NOLA: Nada

Hola!

When you are travelling for any length of time, measured either in the number of years you have done it, and/or the length of time you have allowed for a given trip, two of the fundamental concepts that should be at the top of your ‘whatever’ list are, ‘always expect the unexpected,’ and ‘roll with the punches.’

Things were going pretty much according to plan for us on this trip (well, more or less…) until we arrived in Benson, AZ. It was there that our travel plans changed.  It was actually all for the best, because Dee Dee, Charlie, Marshall Dylan and I are pretty independent and once we were back on our own.  We took the time to re-evaluate our initial travel plans to go as far as Lafayette and New Orleans, LA, and decided that going another 3500 miles (round trip) and dealing with what could very well have been some really snotty weather, was maybe not the best idea.

As we were drinking a beer and contemplating our next move, we got an email from WIT (Winnebago International Travelers – we are members) advising us they had some last minute cancellations for a 10-day trip to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, and they were looking for people to fill the spots. YEAH!  So we immediately called them, but too late…they were already filled.  We were pretty bummed.  But, the story has a happy ending: they opened up a few extra spots and we got in.  YAHOO.

OK, now for the not-so-good stuff. I was taking Charlie out for an evening constitutional and noticed a black ‘something’ hanging from his butt.  At first it looked like a residual turd, but upon closer inspection it looked a like hemorrhoid that appeared to be bugging him.  We found a wonderful vet in Benson who got us in, and just in time.  To make a long story short, they got him in for surgery a few days later and removed it, and another (fatty) growth on one of his rear legs.  Turns out that first growth was cancerous, but they said they thought they got all of it.  We still have to watch him for a re-occurrence.

About a week later we were in Dateland, AZ, visiting some friends and noticed that one of the incisions had torn open (probably due to him licking the dissolving stitches.) Once again we found another great vet (we had to drive into Yuma) who got him in right away and closed up the wound.  Poor guy.  He never wants to see another vet again…all this has totally freaked him out.  Fortunately, Charlie found a job at Walmart as a canine greeter – $5/hour and all the kibble he wants.  He should have his credit paid off in about 3 years.

OK, those are the high/low points since our last installment. While waiting to depart for Mexico on February 9, we have visited some really great places:  Bisbee (where we DID NOT see the famous Juan Alvarez) and Douglas, Roper Lake State Park (near Safford, AZ), where we also drove over to New Mexico and blasted through Lordsburg (OK, that did suck) and then back into Arizona.  After we finally left Benson (after staying for a month in the same place), we headed for West Tucson and stayed near Old Tucson and the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.  In our (humble) opinion, Old Tucson was pretty much a waste of time and VERY expensive.  The Desert Museum was magnificent – we spent all day there and experienced about 10% of what there was to see.  And, we really learned a lot.  I thought we were fairly experienced ‘desert rats’, but discovered we had a lot more to learn about flora and fauna.

After 3 days there (where we scoped out some places to maybe stay longer-term next year as we really liked what the Tucson area has to offer), we headed off for a 125 mile windy drive on very narrow road to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (about 5 miles from Lukeville and the US/Mexican border) . Let me tell you that we have travelled to many places over the years and this place has to be among the top 3 we have ever experienced.  It’s magnificent!  Small, uncrowded, with incredible scenery.  The campground is well laid-out and every spot has an amazing view.  It’s totally dry camping (with very restrictive generator hours), but for old geezers like us, with our Senior Pass, entry is free and camping is $8/night.  You can’t beat that.

As I type this missive, we are parked in a fairly decent KOA (as far as KOA’s go) in Gila Bend, AZ, where all the other ‘Winnies’ in our travel caravan are marshalling for our departure tomorrow (February 9) down Highway 85 to Lukeville and then on to Puerto Penasco. It’s a one day, 160 mile, trip.

OK, as usual there are lots of pics for your viewing pleasure. Our next installment, hopefully documenting our time south of the border, should hit when we are back in the ‘States.  We plan to hang out in Yuma for a few days, visiting friends, and then meander back North to Washington, via Modesto to visit our many old and good friends.

Open Pit Mine

Open pit copper mine, Bisbee, AZ

Mine Detail

Excavation detail, open pit copper mine, Bisbee, AZ.

RV at Roper Lake

Our campsite at Roper Lake State Park, near Safford, AZ.

Flying Birds at Roper Lake

Flock of birds starting to roost in trees, dusk, Roper Lake State Park. I sat and watched hundreds of these birds descend on this and other surrounding trees. And – I KID YOU NOT – that night on TV I watched a re-run of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ Sorta creeped me out…

Flying Birds and Roper Lake

Roper Lake State Park, near Safford, AZ.

Dylan

Marshall Dylan getting his heath certificate so he can travel to Mexico. Most excellent, friendly and compassionate staff at the Benson Animal Hospital. He is working on meowing in Spanish.

Charlie Collar

Charlie is not happy about his anti-lick collar. ‘Zen’ it is not…

Stanfords

With our friends Ed and Sharon Stanford, at dinner in Benson, AZ.

Horse Nose

We made a new friend in Old Tucson. We would have taken him home with us, but he would not fit through the door of our RV.

Horse Meeting

Horse meeting, plotting the overthrow of all cowboys. Old Tuscon, AZ.

Dee Dee in Coffin

Dee Dee was arrested, then shot by this handsome cowboy. We had to leave her there to be embalmed. (OK, not really…)

Dee Dee and High Chaparral

Set of the TV show, The High Chaparral, Old Tucson.

Stuntmen

Cowboy stuntman, Old Tucson. They put on a pretty good show. Very funny guys. At least their guns were not loaded…not the case in Tombstone.

Gila Monster

Gila Monster, Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

Desert Museum Guide

Our fascinating tour guide at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. This guy really knew his stuff.

Backlit Yucca

Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum – yucca plant.

Barrell Cactus and Palo Verde

Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum – barrel cactus and palo verde tree.

Us With Chappell

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – with our friend John Chappell.

Teddy Bear and Ocotillo

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – teddy bear cholla and ocotillo tree.

Teddy Bear and Desert

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – teddy bear cactus.

Saguaro Foreground and Background

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – saguaro and organ pipe cactus.

Saguaro Close Up

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – saguaro cactus detail.

Organ Pipe and Cholla

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – saguaro and organ pipe cactus.

Dusk Organ Pipe Group

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – organ pipe cactus.

Cholla and Saguaro

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – teddy bear cholla and saguaro cactus.

Ocotillo Maze

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – leaving ocotillo cactus.

challenge2

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – cholla cactus.

Blooming Odd Saguaro

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – blooming, distinguished, saguaro cactus.

Saguaro in Center

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – saguaro cactus statues.

John and Betty

With our friends John and Betty, near Dateland, AZ.  (See what happens when you have a finger print on the lense of your iPhone camera?  Instant soft-focus.)

Salmon

Getting ready to poach some of the salmon we caught last summer near Tokeland, WA. Near Dateland, AZ, with our friends John and Betty Gallagher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where The Hell Is Benson?

Pano View of Superstition Mtn

OK….the VERY last panoramic view of Superstition Mountain, from near our campsite at Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ.

Cloudy Mountains

View across the town of Benson and the San Pedro Valley, with impending storm clouds over distant mountain range. It ended up snowing here…an extremely rare occurrence.

So, here we are in beautiful Benson, Arizona. For about a month.  Really?  Yep.

Actually, Benson is central to a lot of pretty cool stuff:

  • It has a half-way decent golf course with a half-way decent restaurant and bar.
  • 75 miles from Chiricahua National Monument
  • 8 miles from Kartchner Caverns
  • 30 miles from Tombstone
  • 60 miles from Benson
  • 80 miles to Douglas
  • 100 miles from Nogales
  • 45 miles from Tucson
  • 40 miles from the Pima Air and Space Museum
  • 50 miles from the Titan Missile Museum
  • 60 miles from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
  • 50 miles from Old Tucson
  • 45 miles from Fort Huachuca
  • 50 miles to Saguaro National Monument
  • And a whole lot of other stuff…

We are staying is this pretty nice place, up on a hill overlooking the town, the San Pedro Valley, with a magnificent mountain range in the background. It’s quiet and the folks here are generally pretty friendly. There are restaurants in town…all about the same, e.g., ‘Blue Collar Benson.’ Of course there is a Super-Wal-Mart, so how much more perfect could life be?

OK, each installment has to have either a funny story or rant in it, just to keep you all coming back:

While we were in Tombstone having lunch, we asked our waitress, Rei, when the gunfight in the street was scheduled.  “,Oh.  Well, they quit doing those a couple of months ago when one of the cowboy actors accidentally (?) had LIVE AMMUNICATION  in his sidearm and ended up shooting, and wounding, another one of the actors and two tourists.”  I kid you not!  True story.  Google it.  Only in Arizona, the home of open carry with no permit necessary.  Anyhow, she said they still do a reenactment down at the OK Corral (for which you now have to pay….the street gunfight was free before.)  They also have instituted new ‘bullet check’ policies.

I am keeping the verbiage to a minimum in this installment (Chapter 5); I hope you enjoy the pics that follow. So far, this leg of the trip has been fairly pleasant and everything we have done we have enjoyed…nothing much to complain about, really. None of the scenic areas here have been wrecked (like Sedona.) Quite the contrary – the wilderness here has been very nicely preserved. Hurray for south-east Arizona!

Rotating Palms

Yucca plant, near Benson, AZ,

Prickley Pear Cactus

Prickly pear cactus, near Benson, AZ.

Chir Pano

Panoramic view of rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Big View of Rocks Chir

Rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Chirachaua Rocks Shade

Rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Rocks and Dead Tree Chir

Rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Bob The Red Chir

Bob-The-Red and rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Dee Dee Rocks

Dee Dee and rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Flat Rock Chir

Rock formations, Chiricahua National Monument.

Console Titan

Dee Dee in the Titan Launch Control Command Center, Titan Missile Center near Tucson. This is where ‘The Button’ (actually 2 separate synchronized keys) is located. We are about 150 feet underground.

Looking Up Missle

Looking 150′ up the silo at the body of the Titan II missile that held the nuclear war head. During the Cold War, there were 24 of these active silos around the general Tucson area. This is the only one left (or so they tell us.) Scary.

Nose Cone Titan

Top of Titan II missile with a dummy nuclear warhead in place. If this missile was launched and detonated over Tucson, it would have totally incinerated everything in a 40-mile radius, not to mention the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of square miles of deadly fallout. If this missile was launched, it could not be stopped (there was no self-destruction mechanism for security reasons) ; it was only 33 minutes to Moscow. The things we did in the name of ‘deterrence.’

Missle Bottom Titan

Bottom of Titan II missile. The engines are not attached. (They were located outside in another exhibit); they were remarkably small when compared to the scale of the actual rocket.

Dopple Radar Titan

Security Doppler radar used to monitor the immediate periphery around silo that contained Titan II missile.

Cochise County Courthouse

Original Cochise County Courthouse, Tombstone, AZ.  A beautiful building that houses an excellent museum.

Rei at Palace Saloon Tombstone

Our most excellent server, Rei, at the Palace Saloon in Tombstone.

Bob, Carol, Dee Dee

With our good friend Carol, on a windy and stormy day in Benson.

Dee Dee and Amelia

Amelia and Dee Dee at the Pima Air and Space Museum, near Tucson.