Thursday, December 29, 2011

If you're ever in Rapid City..........

This afternoon we welcome new followers "The Rat" and Fred Feaster. Thanks so much for coming aboard; we're always happy to have new members join our growing family.

While in Rapid City, South Dakota this summer we visited the"Norwegian Chapel in the Hills", which I never wrote a post about. The chapel is an exact reproduction of the famous Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway. Visitors are welcome here and encouraged to explore the grounds in this beautiful natural setting. The building itself is a fascinating piece of architecture built completely out of Douglas Fir in 1969, though it looks much newer due to annual preservative treatments.

Like a Douglas Fir tree itself, each successive story is smaller than the one below it. Note too the Viking influence of the roof-top gable ornamentations.

The little grass covered gift shop is a reproduction of an Norwegian Stabbur. The shop itself is filled with many Scandinavian items and goodies like Lingonberry jam.

This authentic log cabin museum was built by a Norwegian prospector who came to the Black Hills during the gold rush. Outside the museum we met Lena and Ole.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Desert Christmas

In an earlier post I mentioned that my sister, Connie, had sold greeting cards as well as her other artwork here in the southwest. If you had perused the gift shops of Bisbee, Tombstone and Benson twenty years ago you would have no doubt found her cards on display. Here are two of her Christmas cards:

"A desert Christmas"

"A Pueblo Christmas"

We may not have a white Christmas here in Arizona, but we do have the cold. It was 23F degrees this morning; colder than it was in Connecticut.

Martha, Charlie and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Montezuma Pass

Since we last visited The Coronado Forest there was a major fire that threatened near-by Sierra Vista. At one point it was so intense that my sister had to be evacuated from the assisted living home where she lived then.

Expecting to find fresh snow and evidence of forest fire we drove through Hereford and Palominas, one of prettiest parts of southern Arizona, made even better by the recent snow still on the mountain tops.

Sure enough, we saw plenty of burnt and blackened Arizona Oaks, Mesquite Trees and Yuccas.

The light snow dusting near the top had the appearance of confectionery sugar.

From the peak we could see across the international border (black diagonal fence line) into Mexico.

This morning we welcome new followers Jeanie & Ray. Thanks for coming aboard; we appreciate your support.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The San Pedro River

Not far from Whetstone where we're parked is the San Pedro River which flows north out of Mexico. The river is flowing pretty strong here where it passes through the old town of Fairbanks, but just a few miles north in Benson, there appears to be no water at all. Despite this appearance there is actually a good deal of water just below the surface, which allows residents along this river to have a plentiful water supply for irrigation, ponds and other uses.

The river is a great place for our Beagle, Charlie, to run free too.

In places where the river has receded the mud is baked and cracked from the warm Arizona sun.

There's still a few old buildings and a graveyard at Fairbanks, along with a network of good hiking trails. The historic train robbery of 1900 is often reenacted here at various times of the year. Pick up a copy of The San Pedro Valley News-Sun to find performance dates.

Your not allowed to enter these old buildings-this sign would discourage most people, don't you think?

A few days ago we visited the The Bayfield Bunch on the ranch in McNeal where they're staying. You'll find almost the exact same photo on their blog, which AL named "The Saturday Boys".

It sure was great to meet them after reading their blog the last couple years and nearly crossing paths a few times as well.

Being linked to a popular blog like the Bayfield Bunch really increased our traffic and added 3 new followers. We'd like to welcome Aaron, Happy Trails and Page Harris to the blog today. Thanks for joining us and sharing your comments.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Post I've Procrastinated Writing

My blogging keyboard has been quiet for a time now. This is because my sister, Connie, passed away more than a week ago. This was no real surprise; she had been on Hospice Care for a few months, but still, now that the funeral business is done and relatives have returned home, Arizona doesn't feel like the same place anymore. We were hardly back from our 8 month Northwest trip more than a week when we got a call at 5:00 AM that she had passed in her sleep. Fortunately, we had seen her several times during that week and enjoyed her last Thanksgiving together. She was 74 years old.

The following is a republished piece I wrote about her in January, right after she went into the assisted living home.

Connie moved to the southwest more than forty years ago. After all this time she still makes the claim that she is the only family member to pull up roots and leave New England. As far as I know she is correct. If I may summarize our family history, we came to this continent in the seventeenth century, settled in New England, and pretty much stayed there for the next 300 years or so, myself included. Connie, for whatever reason, moved to New Mexico forty years ago where she raised a family and built a ranch with her first husband. Two husbands and twenty years later she settled in the San Pedro valley where she lives today.

For a good many years Connie and her husband, Ted, were Rangers with the BLM, stationed at the San Pedro House near Sierra Vista on Rte. 90.

The San Pedro House is home to some of the largest Cottonwoods on the San Pedro River. We've hiked many of the trails on the San Pedro at three of the major east/west routes that cross the river (Rte. 82, Charleston Road and Rte. 90) and feel this is probably the best hiking and most interesting area.

One of the prettiest, lone Cottonwoods' about 20 minutes hike south from San Pedro House.

Over the last forty years I think my sister took on a southwestern, more native appearance.

This is how I remember Connie as a child. I was only about two years old when this photo was taken; she was 17. Later on, as I grew up, I figured out why my big sister had sooo many boyfriends.

What a hay stack!; on our grandparents' farm in Connecticut. Connie is on the peak; our Aunt Persis, from Norway, poses in the foreground. I won't even exist for another 10 years or so.

After 4 years with the BLM, and the death of her third husband, Connie supported herself selling her artwork throughout the San Pedro Valley. For more than a decade she attended local shows, exhibitions and flea markets until her health no longer allowed her to create the wonderful artwork she had attained notoriety for in southern Arizona.

A few of Connies' hand-painted gourds and carved walking sticks.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Donkey Rescue and Cascabel

On the way to the Cascabel Fair we wanted to stop by Forever Home Donkey Rescue in Benson, Arizona. What we found was a beautiful 30 acre ranch dedicated to helping unwanted donkeys enjoy some quality of life during their remaining years. We got a one-on-one personal tour and were introduced to each and every one of about twenty donkeys. Every donkey has their own story, and many require a special diet or health care. While a few donkeys were once feral, most came from homes where the owners could no longer care for them.

Martha and Donkey Rescue rancher, John, check out some miniature donkeys.

On to Cascabel where we visited "The Christmas Shop" which encompasses the interior of this bus and the shed as well.

Cascabel is a lush oasis that seems to show itself suddenly. After driving through more than twenty miles of Creosote Bushes, dry Yuccas and nary a house or ranch, Cascabels' lush green Mesquite forest pops out of nowhere on the banks of The San Pedro River. The fair itself was surprisingly large, drawing about twenty local artists as well as food and live music.

This unique home and pottery shop were "open house" for the day of the fair.

I love bottle walls; we've seen a few of these lately, and no broken bottles.

This evening we welcome new follower, Carole DeAngeli, from Tucson. Carole has her own blog, In the Sonoran Sun, which is filled with many wonderful photographs. Thanks for coming aboard!

Monday, December 5, 2011

It Sure is Cold

I can't believe how cold southern Arizona is for this time of year. Early this morning it was 22F degrees and it's going to be even colder tonight. I think the high today was only 45F degrees. Many of the blogs I read regularly; Travel with the Bayfield Bunch, Wheeling It, and Retired Rod, find their publishers also dealing with extreme cold throughout other parts of Arizona. I hope everybody stays warm and doesn't have any freeze ups.

It was a surprise to see snow on the Huachuca Mountains this morning. I heard that the Fort Huachuca blimp is a new replacement; the old one having crashed. From a distance, this one looks like a tasty Goldfish.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Unique RV Park

Today we welcome new followers' Mark and Chris of Mark and Chris's Phaeton Place. Thanks for joining our blog, we appreciate you coming along!

In order to visit family in Sierra Vista, Arizona we needed to find an RV Park close by. We chose K&N RV Park in Huachuca City because it was rated a 10 recently in RV Park Reviews and the cost was competitive with other area parks. We had no idea there would be some very pleasant surprises.

No, we're not parked behind a gas station; this is a perfect recreation of a 1950s Shell gas station, the likes you would have seen on Rte 66, 65 years ago. This building includes the RV park clubhouse, office and an apartment for the owners, Ken and Nina.

A 1956 Chevy (driven regularly) completes this nostalgic scene.

Inside there are vintage Coke machines, juke boxes, soda fountains, cigarette machines and other collectibles, all restored by Ken as a life long hobby.

This palatial home, complete with pool and botanical gardens creates a kind of estate feeling here on the property.

Inside the clubhouse we found excise equipment, a wide screen TV, 2 large screen computers for internet use and a Keurig coffee maker complete with an assortment of coffee. Often we find fresh fruit or snack food as well. It just doesn't get any better than this!

We were able to get one of the spaces offering a western mountain view out our front windshield.

The spaces are not huge but perfectly adequate. Everything here on the premises is immaculately clean and maintained to perfection.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is at the top of our list of things to do in the Tucson area. Even though we were here 8 months ago we couldn't wait to come back again.

Another great thing about visiting this museum is that you can camp at Gilbert Ray Campground or Snyder Hill BLM. We spent a couple days at each but feel Gilbert Ray is definitely one of our favorite all time campgrounds; it's like camping in a desert botanical garden with near perfect sunsets almost every night.

The museum has an amazing assortment of plant and animal species. We could see animals up close in their natural surroundings, like this Coyote.

Once again there was a Harris Hawk demonstration, like on our last visit.

The Mexican Wolf has been hunted into extinction by ranchers here in the USA, but I think there are still a few in Mexico.

What a great place for a Cactus Wren to build their nest. What predator could possibly get through this defensive perimeter?

Happy Javalinas, enjoying some shade from the hot afternoon sun.

I took another photo of the convoluted Saguaro Cactus and compared it to my previous photo-no difference whatsoever. I'll have to be very patient to ever see any change; 8 months is nothing in the life of a plant than can reach 200+ years old.