Showing posts with label Dragoon mountains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dragoon mountains. Show all posts

Monday, December 14, 2009




I have always been in awe of the American southwest ever since my first venture to this great land in May of 1992.  That trip was done in a small Mazda pickup truck with a topper on the back to sleep under at night.  Frigid desert temperatures & all.  No matter though because the beauty of Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, & northern Arizona far overcame any hardships along the way.  For the next 12 years the mountains, rivers, valleys, canyons, deserts, & endless day & night skys simmered away in my mind.  I longed to one day return to the land that I felt so comfortable & at home in.



In late December of 2004 a rare window of opportunity presented itself.  I was driving school bus at the time & Christmas Holidays were coming up.  With another driver filling in for me I was able to extend those holidays to 2 weeks.  Kelly had that same time frame off as well.  We had just purchased a small Class C (too small) about a month before so we quickly formulated a travel plan.  Looking at our Wal-Mart atlas I figured the closest mountains & cactus to our place in southern Ontario would be in the south end of Texas.  Big Bend National Park.  To make a long story short we jumped into our Class C & with the pedal to the metal & Max sitting between us we made a bee line for Texas.  I remember straining my eyes looking for mountain tops south of Stockton. 



We were only able to spend about 5 days in Big Bend & surrounding areas before we had to race back to Canada.  But, those 5 short days clinched the deal for us in our desire to return once again to the land of mountains & canyons.  It had been Kelly's first trip to the magic land of desert sand & towering mountains & she was hooked.  As much as we loved Big Bend I knew that it wasn't enough though.  Next trip we were going to have to head further west where the whole land is mountains & canyons & not just a small part of it.  Texas is basically.......flat!!  I knew that what we saw & experienced in Big Bend we would find a hundred times over once we headed west into New Mexico, Arizona, & California.



Two years later we were able to fulfill our southwest dream as we rolled into Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, & California.  We knew then that we had found our winter home & we have been returning to these States ever since.  Wouldn't even remotely consider going anywhere east of New Mexico!!  The reasons for coming to the southwest are too numerous to mention but to-day reminded me once again of why we love it so much here.

It was another fiery sunrise with tentacles of reds, gold, & pinks, splashing across the undersides of dark rolling clouds.    Distant mountains silouetted against the rising sun on the eastern side of the valley with slivers of light highlighting rocky tips of the Mule mountains on the western side.  As the sun climbed higher, clouds began casting their slowly moving shadows across the mountain faces & that continued for the rest of the day.  Sun splashes crossed the valley floor lighting large & small areas alike with their passing.  On our morning walk we saw clouds to the west sitting on the Mule Mountains over top Bisbee.  To the south were the dark mountaintops of Mexico.  A glance to the southeast brought into view the far distant mountain tops of the Pedregosa mountains & immedIately to the east was the Swiss Helm mountain range.  Beyond the Swiss Helms loomed the mighty & legendary Chiricahua mountains with their high snow encrusted peaks.  A hundred miles or so up the Sulphur Springs Valley to the north we could make out what was probably the southern tips of the Winchester mountains east of Tucson & to our northwest was the forboding & also legendary Dragoon mountain range with it's southern edge stretching all the way from I-10 down to the ghost town of Gleason about 20 miles from us.  And, all this from just standing in one spot here at the ranch turning in a slow 360 degree circle.  And, all this under a big beautiful cloud studded sunny Arizona sky.  Is it any wonder we are in awe every single day of the majestic American southwest..............:))


GROANER'S CORNER:(( How is a man like the weather?  Nothing can be done to change either one of them.



The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now....AL.

Monday, November 30, 2009



It's a good thing we brought our Canadian winter clothes with us. Woke up to snow on the distant mountain tops & our temps never got above 43F with gusting winds. Reminded me of a cold, wet, gray, mid November day in Ontario. I hauled out the telescope lens & cracked off some photos of the far away snow tipped mountains this morning.


Had planned on blogging about our visit to Marybeth Webster's house yesterday but I was talking to Marybeth to-day & asked if she could email me a few facts about her house, the Quaker Friends of the Southwest Center, & herself. Want to get all my facts straight about everything before doing the post. I've had the towns of Truth or Consequences NM & Borrego Springs California nicely email about mistakes I made about their respective towns so I sure don't want Marybeth chasing me down for not getting something right:))


Noticed BITS FROM BILL had a post to-day about a device that is essential for backing up hard drives if you have more than one computer in your home. Windows Home Server has made a big impression on Bill. RICK has some videos on what to do if you have a tire blow out & JERRY has been getting some great red faced comments about his cheeky red pajamas. WANDERING WILLY is doing battle with Mexican sugar ants & GYPSY has landed herself at Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia. For some of you folks who follow TIOGA GEORGE you might want to stop by with a few words of encouragement. George has had a recent spate of bad luck & his RV was towed into Gila Bend Az to-day.

SADDLEBACK MOUNTAIN NEAR DOUGLAS AZ (saddle horn is far knob at left & saddle sways to the right) 

We had our usual 4 suspects out to the photography group to-day & were actually able to solve more problems than we created:)) And we all did well about staying on photography related topics & issues.


The weather remained bad all day with heavy rains at times. Arizona's country roads are not graveled like in Ontario & are made of a hard packed sandy clay like mixture. When it rains, that sandy clay turns to a soft glue like mixture that sticks to your shoes like a fly's stick to gooey fly paper. Tires slip in the red mud & absolutely everything tracks into the motorhome. For us that is 4 shoes & 12 paws hauling mud inside. We've got quite a mess going on in here but I did have a go at it with the vacuum after Kelly went to her exercise class this morning. When this mud is in it's dry form it is of course called, dust. The southwest has waaaaaaaay more dust than it really needs & before we head home in the spring we'll really have to hose the vehicles down inside & out. We've got so much dust in the motorhome & car right now we would be charged big bucks for hauling a full load of Arizona dirt across the border & up into Canada.


GROANER'S CORNER:))  And, some medical advice......If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.


The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now....AL.

MY SMUG MUG (I am finally working on updating this site)

Thursday, March 05, 2009



Cloud cover first thing this morning assured us the sun was going to leave us alone for the day. We actually got off to an earlier start as we headed north up the Sulphur Springs Valley. HERDS OF BIRDS HEADING TO THEIR EARLY MORNING FEEDING AREA

First stop was for gas in Elfrida followed by a second stop for coffee to go before our third stop at the Library. We had to make a U-turn before we got to the Library though. While I was filling up with gas Kelly had taken two small bags of garbage out of the back seat & dropped them into a trash bin at the service station.....except one of those bags wasn't trash!! Yep, she mistakenly threw the bag of Library books & DVD's in the trash. Oh, how sweet it is that something was FINALLY not my fault:)) Retrieved the bag with no problem & off we went to the Library. PEARCE'S GOLD MINING HILL

Our first main destination this morning was the ghost town of Pearce just south of Sunsites which in turn is southeast of Benson Arizona. The large mining scarred hill just east of Pearce is the first thing we saw & it was obvious the hill had been used for mining with traces of roadways crisscrossing the slopes. Cement or adobe buildings terraced up the hill in one area accounting for a third of the hillside. The town of Pearce & what's left of it lay a short distance away to the northwest. It is still an active town & boasts more original buildings than Tombstone. Key word there is...original. The General Store is still intact & serves more as a museum. It is only open 2 days a year for tours. Across the road is the original Post Office & beside that a small gift & pottery shop. The lady owner inside was very friendly with a wealth of information on Pearce. Said Pearce was the largest gold strike in Arizona history back in the 1890's. Said it literally happened overnight & resulted in emptying Tombstone for a time. People flooded over the Dragoon mountains from Tombstone with some even transporting houses with them. At some point a disastrous flood occurred in the mine killing many miners. This is what I found on the internet about Pearce...."John Pearce, a rancher, struck gold in this vicinity in 1894 and the Commonwealth Mine was begun. The railroad station opened in 1903. For several years Pearce and his wife lived in Tombstone where he was a miner and she managed a boardinghouse. They saved their money and began a ranch in the Sulphur Springs Valley. It was while riding the range that Pearce stopped to rest at the top of a small hill and here he discovered rich ore. Pearce sold out for $250,000. The peak of production at the mine was reached in 1896. However, the mine was worked until 1904 when shaft cave-ins caused a shutdown. With the erection of a cyanide plant in 1905, the mine went back into operation. It is now inactive." Post Office est. March 6, 1896. THE GENERAL STORE IS NOW A MUSEUM ONLY OPEN 2 DAYS A YEAR

No ghost town visit is complete without a trip to the local cemetery so we headed a short distance west until we found it. The cemetery is still being used so the old pioneers & miners are mixed in with newer folks. Sign inside the gate says Abraham Lincoln's bodyguard is buried here as well as some Confederate soldiers. I did find one of the soldiers. PEARCE'S CEMETERY WITH THE DRAGOON MOUNTAINS & COCHISE'S STRONGHOLD IN THE BACKGROUND

From Pearce we made our way north stopping briefly for some pictures of an old Helicopter bone yard along the way. A lot of them appeared to be out of service Coast Guard choppers. There is also an active helicopter service there as well I think.AN OLD HELICOPTER BONE YARD

Driving north on highway 191 we were flanked by the mighty & mysterious Chiricahua Mountains off to our right & the jagged Dragoon mountain range on our left with the hauntingly ominous Cochise Stronghold ever present & ever vigilant. The cloud shrouded sky lent itself well to the legends of the mountains & it was one of those days you might have heard the Indians as they passed on their war ponies. It was one of those kinds of days when the winds could have coaxed the secrets out of the canyons. SAND HILL CRANES IN FLIGHT

We turned off 191 & headed west into Texas Canyon to the small settlement of Dragoon & beyond to a place recommended to us by several people. The Amerind Foundation (Amerind meaning American Indian) houses one of the finest private collections of Native American art & artifacts in the country. This is a very impressive building but I was only allowed to take pictures on the outside & could not take my cameras into the museum. I understand the reason but it always miffs me just the same when that occasionally happens.THE AMERIND
The museum houses a large collection of artifacts dating back many hundreds of years & more. Various southwest Indian cultures are well represented as the history of the land & it's people are displayed well in the galleries. Of particular interest to me was the Chiricahua Apaches who lived & died in this very area. Cochise, Geronimo, & others played out their lives here on these plains, deserts, plateaus, & mountains. I spent most of my time inside watching a DVD on the last days of Geronimo's futile struggle with the white man's ways, deceptions, & treacheries. The broken promises, the heartbreak, the end of an era. It was a sad time in American history for the North American Indian peoples. NICE SPAINISH ARCHITECTURE
t was early afternoon when we left the Amerind & headed back down the valley. Earlier we had heard some noises coming from the back of the car & later determined something was amiss with the driver's side rear wheel. By the time we got near home we could here some screeching & grinding when slowing down & turning corners. When brakes were applied it kinda stopped. I was at first sure it was a wheel bearing but then figured it was probably something to do with the brakes. And as always, I figured it was the end of the world & we would have to get the car over to Sierra Vista for an expensive brake job or something. Or throw the whole car in the garbage can & try to find another one:(( I'm real good at figuring worst case scenarios you know. With vanishing dollar signs in my head I got out to look at the wheel after we got home. Noticed right away something was different than the other wheel. Looked like a wear mark all around the outer hub & on closer inspection saw a stone lodged between the drum & something else. The stone had lodged itself there & was scraping on the turning drum. A screwdriver quickly & easily popped the stone out & short test drive around the yard confirmed the squeaking was gone & all was well in Al's world again. Oh dear, will wonders ever cease......................................... IT'S KELLY SCHMOOZING WITH THE LOCALS....(THAT'S KELLY ON THE LEFT:))
To-morrow........ "Time to clean the car!!!!"


Sunday, February 08, 2009



The rooster started up about 4 & the rain started about 5. The wind never got started because it never got stopped from the night before & yes, I know it's not proper English to use the word got but I'm tired so I gets to say what I wants:)) SAND HILL CRANES FLYING BY THE MULE MOUNTAINS WEST OF THE RANCH

By the time the doggy guys rumbled in & out for their morning constitutional we had about half an acre of yukky mud in the rig........everywhere.

We donned our seldom used raincoats & headed for the chicken pen about 8:15. Jeanie met us half way & walked around with us as we fed the chickens & dogs. She checked the rain gauge & noticed we had a quarter inch of rain this morning. Ray came out & we all walked down to the corral being careful to steer clear of the muddy patches. Luckily the rain quit & we were able to shed the cumbersome raincoats. Because the donkeys & horses stayed in the corral & pen areas overnight they had to be fed this morning. Normally they are out on the range feeding but because of the inclement weather they are staying under cover for a few days.


The dark rain clouds had dropped snow in the mountains & as they slowly lifted off the mountain tops I made a bee-line for the rig to grab my camera. It's not every day we get to see scenes like this. Flocks of Sand Hill Cranes were making their way north to their feeding grounds & the snowy Mule mountains to the west gave them a picturesque backdrop. My hands were freezing because of the wind-chill factor but I did manage to get a couple of nice photos. The cloud shrouded Dragoon & Gleeson mountains to the northwest caught my attention next & as I turned to the east, the snow covered Swisshelm mountains presented another photo opportunity. What a splendid morning it turned out to be despite the cold temperatures. The rest of the day evolved into a mixture of sun & clouds so we decided to take a drive down to Douglas this morning around 10. The cloud shadows playing across the Swisshelm, Perilla, & Pedregosa mountains on the way to Douglas made for a beautifully scenic drive. In the mixture of sky & earth it is the clouds that add character & to-day what a moody & mysterious character the clouds presented themselves to be. Downtown Douglas was very quiet as we drove along the main street admiring the old buildings. We reached the south end of town & had to swing round to the west because we were right at the Mexican border. Found a spacious mall with a good selection of stores including a Wal-Mart. We weren't long in getting a grocery cart rolling & spent half an hour picking up a few groceries. CLOUD SHROUDED DRAGOON MOUNTAINS TO THE NORTHWEST

We were back to the ranch by noon & spent the rest of the afternoon shoveling all of the morning's mud out of the rig. Mats to be shakin out, steps to be swept, doggy paws & shoes to be cleaned, etc. The winds outside made for a cold day so we stayed inside & watched a DVD about the San Pedro River. Very informative & we learned more about the plants & animals in the area. To-night's DVD movie was called, Run The Wild Fields. I liked this quiet heartwarming tale which takes place during the mid 1940's in rural & small town America. Just kind of a feeling good kind of movie with the producing, directing, & acting, all done well.

We've got another storm front rolling in to-night so we'll see what to-morrow brings.


Afternoon chores went off without a hitch so all the critters will go to bed to-night with full tummies. I've always known that animals are a heck of a lot smarter than us people folks & now I'm seeing it in the actions of the horses & donkeys here. Just little things so far but it's nice to know I've been right about my theory all along....................:)) THE FARMYARD