Got Charlotte Taylor Wilson out on the highway today. Drove almost due east and ran across a town called Fairbank (no “s”). Two or three different railroads ran through here back in about 1880-1910 and some of the buildings are still left. Most anybody going to Tombstone w/o a horse came here by rail and took a stagecoach to T’stone.
From this non-place we went a bit further east then turned south to Tombstone. It has a nice city building but the rest seems to be re-created stuff made to look like you would expect it to; it appears to be sort of a poorly-done Knott’s Berry Farm.
Almost without stopping, we goosed Charlotte down the road to a gorgeous little town called Bisbee. Actually, half of the town (the NE half) is like a little fairyland of houses but they all seem to be built on top of the former layer of fairy tale houses. Skinny, mostly one-way streets run up and down and across the steep canyon walls passing neat little cottages on postage stamp size lots. A couple of houses appear to have been built directly over the creek with some of the foundation on one side of the creek and the rest of the foundation across the creek. I imagine it would be noisy when it is raining. Peggy and I went into a tiny museum on the skinny portion of the main drag and wouldn’t you know it, we spotted another two-headed cow (stuffed) but this one seems to have two faces on one head while the two-header in John Day, OR has two separate heads sort of merging into one set of shoulders. Of course we took pictures.
We drove out of what we thought was all of Bisbee going SW when we came across what seems to be a different town but it also claims to be Bisbee. This Bisbee is quite ugly unless you are one of those folks who reveres shacks and deserted dwellings.
We continued westbound until we passed Coronado Monument again. You can see the border fence running through the adjacent river valley and it is hideous but impractical. What a pork project. It would seem that the decision makers in Washington did not recognize that Mexicans are thoroughly versed in the use of ladders and capable, therefore, of easily scaling the fence almost without delay to their northward passage. We drove back up 92 and 90 to Quail Run.
Didn’t do much except about 6 loads of laundry and attempt to manipulate 100 inches of almost frozen weatherstripping into the Barbarian Invader’s gooseneck. Many broken fingernails and much cursing later we finally forced the recalcitrant piece of shit into it’s new home.
Driving day. We drove from Tucson to the Sierra Vista / Huachuca City area south of Benson and I-10. We set up the Barbarian Invader at a park called Quail Run about 3 miles N of Huachuca City. They have everything: E, W, S, Laundry. We drove such a short way today and arrived so early that we had time for a bit of exploring.
We drove south on FH 90 to SH 92 south and scoped out some neat side canyons and the Coronado National Monument which is literally a stone’s throw from the Mexico border. Very scenic.
Nights are cold here: 32 degrees and down.
Today we took a drive up to a place called Sabino Canyon. It is just a canyon like others around here except it has abundant water (maybe because it was raining), great rock formations and allegedly extensive wildlife of which we saw none. Maybe the weather. Anyway, the canyon is quite beautiful and you can pay $6 or $8 and ride their shuttle. You can walk in w/o charge but the shuttle is a better deal. If you want to get off the shuttle anywhere to look around, you may do so and merely re-board another shuttle at your convenience. Quite a riparian area.
Drove back to the west unit to go to the Desert Museum. It cost us $20 a head because they asked if we were ancient enough or retired military or members or gimps but we were none of the above so we had to pay full price. Nevertheless, it is a spectacular museum with multiple outside pavilions with all kinds of critters like hummingbirds, regular birds, snakes, bugs, spiders, otters, a beaver, raptors and cats. They also have an extensive garden of both native and imported desert plants. Definitely worth the $20 but you need to either go early in the day or cover it in two days because it is extensive.
From the museum we went about 2 miles down the road to something called “Old Tucson” that seems to be a mix between an old west movie studio and an amusement park. We passed on this one.
From there we went home over Gates Pass Road again and it was just as pretty as yesterday.
Peg & I went to Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. This is a donated piece of land that has been turned into a botanical garden sort of right in the middle of town. It is gorgeous and we took a bunch of photos.
Since we look ancient they gave us the senior rate entrance fees despite the fact neither of us was 62.
From this park we drove to Catalina State Park to check out the RV camping although it is unlikely we will move. The camping spots are $20 for dry camping, $25 for 30 amp hookups and $30 for 50 amp electrical. All electric sites have water but none of the sites have sewer. The adjacent scenery is a mountain range that rises almost immediately up to the point where snow was visible in the higher elevations. Maybe next time.
From this place we drove to the west unit of Saguaro National Park. As usual, we got in free because of our access pass we bought last July in Gold Beach. This part of the park has all the same sort of cactus-like stuff we saw in the east unit but this area must get better light or more water because the vegetation is very thick. I don’t think you could walk through the areas off the road w/o being skewered by saguaro, fish hook, chollas, teddy bear chollas or some other form of cactus. We did a drive-by at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and we will return to it prior to departure from this area. We exited the area by driving over a road called Gates Pass and the scenery is spectacular but the road is such that about 20 mph is your best speed. There are plenty of places to pull out, however, and I heartily endorse this route as long as you are not pulling a trailer.
Drove by a couple of RV parks to see if we wanted to move but decided not to. There is an allegedly nice place north of Tucson (Catalina State Park) but we did not make it up there. Maybe next time.
We also went to the Tucson Visitors Bureau and got the poop on the local area. We also went to a post office near where we were camped to see if we could have our mail forwarded to us but the !*?!#!! assholes do not allow general delivery packages to be delivered to their office so we would have had to travel back to Tucson to get a facility where general delivery could occur. We will try UPS since it seems the USPS is not in the mail business any more.
Following our mail disappointment, we drove up to Saguaro National Park (east unit) for a 9 mile loop drive through the park. The varieties of cactus plants and the vistas are extraordinary. I suggest anybody coming by to take the loop even if the speed limit is 15 mph.
From the park we went to something called Colossal Cave about 10 miles SW of the east unit. Unfortunately, it is a privately-owned park where they charge $5 to get in but then charge $13 a head to see the cave. We deferred on the cave tour. My suggestion is to pass on this feature of Arizona.
Departed Casa Grande and drove east on I-10 but only as far as Tucson. We set the Barbarian Invader up in the Pima County Fairgrounds for $20 a night with full hookups. Again, the wi-fi was NFG. The RV area was a big gravel vacant lot which is not too different from the surrounding country which is a big flat area with tough little desert plants. Water, power and sewer worked well. The fairgrounds are about 5 or 10 miles south of Tucson.
Peg & I went to the Casa Grande National Monument about 20 minutes from the RV resort. It is an ancient four story building built from caliche mud and stacked up higher than I would have believed possible. The builders were stymied by a serious lack of suitable building materials; the floor support beams came from mountains better than 50 miles from the site covered by saguaro cactus sticks and topped with more caliche. The Casa Grande (big house) was built in the 1300s so it ended up being quite a bit more durable than I would have guessed. There is now a big steel shelter built over the top of it to keep it from turning into a gigantic pile of mud. The government experts at the site figured it has not less than 1300 tons of piled-up caliche which means they must have had quite a bit of labor and time to create the structure.
In the monument headquarters building they offer a video running in a little theater and the video explains how the indigenous folks lived around the big house. They lived in big walled compounds that had clan houses, some other public buildings and some flat-topped mounds that nobody is too sure about. There are also some structures believed to be ball courts and some remote family/clan dwellings outside the walls. About all that can be seen outside the Casa Grande main compound is foundation ruins.
Apparently, the experts believe the folks were around here for about 400 years but they abandoned ship not too long after the building was completed. It is believed or speculated that, despite extensive irrigation works around Casa Grande and a bunch of the Gila River Valley, there were initially some over-population issues but also a few years of heavy rain followed by many years of drought that made communal living impossible. The denizens broke up into small groups and dispersed to points elsewhere.
Left bustling Quartzsite east on I-10 headed for Casa Grande, AZ which is about an hour south of Phoenix. The vistas as one drives across Arizona are spectacular and the roads are basically dead flat between the ranges of mountains. Went by the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station which was spewing enormous amounts of steam from their cooling towers, probably because the air temperature was about 45 degrees and the relative humidity was zilch. One can spot the steam rising behind the low mountains near the station from about 40 miles out. The drive through Phoenix was easy w/ Peg and the Garmin navigating. We made it to Casa Grande at about 2:00 PM and set up the Barbarian Invader for a two-day stay at Casa Grande RV Resort. The park had full hookups but the wi-fi is terribly overloaded so no streaming video here.