Showing posts with label Tombstone Hills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tombstone Hills. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 04, 2009



Spent some time this morning with my binoculars watching military planes practice touch & go landings way over at Fort Huachuca's northwest end. There is a large airfield there which I heard is on the list for a possible alternative landing site if there is ever a problem with the space shuttle. I watched a couple of A-10 Warthogs coming in low over the field plus an F-16 Jet fighter. (I think) A large 4 engine jet tanker plane made 3 or 4 wheels down approaches, each time lifting back up into the sky again. It's many miles to the airfield & I couldn't actually see the runway but I did see one 2 engine plane land & taxi to a stop so I knew where the runway was. ENJOYING THE ARIZONA SUN

Rest of the morning was spent getting organized for to-morrow's move to the ranch over near Douglas. Did all the vehicle oil checks, etc. Nice breeze this morning & I think the temps might head up into the high 70's but looks like we have some unsettled weather rolling in by the week-end. PUTTING DOWN THE SOLAR PANELS FOR TRAVELING TO-MORROW

Saw Gwen & Jack's truck (the couple who lease this land to graze their cattle) way down by the lower corral late this afternoon & followed them with the binoculars as they bounced & jolted up the old desert road leading towards us & their 2nd of three cattle watering stops. We hiked down that road this morning on our walk & I took some pictures of the road these folks drive everyday, twice a day, 365 days a year. And this was only one small section of rocky desert road in the many miles they travel up & over the hills & dales each day.
After they topped up the water trough they headed over our way & stopped for a visit. Apparently a couple of the mining guys who have staked claims nearby are feuding over the property lines of their claims & Gwen & Jack were telling us about it. Guess nothings changed since the 1800's. Maybe we'll hear some gunfire to-night!! We told Gwen & Jack we're leaving in the morning & they said for us to come back here anytime we like. I think they were kind of sad to see us go & I felt sad saying good-bye to them. It's funny how some people just seem to affect you more than others. I had meant to take a picture of them but by the time I thought of it they were nearly back to their truck so I only managed to get one long telephoto shot. If we ever make it back to this spot some day we will definitely be watching for that blue truck to be making it's way through desert once again.


Hope the wind doesn't kick up to-night. Last night it got so bad I had to get up & put the larger living room slide in because of the racket & risk of having the slide awning damaged. Was not a good night's sleep!!......................................


Monday, February 02, 2009



Not much to say about the weather here because everyday is the same. Lots of sunshine & warm daytime temps. That's it, all day every day. We love Arizona:))

Back in the mid to late 1800's this area we are camped in was a bee hive of mining activity. There are hundreds of small open pit mines scattered throughout these hills. We can look out our window & see mounds of stones among the mesquite where men have dug down into the rocks & gravel looking for silver. It was many of these rough tough miners with their picks & shovels who made the town of Tombstone as notorious as it was. It's hard to believe when standing at the top of one of these open pits that all the work in those days was done by hand. Shovels & picks to get through the solid rocks & layers of sand & gravel. All that stuff had to be hauled back up to the surface with ropes & buckets. Add to that, hundred degree temperatures in the summer with no trees for shade, rattlesnakes, scorpions, Apache Indian attacks, sparse water resources, & a multitude of other hazards & you have the makings of some very tough & hardened people. Being camped right in the middle of this environment these past few days has been a good eye into the past for us.


Gwen & Jack, the folks who cattle ranch here told us about the many open pit mines nearby so this morning we took the car & headed up some of the old rock strewn bumpy roads in the hills behind us. Didn't take long to find the mines. Always a tell tale sign of rocks & gravel shoveled up in a pile amongst the prickly mesquite. Some of the pits are simply a black hole leading down into an abyss. Jack says some pits are as deep as 200 feet. Rumors & legends abound about bodies at the bottom of some pits. One pit in particular was suspicious so Jack said his son one time brought over a piece of farm machinery, some ropes & pulleys, & lowered himself down the suspect pit to the bottom, but no bodies or bones were found. (maybe the ghosts heard him coming) Some pits still have what's left of wooden frameworks around the entrances. Old weather beaten boards & rusted nails. One pit still had an old hand made ladder descending down into it. (web album photo) A BIG WAVE ON THE TRAIL FROM CATTLEMAN JACK

Jack also told us that Tombstone's waterline runs across the property from the Huachuca mountains about 20 miles to the west. Yesterday on the road to Ramsey Canyon we saw a sign beside the road for the Tombstone Aquaduct. To-day we actually found part of that exposed water pipe itself nearby with a sign beside it saying Tombstone Aquaduct. (picture) The black pipe looked pretty old & we were surprised to see a section of it running across the rocky surface exposed to the elements.

Gwen & Jack have another watering station for their cattle a little higher up in the hills so we drove as far as we could to find it. Road got a little rough so we walked the last section & found the water corral. No hydro up there but the 2 water lines we saw were tapped into the Tombstone Aqueduct. Some old flannel shirts were wrapped around the water pipes coming out of the ground to prevent them from freezing up. Didn't see any of the cattle to-day but there was lots of evidence on the ground of them having been there.


We followed the old road back to the Charleston highway & decided to head down the road a few miles & see if we could find the ruins of an old cabin that 3 miners had been robbed & murdered at in 1858. Turned off the highway onto an old road but didn't have any luck. We may go back again to-morrow & have another look for Brunknow's Cabin. It is said to be haunted. But, then again, doesn't everything have a sense of haunting in the old wild west. It's the thing legends are made of!! THESE MINING PITS DATE BACK TO THE MID TO LATE 1800'S

We were back to the rig by noon & spent the rest of the afternoon just simply enjoying our peaceful surroundings. Kelly had computer things to do for her Deer Park Lodge job & I had things to do like relaxing in my lounge chair working hard on my afternoon siesta. At one point though I actually wound up getting a haircut. Kelly said I was starting to look like the wild old man of Borneo with potatoes growing out his ears. Well, I guess she was right so out came the scissors & off came my hair. Well, some of it anyway. I'm sure glad I met Kelly back in 93 because that's the last time I ever paid for a haircut. Oh the perks, oh the perks:)) OUR LOVELY LADY GATEKEEPER

Beautiful half moon lighting up the desert landscape to-night. When I took Max out a few minutes ago I stood quietly for awhile listening. They say you can still hear the sounds of the Indians in the hills & the miners shovels & hammers striking the hardened rocks in the pit mines. I stood very quietly facing the hills, & I listened & I listened and........................................ CHARLESTON HILLS IN FOREGROUND & HUACHUCA MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND

No, I'm not a writer........I'm just a simple guy who likes to write.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009



We are about 3500 feet above sea level here so cooler temperatures are to be expected. And cooler temps it was this morning when we headed out on our morning hike. Had on my flannel lined winter pants, T-shirt, 2 long sleeved shirts, & my lined army jacket. Kelly had to wear mitts & a knitted woolen hat. We could see our breath & there was some steam coming off the San Pedro river. EARLY MORNING SUNRISE

Decided to head out & see if we could find the few remains of the old mining ghost town of Charleston. Found a path on the southwest side of the river that didn't look to overgrown so off we went. It was a beautiful looking morning with the rising sun low on the eastern horizon. The well worn path led through tall grasses as we followed the San Pedro north. There was evidence that cattle were in the area as well although we never did see any. We could hear the twittering of many birds in the cottonwoods but they were hard to see. I don't have a good bird lens for my camera, but maybe someday. We could only imagine how pretty this must be when all the leaves are on the trees & all the tall grasses, green. The river itself looked very clear & clean. We got into some heavy mesquite underbrush in places but the path was easy to follow for the most part. Occasionally we would see things dropped along the way by the illegal aliens that obviously use this path as well. Socks, an old shirt, & other paraphernalia. At one point we found a complete backpack with empty water & juice containers inside. Tire marks in the dry wash sand nearby suggested Border Patrol!! ON THE TRAIL OF A GHOST TOWN

We finally reached a point along the river where it narrowed & a log was across the water. A fellow on the RV Net had said when we reached the river narrows, to head up the bank & hill to our west. It was a short steep climb & Kelly waited with the dogs while I scooted up onto a plateau with a lot of mesquite trees & underbrush. The large hills were in front of me about a quarter mile away. I followed a path through the brush & then it ended. It was obvious from looking around me that I was not going to find a few old adobe foundations in the ground. I felt I was probably close to the old ghost town but there was no point in going any further so I headed back through the mesquite & down the steep bank where the gang was waiting. We re-traced our steps back along the trail & followed the river back to Charleston road & our rig. We had been gone about 2 hours, the temps had warmed up, & with all our winter clothes on we were doing some pretty good sweating by the time we got back. IT'S THE OLD GROUCH HIMSELF

Around 11 as we were relaxing in our chairs & soaking up some sun we heard a vehicle pull into the parking lot behind us & head our way. When we heard the "Wooop Wooop" of a siren we knew the jig was up & we were probably going to have to move. It was the BLM Ranger & another fellow who looked like a bonafide S.W.A.T. team member. These two guys were carrying more firepower than what the whole Canadian Army has in it's entire arsenal. Guns, ammo clips, clubs, etc. etc. These guys were loaded for bear!! (and drug smugglers) As Canadians, we're not used to being that close to & seeing all that artillery. They were both nice fellas & just informed us that overnight camping was not permitted in that parking lot & we would have to move on. The BLM guy told us of a spot just up the road towards Tombstone that we could re-locate too.....and that's just what we did. Took us about half an hour to get things squared away, waved good-bye to the Charleston road parking lot & headed up the road.

Wow, is this new spot ever great. We now have a spectacular view of the whole valley to our southwest. Sierra Vista is laid out below us about 10 miles on the far side of the valley & nestled under the Huachuca Mountains. We can see for miles & miles all the way down into Mexico. The town of Tombstone is only about 4 miles east of us & the area we are in right now is called, The Tombstone Hills. At this very moment as I'm typing this I can look straight out our window & see the long horizontal ribbon of shimmering lights in the distance that is the city of Sierra Vista. Almost as far as the eye can see from left to right the lights resemble a long thin gold twinkling chain with flecks of sparkling red rubies, glittering white diamonds & pinpoints of emerald green lights thrown in for good measure. Reminded me of driving down from the mountains into Las Vegas one night back in the mid 90's. And above all this in front of me is the black velvet sky with it's own awesome showcase of stars. You will never see things like this sitting in RV Parks!!


We spent the rest of the day doing some cleaning & just basically sitting outside soaking up the view in front of us. Last week, Kelly had posted some questions about this region on the RV Net Forum. Several people from the area responded & that is how we came to meet Sergeant John to-day. John lives over near Elfrida & works at the Fort Huachuca Army Base in Sierra Vista so he commutes the very road we're camped near, twice a day. He had given us his phone number & said to give him a call when we're in the area, so to-day, that is what we did & John stopped in to see us on his way home from Fort Huachuca this afternoon. Nice fellow, retired from the Army 20 years ago but still active on the base in another capacity. John & his wife are RV'ers also & said for us to come on over & stay a spell if we like, so we just may do that later on.

Around 4:30 a white pick-up truck pulled in with an ATV in the back & two young fellows in the cab. They were going hunting back up in the hills & just stopped to say hello. Nice fellas. Just before supper another pick-up truck approached & stopped. A well seasoned older couple got out to see how we were doing. Nice folks & we had quite a chat. Turns out they lease this land & have a lot of grazing cattle they look after. They also have another cattle ranch up around Benson. Their son has the place across the road here. Sure is a lot of friendly folks in these parts.

We received an email to-night from the folks we will be ranch sitting for next month & they said for us to come on down this Friday. So, if we don't get blowed off this big hilltop by a roaring Arizona wind by then, we'll head over to the McNeal area at the end of the week. And, I might add, as long as we don't get frozen to this hilltop as well. Temps are dipping to well below freezing to-night......................................:(( CHECKERS LOVES TO BE OUTSIDE