead.  The remaining piece was weighed and estimates made on the number of ounces per ton, hopefully making the miner really happy!!
It was all about the mines in town and the money to be made.  Each of these certificates is from a different mining organization.
Tombstone didn't end up famous for it's mining however ... it had a lot to do with the gunfight at the OK Corral, as heralded by Hollywood.  The mining capitalists and townspeople were mostly Northerners.  The ranchers and criminal element, like the Clantons, were Confederate sympathizers, hiding out after the war and rustling cattle from the Mexican border 30 miles away, who came to be known as the Cowboys.  It was still the North against the South.

They spent a lot of time in this saloon owned by Big Nose Kate.  She was the girlfriend of Doc Holliday, who also spent a lot of time here.  What better place to take a break and have lunch!!  It's ALWAYS crowded, so my advice is to go early.  I was lucky to get a table on the little front stage where I sat taking pictures the entire time!!
There is a little wait for food!  By the time my pastrami sandwich arrived, I was on a sugar high from the two glasses of pepsi I gulped down, making this image a little blurry!!  Boy was this sandwich GOOD!!!
At the end of 1879, the Earp Brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and Warren, came to town and clashed with the Cowboys.  It finally erupted into the gunfight you've all heard about, but it didn't happen on this street, or in the OK Corral!!  So all these year's we've been told a big fat story!!!
The actual gunfight occurred a block or two away on Fremont Street.  Several times a day however, the fight is reenacted by good guys and bad inside the OK Corral where you can't see unless you buy a ticket!!  
If you want a little tour of town, you can take one of MANY stagecoach rides.  This would be my choice with the most authentic coach.  The drivers talk the entire time, giving you lots of tidbits of history about what happened where.  
I of course, was only interested in the mules!!  I did check out many of the shops and stores where you can purchase really nice Bailey and Stetson hats, along with vintage looking clothing, but came home with absolutely nothing but pictures.
The one tour I really wanted to take was inside the Birdcage Theatre.  That is one place I highly recommend you tour for $10 each.  It's self guided and you can stay as long as you want.  It's still mostly intact and an amazing glimpse into years past you don't want to miss.  Original posters still hang on the walls and the original piano is still there, as are the girls cribs and the poker tables that kept busy for eight straight years.  Definitely a MUST SEE!!!