Friday, 30 April 2010

What a difference a couple of days make!

Was it really only a couple of days ago that we were sitting in hot sunshine under cloudless blue skies beside the inviting blue waters of an outdoor pool, surrounded by fragrant bougainvilla and oleander bushes?

We arrived home to a mix of rain, cloud, some sunshine and much, much, much, cooler temperatures, back to fleeces, woolly socks and hot water bottles! Yes, it's a bank holiday weekend!

Have fun, we are! (Despite the rubbish weather!)

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Saguaro National Park

Monday morning, bright and early we headed off to the Eastern division of Saguaro National Park. After all the rain last winter the desert is beautifully green.

The drive round East Saguaro is called Cactus Forest Drive and at one time really was a saguaro forest.

Saguaro’s are surprisingly delicate and can and do die if the temperature falls below freezing for over 20 hours. A couple of very cold winters in the 20th century killed swathes of them. Mesquite and other desert plants are used as nurse plants and saguaro are now gradually re-establishing themselves.

Some photographs below.

There are hiking and horse trails in the park and there were lots of cyclists and walkers in the park this morning.

It was very hot so no hiking for us today, we headed home and spent some time in the pool and hot tub and then retired to a shady spot with a beer and a book.

Have fun, we are!

Trolleys and Forts

We had planned to go to the Bluegrass Festival in Benson on Friday for Mike’s birthday, but it was sooooooo cold we passed on that. Instead we went over to Tombstone for dinner, which was delicious!

Saturday, we rode the Old Pueblo Trolley

from the historic Pie Allen District

Pie Allen is a very artsy area, full of bars, galleries and tattoo parlours it also has some very interesting rubbish bins.

The end of the line is by Gentle Bens Brewery near the University of Arizona.

We visited Gentle Ben's a few years ago and Mike was tempted to try a couple of brews, but has not yet learnt to share his Big Black Texas Truck! Although, back in the dim and distant past I was once allowed to drive it on a practically deserted road in Big Bend!!!

After a stroll around, we headed off to Fort Lowell Museum and Park.

There is very little left of the original Fort, just some adobe walls from the hospital. To prevent further erosion a shelter has been erected over the site.

The museum is housed in a replica of an officer’s quarters. The exhibits also list the names and occupations of people of lived at the fort. One of those named was Martha Summerhayes who was married to a Captain in the US army, she wrote about her experiences living at Fort Lowell in the 1880’s in her book, Vanished Arizona.

The original officer’s quarters were situated along a shady cottonwood lane, after the fort was abandoned the cottonwoods were neglected and dying, but they have been replanted and once again provide a shady avenue on hot days. Of which there are plenty!

We had a great day.

Have fun, we are!

Friday, 23 April 2010


Brrr chilly!!!!

A storm is passing through to the north of us and boy has it changed the weather. Last night it was very windy and today it has only been in the 50's with some rain, although so far we have managed to miss the thunderstorms. If we were still at Tombstone Territories we could be waking up to snow in the morning!!!!

The forecast is for it to clear out tomorrow morning and then go back to the 80's and hot and sunny hurray!!!

Have fun, we are!


Tumacacori National Historical Park is an easy drive down I19. The mission was founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, although it hasn’t been restored and was and is nowhere near as ornate as San Xavier Del Bac.

An interpretation of the interior.

Father Kino was the first Jesuit missionary permanently assigned to the Pimeria Alta region of New Spain and arrived at Tumacacori in 1691. He spent the next 24 years travelling through the region, mapping the area, establishing new supply routes and overseeing the missions he established, he died in 1711.

In 1767-1768 the Jesuits were expelled from the region and the Franciscans took over the missions.

The original Jesuit church with the later church in the back ground.

Around 1800 the Franciscans began building a larger church, lack of funds and constant Apache attacks brought construction to a halt. The final phase of construction started in 1823. After constant Apache attacks and a severe winter in 1848 the last residents left Tumacacori and in 1843 after the Gadsden Purchase Tumacacori became part of the USA.

The mortuary chapel, cemetery and rear of the mission.

The Granary and storage area.

The replica of the mission garden was built by the National Park Service in 1937.

After that we came home and sat in the sun.

Have fun, we are!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

San Xavier Del Bac

Yesterday we moved the huge distance of about 50 miles from Tombstone Territories RV Park to Cactus Country RV Park on the edge of Tucson. Obviously after all that travelling we had to spend the afternoon, resting in the sun and checking out the pool, it was tough!

Today we took a trip to San Xavier Del Bac on the San Xavier Indian Reservation just outside Tucson.

San Xavier Del Bac, the ‘White Dove of the Desert’ is a beautiful mission founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino in the 17th century.

Restoration of the exterior and interior is an ongoing project and conservators have spent years removing modern concrete from the roof and replacing it with original materials. The bell tower on the right isn’t awaiting restoration it was never completed.

Restored window.

Centuries of grime and smoke have also been removed from the highly decorative interior. Each time we visit more frescos have been revealed, and only special smoke free candles are allowed.

There are no records showing who painted the original frescos.

Masses are still said daily at San Xavier.

On the way back to the truck, we had some Indian fry bread, Mike had cheese on his and I had cinnamon sugar on mine. I have no idea how to describe Indian fry bread, let’s just say it’s truly delicious and you definitely won’t find it in Weight Watchers!

As it was such a beautiful day we spent the rest of the afternoon, chilling out in the sun, swimming followed by more chilling out, before watching a beautiful sunset over the desert.

Have fun, we are!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Gammons Gulch

Gammons Gulch is a ghost town movie set, 12 miles north of I10 on Pomerene/Cascabel Road.

The San Pedro river continues its journey north through the valley, farms and homes line the river bank and there is no public river access that we’ve ever found.

The road is a curved paved two lane country highway that winds in and out of dips and over cattle grids eventually it turns into a dirt road through Cascabel and then carries on into Pima County.

Not long before you reach the turn off to Gammons Gulch the road climbs a hill and then widens slightly as it crosses a massive concrete bridge that doesn’t seem to fit a two lane country road. That's because the bridge was built to carry I10 which was originally intended to go up this valley, but Tucson objected and the route was changed.

Gammons Gulch is on the left before the road turns to dirt. The town was and is being built by Jay Gammons and has been used for countless movies, on arrival you get a guided tour, after that you’re free to walk around on your own.

The car, sorry I forget what it is, does start, but I don't think there’s any gas in the pump.

Across the wash there is an old mining district.

This rope was thrown over the tree by a film company, but wouldn't that be a nice view of a hangin’ tree, just what you want to see from your cell window.

The saloon.

This is the bit where you pretend you're a gunslinger heading out of the saloon. The only shots I took were with the camera!

This was our second visit to Gammons Gulch we had a great time and will definitely visit again in the future.

After our visit we headed home and chilled out in the sun. Another great day in Arizona!

Have fun, we are!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Desert Days

This week has just flown by and I’ve just realised I’ve not updated the blog, so this is gonna be a long one!

Last Saturday, we drove over to Bisbee, the plan, such as it was, was to take a walk around the town and have lunch. But, the best laid plans and all that. When we arrived there was a classic car show in town. The cars climbed high up Tombstone Canyon and were all highly polished with some of the engines steam cleaned to a mirror finish. I half expected the Fonz to appear and lay claim to this one.

Earl’s car was there but there was no sign of him, Randy, Joy or the Crabman.

And last but not least a good old British Mini.

Bisbee was pretty crowded so we decided to give up on lunch and headed home.

Sunday, we headed over to Tombstone for Founders Day, it was a great day there were street vendors, gunfights, illusionists, Tonhono O’Odham Dancers, a World Champion gunslinger and most of Tombstone was in period costume.

She really has to move fast to get out of the way of those blades!

One of the gunfights, this was one called the ‘Killing of Margarita’ Margarita was a saloon girl, killed by a jealous wife.

Tohono O’Odham basket dancers.

I don’t think this prospector is going to hit the mother lode riding up and down Allen Street.

The Tombstone take on a carousel, isn’t it cute?

Joey Dillon world famous gunslinger.

Founders Day was fun, but really hard work, so we headed over to the Longhorn Restaurant for lunch and frozen margaritas!

Monday we took a walk around Fairbank ghost town.

Fairbank is on the San Pedro river and was once the home of the Grand Central Mill which was used to crush ore from the mines in Tombstone. The mill used the water from the San Pedro in the ore crushing process and it was then transported to Benson by rail. The disused railroad bed is still there, but the tracks are long gone, it is now used for hiking, cycling and riding it is also a major route for drug smugglers and illegal aliens! Needless to say it is regularly patrolled by Border Patrol officers.

All that remains of the mill are the back walls leading up the side of the hill.

A disused mine shaft just off the trail. This one is fenced off, but it makes you wonder how many others are hidden under the brush.
We continued on down the trail until we came to Willow Wash. Willow Wash is huge and leads down to the San Pedro.

After mooching around the river for a while, we retraced our steps and took the river loop trail back to Fairbank.

The river loop trail winds back to Fairbank on a bluff above the river, there are some great views, the snow covered Huachuca mountains were easily seen from this spot.

Not long after we’d taken this photograph, just below us sitting by the river we saw a lone guy wearing a straw cowboy hat with a large plastic water jug slung across his back. We’ve been told that illegal aliens use large plastic water jugs. Hmmm! We stopped and looked at each other, it might just be another hiker, but just in case it wasn't we decided to get the heck out of Dodge, fast! I’ve never walked that trail quite so fast before.

Arriving back in Fairbank, we sat on one of the picnic benches discussing what we'd seen when along walked the guy from the river. Turns out he’s a local and when we saw him his dog was swimming in the river. Mind you had he been facing us, we’d’ve flown along that trail even faster, as on one hip he was wearing a holstered .357 magnum, (shades of Dirty Harry!) and on the other hip a rather large hunting knife!

After all that excitement we came home and felt so much better after a couple of beers!

As for the rest of the week, well, the weather has continued to be gorgeous, sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the 80’s, so we’ve spent a lot of time ‘planning’ obviously this involves a lot of sitting around in the sunshine.

Have fun, we are!

Friday, 9 April 2010


Last Monday we left Willcox and moved to Tombstone Territories RV Resort it’s not very far and only took us a little while to drive over and set up.

It’s a very nice park, we have great views, the Dragoon Mountains, snow covered Miller Peak in the Huachuca’s and across to the Tombstone Hills and the Mule Mountains.

Dragoon Mountains
Just right for chillin’ out in the sunshine.

Today we took a trip into Tombstone, it was very quiet when we arrived, but soon got busy, we took a look around the Tombstone Courthouse. Arizona has closed a lot of its state parks and the Courthouse was one of them, but the Chamber of Commerce has taken over running it so it is still open.

The gallows were destroyed in the early 20th century but there is a reconstruction in an outside courtyard.
After that we took a look at the Worlds Largest Rose Tree which is just coming into bloom, it is huge! It came from Scotland in 1865 so is over 100 years old and pruning takes 80 hours!
The stem of the rose bush is as big as that of a tree.

The individual blooms are very pretty.

After lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant, we returned to a very hectic afternoon soaking up the sun and the views. Ah life is tough!

Have fun, we are!