Tuesday, February 26, 2013

With Mom

I haven’t posted for a bit because we’re not actually “on the road” at the moment.  Jim and the Coop dog are in Tucson, holding down the rig, and I’m in Wellington, Ohio, with my Mom.  I got here a week ago today. So far Mom and I have:
Gone shopping (Mom got four pairs of slacks and bought me a great chartreuse coat.  I love it).
Had lunch at the Oberlin Inn.
Went to church and afterwards went to lunch with friends at Wellington’s “Bread and Brew” (which does not, as Jim once hoped, serve beer.  Instead it’s a sandwich and coffee place). Also, Mom’s minister gave a gutsy sermon re: gun violence.  Way to go, Reverend Lea. And thanks for lunch, Nancy and Ron.
Trimmed Mom’s hibiscus and cut off a branch I did not intend to trim.  Oh well. It will grow back.
Done some genealogy work, with me typing down stories Mom remembers using my “Family Tree Maker” software.
Plus lots of other stuff with more to come.   Tomorrow we're going to an orchid show in Cleveland with my brother Bob and SIL Suzie.  If we aren't snowed in (avoiding the cold is something else in which we've invested a lot of time.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Below are a few signs we've seen during our 19 months of motor home touring (a few with comments but most without).

Maybe only odd if you're from Salt Lake City.

We liked the line about the "soup of the day."

A volleyball game, maybe?
At first glance seemed like a very small niche.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shopping on the cheap

I like to go to thrift stores.  I also dislike spending money.  That's a perfect fit, so I’m trying to buy most of my clothes at second hand shops. 

I did a little second-hand shop browsing in Yuma and a lot more in Tucson where thrift shops abound. A couple of my finds are below.
I bought this print dress and cardigan in Tucson.  Dress:  99 cents.  Sweater:  $7.  Guess I need shoes.
This t-shirt looks brand new.  I bought it in Yuma for $1.50. I also bought two other long-sleeved tees in Tucson for $4 each.  One is a Banana Republic brand.  The bad thing about living in an RV however, is that there is not room to buy much else...
... Except for this small wine decanter we purchased in Tucson for $4.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Back in Tucson

Yesterday we left Sierra Vista, AZ, and drove to Tucson’s Davis Monthan Air Force Base Agave Gulch Fam Camp, a huge military RV campground.  The Ft. Huachuca Army Post RV camp has 56 spots total (and we hope to go back there because we barely scratched the surface of the Huachuca Mountains hiking trails.)  Agave Gulch, on the other hand, has 287 spots plus 50 addtional spaces where you can dry camp.
The campground was full, but they have a great system here at Agave Gulch that rotates people in and out of the campground after 3 weeks.  We spent one night in their dry camp overflow area (meaning a place without sewer, electric and water hook ups) and this morning moved into a great full hook-up spot formerly occupied by someone who had to move out after three weeks. Our neighbors on one side are from Delaware; the folks on the other side are from Arizona.
After we got settled in, I went to the gym and then worked on our taxes, Jim went to a local DVD store to get the Season 3 Downton Abby DVD so we can catch up (couldn’t find it), then we had red wine with Girl Scout Thin Mints.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ramsey Canyon Preserve

The Huachuca Mountains that surround Sierra Vista, AZ have dozens of hiking trails.  We've done two short ones on the Ft. Huachuca Army Post where we are staying.  Today we went off base and took a beautiful hike at the nearby Ramsey Canyon Preserve.

Managed by the Nature Conservancy, the preserve is 380 very lovely square miles.  Named for a miner who hand built a 2.5 mile road from what is now the visitors' center to his mine, it has a stream, huge trees, small trees, and today a little bit of snow.
Bev in Ramsey Canyon. Concrete ponds and walls that once 
diverted Ramsey Creek were removed so the creek can flow 
more naturally.
It snowed a couple of says ago, as is obvious in the shady 
parts of Ramsey Canyon.  
Jim in front of a Arizona sycamore that took root about 1760.  
If you look above the horizon on the right you can barely see 
one of the blimps that help protect the border.
These deer almost walked right up to us while we were 
hiking in Ramsey Canyon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

Today we went hiking (well, it was more like walking because the trail was pretty flat) at the San Pedro National Conservation Area (SPRNCA), about 12 miles east of where we're staying at Ft. Huachuca Army Post in Sierra Vista, AZ.  SPRNCA was established in 1988 to protect one of the rarest ecosystems in the US -- a desert riparian forest.
Riparian means located near a river or stream -- in this case the San Pedro River which flows north from Mexico. In the early 1900s, the land was overgrazed and damaged.  Now it’s being restored by the Bureau of Land Management with help from volunteers and is home to 82 kinds of mammals, 350 types of birds, and (in the early fall) 250 species of butterflies.
You can barely see Bev in front of this huge Cottonwood 
tree near the SPRNCA visitors' center. The tree is 36 feet 
Jim and Cooper at the San Pedro River.
Bev standing in some of the native grass with Cottonwood trees and the San Pedro River behind her.  Note the fancy camera bag (purchased at REI before we left SLC in January) for my fancy new Lumix camera.  The camera is 
an improvement over my previous point-and-shoot. Also note the fancy cap I bought at the SPRNCA visitors' center--first baseball-type cap I've ever purchased that actually fit my big noggin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

We like Bisbee, AZ

Today is our third day of just hanging out.  We’ve gone to Ft. Huachuca’s gym, bought and mailed Valentine Day’s gifts for the grandkids, read, and watched TV.  The weather has kept us from venturing too far; as I write, there's about a half of inch of snow on the ground. Since we’re fair-weather adventurers, when it’s cold we tend to hole up in the rig.  So there’s not a lot to report since last my last post. 
But: on a nice day last week we drove to Bisbee, AZ and had a great time.
Bisbee is about 30 miles southeast of Sierra Vista. In the late 1800s it was known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps” and by1910 was a very rich town with both rough and tumble saloons and elegant Victorian homes.
Today the charming downtown consists of jewelry shops, art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and museums.  I was looking for a pair of earrings and found some as we browsed.  Because Jim is always looking for a good IPA, we went to the Old Bisbee Brewing Company and at first were the only ones there besides the waitress and a man at the bar.  As the brewery is a “drinks only” place, I asked the waitress if she could recommend a restaurant.  Pretty soon the man chimed in with a wealth of ideas and told us about the town too, so I asked him he he was the mayor of Bisbee,  No, but he is a volunteer at the Bisbee Visitors' Center and knows his stuff.  His name was John and he’s been a snowbird to Bisbee for the last seven years. During the summer he returns to his home in Michigan’s upper peninsula where he's a lighthouse keeper. 
After a while the brewery started to fill up, so I moved to the bar to talk to John.  We were joined by a guy whose lived in Bisbee for 34 years; he was a construction worker in Nebraska and one winter quit, sold everything and went south.  Jim was joined by a couple on vacation from Bozeman, MT.  It was fun.  Afterwards, Jim and I went to Santiago, a Sonoran restaurant John recommended to us.
There’s lots more to see in Bisbee and I think we’ll go back next year.
A view down Bisbee's main street.
Bev and her new earrings.
Bisbee's Post Office.
This miner statue is in front of the county courthouse in Bisbee.  Across the street you can see homes going up the hill.
Jim at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Seven Cities of Gold

Today we visited Coronado National Memorial, which commemorates the first major European exploration of what’s now the American southwest. The park is about 25 miles south of Sierra Vista, AZ, where we are staying, and only about a mile north of the US/Mexican border.
In the 1500s, stories of “Seven Cities of Gold” with jewel-studded houses made their way to Spaniards in New Spain (Mexico).  The stories were “verified” by a Spanish scout and later by an Indian. 
In 1540, 30-year-old Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was selected to command an expedition to find the cities, claim land for King of Spain, and also act missionaries.  Per some stories, over two thousand soldiers, priests, native allies, slaves and servants were in the expedition.
Coronado traveled all the way from Compostelo, Mexico (on the western coast of Mexico) to present-day Salina, Kansas before he realized there were no golden cities. Turns out the Spanish scout saw the cities from a “distance” and the Indian was fibbing in an effort to get the Spaniards away from Indian settlements.   The missionary portion of the trip didn’t work out well either -- although Coronado at first tried to get along with the Native Americans, he and his men ended up killing some and running others out of their villages.
Coronado did not actually pass through the area that 
makes up the Coronado National Memorial.  But he’s 
thought to have passed through the nearby San Pedro 
Valley, shown here from the park’s Montezuma Pass. 
We reached the pass by driving up a three-mile 
winding road that seemed a lot worse to me going up 
than coming down -- probably because on the way up 
the passenger side of the car was next to a cliff.  We 
took a short hike when we got to the top.
This is the small Coronado National Memorial’s  
visitors center where we saw a good movie on Coronado 
and bought a book on southwestern native plants.  The 
very nice visitors center volunteer was originally from 
Beatrice, Nebraska.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Buckeye wine trip

On one of the sunny but colder days last week, we visited southeastern Arizona’s wine country near the towns of Sonoita and Elgin.  The scenery on the drive was beautiful -- rolling hills, mountains and lots of grasslands.  Jim said it would be a good place to buy a house.

There are twelve winery’s near the teeny, tiny towns.  We stopped at three for tastings and almost everyone we talked with -- from fellow tasters to the servers -- was from Ohio, where I grew up.  The server at the second winery was from Kent, Ohio while two guests were from Columbus and another two from Coshocton.  The server at the second winery was from Salem, Ohio.  
After the tastings we went to dinner in Sierra Vista at a Mexican restaurant recommended to us by the first server (who was from Chicago -- he said after a terrible winter in the late 70's he sold everything he owned and moved to Arizona).  As we were walking in, a man walked out wearing an Ohio State University sweatshirt, so we had to talk with him -- he’d gotten his Master’s at Ohio State.  So it was pretty much an all-Ohio day.
Bev and Jim at the first winery called “Village of Elgin.”  We stayed here the longest, were the only customers, and had a great time talking with the server.  I liked the wine at this one the best.
The last winery was called Keif-Joshua and they had a herd of dogs, including this lover boy of a Basset Hound, a medium-sized mixed breed, a little tiny dog of indeterminate breed and a huge blood hound.  Long ago I had a Great Dane and this blood hound was way bigger than my Great Dane.
Jim took this photo of antelope near Elgin.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A couple of things...

A couple of things we see at Ft. Huachuca Army Post:
Lots of marching troops (although this group got a bit out 
of step when they reached the rocky path above.) The guy 
leading the marching song sounded like a gospel singer. 
We also see military people from other countries.

Wild critters like coyotes, deer and these well-fed turkeys.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Floating eyes

We were near Deming, New Mexico when we first saw a motionless blimp in the sky.   "What the heck is that?" we wondered.  Turned out it was part of the US Air Force-financed "Tethered Aerostat Radar System" or TARS, which uses tethered high-tech blimps to look for drug runners, illegal border crossings and other illegal border activity. 

Most of the blimps used for border control are about a quarter to a third of the size of the 192-foot Goodyear Blimp.  Besides Deming, we’ve seen them near Yuma, AZ and here at Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, AZ.  Among other high-tech equipment, the blimps have cameras that scan city-sized areas and can zoom in on objects several miles away.

The same technology has been used in the war in Afghanistan. As that war winds down and so does military funding, there's currently a discussion about who if anyone will fund the TARS border blimps and keep them in use. 
I enlarged this photo so it's grainy, but above is a TARS blimp we saw on the ground south of Yuma.  As I write this post, I can see one high in the sky over the border near Sierra Vista, AZ.  
A TARS blimp above a mountain in Yuma.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Last night a cat peed in our tow car.  Or maybe it was a cougar that jumped through the open sunroof of our Honda CRV and decided to give us and our dog the what-for.  Anyway, instead of hiking, we spent the afternoon taking apart and cleaning the inside of our car. 
But yesterday we went to Tombstone, AZ, a one-time wild mining town where the Earps practiced their sheriff skills and had a shoot out at the OK Corral. 
I’m glad we went because we can say we’ve been to Tombstone.  Bur we weren’t especially impressed.  I’m not into Tombstone’s biggest attraction: shoot out reenactments.  The rest of current-day Tombstone is mostly souvenir stores with a sprinkling of ice cream and fudge shops.
But the history is interesting.  The town was founded by a prospector in 1879 who was told the only stone he’d find was his tombstone.  Instead he found silver.  Tombstone was the last western boom town; from 1877 to 1890 there were  anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 people living there. It was the fastest growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco and even had theaters:  the bar/brothel/show house called the Birdcage for the wild folks and Schieffelin Hall for those who preferred opera. And the Earps plus Doc Holliday did have a shootout with some “Cowboys,” which was a derogatory term at the time.   
Two fires destroyed much of the town during the boom years.  Both times it was rebuilt and mining continued.  Finally, miners dug so deep they hit water, the mines flooded, and it was too costly to pump.  As mining slowed, people left and today about 1500 people live in Tombstone.
Downtown Tombstone, AZ.
Bev in front of the OK Corral (really a now-walled off alley) where Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp, plus Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday, had a shoot out with cowboys Billy Clanton and brothers Frank and Tom McLaury.  After 24 seconds and 30 shots, Clanton and the McLaurys were dead.  
A view inside Big Nose Kate's Saloon, where we had lunch.  Kate was Doc Holliday's girlfriend.
Jim at Big Nose Kate's.