"It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed." Art Wolf

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mostly Rocks, Still in Arizona

Today was the catch up on errands and get ready to pullout tomorrow if the weather cooperates.  Errands were run before the weather app showed the high wind symbol. Now Audrey and Lark are looking at me and wondering why their "house" is rocking so badly. 

Yesterday was sunny, windless and supportive of horseback riding.  The Triangle T Ranch is located off I-10 just a few miles East of Benson and the start of the Dragoon Mountains.  This is the area that Cochise and his people would winter in after spending the rest of the year avoiding the military by holding up across the valley in what is no referred to as Cochise's Stronghold.   I out maneuvered the military for ten years.

Before we start looking at rocks, I thought I would throw in this picture of one of the front lawns here at the Escapee's Park in Benson.    When you live in tan RV and maybe a small Casita, hobbies go where they can go.

This root was noticed back at the ranch before we started out. The computer does not always post pictures in the order in which they were taken and, yes, I sometimes get lazy about rearranging picture order. 

The mountain over there is Cochise's Stronghold area.

This rock area is on the museum property next to the ranch.  According to Buddy, our trail guide, there is an Indian Elder that comes out a couple of time each year to preform sacred ceremonies in several areas around the ranch and neighboring areas.   This rock area was one that the tribes would use when they came together in this area.

This building was originally build around the time that the US government took over the ranch temporarily at the beginning of WWII to house the Japanese Ambassadors and other Embassy individuals until they could be shipped to Europe and traded. It was all secret, secret at the time. There are several areas where you can still see iron spikes coming out of the rocks that marked the limits of how far the Japanese could walk.  The rustic porch that was on the front got grabbed away about a year ago in a micro burst.   The building had been used in the 50's for a movie site: The 3:10 to Yuma.

The Rig tanks have been emptied and we have water on board. We are ready to pull out tomorrow if it is feasible. If not we will hunker down for one more day.  Either way West Texas is in my future at least on more time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Happy Birthday Lark

Lark turned two today.  I told her that the snow we woke up to was her birthday present.  Lark seemed to accept that.  Audrey just laughed and mumbled about the gullibility of Golden Retrievers.

When I looked out the window and saw Lark's present I grabbed some clothes and boots, two dogs and my camera.  I know the snow dusting everything would not last for long. As soon the the sun, wind and temperatures all gained strength the magic would be gone.  But in the meantime the desert look different under the dusting.

Audrey had to remind Lark that yes they were still cactus and maybe she should be careful.

After our walk we headed back to the rig and stayed warm for several hours. Later, I texted Beth to see if she wanted to go with us to visit Whitewater Draw.  This area is known for hosting huge flocks of cranes and some other migratory birds. Beth has been here many time and even boondocked out in the small parking lot.  Given the chilly temperatures and the wind today it was not a campsite either of us would have wanted to park out in.

Given the blustery weather the cranes were here but hunkered down.  So I didn't expect to see any mass fly in or fly out, which is what people come to observe.  The amazing thing for me was to think about all the hundreds of miles in this area of Arizona and this relatively small area of wetlands is where these thousands of cranes come back to each year.   Granted Arizona probably doesn't have many environments conducive to support so many birds but still that they are here in the middle of nowhere is striking.

On warmer days there would probably have been multiple cameras and people sitting and standing around waiting. Waiting for the cranes to take flight. This couple was planning on waiting the afternoon for the perfect shot.  

Birds where ever you look.

It was Lark's birthday but Lark graciously invited Audrey to come on the ride-along with her.  Beth kindly offered to be her walker.   As Beth noticed, Audrey went to sleep as soon as she got in the car and didn't get up until we arrived.   Yes, Audrey is the perfect ride along dog.

"I'll just tuck my head under my wing. Wake me when the wind die down....."

The little brown ducks were over in the other area on their own.

There is always one.   That white duck near the center bottom of the picture.  

On the walk back to the parking area I noticed a water pump bringing water into the wet lands.  Not a bad idea and a good reason for the cranes to keep finding their way back to this area.

"Lets walk over to the large pavilion," says Beth.  There is usually an Owl perched in there.   It took a minute to locate the owl.  Beth said that the owl is usually just perched on a beam at the far end. This time there was a nest on the other end right up in the peak.  It was difficult to even tell if there was something in the nest but both Beth and I saw something moving.  Luckily I brought the good camera today.  Does this tell you anything about the gusty winds today?

Good Night Moon.     Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Out and About Benson, AZ

I made it to the Benson Escapee Co-op park on Saturday without mishap and with easy traffic past both Phoenix and Tucson.   I have only been to three other parks in the Escapee's system but this one is by far the nicest.   The views of the mountains aren't bad either.   

Sunday, Ginger, a friend of both Beth's and Liz's, picked Beth and I up to take us to a wonderful spot in the Coronado National Memorial that runs along the Mexican and US border.  The road becomes gravel and takes a few switch backs past the Visitor's Center.   Ginger drove and had a handle on where most of the small pull offs were because it was wide enough for a one way road.

But the view from Montezuma's Pass was worth the dust.

That faint straight line in the distance is the Mexican/US border. I noticed no hoards pushing their way across the boarder.

Okay, there may actually be a wall down there but not the across the entire space.  In the distance on the left it appears to change into just a road.  But yes, it is a wall on the right.

Ginger, our driver and tour guide for the day.

The National Park was created to memorialize what historians feel was the path Coronado took out of Mexico in his explorations.

The dogs are going to wonder why I don't want to walk as far this afternoon.

When you are Coronado, I am guessing that you had people to provide for your comforts.

Always more views up each little rise or around the last bend.

Are they having a hissing conversation?

Our "tour guide"  made a quick stop along the route back.   

Ginger and Beth in front of the small waterfall.

Another stop on the way back to Benson was a visit to the Brown Ranch.  Ginger left the Brown Canyon Hike for another day.    Of in the field next to the ranch site sat the large dirigible that apparently is a known feature in the neighbor sky on days that are dirigible friendly.  We were guessing the unpredictable gusting winds probably influenced the decision to sit this afternoon out.

Beth and Ty.

One of the canyons near the ranch.

Todays adventures out were to Kartchner Caverns.   The cavern were discovered on private property in 1974 and secretly explored for a couple of years before the property owners were informed.  The importance of the find was recognized immediately.   The property owners, the Kartchners, approached the state and a deal was made.  What sets the caverns apart was that the engineers set out to learn from what had been done or not done to explore, develop and showcase the beauty of other known cavern systems.   They were able to learn from the past mistakes of others and were able to build in design features that worked to minimized the effect of millions of humans.  They also built in air locks and came up with rules for the visiting public that again would minimize the human impact on the fragile environments within the caverns.  No cameras, no backpacks, purses or anything loose that would have a potential to bump into walls or be dropped over handrails. Since the temperature inside that caverns is around 70 degrees and very humid I left me coat in the car. It was chilly on the trolley ride up the the entrance but it was one less layer to peel and carefully wrap around my waist with no floppy ends to come into contact with anything. 

Having visited other famous large caverns that were developed long ago and wear the damage of humans over time, it was as interesting to see how Kartchner Caverns is trying incorporate what studies have shown is healthier for the beautiful rock formations inside, as it was to see the formations.  And yes the formations in side were awesome.

Walking back to the parking lot I had to retrieve the camera and return to these beauties. 

On my way back to Benson, I followed Ginger's example from the day before and took a brief side trip through Tombstone.  I visited 5 years ago so just did a quick walk up and down the street.  Maybe it was the cooler temperatures today but everything appeared tired and the empty store fronts struck me a reflection of maybe the economy and of the tourist traffic coming through.  I found a piece of home made Carmel apple pie and decided on that over a burger for lunch so it was definitely a salad for dinner night.

Rain started about 4 pm and their might be snow before morning but with tomorrows temperatures going up into the 40's I expect it to be gone by the time  want to head out anywhere.   As of now I expect to stay put until Friday.  I think it is expected to rain on Friday but that looked better than the gusty winds that are currently predicted for Thursday.    Now if I could only find a self serve dog wash.... Shhhh, don't tell Audrey.  She may end up in the rig shower again.