February 1 -15, 2017, Benson, Arizona
Leaving Quartzsite, was exciting and sad all at the same time, as we had so much fun meeting up with new people, along with the numerous buggy rides thru-out the hills, valleys exploring the caves and mines. There was still so much more to see and do. But we also were getting what is called at the “the hitch itch”. We picked Butterfield Observatory and Rv park in Benson, AZ as we our friends, Linda and Denny, would be there and we wanted to spend some time with them. As you know life has a way of interfering, Denny ended up sick and in the hospital, it took him almost 2 weeks to get back to normal.
looking down towards Patagonia Lake
We were looking forward to seeing the stars in the observatory…the weather never was in our favor as we had clouds almost the whole 2 weeks we were there, the moon was full (which makes the sky to bright to see much) there was also a lot of rain. We kept waiting for big weather changes but left without going into the observatory. Darn!!
Butterfield has a group of buggy riders, they trailer their buggies to other areas about an hour or more away to ride. Because our buggy is on top of our truck it takes longer to take off, they use trailers which takes less time unloading. A neighbor offered to put ours on his trailer so we could go with them one day. The drive was about 1 hour down to Patagonia and the hills surrounding the town.
We found this cross out in the middle of the desert to mark the first European to enter west of the Rockies, April 12, 1539. Frey Marcos De Niza, Vice Commissary of the Franciscan Order.
Stopping for lunch at the one room school house, Lochiel Schoolhouse, La Noria, Az.. It is not in use today. The Patagonia Museum maintains it now.
We also were disappointed that we only used the buggy once. The area we thought we could ride is BLM land and also used by ranchers for cattle. They have decided they don’t want the public to use the roads as it scares the cattle. They have blocked all the roads with gates. I sure understand the cattle being scared but there are groups working with BLM on this, to put a stop to the gates. We don’t know what the status is.
There was an abundance of border patrol agents keeping an eye out for illegals. The border patrol even run tractors along the dirt roads raking the ground checking to see if any footprints go into the hills.
We rode down to the wall between the US and Mexico outside of Nogalas. The wall is just metal bars about 1-2’ apart, behind it is bobbed wire and it would not keep any one from going across from either side. We all were taking pictures of it and the surrounding area when one of the ladies (94 years old, seriously) decided to climb thru the fence into Mexico for a picture, of course there followed many others.
The RV park was a very active one, everyday something was going on, card games, board games, ice cream social, get together with a band and dancing, yoga, swim classes,painting classes, line dance classes. The one Guy and I loved was the Valentines Dinner and Dancing. The social committee did the cooking, there were two choices, Chicken marsala or Pork with cranberry sauce. Desert was a strawberry whip cream cake, yummy!! The band was great as they played oldies and country. The band brought dance instructors that worked the crowd and helped get the non-dancers up and dancing. Guy and I danced almost every dance and if I sat down the instructor came and got me back up. We closed the place down.
We drove one day down to the town of Bisbee, elevation is 5,538’. This town was once a gold, copper and silver mining town. Bisbee is now a little community of funky art stores, clothes and jewelry stores as well as restaurants. There was also a couple of guitar players on the corners for your listening pleasure. We did stop in a jewelry store and pick out a hammered gold necklace with a turquoise stone on the side, after dickering on the price, we decided to walk away…. deciding instead we needed to eat tacos and have a beer….
The community is built up the side of the mountain, with steep stairs to climb to each house.. Some of the houses are very cute with different colors and motifs. There were houses that were built over the water drainage ditch, some have fences around with lots of flowers and shrubs, most had yards with lots of old stuff laying around.
For 27 years now, Bisbee has held the Annual 1000 Great Stair climb. The 4.5 mile course features nine staircases (over 1000 total steps) connected by winding roads. The course takes you through some of the most scenic parts of Old Bisbee up stairs and down roadways in Europeanesque Bisbee. It is said to be the most unusual and challenging of events in the world.
On the way back from Bisbee we stopped in the town of Tombstone. What a surprise as we sure didn’t expect all the old buildings, board walks and dirt road. Of course, it’s all very commercial. We arrived late in the afternoon which was nice as most of the visitors were already gone for the day.
Tombstone, Arizona is internationally known for its stormy and storied past. Western legends like Wyatt Earp and “Doc” Holliday became household names after the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral®. However, the legend didn’t end there, it continues today!
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
On March 15, 1881, three Cowboys attempted to rob a Kinnear & Company stagecoach carrying US$26,000 in silver bullion (about $645,000 in today’s dollars) en route from Tombstone to Benson, Arizona, the nearest railroad freight terminal. Just outside Contention City, the driver Eli “Budd” Philpot and a passenger named Peter Roerig riding in the rear dickey seat were both shot and killed. Deputy U.S. Marshal Sheriff Virgil Earp and his temporary deputies and brothers Wyatt Earp and Morgan Earp pursued the Cowboys suspected of the murders. This set off a chain of events that culminated on October 26, 1881 in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, during which the lawmen killed Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton.
The fight at the O.K. Corral
The gunfight was the result of a personal, family feud. Three months later on December 28, 1881, Virgil Earp was ambushed and seriously wounded on the streets of Tombstone by hidden assailants shooting from the second story of an unfinished building. Although identified, the suspects provided witnesses who supplied alibis, and the men were not prosecuted. On March 18, 1882, Morgan Earp was killed by a shot that struck his spine while playing billiards at 10:00 p.m. Once again, the assailants were named but escaped arrest due to legal technicalities. Wyatt Earp, concluding that legal justice was out of reach, led a posse that pursued and killed four of the men they held responsible on what became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride.
After the Earp family left Arizona, much of the Cowboy related crime subsided. John Slaughter was elected Cochise County Sheriff in 1886 and served two terms. He hired Burt Alford, who as a 15-year-old boy had witnessed the shootout between the Earps and Cowboys. Alford served very effectively for three years until he began to drink heavily and began to associate with outlaws.
Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton, killed in the O.K. Corral shootout, are among those buried in the town’s Boothill Graveyard. Of the number of pioneer Boot Hill cemeteries in the Old West, named because most of those buried in them had “died with their boots on”.
Of course, what would a visit to a cowboy town be without stopping into the hat store.
Kartchner Caverns State Park was just down the street from where we were camping, we decided we needed to check it out. Once we arrived there were signs saying no cameras were allowed in the caves. Darn!! So I decided to take pictures of the grounds around the outside of the building.
The caverns were discovered in 1974 by local cavers. There is 2.4 miles of passages through out the caves. The caves are carved out of limestone and filled with cave formations, known as mineral deposits, which have been growing for over 50,000 years.
In order to keep the cave preserved the state added high-tech air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment.
Thanks for coming along on our tour of Benson and the surrounding area. Come on back as we found a neat old place called, “Gammons Gulch” where many western movies have been made and are still being made today.