Sunday, April 9, 2017

Did We See An UFO?

We decided to attend church Saturday in Green Valley, AZ and went to the 4pm mass.  Green Valley is a large retirement town south of Tucson with many people who came to Tucson for the winter and decided to stay there.  

After church we went over to Manuel's Mexican restaurant and there were about 20-25 people waiting outside to be seated for dinner.  I don't mind waiting a few minutes, but Manuel's is a smallish restaurant and we thought it would be a long wait so we went elsewhere.

We wound up at Argenziano's in Corona de Tucson and managed to get a table very fast.  Our waitress was very efficient and we didn't have to wait long for our meals of chicken Parmesan and lasagna.  As usual the dinners were very good and quite large.  Now we have enough leftovers for a dinner later this week.

On the way back we were driving down I-19 when we noticed something peculiar in the sky.  It looked like a red box and it wasn't moving.  I thought it might be a tall sign but when an airplane flew under it I knew it wasn't a sign.  We were quite perplexed and couldn't figure out what it was.  Maybe an UFO???  Naw, it couldn't be that.

When we got back to the motor home and turned on the tv the mystery was solved.  There was a 10 acre fire on the top of Mt. Lemmon and the flames were hundreds of feet high.  WOW.   The firefighters couldn't get up there and had to wait until morning to get a handle on the fire.  We had high winds and that contributed to the blaze.  It looks like the fire is under control and I'm sure the people in Summerhaven on the top of the mountain are happy about that.

We were at least 40 miles from the fire on the interstate and it was visible.  Quite a sight to see and thankful that the fire was in an area with no houses.

Guess we will have to wait a while longer to see an UFO.  That was our day, how was yours?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Coyote Pause Restaurant

There aren't a lot of restaurants near our campground, but we did find one that serves breakfast and lunch.  It's only 4-5 miles from our campground and easy to get there with no stop lights and only 2 stop signs.

We kept thinking of going there and always arrived too late to be served.  They close at 2:30pm and we almost always eat a late lunch to avoid the crowds around noon.  

Finally, we decided to go there for breakfast and invited friends Debbie and Dale to go with us.  Nobody had any idea what kind of place it was but we all were able to find something to eat.  They serve a huge breakfast and it's impossible to leave there hungry. Gerry chose the mesquite pancakes and loved them.  They were large and she shared one with me.

Dale & Debbie

 They have a patio and a regular area for dining.  We all chose the patio to take advantage of the nice weather.  The patio was an add on and is popular except during the hot part of the year.  There were a number of decorations on the wall and it had a comfortable feeling there.

 Since it's called Coyote Pause, they had to have decorations with a coyote theme.  I can hear the three coyotes on the shelf howling at night now. 

 The baseboard (tile) was very pretty and added to the southwest motif of the restaurant.  Now Gerry wants to buy some tiles for us when we buy a home.

 The backdoor opens onto some boutique shops with eclectic goods for sale in them.  Gerry found a nice cross and got it for a nice price. 

Me talking with my hands.

astrophytu myriostigma cactus
The cactus above was a little larger than a cantaluope and was the strangest one I have ever seen.  I had to search for the name on google and finally found one there.  There are some flowers coming out of the top of the cactus and I hope to get a nice photo of it with the flowers in full bloom.

We've been back there a number of times and are almost regulars there.  They recognize us and know we like the patio and are seated promptly.  After one lunch Dale and I went up to pay the bill and I noticed some cinnamon buns along with huge sticky buns.  I asked what they did with the leftovers and she said they were for sale at $1.00 each.  We each picked up a cinnamon bun and ate it later in the evening for a snack.  It was a little dry by then but still tasted great.

If you are ever on Kinney Rd on the way to Tucson Studio or the Desert Museum check the restaurant out.  It is on the left just before you enter the park grounds.

Now I have to leave you and eat my cinnamon bun.  Yummy.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tucson Sunrise

 I woke up early today and decided to get some pictures of sunrise around our campground west of Tucson.  We have the Tucson Mountain range to the east of us and I wanted to capture the sun rising over them.  I got a late start or the sun came up faster than I thought it would so there wasn't that much time to capture all the beauty of the sunrise.

Gazebo in campground in front of our campsite.
 Normally I avoid taking photos with telephone poles in them but I liked this view and took the shot. 


Another telephone pole shot

 Saguaro cactus in the foreground standing watch over the sunrise.

The saguaro cactus below wasn't very tall but already had two arms growing out of it.  Arms don't usually appear until the cactus is 75 years old and are for the most part taller than this one.  It reminded me of advertisement for a Tequilla commerical.

 There aren't many tall trees in the area so smart hawks use the top of telephone poles as perches to look for their prey.  The hawk here was eyeing me but I lucked out and he changed his mind.

 We are located about 40 miles from the Kitt Peak Observatory and it was lit up with the early morning sun and stood out very clearly.  

Kitt Peak Observatory Overview

Our friends Debbie and Dale left yesterday for Camp Verde, AZ and their first visit to the Sedona area.  They are avid hikers and bikers and I know they will love that part of Arizona.  They were camped at the same park as us this past month and we managed to show them most of the interesting things to do and see in the area.  They liked the Guadalajara Original Grill and we went there for dinner the last night they were in the area.  We had a great time with them and look forward to seeing them in the Fall in the Virginia area.  Safe travels you two.

We are winding down our stay here in Tucson and plan on leaving April 13 and heading our way back to North Carolina and finally to our cabin in Pennsylvania.  It looks like Florida will be our destination for next winter, but that is written in jello. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tombstone, Arizona

March 30, 2017

We visited the Empire Ranch and then drove on to Tombstone for a look see.  Gerry and I have been to Tombstone many times and think it's interesting, but just a tourist trap.  At least it is a lot better than The Dells in Wisconsin.  The Dells are in another class.

The Birdcage Theatre is reputed to be one of the only authentic buildings left from the old Tombstone.  It opened in 1881 and was open for business 24 hours a day for 8 years.  It appears today just like it did back in 1889 when it closed.  It was a bar, brothel, theatre and gambling hall all rolled up into one place.

 The original bar from when the Birdcage closed still looks in great shape.  It was made of cherry wood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and shipped around the horn to the west coast of the US and then brought to Tombstone by wagon.

 There are many pictures in the bar area.  One can also see one of the "birdcages" shown on the upper left.  It was a small crib for the "working girls" to earn their keep.

 Down the street is Big Nose Kate's bar/restaurant.  They usually have live entertainment there and it's covered with old photos from days gone by.

The old bar is usually full of patrons from tourists to locals.  A number of locals dress in period costumes and it looks like one of them is taking a break at the bar.  Then again, Arizona is an open carry state and he may not be in costume, but a tourist after all.

One of the local performers was doing his thing across the street from Big Nose Kate's and had on a very wild outfit.  I sat down on a bench to wait for Gerry & Debbie and the man next to me said he was a former high school classmate of the man.

The O.K. Corral is used for a daily reenactment of the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the Clantons and others.  

 There are a couple stagecoach rides that go up and down the street with the driver narrating information about old Tombstone. 

 The local fire department couldn't keep the town from almost burning down a couple times due to lack of water.  By the time they had water delivered to the town the mines played out and that was the end of Tombstone for about 45 years.

 The Earp brothers were famous gamblers/lawmen and other professions and Wyatt was the most famous of them.  His home has been restored and is now a Gallery.

Wyatt Earp home

 They have recently installed a statue of Wyatt Earp next to his house.  Notice he is carrying a double barrel shotgun in addition to his pistol.

 We had an entertainment passport book with a page that was good for free admittance to the Boothill Cemetery.  We thought it was good for a discount in the gift shop there, also.  They had free admission to the cemetery at least since 2006 when we first visited there.  Now they don't honor the passport book and charge $3.00 to view the cemetery.  Debbie had questioned the clerk, who apologized for not being able to accept the coupon.  She said the policy had just recently been changed and she had to follow her instructions, although the coupon wasn't supposed to expire until 12/31/17.

If you've never been to Tombstone it is worth a first visit, but be prepared for a lot of tee-shirts for sale along with lots of other touristy articles.

The main street was asphalt with parking on the street in 2006 and they later covered the street with dirt to film a movie there.  While that sounds neat, the dust from the street is terrible when the wind picks up.  Over the years the dirt has worn down and the stagecoaches mainly run on the asphalt.

We stopped at the Horseshoe Cafe in Benson on our way back to the campground and had a very nice dinner.  We really lucked out and immediately got a table. Others who followed us weren't so lucky and waited for 30-45 minutes to be seated.  The restaurant is very old and we like to stop there when we are in the area since we know they serve good food.

Finally we drove back to the campground and were worn out.  It was a 210 mile round trip and our old bodies felt it.  That was our day, how was yours?


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Empire Ranch, Sonoita, Arizona

We had a big day planned with Debbie and Dale and got up early to have breakfast at the Coyote Pause, a local restaurant.  After that we pointed the car toward Sonoita, AZ and the Empire Ranch.  The old original homestead with numerous additions over the years is in the process of being restored.    

Empire Ranch Info

The historic Empire Ranch has been a working cattle ranch for 140 years. Its rich history includes successive ownership by two prominent ranching families, two corporations, and finally by the federal government on behalf of the general public.

Vail Era (1876-1928

The Empire Ranch was originally established in the 1860’s as a homestead ranch of 160 acres with a flat topped four-room adobe ranch house and adjoining adobe-walled corral. In 1876 the ranch was owned by Edward Nye Fish, a Tucson businessman, when it was acquired for $2,000 by Walter L. Vail, a native of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and Plainfield, New Jersey, and Herbert Hislop, an Englishman. John Harvey, an Englishman from Bermuda, joined the partnership a few months later.
Over the next 20 years, as a part of the historic expansion of ranching, railroads, mining and other growth in the West, Vail and various partners expanded the original land holdings to include over 100,000 acres. The Total Wreck silver mine was discovered and developed, adding to ranch prosperity. The Ranch House became an extended complex with more than 22-rooms and a number of outbuildings and structures were added. Their original flat earthern roofs were later replaced with wooden gable roofs.

In 1896, in order to turn his attention more fully to growing corporate holdings in California. Walter Vail moved his family to Los Angeles and established his corporate headquarters there. Continuing Empire Ranch operations were overseen by Vail Company foremen until 1913 when William Banning Vail, Walter’s third oldest son, took over ranch management. He and his wife Laura Perry Vail, and their three children lived at the ranch until it was sold by Vail Company in 1928.

Boice Era (1928-1969)

In 1928, the Empire Ranch was purchased by the Chiricahua Ranches Company (CRC), successor to the Chiricahua Cattle Company (CCC). The CRC was incorporated by three Boice brothers, Henry Gudgell, Frank Seymour, and Charles Gudgell, respected ranchers known for their promotion of the Hereford breed of cattle in the Southwest. Frank Boice and his wife, Mary Grantham Boice, moved to the Empire Ranch in 1929. Frank and Mary’s sons, Pancho and Bob, grew up on the Empire Ranch and as adults assisted with ranching operations.

The Boices added many modern conveniences to the Ranch House. Propane, and eventually natural gas, was piped into the house; a large electric walk-in refrigeration unit was installed; plumbing was upgraded and cement stucco was applied to the exterior house walls. The living room, dining room, and kitchen in the family residence were remodeled. A swimming pool was installed south of the house and became the focal point for family gatherings and parties.

During the 1940 and 1950s many Hollywood films were shot at the Empire Ranch and in the vicinity. The Boices hosted numerous film stars, including John Wayne, when Red River was filmed at the Empire Ranch.

Corporate Era (1969-1988)

In the 1980s a groundswell of public support developed to preserve the ranch and its natural resources in their pristine condition. In 1988 a series of land exchanges put the property into public ownership under the administration of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the U.S. Department of Interior. In 2000, the U.S. Congress officially designated these 42,000 acres to be Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA).

BLM entered into a lease agreement with John Donaldson and his son Mac to continue ranching on the Empire Ranch, following modern ranching practices designed to preserve and monitor the LCNCA’s natural resources and also accommodate public recreation. In 2009 the Tomlinson family, owners of the Vera Earl Ranch in Sonoita, assumed the Donaldson grazing lease and are ranching on the Empire Ranch today.

From the outset, BLM managers were committed to preserving the historic Empire Ranch headquarters buildings and interpreting them for future generations. Necessary studies were undertaken to support and specify appropriate historic preservation.

The Empire Ranch Foundation (ERF) was established as a private non-profit organization in 1997 to work with the BLM to develop private support to preserve the ranch buildings and enhance the educational and recreational opportunities it offers to the general public. In the time since, ERF and BLM have completed significant emergency repairs to the main ranch house and to major outbuildings at the headquarters. Major long term permanent repairs to the Ranch House and Adobe Haybarn are being specified and undertaken as funding permits, while interpretation and education programs and a Discovery Trail are being implemented continuously.

 Gerry and I have been to the ranch a number of times and always enjoy the visits.  It is neat to see what a working ranch looks like and all the changes to it over the past 140 years.  I know you must be tired of reading after the previous paragraphs so I will change over to pictures.  

Ranch outbuildings

Main ranch house with additions on both sides.  Master bath or right.

Nice windmill behind a barn

Horse corral on the right

Rooms for staff and ranch hands

Living room

Master Bath in addition

General layout of the house

Original roof beams

Covered hitching post

Old cattle corrals

Huge cottonwood tree along the creek.
 We spent a couple hours touring the ranch and checking out some dry camping sites there.  Since it is BLM land, it should be free camping.  The volunteer manning the office at the ranch was getting ready to pull out after being there for 3 months.  It is about 35 miles to the nearest town of any size and I imagine it must have gotten boring sitting there all the time.  To each his own.

The ranch was our first long stop, but not our last.  Debbie and Dale have never been to Tombstone except for a drive through with us a couple years ago.  They wanted to go back and check it out in more detail.  More about that later.

Are you still reading this?  If so, you must really be patient.  Thanks for hanging in to the end.